The Bible and Welfare (2)

You shall not pervert the justice due to an alien or an orphan, nor take a widow’s garment in pledge. But you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and that the Lord your God redeemed you from there; therefore I am commanding you to do this thing. When you reap the harvest in your field and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the alien, and for the widow, in order that the Lord your God may bless you in all the works of your hands. When you beat your olive tree, you shall not go over the boughs again; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow. When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not go over it again; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I am commanding you to do this thing (Deut.24:17-22).

Deuteronomy is the fifth book of the Bible. It was given to Israel by Moses, just as Israel was preparing to enter the Promised Land, but much of Deuteronomy is a re-statement of laws given in Exodus. The passage above replicates material found in Exodus 22 and 23, where God points out to Israel the special groups in society who were to be shown particular care by the children of Israel.

The New Testament explains to us that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today and forever” (Heb.13:8). This means that the law that God gave Moses has enormous relevance in the Church age, that we must take note of.

When the church has not taken God’s law seriously, it has created enormous problems for itself, and also for the world, too. Among other things, it’s led to the creation of the modern, Western monstrosity called Public Welfare, which has to be funded by the taxpayer, leading to innumerable problems and complications, which I could hardly begin to list here. Suffice to say that when the Church ignored and rejected God’s laws for welfare, the world created another form of “Welfare” that everyone pays for.

Don’t blame the politicians for this. It started with a slothful, slumbering, poorly led and disobedient church. We led the world into this mess, over generations. Now, we believers must be prepared to lead the way out of it.

You’re not sure that’s our task? You’d rather “Let sleeping dogs lie?”

Well, we could do that, and God in His faithfulness to His word and to us, will hold us to account for that attitude. So in another generation we’d be even further into every kind of ugly sociological difficulty, as if there aren’t enough of those now.

We’re warned of this in scripture. Jesus said that

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men (Mat.5:13).

This means we’ll have to accept and embrace this task, and it will require a lot of change and  inconvenience. But rest assured; these changes required are all found in scripture.

The fact is:

God has given His people a great degree of responsibility in the New Testament era. We are required to proclaim His gospel of comprehensive redemption. We are to work to fulfil the Great Commission, which involves far more than preaching a world-rejecting gospel of personal escape into the clouds. Through the Church, Christ’s body, the combined efforts of Christians through the ages can and will combine to produce the visible transformation of a sin-governed world: not attaining perfection, but rolling back the effects of sin in every area of life. This is the true meaning of progress.[1]

Conclusion:

Our avoidance in the church of the necessity for Biblical welfare means we’ve gotten ourselves into a hole, and the only means of escape will be painful. It really is a case of “No pain, no gain.” But that shouldn’t trouble us too much, if we really want to be faithful to God, because that generally involves some suffering, somewhere. We’ll have to go out of our way to make this work.

And here’s my last challenge, for now:

If not you, who? If not now, when?

 

 

 

[1] Gary North (www.garynorth.com), “Rapture Fever,” 1993, p.109.

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