Moses reminds the people of several of God’s Laws concerning how they treat one another. Moses skips around topic wise here so we probably will too.
The first Law that Moses shares in our reading today concerns slaves. He commands the people to provide refuge to escaped slaves. “You shall not give up to his master a slave who has escaped from his master to you” (verse 15). The slave is to be allowed to live wherever he chooses. I don’t know if this applied to slaves from other countries or slaves within the people of Israel.
In Philemon we read Paul’s letter to a slave’s master as the slave chooses to return. Paul didn’t require he return but his teaching Jesus’ words about being subject to those in authority over you prompted the slave, Onesimus, to return anyway. This was a brave thing for Onesimus to do as it could cost him his life.
In the era of the Civil War in the United States slaves escaping north were welcomed and harbored. They received the treatment God commanded His children here.
In the second portion of the Law Moses reminds the people of he uses the phrase “the wages of a dog” regarding fees that God would NOT accept into His treasury. I had to look this up because I had no idea what it meant. According to Bible Study Tools website a “Dog” was a male prostitute. So God was saying that both male and female prostitution funds were sinful and would not be acceptable to Him. He forbade Israel to have ANY cult prostitutes! These prostitutes were common in the nations He was driving out and He was making certain His people knew He would NOT tolerate them following this practice.
Moses moves on to charging interest on loans. The people were not allowed to charge interest on ANY loan between two of the children of Israel. It didn’t matter how far apart they were in tribe lineage, they were ALL brothers and God expected them to treat one another as such.
In our society today I don’t know how many people who would think it appropriate to charge interest to a family member. I certainly wouldn’t but our world tends to be rather greedy any more. I have often heard the cautionary saying of “never lend money to a friend or relative.” This is because doing so can have a serious impact on the relationship if the money is not paid back. Charging interest in these kinds of loans can cause even more strain on the relationship.
God allowed His children to charge interest on loans made to foreigners though. This would be standard business practices. God doesn’t deal with it here but I would bet He would expect a reasonable interest rate be given for any loan. He wasn’t giving His people permission to take advantage of others in need but to make good use of their “talents” as in the story of the three servants.
We move on to making promises. My take here is to watch what you say, either to God or to others. “You shall be careful to do what has passed your lips, for you have voluntarily vowed to the Lord your God what you have promised with your mouth” (verse 23). It doesn’t matter who you said it to, if you made a promise you NEED to keep it.
This was one of the things I tried to watch carefully with my children. I would not make a promise I would not keep. This meant good promises and punishment promises. If I promised they would receive X for doing Y then it better happen. In order to have ANY integrity you have to be willing to carry through on your promises, so NEVER promise something you won’t deliver. You don’t even have to say the words “I promise” for it to be a promise. If you say you will do something you HAVE TO be willing to carry it through. Practicing this is good discipline for you and your children.
The last thing Moses addresses for us today is being a good neighbor. In this example a person in need goes into his neighbor’s field and help himself to a little of the produce growing there. Both are to be good neighbors in this situation. The one receiving and the one with the open hand.
The person going in and taking of his neighbor’s field or vineyard isn’t allowed to try and feed his whole family off the back of his neighbor. He can fill his stomach as he walks along but he can’t carry any home.
The owner of the field or vineyard isn’t allowed to throw a hungry traveler out. He has received much from the Lord in his harvest and is expected to extend grace to one in need at the time. Later we will see how much grace the farmer is to extend to those in need but here the requirement is for a single person at a time.
God extends us MUCH grace. He doesn’t charge us interest on the gifts He gives us. He ALWAYS keeps His word. He will NOT turn us away. And He treats us as His children who do not have to sell their bodies to please Him. We are valued by Him in every way and He commands us to value others as well.
Father God, You give me the perfect example to follow. I KNOW I don’t live up to that example on a continual basis. Sometimes I don’t even get near Your example but I desire to. I want to live a life You can say is “well done” when we meet face to face. I want to keep my promises. Thank You for helping me keep this promise tonight.
Please help my son in law in his job search. Help me support him in the areas he needs it and encourage him to stand on his own in the areas where he needs to. Help me know the difference. Don’t let me make promises I can’t keep to him. Bless his search Father. Thank You for helping him complete his training.