[ the actual title of this page:]
http://WhatWouldJesusThink.info/Godvsgreed

 

GOD vs. Greed


  Pages :     1 ~     [ 2a ] ~   2b ~     3 ~     4 ~

Second, let's look at God's role in this mess :

All of those who believe in an all-loving and omnipotent God – as I do – have a serious problem on their hands.  The way many believers deal with this problem is to run away from it, or to give some answer that only satisfies those who don't have the courage to take the question seriously in the first place.  As a believer who does take this question very seriously, the only answer I find plausible is this.  After God created this and populated it, he provided its inhabitants with a set of "Manufacturer's Instructions", and with good minds with which to read and follow those instructions.  It's because we creatures of God have ignored those instuctions that we have made such a mess of his creation.  It is very late, but perhaps not too late, to dig out those instructions and to straighten out the mess we have made.


2 Disciple with Jesus

        Before the resurrected Savior had revealed himself to his followers, he joined a pair of them as they walked the road to Emmaus.  And Luke 24: 27 records that "beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures."   Then Jesus vanished as mysteriously as he had appeared.  And the disciples marveled: "Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?" (v. 32)

        The Bible is a large volume and much of it is like a thick, hard shell of material that must be forced opened in order to reveal the pearls of wisdom hidden inside.  We cannot hope to match the lesson given by the Master to those lucky disciples on that day.  But that, we believe, is the goal that we disciples of Christ ought to be striving to achieve.  And this "Liberals like Christ" web site is my humble attempt to achieve just that, beginning with the earliest books of the bible, and culminating with the life and teaching of Jesus of Nazareth.


        Now, it's natural for Christians to spend most of their time dwelling on the "New" Testament, but that part of the Bible can only be properly understood as the culmination and fulfilment of what the Jews call the "Law and the Prophets".   St. Paul went so far as to say that the lack of knowledge and understanding of the teaching of the great prophets, is what prevented many Jews of the time from recognizing and appreciating Jesus :
{ Acts 13: 26-28 } 

"My brothers, you descendants of Abraham's family, and others who fear God, to us the message of this salvation has been sent.  Because the residents of Jerusalem and their leaders did not recognize him or understand the words of the prophets that are read every sabbath, they fulfilled those words by condemning him.  Even though they found no cause for a sentence of death, they asked Pilate to have him killed. "


Jesus himself made much the same point, when he said in
{ John 5 : 37-41, 45-47 }  

"The Father who sent me has himself testified on my behalf.  You have never heard his voice or seen his form, and you do not have his word abiding in you, because you do not believe him whom he has sent.  You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these scriptures that testify on my behalf.  Yet you refuse to come to me to have life.  . .   Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; your accuser is Moses, on whom you have set your hope.  If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me (in the books of "The Law").  But if you do not believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?"

        One of the most important parts of Jesus' teaching is the answer to this question about the Hebrew Torah :
{ Matthew 22:36-40 } 

"Sir, which is the most important command in the laws of Moses?"  Jesus replied,
        "This is the first and greatest commandment:  'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.'
        The second most important is similar:   'Love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.'
        All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets stem from these two laws and are fulfilled if you obey them.  Keep only these and you will find that you are obeying all the others."

        Jesus couldn't have made his demands more simple, just two commandments?   Yet, Jesus understood, as does the Hebrew Bible, that most people need help figuring out
  • whom they must love and
  • precisely what that love should move them to do.
            And that is why we need a whole bible, and not just an index card.


            Although every Christian and Jew is familiar with the opening chapter of the Bible, how many grasp its tremendous significance ?
    In the Beginning
    { Genesis 1: 27-31 }

    "So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.  God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth."  God said, "See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food.  And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food."  And it was so.  God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good."

