July 30, 2017
Going to the Poor
Recommended Reading: Timothy Keller: Ministries of Mercy
The effect of sin coming into the world has fragmented man’s relationship with God, with his fellow men and with creation.
Job 29: 7-8 “‘When I went to the gate of the city and took my seat in the public square, the young men saw me and stepped aside and the old men rose to their feet “
Job had earned respect in the city. Why?
Job 29: 12-19 “because I rescued the poor who cried for help,
and the fatherless who had none to assist them… “
because of how he had lived.
In the Old Testament Law, Israelites had to look after fellow Israelites and strangers:
Leviticus 19: 9-10 “When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God. “
Exodus 22: 25 “If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy, do not treat it like a business deal; charge no interest. “
Deuteronomy 15: 15 “ Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you. That is why I give you this command today. “
Leviticus 25: 8-24 “Count seven sabbath years – seven times seven years – so that the seven sabbath years amount to a period of forty-nine years. 9 Then sound the trumpet everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land. 10 Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan… The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you reside in my land as foreigners and strangers. Throughout the land that you hold as a possession, you must provide for the redemption of the land. “
Land bought or sold should be returned to the original family at the Jubilee year, so that no one should amass greedy wealth at the expense of others.
The prophets denounced Israel’s attitude to the poor:
Amos 2: 6-7 “For three sins of Israel, even for four, I will not relent. They sell the innocent for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals. They trample on the heads of the poor as on the dust of the ground and deny justice to the oppressed. Father and son use the same girl and so profane my holy name. “
Isaiah 58: 1-9a “…Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. “
Isaiah 61: 1-3 “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour… “
Jesus identified with the poor:
2 Corinthians 8: 9 “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. “
Jesus knew what it was to be poor.
1 John 3: 17-18 “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. “
James 2: 14-17 “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. “
Galatians 2: 10 “All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along. “
In Matthew 25, when Jesus tells of the sheep being separated from the goats, he says (vv37-40) “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?…’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ “
Whilst salvation of the soul is God’s priority, there is also practical concern for the poor. William Booth said “You cannot preach the gospel to a man with cold feet.”
What’s Our Response?
Look for practical ways to help. For example,
- Bring food for Besom on the 1st Sunday of the month.
- Front Line Debt Advice
- Ask God to open your eyes to needs around you