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WHEN HELPING HURTS: Thoughts on Chapter 1

Posted by on April 10, 2011

It seemed like a pretty easy question when I first read it. All of us probably read or heard as a kid about how the Israelites worshipped idols and that is why they were sent into captivity. However, this was NOT the PRIMARY reason God was so angered by the Israelites…THIS was news to me. For some reason or another, the sermons I have heard all my life and in my own personal Bible reading, the idea of failing to care for the poor and oppressed was never touched on. It seems like a great sermon series to me, but I’m not exactly sure it is something all of us want to hear. Maybe that is why it has been glossed over, by most of us. For some reading this book, maybe this is not what stands out to them in this first chapter. However, it bothered me (Kim) so much that all my life I have thought I was pretty knowledgable about the Bible, only to realize this KEY issue in the old testament that I NEVER knew about! This is just CRAZY to me!
God speaks pretty directly to Moses, giving numerous commands to care for the poor. The commands were so extensive that they were designed to achieve the ultimate goal of eradicating poverty among God’s people: “There should be no poor among you,” God declared. (Deut 15:4). Israel didn’t fulfill God’s commands. Isaiah is pretty clear in what God was thinking of the Israelites. Even comparing them to Sodom and Gomorrah! “I have had enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals. …Stop bring meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me! (Portions of Isaiah 1:10-13, 16-17. And in Isaiah 58, again He is direct, “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to procide the poor wanderer with shelter-when you see the naked-to clothe him and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”
Israel had mastered personal piety and the outward expression of formal religion. Just as many of us today go to Church on Sunday’s, attend midweek meetings, go to church retreats, meals etc…Israel was bringing sacrifices, celebrating religious holidays, fasting etc. But God wanted and WANTS more! What is out responsibility? When people look at the church, they should see the very embodiment of Jesus himself! When people look at the church, they should see the ONE who declared-in word and in deed to the leper, the lame and the poor-that HIS kingdom is bringing healing to every speck of the universe.
1 John 3:16-18 sums up well…
“This is how we know what LOVE is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down
our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has
no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or
tongue but with actions and in truth”
Last thoughts:
With most Americans living on $90/day and approximately 1 BILLION people in the world living on less than $1/day, with 40%, YES 40% of the world’s populations living on less than $2/day, what is OUR response and RESPONSIBILITY?

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