    If the Bible is to be believed, then God created the whole of our world to meet the needs of the people he had created in his own image, and whom he expected to "be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it".  In many so-called Christian circles today, the idea that the world should belong to all of its inhabitants is considered communism !   It is sad that Karl Marx stole the idea of "From each according to his ability to each according to his need" from the Bible, and that it was then exploited to promote godless communism.  But it is sadder still that so many Christians haven't even discovered the theft yet!  The whole Communist "evil empire" that was built on that principle was bound to crumble, not because it was communism, but because it was atheistic Communism.  Once those who collected "from each according to their ability to pay" got their hands on such wealth, they were no more inclined than capitalists to distribute it "to each according to his need".  Without the "manufacturer's instructions" provided by the maker of mankind and his universe, people are not kind or just enough to give "to each according to their needs".  How tragic it is, then, that theologians who point out that the Bible favors the distribution of the riches of the world which God created among all of those whom He puts on earth are contemptuously called "Communists" by people who don't realize that what was wrong with Atheistic Communism was the "Atheistic" part, not the "Communist" part.
            In one of the earliest books of the bible, Leviticus, the whole first chapter is devoted to an idea which most Americans would consider blatant Communism, namely redistribution of private property by force of law to the needy.  This chapter teaches that the loss of property, especially when forced upon people by misfortune, should be corrected every fifty years, and such property should be returned outright to the original owners, without even compensating the recent owners.  (The temporary owners are only to be compensated – on a pro rata basis– if and when they have returned the property before the fifty years are up.)   Here is the climax of that chapter:

    { Leviticus 25: 23-28 = NRSV}

    "The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine; with me you are but aliens and tenants.  Throughout the land that you hold, you shall provide for the redemption of the land.  If anyone of your kin falls into difficulty and sells a piece of property, then the next of kin shall come and redeem what the relative has sold.  If the person has no one to redeem it, but then prospers and finds sufficient means to do so,  the years since its sale shall be computed and the difference shall be refunded to the person to whom it was sold, and the property shall be returned.  But if there is not sufficient means to recover it, what was sold shall remain with the purchaser until the year of jubilee; in the jubilee it shall be released, and the property shall be returned.

    People often say that there can be no Peace without Justice.  To put some flesh on that skeletal statement, we might say, "Are people who want peace willing to pay its price?"  There cannot be peace in a world where some of the people are happy and others miserable.  In order to avoid anger and its various manifestations, either of crimes between individuals or war between groups, those who are comfortable need to be willing to share with those who are not.  That is the price of peace.  The Hebrew Bible offers mankind an incredibly wise formula for avoiding all kinds of human misery, a schedule for world peace, the restoration of justice every seven years or seven times seven years.


    When there were barely a handful of people in the world, the very first book of the Bible, Genesis { 4:9 }  was already teaching the necessity of being concerned about the well-being of others.  An emphatic "No" is the way Cain (and many conservative Christians today) would like to answer the rhetorical question "Am I my brother's keeper?"     But from beginning to end,  the answer which the Bible keeps giving to that question is:  "If you want God's approval, you must indeed be your brother's, and your sister's, and even your neighbor's keeper !
            Here are other early admonitions of the early part of the bible which the Jews call "the Law".  Notice how these recommend "liberality" :

    Moses with the tablets
    { Leviticus 25:35-36 = TLB}

    "If your brother becomes poor, you are responsible to help him; invite him to live with you as a guest in your home.   Fear your God and let your brother live with you; and don't charge him interest on money you lend him.   Remember – no interest; and give him what he needs, at your cost: don't try to make a profit!"

    { Deuteronomy 24:14-21 = TLB}

    "Never oppress a poor hired man, whether a fellow Israelite or a foreigner living in your town.  Pay him his wage each day before sunset, for since he is poor he needs it right away; otherwise he may cry out to the Lord against you and it would be counted as a sin against you.
            You shall not deprive a resident alien or an orphan of justice; you shall not take a widow's garment in pledge. . .
            When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be left for the alien, the orphan, and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all your undertakings.  When you beat your olive trees, do not strip what is left; it shall be for the alien, the orphan, and the widow.  When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, do not glean what is left; it shall be for the alien, the orphan, and the widow."

    ( Deuteronomy 15:4-5 = NRSV)  

    " There will, however, be no one in need among you, because the Lord is sure to bless you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you as a possession to occupy, if only you will obey the Lord your God by diligently observing this entire commandment that I command you today.

