On-Line Bible Lessons

Deuteronomy - Chapter 15, Lesson 2

Pastor Ovid Need

We have seen the requirement of the seventh year release which includes the prohibition against debt. Also, several reasons for this. First, so His people will have freedom to serve Him. Second, to help solve the poverty problem.

Now Moses is going to deal with the poverty problem. God has given us a very effective program to deal with poverty and His plan doesn't involve a 75% handling fee. He has mentioned the poor, now he is going to give a detailed plan concerning this problem.

1. V. 7, Moses warns God's people against hardening their hearts toward the poor. He warns them about growing indifferent to their plight. What is reaffirmed toward the poor in, I Jn. 3:17? _____________________________________________________________ ________

We just don't hear many sermons on caring for the poor today, yet it is a very basic doctrine of Christianity. Maybe we avoid it because of the liberals who emphasize this. These kind of messages today are identified as a "social gospel" so we avoid it. Yet, the gospel of the scrip­tures deals with these social issues as much, if not more, than it does with salvation.

2. What is required toward the poor, Deut. 15:8? _____________________________________

a. In obeying this requirement, what is prohibited, Lev. 25:35-38?
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3. Compare Deut. 15:7, 8 with Lk. 14:12-14. Here we see the Lord prohibiting the lending based upon repayment abilities. Now we are talking of lending to the poor. There could be other scrip­tural principles involved which would prevent this lending to the poor. What would be some things which would prevent lending to the poor.

(1) II Thess. 3:10?

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(2) Prov. 12:27; 20:4?

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(3) I Cor. 4:2? ______________________________________________________________________

(4) I Tim. 5:8? ______________________________________________________________________

As you can see, this list is by no means complete and if you will think a few moments you will think of some more. The main point we want to make is that even though Deut. 15:7 and 8 is re­quired by God in order to be holy even as He is holy, this is not to be done without regard to other requirements of His Word. All of our wealth is His and is to be used in terms of His Word at all times. The scriptures call for "workfare", not "welfare". Sad to say, government programs have destroyed the incentive to work. When we as a church started requiring work for the 'handout', there were very few who stoped by looking for help. Before we started this practice there were people stopping by the church quite regularly for "help".

We need to keep in mind we are discussing two completely different principles. One, the poor who has the strength and ability to work. In this case, we are required to provide something for them, yet still wtihin scriptural guidelines. The second would be that the poor who are unable to work. Even then we are still required to help them.

4. Today we overlook this obligation to the poor which God spelled out for His people. I really do not know why. If you will notice in Gal. 2, Paul had a confrontation with the leaders of the church and the final charge given to him and Titus was what, v. 10?
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5. What was required at the year of release, Deut. 15:9 (this is v. 1 again)?

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a. Therefore, what was the danger when the poor would seek help when the year of release was close at hand?

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V. 9, "Thine eye be evil against thy poor brother." Don't harbor ill will toward him and fail to help.

Compare v. 9 with Ja. 5:4 and you will find that if those who have the money withhold from those to whom it is due, and the one to whom it is due cries out to God, then the one who owes is in trouble with the Lord. The indication here is that this (godly) poor man is due the same con­sideration if he seeks help from those who can help him as is owed to the laborer (Ja. 1:22; 2:14-20; 5:1-6). God made provision for the poor (through the laws regarding the gleaning -- Ruth is a good example). If this poor man does not fit within this category of a godly man, then his cry to God will not be heard and the man with the means is not responsible. This is not permission for the poor man to disregard scriptural principles, nor is it a requirement for those who are wanting to obey God to disregard these principles. There is just as much danger of going the other way in feeling sorry and giving to the poor without regard to these principles.

Deut. 15:10-11 contains an interesting thought. We pointed out something previously, and no doubt, this carries on the thought. Our Lord gave a story over in Matt. 25:31-46. There He seems to identify the attitude toward the poor with the relationship to Him. Could this also be the reference of James 2:14-20, where He follows up His directions concerning the poor with "faith without works is dead", v. 17, 20?

6. Of course, our attitude toward the poor will reflect our attitude toward money and, therefore, toward God. If our love of money prevents our obedience to God's Word in regards to the use of that money, what would this prove, Matt. 6:24 (mammon=money)? _________________________

a. What does the use of our money prove, Matt. 6:21? _________________________________

This would go much farther than just the use of money in regards to the poor. This goes into every area of wealth. As we have already seen, in the gaining of wealth and in the use of wealth. How we gain and use it in relationship to His Word will show who or what we serve. Check out the cross-references in your margin, Acts. 20:35; Rom. 12:8; II Cor. 9:5; I Tim. 6:18; I Pet. 4:11.

b. What attitude does he warn us of as we fulfill our obligation to the poor, Deut. 15:10? ________________________________________________________________________

It looks like if we will fulfill this requirement to the poor that the "Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thy works". He will make the works of our hands more prosperous to make up for what we gave.

7. V. 11. What does our Lord tell us in Jn. 12:8? (Note the context. If we are going to honor Him we had better do it now with all our substance). ______________________________________

This brings up an interesting point here in 15:10-11. Does He leave the poor and needy among us to prove our love for Him and our faith (dedication in obedience) in His Word? To see if we will do this toward the needy? Probably if anything would seem "wasted" and would require faith to obey, this principle toward the poor would. Yet, it is clearly upheld in the NT by not only our Lord but by many other authors, such as James (2:14- 20).

Deut. 15:12-18 contains a point worth considering. Notice the similarity between v. 10 and v. 18. Both are at the end of a requirement of God which, to the natural man, seems utterly silly. Lend money with no hope of return to the needy and God will bless. Set free a servant when the release comes and God will bless. Both of these would go against all human understanding and reason. It would stand to reason that if you pile up the money in disregard to the poor you would have more. (Really, in disregard to God's principles of gaining and using wealth). It would stand to reason that the more hard working servants they could acquire and keep past the year of release the more prosperous they would be, yet God says just the opposite. The heart would be grieved at the "wasted" money on the poor. It would be hard to release the hard working servant, but that was the requirement.

Also, 15:1-18, by putting the requirements concerning debt (vv. 1-6) and servitude (vv. 12-18) within the same passage, God strengthens the connection between the two. Debt= bondage and ser­vitude because they both required the same law concerning release.

8. This reflects a central teaching of the scriptures. What is this, Prov. 14:12?
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Here we see that what seems utterly silly to the natural man is actually the way of life and blessing for His people who will step out by faith in His Word. No doubt, this is one of the hard­est areas to step out in -- the area of finances. The world holds finances as a god. It's indeed hard to sacrifice that god to our God, yet we must.

The conclusion to these two verses, 10 and 18, would be this. To do things that seem best to us and our understanding is to look for our blessings and supply from our own abilities and might. To go contrary to our understanding and what seems best to us, and do it according to His Word, is to look to HIM for His blessings and supply. The warfare we face is over which way we will walk or which we will listen to, our understanding, or His Word, yet the just shall live (walk) by faith, Rom. 1:17.

9. VV. 19-23. Here is 12:15-16 again. The first-born is set aside for God, and the Lord God gives it back for the people to enjoy with the restriction of "don't eat the blood." What restric­tions were placed on the Gentile converts by the early church, Acts 15:20?
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We see, then, that this matter of the blood was held to be very important and it still holds today. Don't eat the meat with the blood in it.

The poor. We need to examine our attitude toward the poor, as well as our attitude toward the money God has given us. Does our attitude line up with God's word? For it is really our at­titude toward God which is revealed.