Topic:The True Basis for Social Concern
Throughout the land that you hold as a possession, you must provide for the redemption of the land. If one of your fellow Israelites becomes poor and sells some of their property, their nearest relative is to come and redeem what they have sold.
As you read this chapter you can see that these are God’s instructions on how to deal with poverty. This is an issue which seethes and throbs beneath the surface in every land on earth today. What is causing the sense of injustice and inequity among peoples all over the world? It is the fact that they face a system which, at least in their view, does not permit them to recover out of poverty. They have no way of breaking the stranglehold upon them and of improving their economic lot. God says, You must do something about that. You must help your brother.
The passage goes on to outline specific circumstances: First, in verses 25-34 God says you must give a person the right to redeem his own land. The next division, Verses 39-46, takes up the case of slavery. No Israelite was to be a slave. Finally, Verses 47-55, there must be the right to redeem slaves, to buy a person back and restore him to his dignity as a human being.
What a commentary this is, and what a correction of the way we usually operate. We are always rushing around and putting Band-Aids on the cancerous sores of society. But God never does that. He strikes at the root of the problem. He says, If you will deal with it at this level, then over time it will gradually work out. In the meantime you must take care of those in need.
History is full of illustrations of this fact: William Wilberforce, in the English Parliament, pleaded with great passion for an end to the African slave trade. He was motivated by the Christian concern of his heart and by his conviction that this was not God’s choice for human beings. Florence Nightingale, whose work gave birth to the Red Cross, was motivated by Christian compassion, and by the recognition that God can do something to alleviate human misery. In the civil rights movement of our own land, led by people who gathered together, there was a recognition that God is concerned with human affairs, and that he could and would work when people expected him to do so and gave him the opportunity. Behind most of the beneficial social movements of history has been Christian compassion and concern.
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Father, help us as a people to repent, to humble ourselves and seek your face, to cry out in prayer unto you, that you may heal our land. I thank you for that promise.
Worldwide media makes it impossible to ignore the heartbreaking issues of poverty, injustice and inequity. Are we content to leave the root problems at the mercy of political wonks?