Wednesday 24 July 2013

Bible Book:

Leviticus 25:35-55 Wednesday 24 July 2013


The people of Israel were never to forget their experience ofslavery in Egypt. In Egypt they had experienced mistreatment andinjustice. They had been told to make bricks without straw (Exodus5:6-8) and were accused of being lazy when they couldn't doit.

When they were to enter into the land given to them by God,things were going to be different. If the people of Israel fell onhard times, then those with more wealth should not lend them moneyin return for interest nor make a profit from selling food to them.What is more, those who hit rock bottom and had to sell themselvesfor labour should be released back to their own children andancestral property at the year of jubilee. In God's land, those withpower and wealth should treat those dependent on them with justiceand mercy, not with the harsh cruelty they had experienced inEgypt.

Yet this passage still jars to the modern reader. Slavery wasaccepted as a way of life, and those who were not the people ofIsrael - the resident aliens or those from the nations aroundIsrael - were to provide the slaves. Reading this passage in thelight of the New Testament, we are reminded that the solidarity ofthe people of Israel one with another is transformed into aChristian understanding of our interdependence on one another:"There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free,there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one inChrist Jesus" (Galatians 3:28).

The people of Israel were valued because God said they were 'mypeople'. As Christians we believe that everyone is our neighbour,valued and loved by God. The rules around fair treatment thatapplied to the Israelites, should now apply to all.

This passage therefore challenges us about our treatment ofthose who are near to us, and those who are far away. We may treatour families with fairness, even generosity. But this is harderwhen we think about those far away, whom we will never meet, butwith whom we interact in our globalised world. We are dependent onso many people who grow our food, stitch our clothes, make ourcomputers or even recycle our rubbish. Climate change, debt,economic crises and conflicts all show that what happens elsewherein the world can affect everyone. Globalisation brings an awarenessof all God's people closer to home.

To Ponder

  • How can I you ensure I you am fair inyour dealings with all God's people today?
  • Are there areas of the world where God's people are stillenslaved? If so, what can you do to support them?
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