God’s love revealed in

15-12-2011 10:12 AM

BY POPE SHENOUDA III



 


 


God’s law is full of love towards His creation and full of compassion on everybody in need of compassion. He teaches us how to treat them with love.


 


 Take for instance God’s laws concerning slaves:


 


The Ten Commandments included a command to give rest to the servants on the Sabbath day, as well as to one’s sons, daughters and animals.  God reminded them that they had been slaves in the land of Egypt (Ex 20:10; Deut 5: 14, 15).


 


 Our loving God did not only give rest to slaves on the seventh day, but He also commanded that a slave be released in the seventh year.


 


He said, “If your brother… is sold to you and serves you six years, then in the seventh year you shall let him go free … you shall not let him go away empty – handed … From what the Lord has blessed you with, you shall give to him.  You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt.” (Deut 15: 12-15)


 


 Dealing with a fleeing slave:


 


God gave the slave who escapes from his master the right to go to someone else, and commanded that person not to give the slave back to his master but rather to let him dwell wherever he chooses with that person.  He also commanded not to oppress him, for he may have escaped because of the cruelty of his master or of some danger there.


 


The Lord allowed the slaves and the hired men to benefit from the produce of the seventh year (Lev 25: 4-7).


 


 The Lord even commanded liberty to the slaves in the Year of Jubilee.


 


The fiftieth year in the Old Testament was a holy feast. The Lord commanded them to proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants.  Whoever had sold his land was to return it in that Year of Jubilee (Lev 25: 10,28).


 


 God’s love revealed in dealing with the stranger:


 


He commanded them, saying, “You shall not oppress a stranger,” “You shall not mistreat him … shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” “You shall have the same law for the stranger and for one from your own country.” (Ex 23: 9; Lev 19:32; 24:22).


 


 God’s compassion on the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow: 


 


He said, “If one of your brethren becomes poor… you shall help him, like a stranger or a sojourner that he may live with you,” “You shall neither mistreat a stranger nor oppress him… You shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child… I will surely hear their cry; and My wrath will become hot; and I will kill you with the sword; your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless.” (Lev 25: 35; Ex 22: 21-24)


 


 The Lord commanded a portion for the stranger the fatherless, and the widow in the harvest and in the titles.


 


“When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly the corners of your field … you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger,” “When you reap your harvest in your field, and forget a sheaf … you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that the Lord your God may bless you …,” “At the end of every third year you shall bring out the title of your produce… And the Levite … and the stranger and the fatherless and the widow … may come and eat and be satisfied…” (Lev 19:9, 10; Deut 14: 28, 29; 24: 19-21; 26: 12).


 


 So many are the commandments of our loving God for compassion on the poor.


 


(Deut 15: 7, 8): “If there is among you a poor… you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, but you shall open your hand wide to him.”


 


(Prov 21: 13): “Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard.”


 


(Jas 1 : 27): “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit the orphans and widows in their trouble…”


 


 The Lord considers that whoever offers to the poor has offered to Him personally!


 


He will says to those on His right hand on the Day of Judgment, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food… thirsty and you gave Me drink… a stranger and you took Me in … naked and you clothed Me… sick and you visited Me… in prison and you came to Me… in as much as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” (Mr 25: 34-40)


 


 The Lord set compassion on the poor as one of the bases of His mission.


 


He says in (Isa 61: 1-3): “The Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives… to comfort all who mourn… to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning…”


 


 God’s love appears in the law of pledge and loans.


 


He prevented His people from taking the basic things of a poor as a pledge, saying, “If you ever take your neighbor’s garment as a pledge, you shall return it to him before the sun goes down.  For that is his only garment… when he cries to Me, I will hear, for I am gracious,” “No man shall take the lower or the upper millstone in pledge, for he takes one’s living in pledge.” (Ex 22: 26, 27; Deut 24: 6)


 


 He also prevented taking a widow’s garment as a pledge (Deut 24: 17)


He also cared about the feelings of the person who borrows or gives his things in pledge.  He said, “When you lend your brother anything, you shall not go into his house to get his pledge… And if the man is poor, you shall not keep his pledge overnight … that he may sleep in his own garment and bless you; and it shall be righteousness to you before the Lord your God.” (Deut 24: 10-13).


 


Such were the commandments of the Old Testament that conformed with the level of spirituality of the people then.  But in the New Testament the Lord in the Sermon on the Mount, says, “Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away,” “Give to everyone who asks of you.  And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back,” “If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you?  For even sinners lend… But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High.” (Mt 5: 42; Lk 6: 30, 34, 35). We also read on the mouth of the Baptist, “He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none.” (Lk 3: 11)


 


 God’s love revealed in His teaching on the debts in the year of release:


 


He said, “At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release of debts… Every creditor who has lent anything to his neighbor shall release it; he shall not require it of his neighbor or his brother, because it is called the Lord’s release.” (Deut 15: 1,2)


 


 God’s love revealed in His teaching on usury:


 


“You shall not charge interest to your brother… on money or food or anything that is lent out at interest,” “Take no usury or interest from him; but fear your God… You shall not lend him your money for usury, nor lend him your food at a profit,” “If you lend money to any of My people who are poor among you, you shall not be like a money lender to him; you shall not charge him interest.” (Deut 23: 19; Lev 25: 36, 37; Ex 22: 25)


 


God prevented taking usury or interest from the poor because he had nothing to pay and usury will increase his poverty, a matter which is against mercy and love.  But it is different in case of banks, because the money you deposit with them will be used in economic investment; in this way you will be a partner in the capital and in the profits.


 


God’s love in preventing any delay in paying the wages of a hired person or in giving the request of the poor.


 


(Deut 24: 14,15): “You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy… Each day you shall give him his wages, and not let the sun go down on it… lest he cry out against you to the Lord, and it be sin to you.”


 


(Prov 3: 27, 28): “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due.  Do not say to your neighbor; Go, and come back, and tomorrow I will give it, when you have it with you.”


 


 God’s love in defending the oppressed and the poor:


 


(Ps 146: 7-9; 145: 14): “He executes justice for the oppressed… raises those who are bowed down… watches over the strangers; He relieves the fatherless and widow.”


 


(Ps 140: 12) “The Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and justice for the poor.”


 


 The Lord says for the misery of the poor and the sighs of the miserable He accomplishes salvation publicly.


 


We read how the Lord defended Naboth the Jezreelite and avenged for his blood from king Ahab and Jezebel his wife; and defended Uriah the Hittite by punishing David for his blood (1 kgs 21: 19; 2 Sam 12: 7-12).  The Lord also revenged fro the blood of righteous Abel from his brother Cain (Gen 4).


 


God in His love set cities of refuge where the manslayer who kills any person accidentally may flee, so that he may be saved (Num 35: 11,12)


 


For justice sake, to prevent oppression, the Lord commanded that one witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or sin but by two or three witnesses the matter shall be established.  He also commanded that a false witness be punished (Deut 19: 15-21)


 


In His love God rejected violence and domination He also prevented sending to the war a man who is afraid, nor a man who is newly married or betrothed to a woman lest he die in the battle and another marry her (Deut 20: 5-8; 24: 5).


 


 Probably, my brother, I have done wrong writing only nine articles on God’s love for His creation, because the whole Scripture tells about God’s love to people.  I therefore apologize, and I would conclude by saying that God’s love requires us to love Him in return.  


 


 


 

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