            If there is among you anyone in need, a member of your community in any of your towns within the land that the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hard-hearted or tight-fisted toward your needy neighbor.  You should rather open your hand, willingly lending enough to meet the need, whatever it may be. "

    ( Deuteronomy 15:7-11 = NRSV )  

    " Be careful that you do not entertain a mean thought, thinking,  "The seventh year, the year of remission, is near," and therefore view your needy neighbor with hostility and give nothing; your neighbor might cry to the Lord against you, and you would incur guilt.
            Give liberally and be ungrudging when you do so, for on this account the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake.  Since there will never cease to be some in need on the earth, I therefore command you,  "Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land."

    ( Deuteronomy 15:12-18 = NRSV)  

    "If a member of your community, whether a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you and works for you six years, in the seventh year you shall set that person free.  And when you send a male slave out from you a free person, you shall not send him out empty-handed.  Provide liberally out of your flock, your threshing floor, and your wine press, thus giving to him some of the bounty with which the Lord your God has blessed you.  Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; for this reason I lay this command upon you today.  Do not consider it a hardship when you send them out from you free persons, because for six years they have given you services worth the wages of hired laborers; and the Lord your God will bless you in all that you do.

    According to ( Leviticus 25:1–28 )  
        These passages are so beautiful and powerful that mere text on a page doesn't do them justice.

        See the audio-visual versions I have published at Youtube.

    " The Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying:  "Speak to the people of Israel and say to them: When you enter the land that I am giving you, the land shall observe a sabbath for the Lord.  Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather in their yield;  but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of complete rest for the land, a sabbath for the Lord: you shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard.  You shall not reap the aftergrowth of your harvest or gather the grapes of your unpruned vine: it shall be a year of complete rest for the land.  You may eat what the land yields during its sabbath–you, your male and female slaves, your hired and your bound laborers who live with you;  for your livestock also, and for the wild animals in your land all its yield shall be for food.  You shall count off seven weeks of years, seven times seven years, so that the period of seven weeks of years gives forty-nine years.  Then you shall have the trumpet sounded loud; on the tenth day of the seventh month – on the day of atonement – you shall have the trumpet sounded throughout all your land.  And you shall hallow the fiftieth year and you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you: you shall return, every one of you, to your property and every one of you to your family.  That fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you: you shall not sow, or reap the aftergrowth, or harvest the unpruned vines.   For it is a jubilee; it shall be holy to you: you shall eat only what the field itself produces.   In this year of jubilee you shall return, every one of you, to your property.   When you make a sale to your neighbor or buy from your neighbor, you shall not cheat one another.   When you buy from your neighbor, you shall pay only for the number of years since the jubilee; the seller shall charge you only for the remaining crop years.   If the years are more, you shall increase the price, and if the years are fewer, you shall diminish the price; for it is a certain number of harvests that are being sold to you.   You shall not cheat one another, but you shall fear your God; for I am the Lord your God.   You shall observe my statutes and faithfully keep my ordinances, so that you may live on the land securely.   The land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill and live on it securely.   Should you ask, What shall we eat in the seventh year, if we may not sow or gather in our crop?   I will order my blessing for you in the sixth year, so that it will yield a crop for three years.   When you sow in the eighth year, you will be eating from the old crop; until the ninth year, when its produce comes in, you shall eat the old.   The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine; with me you are but aliens and tenants.   Throughout the land that you hold, you shall provide for the redemption of the land.   If anyone of your kin falls into difficulty and sells a piece of property, then the next of kin shall come and redeem what the relative has sold.   If the person has no one to redeem it, but then prospers and finds sufficient means to do so, the years since its sale shall be computed and the difference shall be refunded to the person to whom it was sold, and the property shall be returned.   But if there is not sufficient means to recover it, what was sold shall remain with the purchaser until the year of jubilee; in the jubilee it shall be released, and the property shall be returned."

    As time went on, every once in a great while a preacher arose whose words were worth recording for future generations to hear again and again.  Such great preachers were not called "prophets" because they could predict the future, or "prophesy" – as many now mistakenly believe.  Although some of these made predictions about the future, (mostly warnings, in effect, about the consequences of heeding or failing to heed their message) , what made these preachers great "seers" or "prophets" wasn't what they could predict about the future, but what they dared to see and say about their present, i.e. teaching which the rich and the mighty of their day did not want to hear.
            The appeal of the passages above (from the Torah) to charity, generosity, or "liberality" is not typical of the Hebrew Bible, because more often than not the great prophets of old expressed concern for the unfortunate on the grounds of justice, rather than generosity, as in the passages below.
            In sharp contrast to the hard-hearted attitudes of "Christian Conservative" Republicans, the Bible rarely blames the victims of poverty for their plight.  Rather, the great prophets of the Bible usually blame the high and the mighty of society for those ills.  And those prophets expect the community as a whole to redress what they perceive as avoidable injustices (rather than just misfortunes or the result of laziness).

