Matthew 25:31-45 (NIV) “31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ 44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”
These Scriptures teach us that Christianity can never be separated from social justice. In the Old Testament the law was written on stone at Mt Sinai. In the New Testament these righteous laws are written on our hearts beginning in Acts 2 when the Holy Spirit was poured out.
The Year of Jubilee Given at Mt Sinai – Leviticus 25:8-17 (NIV) “‘Count off seven sabbath years—seven times seven years—so that the seven sabbath years amount to a period of forty-nine years. 9 Then have the trumpet sounded everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land. 10 Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan. 11 The fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; do not sow and do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the untended vines. 12 For it is a jubilee and is to be holy for you; eat only what is taken directly from the fields. 13 “‘In this Year of Jubilee everyone is to return to their own property. 14 “‘If you sell land to any of your own people or buy land from them, do not take advantage of each other. 15 You are to buy from your own people on the basis of the number of years since the Jubilee. And they are to sell to you on the basis of the number of years left for harvesting crops. 16 When the years are many, you are to increase the price, and when the years are few, you are to decrease the price, because what is really being sold to you is the number of crops. 17 Do not take advantage of each other, but fear your God. I am the Lord your God.
The social laws of Israel had capital incentive as well as socialistic protections. Every fifty years the land went back to the original tribe. Israel didn’t keep this and it was the major reason they went to Babylon for 70 years according to 2Chron. 36:18-22. Every 7 years they were to forgive debt and let the land rest 1 year. They were to save the corners of their fields for the poor. They were to glean their fields only once so after the poor could come in and have food and even the animals could eat. Leviticus 19:9 (NIV) “‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God.
During the 50 years they could sell the land but after fifty years it would go back to the original families and tribes. If one of the fathers sold the ancient landmark it would return after fifty years to his off spring and children. This also protected against the amassing of land in the hands of the rich or corporations and Oligarchies. This social justice in laws protected the people, the land, the culture and the future of Israel. Israel as a kingdom of priests was to teach it to the other nations and will in Isaiah 2 during the millennial kingdom. Isaiah 2:1-5 (NIV) This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem: 2 In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. 3 Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. 4 He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore 5 Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord.
Leviticus 23-25 dealt with the feast days, Sabbaths and feast of Jubilee every fifty years when this great justice of the land going back to the original tribes and families was to take place. Even when the land was in individual families there were righteous laws that made that very land used for the poor and needy. The concept that land is strictly to be used for wealth is not a Biblical concept. Leviticus 25:23 (NIV) “The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine, for ye are strangers and sojourners with me.” God always wanted the land to be in the hands of good stewards that new the land was ultimately his and was part of his love for all. This concept today that we can have businesses own water and rain etc. is wrong. Can a corporation own the moon or sun or stars? Psalms 24:1 (NKJV) “The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein.”
Love thy neighbor as thyself and do onto others as we would want them to do onto us is certainly a command to the individual. God also gave righteous laws to protect people and bring justice to the lowest wrung of society. It wasn’t just the libertarian perspective of love your neighbor as yourself by the individual. It was also solid laws of protection concerning foreclosures, disenfranchisement, amassing of land; which is how wealth is accumulated and the stability of an economy based on social justice. Proverbs 31:7 (NIV) “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.”
Here are a few Scriptures the Bible speaks about concerning the poor and oppressed. All NIV –
Proverbs 14:31 “He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, but he who is gracious to the needy honors Him.”
Deut. 26:12 “When you have finished paying the complete tithe of your increase in the third year, the year of tithing, then you shall give it to the Levite, to the stranger, to the orphan and the widow, that they may eat in your towns, and be satisfied.”
Luke 14:12-14 “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and repayment come to you. But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
Ezekiel 22:29,31. “The people of the land have practiced oppression and committed robbery, and they have wronged the poor and needy and have oppressed the sojourner without justice… Thus I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; their way I have brought upon their heads,” declares the Lord GOD.
Isaiah 10:1-3 “Woe to those who enact evil statutes, and to those who continually record unjust decisions, so as to deprive the needy of justice, and rob the poor of My people of their rights… Now what will you do in the day of punishment, and in the devastation which will come from afar?”
Proverbs 29:7 “The righteous is concerned for the rights of the poor; the wicked does not understand such concern.”
So many times we see Christian denominations and churches on the side of oppression like the churches in Germany during world war two. They went with Hitler and the Nazi’s while the ovens were filled with Jews and dissidents. We seen Native American’s slaughtered and conquered then placed in reservations and forced to give up their own language and culture. Many trained like dogs by so-called Christian society. We have seen missionaries carry Western culture, ideals and flags acting like they were equal to the cross and love. We have seen conquistador mentality come into lands in the name of manifest destiny and supported by confessing churches. We see the rich supported and the poor denied. How many churches supported Jim Crow laws and went along with segregation? The church is to stand for righteousness not oppression, racism and injustice.
