Welfare under Moses

Although the Law of Moses was nailed to the cross (Colossians 2:14), it does give us an insight as to how God would have the poor and needy taken care of.  In giving commands concerning the poor God observed, "the poor shall never cease out of the land" (Deuteronomy 15:11).  Jesus echoed this truth at Bethany, when the woman anointed him and the disciples were filled with indignation at the supposed waste (Matthew 26:6-9).  Christ stated, "ye have the poor always with you" (verse 11).

 As in the New Testament, the Old Testament teaches God's people are to be concerned for the poor and needy.  As stated in Deuteronomy 15:7-8, "If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother: But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth." How- ever, for the most part the poor were given a hand-up rather than a hand-out.                                                                                                                          
The Mosaical "food stamp program" is laid out in Leviticus 19:9-10.  It states, "when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest.  And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the LORD your God."  Contrast this with too prevalent contemporary attitudes: A local Christian family, now deceased, habitually planted an acre or so of black-eyed peas for the poor.  One and all were invited to come and help themselves.  In years gone by many of the poor took advantage of this benevolent program.  However, in more recent years the needy expected the peas to be picked!

 Our modern welfare system is a colossal failure.  Although supposedly developed by well-intended people, it has enslaved rather than liberated.  Instead of helping, it too often hinders.  The IQ does not have to be very high to realize free medical, free food, subsidized housing, etc. trumps working for the necessities of life.  Lying around the house, watching TV and making babies has real appeal to a culture that has rejected the "Protestant work ethic" - which is based on God's Word.

 The traditional community welfare system still works best.  A farmer breaks his leg and the neighbors come and harvest his crop.  Kin helps kin, including the proverbial no-good brother-in-law.  Layabout is no longer heard in contemporary conversation - yet God still states, "if any would not work, neither should he eat" (2 Thessalonians 3:10).  The need for food, clothing, and shelter is the primary motivation for all men.  The faithful, hardworking, Christian has this promise: "seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33).

 Dale I. Royal, Elk City OK