Monday, June 4, 2012

“Living as God's Just People” Adult Sunday School Lesson

International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday June 10, 2012

Scripture Text: Leviticus 19:9-18, 33-37

Purpose: To see that behaving justly is a necessary component of holy living

Leviticus 19:9-19 (NRSV)

(9) When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. (10) You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien: I am the Lord your God. (11) You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; and you shall not lie to one another. (12) And you shall not swear falsely by my name, profaning the name of your God: I am the Lord. (13) You shall not defraud your neighbor; you shall not steal; and you shall not keep for yourself the wages of a laborer until morning. (14) You shall not revile the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind; you shall fear your God: I am the Lord. (15) You shall not render an unjust judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great: with justice you shall judge your neighbor. (16) You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not profit by the blood of your neighbor: I am the Lord. (17) You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself. (18) You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

Leviticus 19: 33-37
(33) When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. (34) The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. (35) You shall not cheat in measuring length, weight, or quantity. (36) You shall have honest balances, honest weights, an honest ephah, and an honest hin: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt. (37) You shall keep all my statutes and all my ordinances, and observe them: I am the Lord.

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

This week's lesson is a continuation in thought of last week's lesson. Both lessons are a further explanation of the original Ten Commandments presented to God's people by Moses.

If you go back to the beginning of this chapter in Leviticus you find these words in verses one and two; (1) The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: (2) Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy. The reason for the new emphasis from God is because He desires/commands His people to assume a holiness that will set them apart from the other nations of the world; God is raising the bar, when it comes to living in a community and in a world. God's people should act different.

Throughout chapter 19, God is addressing the original Ten Commandments, and our lesson starts with stealing, but not stealing in the usual sense, but stealing from the poor. The owners of fields were obliged to harvest the field, but they were not allowed to go back and gather up the leftovers, the poor were given the opportunity to go into a field after the owners harvest and gather up what was left by the original harvesters. We see this practice carried out in the Book of Ruth. In today's world the taxes that we pay provide for the poor in much the same way. Food stamps and rent assistance, child welfare are all examples of modern day gleaning. Maybe the part that irks some today is that there does not seem to be the investment by the poor that God originally demanded of the poor, they were required to work for this assistance. God's original plan would have eliminated generations of handing out without any effort on the part of the poor.

Stealing, lying, bearing false witness, gossiping, paying your bills on time, treating the handicapped fairly are all covered in verses 11-14, all of these things are about being a holy people, and acting in a way so that God is glorified, and not profaned.

When it comes to the judicial system, God expects people and judges to act justly and fairly without regard for the financial position of the ones being judged. Money and power deserve no more favorable treatment than the poor, and poor deserve the same justice regardless of their finances, but are not to be favored just because they are poor.

Verse 18 gives us the second commandment as referred to by Jesus. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Why? Because: “I am the Lord.” As most of us have heard or said our whole life, “Because I said so.”

In the time of Moses and of Christ, there were no illegal immigrants or aliens, there were just aliens. Today borders are more defined and we seem to make a great distinction between legal and illegal immigrants although few of us can trace our heritage back to blue blooded Americans, unless we are of Native American heritage, we were all aliens in this land.

Verse 35 reminds me of the old butchers that sold their thumb for years, when they weighed up the meat in the old butcher shops. God is pretty definite, a yard of cloth means a yard, a pound means a pound, and a dozen means twelve, a bushel means a bushel. Just as a way of information the “hin” referred to in verse 36 is a liquid measure, similar to our gallon, it was approximately 1/6 or 1/7 of the amount of water it took for a bath.

God's call for us to live holy lives today has lost its appeal, we are more interested in being like the world and less interested in being linked to God's holiness. While times have changed, I cannot find anything in God's word that rescinds His call to holiness for us. I challenge each of you to search your lives and see where you can live a more holy life, where you can live more in concert with God and be less concerned about being liked by the world. We are called to be an example, to glorify God. Why? Our final verse tells us. (37) You shall keep all my statutes and all my ordinances, and observe them: I am the Lord.

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