Leviticus 24-25: God and the Poor
February 24, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Leviticus 24-25; Psalm 46; Matthew 21:1-11; Acts 28:1-16
These chapters begin with regulations for worship—the lamps and the bread (24:1-9)—and then are interrupted by an event where a man whose father was an Egyptian and whose mother was an Israelite got into fight with another Israelite and in the tussle ended up blaspheming God’s name (24:10-16). It is unclear what the right judgment is for this offense, and God then reveals his will to Moses: the man who blasphemed shall be put to death.
This, again, seems uncontrollably harsh to modern readers, and we are to remember once more that we no longer live in a theocracy, and that the only solution to all of our sins is the atoning work of Christ on the cross. God explains the justice of the situation by then giving the undergirding principle of justice: eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth (24:17-23). There shall be a principle of reciprocal equitability, and given that God’s name is utterly glorious, a wound against him must have large consequences, in the same way that abuse of a child is more heinous than physical attack of an adult. The greater the one sinned against, the greater the sin.
Then we are told of rules related to rest—the Sabbath, the jubilee, the redemption of property —and this slides into rules for looking after the poor (Lev. 25). Christians fulfill this principle of there being “not a needy person among them” (Acts 4:34) by how they look after each other in the community of the church, as well as seeking just and merciful care for the outsider, acting as the Good Samaritan and as a neighbor to those around. The purity and holiness of God is expressed not only in advocacy for the glory of his own name, but also, and thereby as a result and expression of the glory of his name, in care for the least among us. We love God with all our heart, and we love our neighbor as ourselves. We honor God, and we care for the poor.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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