Thursday, March 29, 2012

God's Heart for the Humbled (Part 3 - The Law in Exodus)

(Here at Venture, we believe that God's heart is with the humbled.  He cares deeply for the poor, marginalized, and oppressed.  There are two main reasons God's heart is with the humbled: (1) He is compassionate beyond understanding and (2) He wants to make it clear to the world that when He does something it is Him doing it, not people.  So, we are taking some time to tour the Bible and see God's heart for the humbled. See all our  posts in this series here.)

As we continue our tour of God's heart for the humbled we come to Mount Sinai.  God's people, Israel, have just be rescued out of 400 years of slavery in Egypt.  And God brought them to this mountain, called the mountain of God, to give them the law.  Now, the law was not a list of rules they had to follow to be saved.  Because God had already saved them from Egypt, now they were His, nothing could have changed that.  The law was God outlining the proper response to His rescue.  Since God had acted on their behalf, this is how they were to act.  When God gave them the ten commandments (Ex 20) He bagan with, "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery."  He gave them these commands because He had already brought them out of Egypt.

And we don't have to read very far into the law before we see God's heart for the humbled.  This comes just two chapters after the ten commandments:

"Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless.  If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry.  My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives will become widows and your children fatherless."  (Ex 22:22-24)

What we see here is God taking care of those who couldn't take care of themselves.  In ancient Israel the firstborn adult male was always the head of the household and had all of the power.  The land, cattle, flocks, and all the families possessions were his.  Without him, the family could not make or living or even live because everything was dependent on these adult males.  Widows pretty much had to remarry to live (and the law provided that they would be married to their husband's brother) and orphans had even fewer options.

So, God commands His people to not take advantage of those who can't protect themselves.  And, in a just irony, He declares that those who take advantage of the helpless will be made helpless.  He is serious about them being taken care of.  But, the He keeps going.

"If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy, do not treat it like a business deal; charge no interest.  If you take your neighbor's cloak as a pledge, return in by sunset, because that cloak is the only covering your neighbor has.  What else can they sleep in? When they cry our to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate."  (Ex 22:25-27) 

Here God commands that if you take collateral from a needy person, give it back to them when they need it.  Their needs are more important than your extra stuff.  And because He is compassionate, He will take care of them.

What about us?  Are we compassionate toward the poor?  Do we believe that their needs are more important than our extra stuff?  Will be defend the widows and fatherless?  God will, and so should we.  This is what He has saved us for.

Devlin McGuire
Venture Corps Chaplain


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