    { Isaiah 3:14-15 } 

    "First to feel God's wrath will be the elders (which usually means "priests") and the princes, for they have defrauded the poor.  They have filled their barns with grain extorted from the helpless peasants."  . . .   "How dare you grind my people in the dust like that?" the Lord Almighty will demand of them. "

    Maybe stockholders whose profits are the result of oppressive labor practices in far away countries will escape God's attention, the way they escape the attention of most preachers.  But maybe not!

    { Isaiah 32: 5-6 } 

    "In those days the ungodly, the atheists, will not be heroes!  Wealthy cheaters will not be spoken of as generous, outstanding men!  Everyone will recognize an evil man when he sees him,  and hypocrites will fool no one at all.   Their lies about God and their cheating of the hungry will be plain for all to see.   The smooth tricks of evil men will be exposed, as will all the lies they use to oppress the poor in the courts.  But good men will be generous to others and will be blessed of God for all they do."

    Follow the link below to a perfect illustration of what Isaiah was talking about in our own times (almost) in America.  This is what some Conservatives consider "Christian Philanthropy"

    .

    Here, on the other hand, is a great site called "Tikkun.Org" a Jewish site which promotes what it argues is the central theme of the Hebrew Bible (and Christian "Old Testament") namely the duty God's children have to "repair" or heal His Creation.
            What a contrast there is between the Bible and Christian Conservatives in America today and organizations like their "Christian Coalition"!  This Coalition promulgates the view of their coalition partner, the Republican Party, that the well-to-do friends and supporters of this politico-religious coalition have only honest labor to thank for their wealth, while the poor have only themselves to blame for their misery.   But the Bible constantly blames the woes of the poor on those merchants, landlords, judges, legislators, princes,and even on clerics and "haughty women", for depriving the poor and the weak of that to which they are entitled!   And it expects the well-to-do oppressors of the poor, not their helpless victims, to stop and to repair these injustices.

    { Zechariah 7:10 } 
            "Tell them to stop oppressing widows and orphans, foreigners and poor people, and to stop plotting evil against each other."

    Once preachers have translated the Bible from the ancient languages into modern ones, their job isn't over.  Good preachers owe it to us to show the relevance of the Bible to our own time and to today's world, by applying what was said of ancient circumstances to the HERE and NOW.  If Zechariah were preaching in America today, would he not be preaching "Stop oppressing welfare mothers and children; stop oppressing minorities, immigrants, the unemployed, the uninsured and the underpaid (poor)".

    ( Deuteronomy 16:18-20 = NRSV)  

    "You shall appoint judges and officials throughout your tribes, in all your towns that the LORD your God is giving you, and they shall render just decisions for the people. You must not distort justice; you must not show partiality; and you must not accept bribes, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and subverts the cause of those who are in the right. Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue, so that you may live and occupy the land that the LORD your God is giving you."

    ( Jeremiah 22: 3 & 13 )  

    " Thus says the LORD: Act with justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor anyone who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the alien, the orphan, and the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place. . . 13 Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness, and his upper rooms by injustice; who makes his neighbors work for nothing, and does not give them their wages."

    { Isaiah 10:1-3}

    "Woe to unjust judges and legislators," says the Lord, "so that there is no justice for the poor, the widows, and orphans.   Yes, it is true that they even rob the widows and fatherless children.  "Oh, what will you do when I visit you in that day when I send desolation upon you from a distant land?   To whom will you turn then for your help?   Where will your treasures be safe?   I will not help you; you will stumble along as prisoners or lie among the slain."

