The following is a teaching lesson I submitted to Compel Training, a writing group I am a part of. While my words weren’t selected, I really learned so much from studying this passage in Leviticus. Please let me know your thoughts and if it speaks to you in any way!
Title: God’s Design for the Oppressed
Today’s Reading: Leviticus 25:35-55
Key verse: Leviticus 25:35, 36 (ESV) “If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you .Take no interest from him or profit, but fear your God…”
Do you ever look around and become overwhelmed at the many needs of our world? Unfortunately, circumstances such as poverty, homelessness, and unfair treatment of certain people have always existed. What we find in these verses of Leviticus is a framework for the enslaved and a Biblical social order to assist the poor.
The Israelites, once slaves in Egypt, had been freed by the Lord’s sovereign plan and mighty hand. (Exodus 3:8). Because of God’s mercy to His people, bondage within Israel’s own borders was not acceptable. However, should a fellow Israelite fall into slavery due to poverty, they were to be treated as family with dignity and respect. Not as slaves, but as servants.
“Masters, treat your bondservants justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in Heaven.” Colossians 4:1
The Lord provided the Year of Jubilee, every fifty years, as a way for the enslaved to overcome their situation and be released. He also provided the Sabbath Year, every seven years, in which the fields were to be given rest, therefore no harvesting or plowing. The destitute could glean from the crops at this time (Leviticus 25:1-7).
These words were written as Hebrew law and have me wondering how our nation would look today had we adhered to God’s design for the oppressed. While we cannot change history, we can be encouraged to help right where we are.
“But the godly love to give.” Proverbs 21:26
The wealthier Israelites were to provide for the less fortunate until they could get their feet back on the ground. Usury, or charging interest for money loaned, was strictly forbidden. This was to not only aide but alleviate hardships caused by the condition of poverty. The people’s motivation to be generous was their fear of the Lord who cared for and redeemed His people. Because God had been gracious and giving with them, they should be gracious and giving, too.
“For it is to me that the people of Israel are servants. They are my servants whom I brought out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 25:55
The commands in Leviticus 25 give us God’s design of freedom for the needy, while His design for our soul’s freedom came in our Savior Jesus Christ. His goodness radiates in His provision to take care of His people and His plan is always redemption.
We were once poor and powerless, dead in our sins. The Lord freed us from bondage, and we are now His servants called to do His will, loving Him, His people and being gracious and generous where we can. We have been rescued by Christ for good works. Because of what the Lord has done for us, we can do for others.
Prayer: Father God, You are good and holy; all Your ways are right. Thank You for always providing the remedy for redemption through Your Word and Your Son. Use us, God, and show us where we can assist today, however big or small that may be. We are Your servants set apart for good work, for Your Work. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
My Moment: How can I possibly make a difference with such great needs surrounding me?
Comment: For our son’s fifth birthday party this year, guests brought items to stuff Easter baskets for a local family in need. The family has eight children with another on the way. While I struggle with how vastly different our lives are, I know God can use us to help meet some of their needs. We take this family McDonald’s Happy Meals and other items they might need from time to time. I find myself thinking of and praying for them often and know the Lord will continue to show us how we can serve them.
More Moments about Leviticus: (Leviticus 25:35-55) The overall mindset expected of the Israelites was servanthood to the Lord. They belonged to Him, therefore everything they owned did as well. They were to share their bounty, especially in the year of Sabbath, when others were able to take from their crops.
I cannot imagine the level of trust this would take, and I wonder if they ever worried they would not have enough. But the Lord made a way, for both parties, through His great provision.
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:20
Being good stewards of what the Lord has given us requires trust in Him and propels us towards generosity. We are free, through Christ, to give. This applies to our monetary and physical possessions but also our spiritual possessions. We have His Spirit to guide us and fill us with kindness, compassion, love, and grace.
Major Moment: In humble service, we can commit our lives to Him once and for all but also every day. We can live as the Israelites were called- surrendered servants helping others, trusting Him to provide.