There is much political debate over whether American tax dollars should be used to bring aid to the poor. Some believe that this is completely the governments responsibility. Others think that the government should not be involved at all.
What do you think?
I think that we should consider how God felt these things should be handled in the nation of Israel. Looking at the Old Testament law can give us some insight into God's dealing with a nation. A few of the many verses to consider:
I have heard many refer to Matthew 26 where Jesus quotes the OT and says the poor will always be with you. But few go back and look at what was being said. Deuteronomy 15 does say that the poor will always be with so "open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land". This is about generousity, but not about government involvement.
Exodus 23:11 talks about the Sabbath year. Every seventh year, the farmer is to not harvest his own land so that the poor may eat from it. That would mean that about 14% of the food from their field would be designated by law to the poor with no strings attached.
Leviticus 19:9,10 tells the farmer to not go around and pick up all of the leftover harvest, but to "Leave them for the poor and the alien". Again governmental law to leave some extra for the poor. Lev. 23:22 repeats this again in case they missed it.
Leviticus 25 talks about the year of Jubilee (which the Israelites never actually practiced). A time of land being returned to original owners. A time of resting from work. In this chapter, the Israelites are told that they are to care for the poor and not lend them money with interest. So much for all of the banks and payday loan places that exploit the poor.
Deuteronomy 24 talks about paying the worker who is poor daily because he needs it. It also talks about paying him a fair wage. So much for those who are against a minimum wage.
And then there is the tithe. This is the tax of the day for the Israelites. There were three tithes. Two to be paid yearly and on to be paid every three years. Basically a 23% tax when you average it out. One tithe was general. One tithe went to the feasts, celebrations, etc. The other tithe which was given every third year was for the Levites and the poor - orphan, widow, alien. So in Israel, 3.33% of all that people earned was set aside for assistance to the poor among them. This is talked about it Deuteronomy 14 and 26.
Does this mean that the US should set aside tax money to care for the poor? Not necessarily, but I think that we should consider our responsibility as a society to those who are less fortunate.
What do you think?