    Maybe these scriptures have nothing to do with the many decisions made every day by mayors, governors, presidents, judges, and legislators some of which pile even more misery on the already difficult lives of people on welfare through no fault of their own.   Are "welfare mothers" that much different from the "widows" of the bible just because the men who have abandoned them are still alive?  Are the children of these welfare mothers different from the "fatherless children" of the bible, just because the fathers who neglect them are not dead?  Maybe they are the same in God's eyes, in which case the warnings of the great prophets like Isaiah and Zechariah do apply in our day   – and not only to those in power who mistreat these poor women and children,   – but even to those who support such public officials by electing them to office!
            When justice is concerned, that is the community's business.   For society as a whole has the duty to redress wrongs, to make various parties do their jobs correctly, and to redistribute wealth back to those from whom it was unjustly taken, whether the rich and the powerful cooperate willingly out of charity, or unwillingly for justice sake.  This being the case, caring about the needy is not just the church's business, not the concern of people as individuals.  It is wonderful for individuals to be paragons of charity.  But it is the community's business to establish and to protect justice.

    { Isaiah 1:17 }

    "Learn to do good, to be fair and to help the poor, the fatherless, and widows."

    { Proverbs 14:31 }

    "Anyone who oppresses the poor is insulting God who made them.   To help the poor is to honor God."

    { Proverbs 19:17 }

    "When you help the poor you are lending to the Lord – and he pays wonderful interest on your loan!"

    { Ecclesiastes 5:10-12 }

    " He who loves money shall never have enough.   The foolishness of thinking that wealth brings happiness!   The more you have, the more you spend, right up to the limits of your income.  So what is the advantage of wealth – except perhaps to watch it as it runs through your fingers! –   The man who works hard sleeps well whether he eats little or much, but the rich must worry and suffer insomnia."

    { Micah 6: 8-12 }

    "What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?  The voice of the Lord cries to the city :   . . .  Can I forget the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the accursed scant measure?  Can I tolerate wicked scales and a bag of dishonest weights?
            Your wealthy are full of violence; your inhabitants speak lies, with tongues of deceit in their mouths.  Your rich men are wealthy through extortion and violence;  your citizens are so used to lying that their tongues can't tell the truth!"

    That's not something that the rich and powerful of any age appreciate hearing.  They have been known to hurt and even kill preachers who stress such scriptures, while regularly rewarding with power, money and influence those preachers who tow the line and promote the belief that the rich have "earned" their vast economic advantage over the poor "by hard work" – in sharp contrast to the poor, who could be rich too, if they too would only work hard. –

    { Prov. 21:13 }
            "If you close your ear to the cry of the poor, you will cry out and not be heard."
    { Prov. 29:7 }
            "The righteous know the rights of the poor; the wicked have no such understanding."
    { Psalm 82:3 -4 }
            "Give justice to the weak and the orphan; maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked."
    Ezekiel 16:49
            "This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters (related towns like Gomorrah) had pride, surfeit of food and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy."
    { Amos 8:4-7 }

    "Listen, you merchants who rob the poor, trampling on the needy; you who long for the Sabbath to end and the religious holydays to be over so you can get out and start cheating again – using your weighted scales and under-sized measures; you who make slaves of the poor, buying them for their debt of a piece of silver or a pair of shoes, or selling them your moldy wheat."

    Once again, this kind of scripture doesn't make those who oppress or exploit others happy.   But if you put yourself in the shoes of the men, women and children who are being oppressed, it should certainly make you happy to know that God doesn't approve of sneaky merchandisers who are constantly using dirty tricks to reduce the quantity and/or quality of their products and/or increasing the prices, and eliminating the opportunities customers have to buy such products at lower prices from competitors.
            If Amos is right, then, although businessmen may never hear a word of it from their ministers or priests, they will learn when it is too late...

      The Lord has sworn: "I won't forget your deeds!"

    { Micah 7:3 }

    "They go at their evil deeds with both hands, and how skilled they are in using them!    The governor and judge alike [not to mention "legislators"] demand bribes [and/or "campaign contributions"].  The rich man pays them off and tells them whom to ruin.   Justice is twisted between them."


    { Amos 2:6-7 }

    The Lord says, "The people of Israel have sinned again and again, and I will not forget it.  I will not leave them unpunished any more.  For they have perverted justice by accepting bribes and sold into slavery the poor who can't repay their debts; they trade them for a pair of shoes.   They trample the poor in the dust and kick aside the meek.  At their religious feasts they lounge in clothing stolen from their debtors, and in my own Temple they offer sacrifices of wine they purchased with stolen money."

