Community and Charity - RR187AV88
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|This transcript is unedited. It was:|
|Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library|
|Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules|
|Posted by with permission|
Let us worship God. The hour cometh and now is that the true worshipper shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth. For the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is a spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. Let us pray.
Oh Lord our God we give thanks unto Thee that Thou art on the throne. For all things move in terms of Thy sovereign purpose and holy law. Give us grace therefore to look unto Thee, to walk not by sight but by faith, to know that the kingdoms of this world are Thine and Thou shalt in Thy own time repossess all things and use them for Thy kingdom. Teach us to work for that day, to rejoice in Thy word and Thy spirit and to be more than conquerors through Christ our Lord. In His name we pray, Amen.
Our scripture lesson this morning is Deuteronomy 24:19-22 and our subject: Community and Charity. Community and Charity.
“When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow: that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hands.
20 When thou beatest thine olive tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow.
21 When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean it afterward: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow.
22 And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt: therefore I command thee to do this thing.”
We have here another statement on the law of gleaning
We have here another statement on the law of gleaning, obviously very important to the law of God because it is so often repeated with variations. Because the earth is the Lords and the fullness thereof and they that dwell therein, God legislates our use of the earth’s bounty. In Leviticus 19:9 following gleaning is described. Landowners are required to leave the corners of the field unharvested so that the gleaner can have the grain. The vineyard must not be picked clean for the same reason. In our text this law is expanded. A dropped sheaf of grain must be left for the gleaners. Fruit trees such as the olive cannot be picked clean. The same is true of things like grapes. The landless poor must be allowed to come into the field and glean. Since the gleaning was of the remains after a harvest it was harder work to glean than to harvest. At times as the book of Ruth tells us the gleaners worked behind the harvesters, because of this the owner could tell his crew to leave an extra behind for the deserving person working in that particular row. According to Ruth 2:15-16:
“And when she was risen up to glean, Boaz commanded his young men, saying, Let her glean even among the sheaves, and reproach her not:
16 And let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glean them, and rebuke her not.”
At least until World War One this practice still existed in Palestine and of course throughout Christendom as we shall see later. Some commentators insist on seeing gleaning as related to pagan practices of leaving the last sheaf to the spirits who ruled the fields. Now all of this is so remote from gleaning that to make a correlation is an act of mental and moral dereliction. But the reason for doing so is the determined Darwinian perspective. [00:06:04]
Everything in the bible and in life has to be explained
Everything in the bible and in life has to be explained in terms of something very primitive, even if they have to manufacture that primitive precedent. Everything is caused from below and is an act of primitivism not a mandate from God. In First Kings 21:1-16 we see how Naboth in terms of God’s law saw his farm as an inalienable property which he could not sell. It belongs to his forefathers and to the generations yet to come, therefore God’s law had to govern the land and its use and this is the reason why the harvest is an aspect of Godly charity and community and a matter of God’s law. The protection of the helpless is the duty of all and gleaning is one aspect of this protection. Goodwill Industries is gleaning applied to cities; it’s a modern application of this law, self-consciously. God makes clear in verses twenty one and twenty two that charity and justice to the helpless is very important to Him. In verses seventeen through eighteen justice to the aliens, the orphans and the widows is required. In verses nineteen through twenty two the requirement is charity, the two are linked. God’s law does not separate them. A mistake made by some commentators on this text is to assume that the law was addressed to wealthy landowners as though only the wealthy should be charitable. Well that was Marxism applied to biblical exegesis. Nothing in the text limits the law to the prosperous farmer. It is addressed to all. Verse twenty and also twenty one say that the thing specified shall be for and that can be translated ‘or belong to’ the deserving poor. You could not claim the total harvest for yourself any more than God allows you to claim your total income for yourself. [00:09:00]
Because gleaning is very hard work, harder than harvesting
Because gleaning is very hard work, harder than harvesting, because it is much more work for limited returns the undeserving poor over the centuries have preferred begging to gleaning. Gleaning enabled the gleaners however to retain their self-respect, it was not a matter of shame to be a gleaner but a manifestation of character. Two reasons are stated to motivate obedience to this law. First, verse nineteen God will bless the faithful , He says, in all the work of His hands, in every area of their life and activity. Second, the fact that they were once in bondage in Egypt should make them ready to help the helpless. In Clifford’s words they will be blessed, quote:
“In remembering that the land is not theirs by right but by grace, its yield is a gift and gifts are best shared.” Unquote.
