Poverty in the Old Testament: Dependency

By Jeff Palmer, CEO on April 12, 2018 | Print

“I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians.” (Exodus 3:7)

A Beautiful Contradiction

Christianity is rife with apparent contradictions.

The servant will be ruler.

The last will be first.

The carpenter is King.

Given the precedent, it should really come as no surprise that the concept of poverty is, in itself, an apparent contradiction. Observation shows me and experience has taught me that the final level of poverty is total trust and dependence on God. Over and over, examples abound of people who have reached the end of themselves only to discover that in their most base and lowly state is the Creator of the Universe–with open hands and a bounty of mercy.

When all else falls away–people, resources, weapons or armies–God is there.

The Ignorance of Bounty

If God is apparent in times of turmoil, it stands to reason that when things are good and we are living a life of plenty, we often fail to see God. While God wants wholeness, wellness and justice for all His people, He also knows how our minds work. He knows that sometimes it takes calamity or destitution to remind people of His presence. There’s probably not a greater example of this than the circumstances that befell the people of Israel.

To fully appreciate their experience, one must remember that these were God’s chosen people. These were the stars in the sky He had revealed to Abraham. These were the people of Jacob and Joseph.

These were also the people that, despite God’s favor, at some point became self-absorbed and, instead of seeing their great God at work in their lives, they merely saw their lives. Fast-forward about 400 years and consider Moses’ perception of these people. With fervor and desperation, they cried out to God. In their persecution, they remembered the gentle, firm, unconditional and perfect love of their Heavenly Father. And when they were at their absolute lowest, emptiest point in their history, God came through with a richness of blessing, grace and mercy unlike they had ever seen. This was not a one-off experience. He was relentless in His mercy to a people who, at one point, had almost forgotten Him entirely.

In the next posting, we’ll examine more closely some very real, visceral examples of abject poverty and the path to the wealth of God’s grace. Each story is different in circumstance, but the concept and promise remains–at our lowest, God is there.

Other posts in this series:

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