12/2/11 Leviticus 13-19; Psalm 13; Acts 17-10
S: Leviticus 19:10 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. Leviticus 19:33-34 Do not take advantage of foreigners who live among you in your land. Treat them like native-born Israelites, and love them as you love yourself. Remember that you were once foreigners living in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.
O: Tucked in the midst of the many ceremonial laws in Leviticus are several provisions for the poor and foreign workers. The practice of “gleanings” in Leviticus 19:10 is a safety net for the abject poor, and this verse, as well as Leviticus 19:33-34, state the principle of not oppressing foreigners.
A: Many of us, as we read Leviticus, find that it’s very hard to identify anything to apply. I had the same problem with the previous 2 days’ readings (Leviticus 13-17). (You’ll note that I didn’t send out any meditation the last two days, even though I did do the readings.) I mean, we don’t follow those Mosaic laws anymore, so how do I apply any of this?
However, here in Leviticus 18-19, there is a lot of things that, while perhaps no longer binding laws in the Mosaic Law sense, are still applicable to us due to the principles they put forth.
In Leviticus 18, the prohibitions against incest still apply in New Testament times due to genetic problems, though the details may differ. (For example, since New Testament believers do not practice polygamy like the Old Testament believers, the injunction against marrying two sisters is moot.) Homosexual activists that claim to be Christians use the argument that since we generally don’t follow Mosaic laws, why should we follow the Mosaic injunction against homosexual sexual activity? (The answer is from the New Testament.)
The principle of not oppressing the poor and foreigners is still very applicable today. In fact, they are extremely applicable in our Malaysian context.
Malaysians today are terrible oppressors of the poor and foreign workers – especially foreign workers. Over-promise, under-pay, loss of liberty, oppressive work situations, etc. While the whole Indonesian boycott of sending maids to Malaysia situation has caused ordinary Malaysians hardship (my own family was impacted), we basically brought it on ourselves by the inhumane lack of legal protection the maids have.
Yes, we have the worry about maids running away or meeting strange men etc. But that is no excuse for us to not show them the respect as human beings and violating their human rights. Even slaves were supposed to rest on the Sabbath day under Mosaic law!
And even our own Malaysian poor – the vast majority of Malaysian middle-classed office workers look down upon and despise the people who clean our floors, empty our waste-paper baskets, etc.
I’m happy to see that many of my Christian brothers and sisters in the MMU staff prayer group do show courtesy to the cleaning staff. (Yes, Ji Jian, I am talking about you .)
P: Father, forgive us Malaysians for our lack of compassion to the poor and foreign workers. Help us be salt and light to influence a positive change in the way our fellow Malaysians treat them.