Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Providence and Obedience

We were looking at the law of gleaning in Leviticus and considering its application in other scriptures.

The main place we see the application is in the book of Ruth. Naomi, Ruth's mother in law, had gone with her son to Moab where he had married two Moabite women. When Naomi's son had died, Ruth determined to stay a part of Naomi's family when they had no way to provide for themselves in Moab.

Naomi knew the details of the scripture and the law of gleaning. They went back to Israel and found the field of Boaz and depended on God and the law of gleaning for their provisions.

There were other laws that came into play: the kinsman/redeemer and the jubilee year.

Though their obedience to these seemingly meaningless, miniscule details in the law, God brought about the union of Ruth and Boaz.

Where do we next hear of Boaz? In Matthew 1, in the geneology of Jesus.

God's providence and their obedience were used by God to add Ruth's genetic material and maternal heritage into the constitution of the baby Jesus, the savior of the world.

How do we regard the details of Leviticus 19? Jesus used several of these details in his teachings. Perhaps, we should pay them more attention.

The law of gleaning: Christian welfare

This week, we looked in Leviticus 19:9-10 at the law of gleaning. It is an interesting section of "little" detailed laws, but important, because Jesus characterized one of them, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself," (v. 18) as one of the greatest of all the laws in Scripture.

The law of gleaning describes the Bible's form of welfare: give the poor an opportunity to work; leave your excess for them; don't take everything that is rightfully yours, but leave something for the poor and the aliens. The only reason given is because God is the Lord, i.e., it is his nature to give graciously of his bounty to others who do not deserve it.

Giving an opportunity to work also enables the recipient to maintain his dignity. He labors just as hard for his food as the landowner and his hired workers.

Many of us don't have fields and vineyards, today, so we must find other ways to implement this law. On a personal level, we can share what we have with everyone in need. For example, share that smile and your "How are you?" with the clerk who serves you. Leave a nice TIP for the waitress who serves you.

Collectively, we may be able to form Co-ops where the poor can trade their time for products. For example, the cooperative may arrange for pickups from local groceries or bakeries of their out of date products. The poor could glean through the products in exchange for making pickups or serving the other customers, pulling off the outer leaves and brown spots, etc.

You may be able to think of other ways to leave gleanings so others can have some work and some income.