One out of three were slaves in the Roman Empire during the writings of the Apostle Paul. Christianity came into the lower classes and everywhere in the Gospels and epistles the seeking of wealth was condemned. Everywhere the sharing of our wealth was encouraged. Everywhere God was trying to lift up the least and his true church should be the same way.
It’s been stated that all the charities in the USA would only bring in one tenth of what the poor in our own land need. Sometimes social justice works with governments to try to help people. Hurricanes, natural disasters and many other things take government coordination and funds. Programs that help people are needed. Not everything comes under church authority. Many times our charity reaches out to people by supporting good works not under our brand of Christianity. Do we only support Christian fire departments or police departments? When we can influence governments to help the poor, disenfranchised and less fortunate we should. This doesn’t mean we think government is our God. It means we use governments like tools to help people in the here and now.
We believe a working person deserves a fair wage and one where they have dreams. Jeremiah 22:13 (NIV) “Woe to him who builds his palace by unrighteousness, his upper rooms by injustice, making his own people work for nothing, not paying them for their labor.” James 5:1-6 (NIV) “Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. 2 Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. 3 Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. 4 Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. 5 You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.[a] 6 You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.”
We remember what the glorified Jesus said to the church of Laodicea Revelation 3:14-18 (NIV) “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.”
We understand that sometimes doors are shut and we can’t bring in changes. We know the words of John Adams the second President of the United States of America – “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”
We understand fallen nature wins and always leads to imprisonment. We know that during our time we still battle the devil and his angels and we can only do so much. Luke 4:5-6 (NIV) “The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to.” After Jesus defeated the devils temptations in the wilderness he preached his first sermon out of Isaiah 61 showing he was the Jubilee. He is the one that will bind the devil in the Great Tribulation period and free the land with justice and mercy. Luke 4:16-20 (NIV) “He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free,19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”[a] 20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him.” Christians have great hope. We know someday everything will works out. We never lose hope now as we do battle against evil. We know the full Jubilee will come and all the forces of evil will be defeated.
We can strengthen the things that remain and try to accomplish what we can. Sometimes we simply cannot change a situation but we can understand. We can have true compassion to immigrants, refugees, and victims of societal oppression. We understand that God will straighten out things completely in time and we believe in the full serenity prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr
Serenity Prayer – “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; Enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him Forever in the next. Amen.”
When we can change things we should we reach out to people. Pope Francis in 2013 spoke and wrote some powerful words as a Christian, “How are we using the earth’s resources?” the Pope asks. “Contemporary societies should reflect on the hierarchy of priorities to which production is directed. It is a truly pressing duty to use the earth’s resources in such a way that all may be free from hunger.” “I think of the devastation of natural resources and ongoing pollution, and the tragedy of the exploitation of labor,” he writes. “I think too of illicit money trafficking and financial speculation, which often prove both predatory and harmful for entire economic and social systems, exposing millions of men and women to poverty.”
The alienated times we are in even attacks the sanctuary of the womb we all come from. We are against the killing of the least of these. Abortion as a form of birth control is pure wickedness. We agree with the words of Pope Francis in 2014. “It is horrific even to think that there are children, victims of abortion, who will never see the light of day,” Abortion, he said, was part of a “throwaway culture” that had enveloped many parts of the world. “Unfortunately, what is thrown away is not only food and dispensable objects, but often human beings themselves, who are discarded as unnecessary,”
When we cannot change circumstances we can understand. Understanding where ethnic groups,immigrants, refugees and poverty systems are coming from breaks down prejudice and stereotypes. In the words of Mahatma Ghandi, “The Roots of Violence: Wealth without work, Pleasure without conscience, Knowledge without character, Commerce without morality, Science without humanity, Worship without sacrifice, Politics without principles”
Table of the Lord stands up for universals we find in the Scriptures. We are against racism, neocolonialism, militarism, imperialism, trickle down economics and nationalism pawning itself off as Christianity. We want to understand the roots of poverty. We stand for universal healthcare like Israel has. We believe in educating the least of these not just the wealthy or talented. We stand up against abortion as a form of birth control with no regard for the fetus, which we all were at one time. We believe in fighting for the least of mankind while never compromising our faith in the eternal kingdom of God. We know we can never bring in the eternal kingdom or utopia but as Christians we always want to help and understand the least of mankind.
Sanctification 1 (Love of the Poor)
Sanctification 2 (the poor)