Collataral Compassion

“When you make a loan of any kind to your neighbor, do not enter his house to collect what he offers as security.” (Deuteronomy 24:10 HCSB)

When I was first introduced to this verse (and those that follow) some 20 or so years ago I remember trying to discuss how the passage was related to such groups as bail bondsmen, pawn shops, etc. Despite the different situations, there is a theme of not taking advantage of other’s bad situations as well as the idea of biblical justice (doing right).

In the time period this was being written, to take someone’s cloak at night was to leave them without a blanket. To take someone’s “tools” (millstone) was to leave them unable to (a) make bread to eat, or (b) possibly make a living via the same.

The theme of justice and not taking as collateral/security/pledge something that is necessary for daily living is found throughout this passage.

It becomes very clear that God cares, that God has compassion on people in such situations and that compassion, not collateral should drive our decision making in these moments.

True justice is doing what is right – in God’s eyes.

Let’s all strive for compassion and justice in our daily lives.

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Love the Foreigner?!

Moses declares, concerning God;

He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner, giving him food and clothing. (Deuteronomy 10:18)

In a multi-cultural environment, where friends and church members gather together from various countries and backgrounds and in a “world city” like Orlando where immigrants are common we must take seriously the Scriptures that reveal the heart and character of God and seek to imitate Him.

Additionally, in a culture of such diversity, there is unfortunately also too much ethnocentrism and hatred toward various groups of people – people that God says He loves!

This past weekend I again saw the Hebrew Israelite Church” on the corner of Pine Hills and North Lane (where I live) proclaiming their “truth” which includes hatred toward the oppressing, hated descendants of Esau (now known as Caucasians).

It is amazing to me how ignorant we can be of what God says in Scripture. All of us! When was the last time you learned something new that corrected what you have previously thought? If it’s been a while maybe you need to be in the Word more.

A quick search on the word “foreigner” from Deuteronomy 10:18 will show that in the HCSB translation alone it occurs 35 times in the Old Testament. Check it out here.

The last occurrance (in HCSB) is in Malachi 3:5 – as God is getting ready to judge his people for their unfaithfulness this is what He says.

“I will come to you in judgment, and I will be ready to witness against sorcerers and adulterers; against those who swear falsely; against those who oppress the widow and the fatherless, and cheat the wage earner; and against those who deny justice to the foreigner. They do not fear Me,” says the LORD of Hosts.

Notice in this verse God is upset because among other things the foreigner has not received justice from His covenant people. The foreigner in Scripture was supposed to be treated with love and justice, to be taught the things of God, to be included in various religious gatherings, etc.

This command seems to be based on three things;

  • God’s love for the foreigner
  • God’s people had once been foreigners themselves so should empathize
  • God’s desire for foreigners to become faithful followers

 

You must regard the foreigner who lives with you as the native-born among you. You are to love him as yourself, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt; I am Yahweh your God. – Leviticus 19:34

 

 

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Listen

“Listen, Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is One. Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength”

These words are some of the most well-known words in all of Scripture – at least for Israel. This passage is called the “Shema” which means “Listen” (from the first word) and was repeated morning and night by devout Israelites throughout history.

So what’s the point? To listen, to hear, to let this truth enter deeply into your being so that you can live it.

God is ours! Is God really yours? Are you part of the family of God? Have you become part of the covenant of God?

God is one! No polytheism here but God in three persons. As I am male but human so God is Father but God, Son but God and Spirit but God. More importantly, in context it’s quite possible what God was really saying is simply “I AM God – me alone”.

Love God! God is love! (1 John 4:8) and we should love Him! This is a covenant relationship (think marriage!). Let your whole life – what you think, say and do – revolve around God.

Are you listening?

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He Cares

In Numbers 35:9-15 Moses has recorded God’s instructions concerning Cities of Refuge. These were cities, scattered throughout the land, where a person could go if they had unintentionally killed someone – to escape any would be “blood avengers”. In other words to escape the lynch mob, the angry family member, etc. As long as they stayed in this city they were safe from harm.

