“Stand up in the presence of a person with gray hair, show respect for the old; you are to fear your God; I am YHVH. If a foreigner stays with you in your land, do not do him wrong. Rather, treat the foreigner staying with you like the native-born among you — you are to love him as yourself, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt; I am YHVH your God. Don’t be dishonest when measuring length, weight or capacity. Rather, use an honest balance-scale, honest weights, an honest bushel dry-measure and an honest gallon liquid-measure; I am YHVH your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt. Observe all my regulations and rulings, and do them; I am YHVH.”-Leviticus 19:32-37
We’re going to move quickly today and finish up Leviticus chapter 19, the chapter that has been considered a TORAH within the TORAH.
Verse 32 tells us that we are to respect the elderly.
This is NOT talking about ancestor worship.
Nor does it necessarily mean that the oldest living member of the family is supposed to be the most dominant one and given the most authority in the household.
Rather this means to honor the older members of your family by making sure their needs are met as they gradually become physically frail and possibly unable to care for themselves.
It also means that one should respect and appreciate the wisdom they have gained through many years of living.
That knowledge should be put to good use.
By the way, the Hebrew idiom being used here is exactly the same one being used in verse 15.
“Do not be unjust in judging — show neither partiality to the poor nor deference to the mighty, but with justice judge your neighbor.”
In this context however, an old person deserves deference.
Israeli buses used to post a sign with the words “Before a gray head you shall rise” as a solemn reminder that passengers should give up their seats to the elderly.
Moving on, we encounter a command that won’t have meaning for about 4 decades.
Israel is told to NOT wrong the stranger who dwells with them in the land.
The word for “stranger” is GER in Hebrew.
This means that foreigners are to be treated fairly and even those foreigners who wish to give up their pagan gods in exchange for the real, living God of Israel are to be welcomed with open arms.
No doubt this command foreshadows that time when Yeshua would come and offer foreigners through faith in him the opportunity to be grafted into Israel, (spiritually speaking that is, not in a physical sense).
This has always been God’s vision, to have a nation of people comprised of both Jews and Gentiles completely devoted to Him.
Romans 11 is a good place to go for an explanation of how gentiles are spiritually grafted into Israel alongside of Israel and NOT as their replacement.
The gentile being grafted into Israel is to be as the younger brother, not the elder, for God chose the Jews first.
Notice the strong admonition by God that Israel is to “love him as you love yourself”.
God is here making it clear that Israel should not have a difficult time identifying with the foreigner who wants to be join them because it clearly says in verse 34, “for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt”.
One of the reasons God had Israel dwell in Egypt was so they could learn the valuable lesson that the GER, the foreigner, is valuable in God’s eyes.
As God loves the GER, so is Israel to love the GER.
This love of God for the foreigner has been evident ever since the Exodus, when a mixed multitude of foreigners left with Israel when Israel departed from Egypt for good.
Finally, in verses 35 and 36, the Israelites are commanded to not cheat each other or cheat foreigners in their business practices.
Specifically, God commands that they are to use fair and accurate liquid measures and scales in their business dealings.
I mentioned this before, but exercising such honesty and integrity in one’s business dealings stood in stark contrast with Middle Eastern culture then and now.
In Middle Eastern culture, it is considered the norm to cheat, deceive, bribe or do whatever one can to win and gain the upper hand in business transactions.
In the Middle East, those businessmen who are considered the cleverest and most revered are those who can cheat the best.
However, God says Israel is to be above all that.
Israel is to be the mirror image reflection of a HOLY God, a God who does NOT lie and is fair and just to all.
Finally, this chapter closes with the final reminder that Israel is to obey ALL of His Laws and Commands.
There is to be no picking and choosing of just the convenient commands, or hemming and hawing.
Alrighty, this closes our study of Leviticus chapter 19.
Hope to see you back here when we begin Leviticus chapter 20 next time.
NEXT TIME WE BEGIN LEVITICUS CHAPTER 20