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Tipping the Scales in God’s Favor


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I remember learning in school about butchers who would place a thumb on the scale when weighing out meat, and how this would charge the customers for more than they received. Later, I saw a few different movies where people would catch a merchant using lighter weights to make it appear the seller’s trades were not as valuable. Two different verses in Proverbs tell us what God thinks of those who try to tip the scales in their own favor at the expense of others. Proverbs 20:23 says, “Adonai detests a double standard in weights, and false scales are not good,” and Proverbs 11:1 says, “False scales are an abomination to Adonai, but accurate weights please him.”

In today’s reading from Leviticus 19:15 through Leviticus 19:22, we get some examples of scales tipped out of balance in the eyes of God. One thing important to Him is how we judge others. He says we should neither show favor to the poor nor deference to the mighty, but we should always judge with justice. I believe the current economy in the USA is a good example of what happens when people do not judge with justice. The poor have developed an attitude of entitlement–because of their history, because of their weaknesses, because of this and that; and the rich have often used a variety of unjust scales to get where they are. This has created a bitter working class where many are now bitter toward everyone above and below them. But we can’t judge with justice if we don’t acknowledge Who determines what is truly just and balanced.

Another verse of wisdom from Proverbs 6:19 says, “A false witness who lies with every breath, and him who sows strife among brothers,” are among the things God hates. This speaks to the next Levitical law that says not to go around spreading slander among people. But there is balance needed here, too. While God doesn’t want us sharing damaging thoughts about our brothers and sisters, He also doesn’t want us ignoring a neighbor who’s being hurt by someone. God tells Israel not to stand by idly if a neighbor’s life is at stake. And that could also mean a neighbor’s spiritual life and soul.

Verse 17 got my attention where it says, “Do not hate your brother in your heart, but rebuke your neighbor frankly.” The reason for the ruling grabs me. It says, “… so that you won’t carry sin because of him.” Carry sin? Can that happen from hating a brother or sister in our hearts but not saying hateful things to them? That’s answered in another verse from Proverbs. Proverbs 27:5 says, “Better open rebuke than hidden love.” I think we carry sin (and pain) when we do not speak what’s in our hearts, and then we allow it to fester and turn to bitterness.

Verse 19 tells God’s people to observe His regulations, and then the reading continues with instructions to not allow livestock to mate with another kind, to not plant two different kinds of grain in a field, and to not wear clothing made with two different thread types. God knows what He made to go together and what He wants kept apart. He knows when one species, grain, or thread could weaken or destroy the other. Our result of not observing those things when they were simple is that we have food scientists who disrespect God’s original creations. Sometimes, we don’t even know if we’re eating authentic food or something genetically modified.

Recently, I’ve learned something interesting. Did you know there is no Hebrew word for “fair” or “fairness”? So balance may not mean exactly what we think it means. Our human understanding thinks “fair” is the same as just or balanced, but if God didn’t even give people a word for it back then, His definition is likely different from ours. There are Hebrew words and descriptions for justice, so we can trust that God believes in balance by justice. That’s why He won’t let us “get away” with our sins just because He loves us. Too often, though, that’s what we humans do. We let people off the hook for their behaviors because we love them or “feel” for them. We don’t think it’s fair for them to pay for their misdeeds. But God knew it was better to have people pay prices right away than for eternity, so He paid the price with His own blood. (See Acts 20:28.) Every time a new soul commits his or her life to Christ, and every time we make a genuine effort to live according to God’s word, we are bringing balance and tipping the scales in God’s favor.

April 13, 2014 - Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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