These cities of refuge demonstrate God’s concern with justice and His compassion for people – not just His people (Israelites) but all people. In verse 15 the text says foreigners and temporary residents are included in this legislation.

God is a god of both justice and compassion and we should be too. God wanted the right thing done at the right time – and until there was time to have a trial a person should not unjustly be “avenged” for what they had done – accidental killing in this case.

Are you as concerned with both justice and compassion as God?

“He cares for those who take refuge in Him” Nahum 1:7

Do you Care like God does?

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Compassion, Confession & Consequences

In Numbers 14:17-24 we have recorded for us the interaction between God and Moses after the spies refused to trust God.

First, it is amazing that we have – available to us – the recorded conversation of a man (Moses) and God! And this conversation was from around 1445 BC! Crazy!

After the ten plagues and the miracles in the wilderness (manna, water, quail, pillar, cloud) the people of Israel still did not trust God to take care of them. This is kind of like us when after 40 years (or however many) we’ve always had food and shelter and then lose a job and wonder how we’ll manage? The same way we did for the previous 40 (or however many) – by faith!

Another crazy aspect of this portion of Scripture is that Moses intercedes for the people and God actually forgives them! Like Abraham bargaining with God for Sodom or the poor soul that needed bread in the late night hour in the Gospels – God hears the prayer. And by hear I mean He answers in the affirmative!

God pardoned/forgave them because Moses asked! What if Moses hadn’t cared and hadn’t asked?

It’s not just God demonstrating compassion here, Moses has learned from God what it means to care deeply about people – even when they don’t care deeply in return. In fact from God’s perspective, they have been disobedient, disloyal, despising of Him and tested Him. And yet, He’s willing to pardon at the request of Moses.

Alas, the pardon does not eradicate the effects/consequences of this rebellion – they have forfeited the land. Only the faithful Caleb (and Joshua) will enter the land. There are consequences to our sin. Others pay the price as well

  • the children of the Israelite’s paid the price
  • the whole nation paid as they wandered in the wilderness
  • even the faithful paid as they wandered for 40 years too!

As I reflect on this Old Testament passage today I am again thankful for the gift of the Old Testament – an act of God’s grace to reveal Himself to us!

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Observe This

The word “observe” can mean to simply “notice” something or it can mean “to fulfill or comply with”. It is this latter meaning that is the predominant way in which the word is used in the Bible.

In Numbers  (I know, one of your favorite chapters, right!?), God lays out an opportunity for those who were not able to participate in the regular Passover to have a second chance to participate in another Passover a month later (Did you know there were two Passovers?).

If you read Numbers 9:4-5, 9-12 you will notice the word “observe” (HCSB translation) five times. God says observe…observe…observe…observe…observe…observe. And then there’s all those pesky little prepositions like “on”, “at”, “in”, “with”.

God is pretty intent on one thing in this passage – that His people fully participate in (“comply with” from our earlier definition) the Passover celebration. This “command” (verse 5) is so important to God he allows a second chance (makes a “way”) for those who are “disqualified” from participating the first time it’s celebrated.

Are you observing “everything (verse 5) God has “commanded” you to do?

Let’s get back to the basics – actually obey what we know – and then God will show us the next step.

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The Radical Book For Kids

The Radical Book for Kids by Champ Thornton is anything but “just for kids”. This phenomenal book belongs in everyone’s library. If you don’t have a library start one and make this your first purchase.

This engaging and illustrative book is packed with charts, info-grams, call-outs, and even recipes (unleavened bread). We read this with our nine year old son as part of our bed-time routine and I might have liked it more than him (and I’ve been teaching Bible for 20 years).

The sixty-seven chapters deal with everything from understanding the structure and contents of the Bible to jewels in the Bible, making a sundial, Christian symbols, making pottery, how to memorize anything, explaining God’s glory, growing up, Latin words and more.

Adults and kids will both learn from this great book. A top pick.

About Kevin : I have been teaching the Bible for 20+ years in Churches, Schools and Colleges as well as involved in church planting, food service industry, retail industry, and more. On a personal note I’m married with one son, love to camp, cook, canoe and collect books (I read some of them too!).

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