    {Amos 5:10–12 }

    "They hate the one who reproves at the gate, and they abhor the one who speaks the truth.  Therefore because you trample on the poor and take from them levies of grain (as taxes), you have built houses of hewn stone.  But you shall not live in them.  You have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink their wine.  For I know how many are your transgressions, and how great are your sins – you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe, and push aside the needy at the gate."

    What's this?  People in public office allowing themselves to be persuaded by people with money to put an unfair tax burdens on those with less money and prestige?  Maybe God won't consider all of those "campaign contributions" and lobbying gifts given by the rich to the politicians or our day as bribes and will not hold the harm these politicians do to the poor against them.  Maybe God will forgive powerful employers for taking enormous benefits for themselves and denying their employees the right to even join together in unions to demand safer working conditions and more just compensation for themselves and their families.  Maybe God will smile on people who become billionaires by exploiting those laborers least protected by their governments and communities around the world.  Maybe the prophets didn't know what they were talking about!

    { Isaiah 58:1-10 }:  

    "Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast; tell my people of their sins!  Yet they act so pious!   They come to the Temple every day and are so delighted to hear the reading of my laws   – just as though they would obey them – just as though they don't despise the commandments of their God!  How anxious they are to worship correctly; oh, how they love the Temple services!  'We have fasted before you,' they say.  'Why aren't you impressed?  Why don't you see our sacrifices?  Why don't you hear our prayers?   We have done much penance, and you don't even notice it!'
            I'll tell you why!   Because you are living in evil pleasure even while you are fasting, and you keep right on oppressing your workers.   Look, what good is fasting when you keep on fighting and quarreling?  This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with me.   Is this what I want – this doing of penance and bowing like reeds in the wind, putting on sackcloth and covering yourselves with ashes?  Is this what you call fasting?   The kind of fast I want is that you stop oppressing those who work for you and treat them fairly and give them what they earn.   I want you to share your food with the hungry and destitute.   Clothe those who are cold, and don't hide from relatives who need your help.
            If you do these things, God will shed his own glorious light upon you.  He will heal you.   Your godliness will lead you forward, goodness will be a shield before you, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind.  Then, when you call, the Lord will answer.  'Yes, I am here,' he will quickly reply.   All you need to do is to stop oppressing the weak and stop making false accusations and spreading vicious rumors!  "Feed the hungry!   Help those in trouble!  Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you shall be as bright as day."

    "Evangelical" preachers can tell you 'til the cows come home that "works" don't matter, and that you are "saved by faith alone", etc., etc.,  but the Scriptures tell another story.   This is just one of a multitude of passages which make it clear that our deeds or works do matter, and that God will shed his own glorious light upon you only "IF you do these things" 
            What is important to God, if you believe all these passages of the Bible,  are not the ritual or churchy things that clerics are inclined to emphasize,  but the behavior outside of church, in our homes, on our streets, in marketplaces and workplaces, and in the political arena ! When most people hear the words "Organized Religion", they think of church buildings and robes and hymns and the kind of "fasting" repudiated by Isaiah.   But what if Isaiah's idea of religion is the kind of "organized religion" that God wants ?

    The Names of God in the Bible :

    God is called by many names throughout the Scriptures. Many of His names emphasize His great love for the poor:

    • "Defender of the fatherless and widows" (Deut. 10:18; Psalm 10:16-18; 40:17, 68:5; Jeremiah 22:16)
    • "Protector of the poor" (Psalm 12:5)
    • "Rescuer of the poor" (I Sam 2:8, Psalm 35:10, 72:4, 12-14, Isaiah 19:20, Jeremiah 20:13)
    • "Provider of the poor" (Psalm 68:10, 146:7, Isaiah 41:17)
    • "Savior of the poor" (Psalm 34:6, 109:31)
    • "Refuge of the poor" (Psalm 14:6, Isaiah 25:4)

    When Jesus preached to his fellow Jews, he knew that they were very familiar with all of these passages – which cannot be said for many of today's audiences.–  Now that we have reviewed the foundations on which Jesus originally built his teaching, let's see how much better we understand what he built on that foundation.

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