[unknown] observed of this law and I quote:
“If a man is not generous toward his poor neighbors in time of harvest he will never be generous. If the profuse generosity of God be lavished upon him in vain his moral nature must be hard indeed. As men make hay while the sun shines so should we yield toward benevolent impulses while God surrounds us with sunshine of kindness. As we are undeserving recipients of what we have we should share our unpurchased bounty with others.” Unquote.
It is a moral obligation to help the weak and the helpless where we can. We are told in Leviticus 25:23 the land shall not be sold forever for the land is mine for you are strangers and sojourners with me. This tells us first that the land belongs to God and cannot be disposed of at our will, because, second, the land belongs to God and therefore we live on it at His pleasure and on His terms. Third, before God we are like the poor and the helpless. Trenchant people here on earth. God is the landlord and his terms for tenure on earth are unchanging and non-negotiable. The marginal note to this text in the Geneva Bible reads: God judged them not mindful of His benefit except they were beneficial to others. [00:12:23]
The practice of gleaning became an aspect of Christian
The practice of gleaning became an aspect of Christian life very early although a much neglected subject we have a vivid reminder of it in Millet’s famous painting The Gleaners. To many people of our fathers or grandfather’s generations this painting was a vivid reminder of a Christian practice in Europe, America and elsewhere. It is interesting that very few pictures have sold in many reproductions as The Gleaners. It struck a responsive note throughout Europe and America because the practice was familiar to them and many could remember gleaning when they were young with their mother, a widow. Only once in my life did I hear a man who was too wealthy to call a millionaire speak of it as a humiliation to have had to go out with his mother to glean but everyone else remembered it as something that was made available by faith of others and was life for their family. The critics have been very hostile to malaise The Gleaners because they recognize very early that it represented a witness to Christian civilization, something they hated. You rarely see a reproduction of The Gleaners now. We are too far beyond that world for the average man to appreciate the painting as was once routinely the case. Calvin in a very moving sermon declared that God says in this text to men and I quote:
“The land you have is mine and I granted it unto you with condition that I shall receive at least wise the ransom services. God therefore in token of a kind of homage reserveth unto Himself the gleaning and other things for the poor that come after to gather the grapes and olives that are left behind. God sayeth that these are royalties that belong unto Him and that He giveth and bestoweth to such that hath need and therefore that the rich men ought not to begrieve therewith as if they had lost anything or as if their own goods were taken from them. For God saith that all is mine, He hath [unknown] in effect which is here contained, now let us note well, that God meaneth not that the poor should be in such wise relieved as that the rich should be spoiled of that which they possess, for such a confusion and disorder would that breed. We must therefore note that God leaveth unto every man whatsoever he possesseth, either by way of inheritance or [unknown] or any other just and lawful title. And hereby the poor are warned not to ransack or wreak havoc of whatsoever cometh in their way as many do, which think they may snatch away anything by good right so they be not punished by law nor have any to witness against them.” Unquote. [00:16:40]
Calvin had reference to the fact that indeed in some
Calvin had reference to the fact that indeed in some instances the poor acted as though they had title to things but as he reminds us, the owner could bar people, he could choose those who were to glean. So there was a mutual obligation. As the old offertory lines say ‘all things come from thee oh Lord and of Thine own have we given Thee’. The poor and the rich are to remember that God is the landlord. A marked characteristic of the ancient city and of cities up to the military use of gunpowder was the city wall to protect the city from enemies and marauders. Walls are protective devices. What we are now seeing is something very strange, the walled individual. A lawless society is making self-protection necessary, houses are in various ways safe guarded with guns, security systems and dogs. We are instructed on how to drive an automobile in dangerous areas and the reason for this is double. First the rise of crime and second the breakdown of community. Biblical law requires instruction on all levels of society so that the peoples may be trained in the ways of justice. At the same time it requires a concern for the helpless in any and every society. God requires of us that we see what we have as a stewardship that all that we have and all that we are is his. He therefore by His law has the absolute right to say this is what you should do. This is the way, walk ye in it. It is not for men to dictate it, nor church nor state, but God does dictate it and He summons us to obey and He tells us that we cannot have a Godly society apart from His law word. Let us pray. [00:19:48]
Our Father we give thanks unto Thee for Thy word, Thy
Our Father we give thanks unto Thee for Thy word, Thy word is truth, Thy word lays open our needs, our sins and our short comings, the failures in our world and the things needful. Give us hearing hearts that we may hear and obey, In Christ’s name, Amen.
