The Conscience of the Believer
This law for the sojourner (foreigner), the orphans, the widows, and the poor refers to their rights and not to charity (Deuteronomy 24:19). In the rural society of the Old Testament, those that did not own land were to benefit from the blessing of the fruits and harvest of the land. The farmer was forbidden to glean everything from the field, the vines, or the trees. This may be called the gleaning law. The Bible says that what was left “shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.” The remainder of the harvest is theirs. It was not considered to be a handout or charity.
The principle can be applied to our own day. The weakest and the poorest of our society are to have the opportunities that include financial resources, access to education, and legal assistance. These are the matters of rights in a caring society. As Christian members of society, we should seek to make this a reality. Two times the children of Israel were reminded of their slavery in Egypt and the mighty deliverance that brought them out of Egypt. It has been said that when Israel forgot its history, it forgot its poor.
The sojourner, the orphan, and the widow of Deuteronomy have much in common with the refugee, the homeless, the aged, and the immigrant of our time. The memory of what God has done in our lives causes us to care about others and to do something to help them. Otherwise, we are not worshiping the God of the exodus or the Christ who delivered us from bondage.
What lesson can we learn from this passage? Let us be reminded of the grace and mercy of God on our behalf and show the same to the unfortunate through generous giving and deeds.
Prayer: Lord, make me conscious of the privilege of helping the poor and the weak around me!
Reproduced with permission from Network 211.
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