God cares about how you treat your fellow man. How you treat others reflects your attitude toward God. Jesus said that loving your neighbor the way you love yourself was like the great commandment to love the Lord with your entire being (Matthew 22:37-40). Many laws that Moses gave to Israel were about how loving others played out in behavior. Verses 1-4 read,
You shall not see your brother's ox or his sheep going astray and ignore them. You shall take them back to your brother. 2 And if he does not live near you and you do not know who he is, you shall bring it home to your house, and it shall stay with you until your brother seeks it. Then you shall restore it to him. 3 And you shall do the same with his donkey or with his garment, or with any lost thing of your brother's, which he loses and you find; you may not ignore it. 4 You shall not see your brother's donkey or his ox fallen down by the way and ignore them. You shall help him to lift them up again.
Have you ever lost something? Maybe your donkey didn’t wander off through a broken fence, but you left your wallet or your cell phone somewhere or you can’t find that ring that is so precious to you. I know when that happens to me, I pray that the person who found it was an honest person. I retrace my steps and search for it. The relief I feel when I find it is wonderful. The disappointment at losing it and not finding it can be big too.
When you are the one who finds it, what do you do? I’ll tell you that for me, the temptation to keep what I find is pretty difficult to overcome sometimes. I found a purse once on the side of the road. I was a home care nurse at the time. I was broke. I was hungry. The purse had an I.D. two credit cards, and some money. I looked up the phone number for the name on the driver’s license and left a message. I carried that purse with me all day as I went from home to home doing my job. On my way home that evening I got a call from the owner of the purse, she came to my home and was so relieved and grateful to get her purse back intact, that she was in tears.
I left the message right away so that I would not have to deal with the temptation through the day, I resisted the devil and fled the temptation. If I had not called, I would have had to deal with the thought of spending the money on lunch for myself on a day, I had no money for food. If I had done that, I would not have the same consideration for my neighbor as I had for myself. I would have shown that Jesus was not the Lord of my life, I was. I would not have had the opportunity to love my neighbor and reflect the image of Christ to her.
Loving your neighbor as yourself, means giving the respect you hope will be shown to you. It means loving the way God loves them, seeing them through His eyes. Don’t you hope people will look at you with mercy and love instead of judgement and selfishness? That respect can be shown in others ways too. Verse 5 reads,
A woman shall not wear a man's garment, nor shall a man put on a woman's cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.
The Lord made you the gender you are. He made you as a wonderful gift, a blessing to people around you for a purpose. To wear the clothes or take on the attributes of someone else is an abomination to the Lord. It shows Him you have no regard or love for Him or yourself. It causes others to be tempted into sin. I’m not saying every little girl has to play with dolls and can’t enjoy playing with cars or vice-versa. I’m saying that there are some roles specific to gender and we are not supposed to take the roles of the other. Wives submit to the husband to reflect the churches submission to Christ. Husbands love the wives to reflect Christ’s love for the church. When these roles are reversed, or not lived up to, the marriage is perverted, it looks like the world’s marriages. Men beat their wives. Wives nag and henpeck husbands. Children rebel. Marriages break. Christian marriages, where the husbands and wives agree with the roles God gave them are a beautiful reflection of Christ and the church, a partnership where submission is easy and love flourishes.
Women have a special role, only they can fill, just as men have a special role only they can fill. Only a man can fertilize an egg. Only a woman can carry the baby, give birth, and feed her child. So there are laws about hunting animals and motherhood as well. Verses 6-7 read
If you come across a bird's nest in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs and the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young. 7 You shall let the mother go, but the young you may take for yourself, that it may go well with you, and that you may live long.
Killing the mother or taking the mother means that she and her young die. It depletes the population and could result in food shortages in the future. God knows what is best. It may not affect things now, but it will affect the future. He cares about our future. He provides for us now and He supplies for us then.
Verse 8 is an interesting law, that at first I could not understand.
When you build a new house, you shall make a parapet for your roof, that you may not bring the guilt of blood upon your house, if anyone should fall from it.
A parapet is an extension of the wall that protects the roof and allows people to use the roof as a terrace or a place for defense.
Why would the Lord command the homes to have these? They have several purposes. They allow for defending the home from invaders. But here the reason The Lord commanded it was for safety. In Israel at this time the roofs of homes were used as another part of the home. Guests slept on the roof. People slept there in the summer. The way we use our patios or porches, Israel used their roofs. It was a protection against allowing people to be hurt. It was home insurance, a pool gate, or some other design to keep people from getting hurt and creating discord. It showed respect and concern for others.
It also reflects God’s concern for us in the hedges He puts in place for our protection. Job 1:10 describes the protection God gave to Job from Satan. Satan is aware of these protections and will not breach them, unless God removes them. Job 1:8-10 reads,
And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” 9 Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? 10 Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” 12 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.
The Lord is our Hedge. Psalm 34:7-8 describes Him in this way.
The angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
The Lord has also given us laws about farming. I could do an entire study on this passage, and I might. I will try and keep it brief in this one. Verses 9-11 read,
“You shall not sow your vineyard with two kinds of seed, lest the whole yield be forfeited, the crop that you have sown and the yield of the vineyard. 10 You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together. 11 You shall not wear cloth of wool and linen mixed together.
Mixing crops is often done today, but it requires specialized techniques to endure the entire crop succeeds. God commanded not to mix crops, livestock, and even materials. Why? Because the farmers had to live and work together if one had wheat and another oats. They were united as neighbors. Oxen have a different diet than donkeys, they require different care. Wool is not made the same way linen is.
But another reason is the spiritual truths these laws teach us. You either sow fruit of righteousness or fruit of disobedience. Imagine the outsider looking at your life. He sees you on one hand going to church every Sunday, being a pious church member, and wearing your saintly church clothes. You look like a Stepford. But he also sees you drunk at the club every Saturday, yelling obscenities and cursing the people around you. He sees your clothes meant to entice people to sin. You look like a whore. Whatever fruit you could have reaped by the Sunday you is lost to the Saturday you. The Sunday you is not real. You can’t produce different fruits from the same tree. You can’t plant different seeds and expect the same crop to grow. Jesus said it this way in Matthew 7:15-20,
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.”
Verse 12 reads,
You shall make yourself tassels on the four corners of the garment with which you cover yourself.
How do these tassels remind us to love our neighbors as ourselves? They reminded the Israelites of their covenant with God to keep His commandments and be holy (Numbers 15:37-41). They were an outward symbol to others that they were God’s chosen. It was this fringe on Jesus’ clothing that the bleeding woman touched and was healed (Luke 8:42-48). We wear our obedience to God, we wear our love for one another so that people will see the light of Jesus and know we are His and He is Lord (Matthew 5:13-16). Jesus said it this way in John 13:34-35,
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Believer, every law god gave to Moses has its purpose in revealing Him. It is fulfilled in loving the Lord and loving others. God is revealed to the world in your love. No we don’t build parapets on our roofs today or wear tassels on our cloaks. But we do care about the welfare of others and love them the way Jesus loves us.