Bible Reading Plan – February 26-March 4
Bible Project Reading Plan (February 26 – March 4):
Deuteronomy 13-31; Psalms 57-63
People often find themselves in difficult circumstances, sometimes as a result of their own foolishness, sometimes because of others’ wickedness, sometimes simply because that is the way that life can be. The promised land, flowing with milk and honey, would not be different. People would be poor, bereft of food and money during difficult times. They would need to borrow, to have aid from their brothers in order to live. God knew that such debts would be undertaken, and he saw such things as noble and right.
But God, in Deuteronomy 15, does something unthinkable. He allows the poor, every seventh year, to have their debts completely dropped. Just vanished. Like steam from boiling water on a stove, the debts are just gone.
At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release. And this is the manner of the release: every creditor shall release what he has lent to his neighbor. He shall not exact it of his neighbor, his brother, because the LORD’s release has been proclaimed (Deut 15:1-2; ESV)
This seems like economic anarchy, and if we are honest with ourselves, an unraveling of justice. Are not debts to be paid back? Would not the poor just take advantage of such laws? Don’t worry, you God-fearing person, you who is so concerned with the possible injustice this kind of commandment could bring: God is worried about injustice, too. More than you! That is why he addresses the injustice he is most concerned with only a few verses later:
If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be. Take care lest there be an unworthy thought in your heart and you say, ‘The seventh year, the year of release is near,’ and your eye look grudgingly on your poor brother, and you give him nothing, and he cry to the LORD against you, and you be guilty of sin. You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake (Deut 15:7-10; ESV)
The injustice that God thinks is necessary to warn us about is not the poor taking advantage of those who have, but the other way around. Those who have are not to have “unworthy” thoughts in their hearts, and give grudgingly because the year of release is coming. Such a thought is nothing more than an act of unbelief. You should “give to him freely . . . because the LORD your God will bless you in all your work.”
Let us remember these words when we give. Let us be less concerned with whether we are paid back for our generosity, for our God, from whom all money and goods come, is much more generous than we are. Further, let us also reconsider our understanding of justice when we think of economics. Do we care for the poor like our God does?
For those of you who might be interested, you can also get an app called “Read Scripture” that provides links to the videos for the week and has the appropriate bible passages pre-loaded. You can find that app here in the Google Play Store and here in Apple’s App Store.