‘Now when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. And you shall not glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger. I am the Lord your God.
‘You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another. And you shall not swear falsely by My name, so as to profane the name of your God; I am the Lord.
‘You shall not oppress your neighbor, nor rob him. The wages of a hired worker are not to remain with you all night until morning. You shall not curse a person who is deaf, nor put a stumbling block before a person who is blind, but you shall revere your God; I am the Lord.
‘You shall not do injustice in judgment; you shall not show partiality to the poor nor give preference to the great, but you are to judge your neighbor fairly. You shall not go about as a slanderer among your people; and you are not to jeopardize the life of your neighbor. I am the Lord.
‘You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may certainly rebuke your neighbor, but you are not to incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance, nor hold any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.
–Leviticus 19:9-18 (NASB)
Believe it or not, the Pastor at the little Lutheran church I take my elderly Mom to actually preached on this one today. He did compare Leviticus to a road in the desert, not being particularly interesting or worthwhile, which I didn’t appreciate, but then Christian Pastors don’t really study Torah.
He preached on other related matters that I appreciated even less, but that’s not my point right now.
One of the most common complaints is that Christians are forcing their beliefs on women, taking away their bodily autonomy and “Constitutional right” to have an abortion.
I always think of Lev 19:9-10 as sort of the ancient Israeli welfare system. It was the Almighty’s admonition to farmers to always leave something behind for the poor.
The rest of this section commands not lying to people or taking the Almighty’s Name lightly, caring for your neighbor, a hired worker, as well not oppressing the deaf and blind.
Don’t hate your countryman (boy, we could use some of that right now), and although you can rebuke that person if you see them doing something wrong, don’t incur sin because of it. In a court of law, you are to favor neither the rich and powerful NOR the poor and powerless (many people advocate the latter over the former these days, but that’s not how God sees justice).
Why were the ancient Israelites (as well as the modern Jews and arguable non-Jewish Christians) supposed to do all of that? Because “I am the Lord your God.”
That didn’t mean “because I told you so,” although we could take it that way. It means (my belief) that if you have internalized the Almighty’s commandments, morals, and ethics to such a degree that they have become your lifestyle, then it is because you recognize and accept the authority and the boundless goodness of God. You know His goodness is far more perfect and boundless than any human could ever attain.
Not that I want to insert Leviticus 19:9-18 into anyone’s bodily parts, but what’s wrong with using the Bible as our guide for acts of justice and charity (in Hebrew, they can be the same thing) in our day-to-day lives?
In a “debate” recently, I attempted to convey the great influence the Bible had on the writing of the Constitution. The person didn’t want to hear it and thought I was fantasizing. There is already a Biblical influence on the Constitution that didn’t have to be (supposedly) imposed by certain members of the Supreme Court.
Be that as it may, and as I already said, the Court acted within its own established practices rather than simply making a decision based on their feelings.
I know a lot of people have swallowed the marketing of a billion dollar abortion industry and believe their lives are destroyed because the states now have control of administering that industry. I know there is genuine rage and terror that mass numbers of women will be in “forced pregnancies.”
But let’s take a minute to look at the document they all blame, the Bible. Just using that tiny portion of Leviticus as an example, we see that a tremendous amount of good can come from Biblical principles. It advocates a praxis that many with the social political belief that abortion is necessary and desirable would certainly embrace. Justice, mercy, feeding the poor, an impartial court system, honest dealings in business, there’s nothing wrong with any of that, and a lot of right.
And they all come from the adoration to and obedience of the God these very same people loathe.
I’m not fond of “famous Christians,” mainly because I find that fame and notoriety tend to influence at best and corrupt at worse even the most pious of people, Gentiles and Jews alike. I’ve separated myself from the vast majority of the Messianic movement in part because of the rather swollen egos of a very few key individuals.
Still, occasionally, they manage to come up with something. The Pastor today quoted one:
Holiness, not happiness, is the chief end of man.” -Oswald Chambers
The people who are currently very, very angry at certain Supreme Court Justices feel that way in part because they believe a source of their “happiness” (I know it’s more than that) has been taken away. They pursue what they’ve been told will make them happy and keep them safe (legal abortions presumably are safer than carrying a baby to term or being “forced” to have an illegal abortion, cue the image of a wire coat hanger).
This isn’t a plea for all of those currently upset and angry people to turn to God, although I wish they would. It’s a suggestion that what they are angry about and the target of that anger, be it the Church or God, may actually be the source of a larger justice and mercy than they, right now, can only shun.
If we pursue a sense of Holiness, a set-apartness from the world, even as God is also set apart, there may well be a peace that exists to replace chaos and confusion. The people who need this message the most will never read it, and even if they do, they’ll immediately reject it.
More’s the pity.