Are there any questions now about our lesson? Yes?
[Question] Your comment about the poor think they have title to everything, does that seem to be a similar spirit, a democratic spirit that’s reigning among a lot of people today.
[Rushdoony] Yes. With the rise of Darwinism men have come to see themselves in isolation from everything. A world in which survival is of the fittest and it’s a struggle for survival, the people who are not successful somehow deserve to be down and out and why bother with them? I have heard people, this was some years ago, in the first big wave of post-war prosperity, tell me that the poor didn’t need help, that he could not believe that it was anything but a moral failure on their part that they were poor. I wonder what has happened to some of those people since and now when corporations fail or are absorbed into others and they’re out of work and their past fifty and they cannot be absorbed by any other group how they feel about their condition being a moral failure on their part. Darwinism has led to a great deal of arrogance on the part of men. They’ve become Pharisees, I thank Thee God that I am not as one of these and God’s law strikes at that. And the organization of society whenever it’s been Christian has meant that Paul’s words have been applied, for we are members one of another, and it has created a radically different kind of relationship between peoples. [00:23:23]
Are there any other questions or comments, yes?...
Are there any other questions or comments, yes?
[Question] The states of Florida and California have begun to pass laws outlawing sanctuaries, municipalities that declare themselves sanctuaries for immigrants into this country, and its creating a lot of confusion I would guess in the mind of Christian on how to treat that issue because the, I’ve seen numbers in some areas, that over two thirds of the people in jails are illegal immigrants, they’re consuming enormous resources from welfare agencies and so forth, how does one go with that?
[Rushdoony] United States from its inception has had illegal aliens. Not much is written about it but they were always coming over and we had less safe guards to keep them out. But the great difference between the illegal aliens of the earlier centuries and into the twenties and thirties, even, was this: they came here illegally because they wanted work and this was a place where there was work available. Hard work but they were ready to work. Now they’re coming over not because they want work in most cases but because they want benefits and because they’re criminal. Now I won’t deny that there are some who come over and will work, but a high percentage do not want to work, they come for the benefits of welfarism and for criminal opportunities. So that it’s hard to generalize on illegal aliens since it’s been so different, so very, very different in the history of this country. All you have to do is look back on all those who could come, who fled from northern Europe, central Europe, southern Europe, from Ireland, from England, often coming by way of Canada, because they wanted to come in faster than the legal ways permitted. And they went to work! That was their overwhelming motivation. It was the land of opportunity and for them that meant the opportunity to work. [00:26:47]
But that’s not what draws a very high percentage of
But that’s not what draws a very high percentage of illegal aliens to the United States today. So we have a totally different context and we have to say that by the things done as putting illegal aliens on benefits immediately, giving them full hospitalization, and so on, when they came here just for that sort of thing it’s very destructive for the working and the legal aliens and the working Americans. So we have a situation which is really one aspect of the war against the godly, working people of the United States. Are there any other questions and comments? Yes?
[Question] You mentioned the walled individual and the need to defend yourself. And we have a peculiar situation where the authorities don’t want you to defend yourself and if you do you have to be investigated and you have to prove that you didn’t violate the rights of your assailant.
[Rushdoony] Yes, the law today does not favor the godly, rather it favors the ungodly. Now to give you an idea of how seriously this was taken, this law of charity, both in Israel and in Judaism through the centuries and among Christians through the centuries it meant that when you had a banquet comparable to the festivals of old you had to have someone needy in your home to eat at your table, this was routine and in fact it was carried to the point that the greater you were the more you did it! And not only were there foot washing ceremonies in the church to indicate the humility of Christ on the part of a bishop but wealthy and powerful men at times performed that for the poor, even kings, because they were to demonstrate the unity of society in Christ. [00:29:31]
Well, let us conclude now with prayer
Well, let us conclude now with prayer.
Our Father, we thank Thee for Thy word and we pray that thou wouldst recall us as a nation and the nations to Thy son our King and Thy word, our law, our law of liberty. Make us zealous and faithful therein. And now go in peace, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost, bless you and keep you, guide and protect you, this day and always, Amen.