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In the Gates

No Poor?

The Fourth Commandment

Deuteronomy 15.1-6

At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release. And this is the manner of the release: every creditor shall release what he has lent to his neighbor. He shall not exact it of his neighbor, his brother, because the LORD’s release has been proclaimed. Of a foreigner you may exact it, but whatever of yours is with your brother your hand shall release. But there will be no poor among you; for the LORD will bless you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance to possess – if only you will strictly obey the voice of the LORD your God, being careful to do all this commandment that I command you today. For the LORD your God will bless you, as he promised you, and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow, and you shall rule over many nations, but they shall not rule over you.”

God promised that there would be no poor in Israel – that is, if they would keep His statutes. There would of course always be poor people in Israel – as Jesus noted – but their poverty would be relieved by the faithful obedience of the rest of the community to the rules and statutes of the Lord. So even though they were poor, they would not be oppressed by their poverty but, instead, would know the loving care of their neighbors through the seven-year release, the three-year tithe, and the laws about gleaning.

The economy God designed for Israel was an economy of love for God and neighbors. Self-love would be moderated so that neighbor-love could abound.

In this series of In the Gates we present a detailed explanation of the Law of God, beginning with the Ten Commandments, and working through the statutes and rules that accompany each commandment. For a practical guide to the role of God’s Law in the practice of ethics, get The Ground for Christian Ethics from our bookstore.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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