Wednesday, May 18
Reader: “I am the Lord”
Response: “your God.”
Scripture: Leviticus 19:9-18
“When you harvest the crops of your land, do not harvest the grain along the edges of your fields, and do not pick up what the harvesters drop. It is the same with your grape crop—do not strip every last bunch of grapes from the vines, and do not pick up the grapes that fall to the ground. Leave them for the poor and the foreigners living among you. I am the Lord your God.
“Do not steal.
“Do not deceive or cheat one another.
“Do not bring shame on the name of your God by using it to swear falsely. I am the Lord.
“Do not defraud or rob your neighbor.
“Do not make your hired workers wait until the next day to receive their pay.
“Do not insult the deaf or cause the blind to stumble. You must fear your God; I am the Lord.
“Do not twist justice in legal matters by favoring the poor or being partial to the rich and powerful. Always judge people fairly.
“Do not spread slanderous gossip among your people.
“Do not stand idly by when your neighbor’s life is threatened. I am the Lord.
“Do not nurse hatred in your heart for any of your relatives. Confront people directly so you will not be held guilty for their sin.
“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against a fellow Israelite, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.
This chapter begins with a call to holiness: “You must be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.” (Lev 19:2) Did you notice the breadth of topics the “Do not’s” address in our section? Some have to do with attitudes, fair justice―favoring neither poor nor rich, harvesting crops, business practices, neighborly responsibility, conflict resolution, honesty, employment practices, and so forth. What do you think the Lord is getting at? Holiness is not just about the heart in sacred communion with God. Holiness has flesh and blood; it concerns how a person lives. There was to be no separation between sacred and secular, all of life was to be sacred and holy. Such a holiness mindset is, for the most part, absent from our various societies today. As Daniel Block commented on this passage, “Holiness is multidimensional.”
There is a recurring phrase in our passage: “I am the Lord your God,” after every three “Do not’s.” Why do you think God adds the “I am the Lord” or “I am the Lord your God” with these commands? Could it be that he is wanting to impress upon the community of Israel that they represent not themselves, but him? They are his chosen people, his representatives on earth and need to live in such a manner that reflects him and his character. For example, notice how God instructed them to care for their own, the poor, the widows and orphans and families experiencing difficult times. Ignoring the “Do not’s” was a bad reflection on God as his representatives. To bring shame on the name of the Lord was to blaspheme. (Lev 18:21) These directives from the Lord are meant to make a strong community through making strong families with everyone assuming responsibility for themselves and also living with the responsibility for caring for their community.* It is in this passage that we come across the well-known phrase, “love your neighbor as yourself.” It was this very phrase Jesus quoted to the teacher of religious law who asked what was the most important commandment. (Mark 12:31)
Not only do these directives point one in the direction of holy living, they provide a moral and ethical foundation for a healthy society. Where these prescriptions are ignored, society suffers as is evidenced all around us. Not surprisingly, they bring the Ten Commandments to mind. “People are what they do.”* Jesus echoed a commentary on this passage in his Sermon on the Mount. We see as these actions toward others are lived out either through obedience or disobedience (horizontally), they likewise affect for good or bad in a person’s life in worship (vertically). Notice how Jesus’ life, interactions with people, and his illustrations as recorded in the gospels, reflects each one of these “Do Not’s.” He “doed” them all! Our challenge? You’ll have a chance today to “go and do likewise.”
*Some insights into this passage gained from Daniel Block’s For the Glory of God, p.90-99. And from The NIV Worship Bible, Daniel Sharp, notes on Leviticus, p.150
Music: “Blest Be the Tie that Binds” The A cappella Company
Bonus: “Holy, Holy, Holy” Sam Robson unique setting
Lord God, Make me to abhor that which grieves thy Holy Spirit, to suspect consolations of a worldly nature, to shun a careless way of life, to reprove evil, to instruct with meekness those who oppose me, to be gentle and patient towards all men, to be not only a professor but an example of the gospel, displaying in every relation, office, and condition its excellency, loveliness and advantages. How little have I illustrated my principles. How often I have injured and not recommended my redeemer. Pardon my iniquity for it is great. Forgive the sin of my wayward drifting. Renew and soften my heart once again that I might bring honor to Thy glorious name. In the name of Jesus, my only hope of salvation. Amen. ―from The Valley of Vision, p.58, adapted Daniel Sharp