Part II: So Loving My Neighbor isn’t the Gospel?

9 Jun

To give a little background on this continual discussion that is going on inside of my brain you can check out this post that I reposted a couple weeks ago called FREEDOM IN THE BRICKYARD or you can click the link below.

If you read the post link above I mention exodus chapter 3:7-8a where it says that the Israelites cried out to God:

The the LORD said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them…

The word for “cry” is the Hebrew word “za’ak” which means to wail bitterly or to file a legal complaint over an injustice that has occurred.

While the scriptures are full of images of God such as shepherd, fortress, rock, living water, all of which communicate because they have visual images I would give God one more description. He is the God who hears the “cry”. Yet this isn’t always tangible like an image is so maybe we could say that he is the God that is in the brick-breaking business.

In Egypt where the Israelites were defined by the bricks that they made rather than the image of God he intercedes and does something about it. I’ll get to this later and try to make the new testament connection to the hebrew scriptures and how the new exodus, Christ delivering us from our sins, is greater than merely a physical freedom from bondage alone but it does not negate it our cancel it out as part of what the message of Jesus is. However, that connection will be for another day.

For now a couple thoughts on why God commanded the Israelites to remember the widow, the orphaned and the oppressed:

“In the future, when your son asks you, “What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and the laws the LORD our God has commanded you?” tell him: “We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand.”-Deuteronomy 6:20-21

“Do not deprive the alien or the fatherless of justice, or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you from there. That is why I command you to do this. When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.”-Deuteronomy 16:17-19

“When you harvest the grapes in your vineyard, do not go over the vines again. Leave what remains for the alien, the fatherless and the widow. Remember you were slaves in Egypt. That is why I command you to do this.”-Deuteronomy 24

“For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing. And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt.”-Deuteronomy 10:17-19

So the book of Deuteronomy, the book of desert wandering, in which God is shaping his people because while they were free from the physical chains of Pharaoh it was clear that he had colonized their minds. God continually reminds these people of what it is going to look like to be free. In fact you would be hard pressed to look up the combination of widow/fatherless/alien and not find the mention of Israel being freed from Egypt. Their ethic toward the outcast was shaped by a people who were delivered themselves from someone elses control. Simply put they were to hear the cry of those who were still in Egypt.

So who is crying out? We could talk about slavery I suppose? More people are in slavery now than the 400 years of transatlatic slavery combined. Conservative estimates say about 27,000,000 people. Unfortunately the price of slaves has dropped. A slave used to be a large investment, say a very nice car (it is hard to label a person by a product but that is what slavery is…a pricetag on an individual). This meant that even while you may view your slave and inhuman or less than you there is still the effort to meet their needs and keep them healthy. Today the average pricetag of a slave is $90. The price of a car battery. Something that is easily disposable. Something that is easily thrown away. This means that an individual is worked as hard as possible and if they burn out in a couple years who cares because you can get a new one. In fact the average price for a 13-year-old sex slave is $150. For $150 you sell out this child for a few years making enormous profits and then when they develop AIDS or become unatractive you can dump them on the streets and purchase a new one for $150. And the social stigma aside from the tremendous emotional scars will never allow this little boy or girl return to a normal life.

Do we hear their cry?
As we build our new multi-million dollar buildings do we hear their cry?
As we roam the shopping mall looking for fig leaf underwear in pursuit of the worth that only God can give us…do we hear their cry?
As we hang out with our friends in fancy restaurants with our friends on a routine basis instead of gathering together for some mac and cheese so we can support agencies that protect these people…do we hear their cry?
As we watch tv, listen to music, watch great movies…do we hear their cry?
God does…do we?

See Also
Part I: So Loving My Neighbor Isn’t Part of the Gospel

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