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In Case You Missed It -- Leviticus 19-20, Psalm 68

Leviticus 19 includes many of what we call the Ten Commandments in its various commands. These commands from Exodus 20 form the foundation of Israel’s legal code. Leviticus 20 reveals the punishments God demands for breaking some of the commands we have already seen. Today, I want to reflect on one law which will aid our understanding of an upcoming book of the Bible (Ruth), as well as God’s unique expectations for Israel. God prohibits anyone from gleaning the edges of their field or trying to pick up as many of the leftovers for themselves as possible (Leviticus 19:9-10), depriving the poor and alien of this food. Furthermore, God reminds Israel of His character with a familiar declaration: “I am the Lord your God”. This always serves to hearken back to Israel’s deliverance from Egypt, admonishing them to reject practices that reflect injustice or oppression like those they experienced under Pharaoh. Soon Israel will receive many laws calling them to avoid an inordinate accumulation of possessions, especially at the expense of others. God’s people are to live with constant consideration for the poor. This does not mean they are to favor the poor (Leviticus 19:15), but that they must provide for the poor in their midst if they are to reflect the greatness of the God of the Exodus. God did not deliver Israel to return some of the Hebrews to destitution. Rather, Israel is to be a people who treat all with justice, thus reflecting the justice of God.

Jeremiah Vaught