Being Merciful To The Poor
By Dr. Rick Chesher
In today’s world if a person needs something, especially money, it is sometimes hard for that person to be able to get what they need. To get money, they need to have a good credit report and some kind of security that is worth at least part of the value, if not all of the value of the amount of money borrowed.
Now the trouble with that is, if a person doesn’t not have anything like that, then what is that person to do? They would get in even worse shape than they are now. So, what is the right thing to do with respect to helping someone when they are down and need something?
Let’s take a look at Deut. 24:10-13, this passage is about lending someone anything, this is what you are to do. It is interesting to me that they are to take security for whatever it is that they lend them. But if you look at this closely, we will see that this is seems to be a very poor person that that is having something lent to them. Notice, the person to do the lending is not to go into the house, they are to stay outside and the person receiving the loan is to go into the house and bring the security out to them.
As I studied and thought this out it became clear that we are not to go into the house of this poor person and decide for ourselves what we think we should have as a security for the loan. That is left up to the poor person. And notice the poor person was so poor, that the only thing he had of value was his night garment to give for his security.
Now, most of us are thinking, well why doesn’t he just not take anything? Scripture tells him to take the security for the loan, but it comes with provisions. One, the person taking the garment can not sleep in the garment, in fact, he is to take that garment back to the poor man every evening, and he is to give it back to the poor man to sleep in it, and then pick it back up the next morning.
The reason? Because the poor man will bless you and Yahweh says that He will count it as righteousness. This gives the poor man something to sleep in at night, and he will be comforted if you will because he has something to sleep in.
Turn with me to 2 Cor. 1:3-7, in this passage of Scripture we see that Yahweh is the God of all comfort. The word comfort in the Greek means to call near, to comfort. What is really being discussed here is that we are to act and be just like our Father who is in heaven, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And if He is the God of all comfort, then He wants us to respond to one another the same way He does to us.
This proves out as we continue to look at this section of Scripture in Deut. 24:10-22. Look at Deut. 24:15-16, it tells us not to oppress our hired hands. I don’t know how many times I have had someone come to me talking about how bad their boss is. They say things like, he or she expects to much out of me, and they don’t seem to appreciate what I do. Now I know that some of that needs to turn to prayer for the boss, but this is talking about those instances where we are the boss.
The first thing it says is, do not oppress a hired hand. This word to oppress in the Hebrew is interesting, because it is tied to the word to afflict. The word to afflict can be used in the sense that someone is afflict by Yahweh, and can mean to humble. Some forms we should practice, such as humbling ourselves through fasting and prayer.
But Yahweh warns His people not to oppress others as Egypt did to them, such as in Ex. 22:22-23 about oppressing orphan’s and windows, where Yahweh tells the people when orphan’s and widows cry out to Him that He will answer their prayers. This can also be used for rape as is the case in Judges 20:5 from the hand of the men in Gibeah. And we could also see it as in this passage in Deut. 24:14-15, where someone is with holding the wages of a hired hand.
Scripture seems to address every aspect of sin, if you will notice this covers both a brother, and those who are foreigners within the gates or Cities they lived in. In fact, they were to get paid at sundown every day. The reason? He is poor and needs those wages. And once again when they cry out to Yahweh and He will hear them and they will be found guilty. Notice, Yahweh even stands for the foreigner who is being oppressed and cries out to Yahweh. Look at 1 Peter 4:17-18, it says that judgment begins with His household first, and look also at Proverbs 11:31, if the righteous will be repaid how much more the wicked?
In Deut. 24:16-18, we see that person will die for their own sin. No one is to get punishment someone else’s sin, we will be held accountable for our own sins. So, the question may come up, what about Ex. 20:5-6, where it says that Yahweh will punish the children for their father’s sins to the third and fourth generation? So let’s go to Ex. 20:5-6 and take a look at it.
If we look at Ex. 20:5-6, you will notice that this is talking about bowing down to idols, and anyone who practices idol worship, and in Ex. 20:6 He talks about the who love Him by keeping His commandments. These are our clues, the father’s made idols and taught their families to bow down to them. So, because each generation was taught by the fathers to do these things, they continue to do them. We can see this in 2 Kings 22:1-13.
In 2 Kings 22:1-13, we find King Josiah starting to reign as King when he was 8 years old. When he was 18 years old the temple had fallen into disrepair, and if you take a look here, it would seem that they had stopped doing anything that even resembled what they were supposed to be doing. So, King Josiah wants to rebuild the temple and calls on the high priest to total of the bill of the repairs. In the process of all of that, they find this book of Torah in the temple and they read it in the presence of the King. It was something they had not heard before, and as a response to what King Josiah heard they repented and went back to what Torah had taught. This is called generational sin and is what Ex. 20:5-6 is talking about. There is a need for us to break the cycle of the things we were taught that is not the truth.
We can also see this in the lives of others in Scripture. We can see this there the sin of deception that affected the lives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and even goes on into Jacob’s sons. Look at Gen. 12:10-20, Gen. 26:1-11, Gen. 27:1-40, Gen. 37:12-36. Look at Ex. 34:6-7, specifically verse 7. It is the fathers sin that is upon the children. This word upon means to be over them, or it can mean according to, which puts it in the light of they are practicing the sin’s that they had been taught by their fathers. Look at Nehemiah 1:1-11, we find Nehemiah confessing the sins of his fathers, and the same is true throughout Scripture.
Once again, I am so impressed with the idea that the foreigner is always added to this whole idea of being treated the same as those that own the land. To me we can see these even today in America. In Israel, the native born as while as the foreigner were to be treated the same with regard to justice. But notice, Israel was not to by the justice of another country, it was Yahweh’s justice that is to be applied.
Look at Deut. 24:17, we are not to take the widow’s garment as security for a what we lend them, and in verse 18, we are to remember that our ancestors were slaves in Egypt and Yahweh had redeemed them from there. This goes back to not only receiving mercy and grace, but because we have received mercy and grace, we above all people are to extend mercy and grace. I think we need to prayerfully think about what it cost Yahweh for our salvation.
Yahweh even thinks about not going after everything in the fields for the purpose of helping feed the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow. The reason? Because we were, at one time, were slaves in Egypt, and Egypt represents our sin, so in a real sense we have all been delivered from Egypt and because of that experience, that was not only, a one time event, but is a continual process as well.
I think that sometimes when we talk about Torah we forget about the Mercy and Grace that Yahweh has extended to us through His Sone Yahshua Messiah. We can easily get caught up in the does and don’t and not look for the Mercy and Grace in Torah as given by Yahweh Himself.