Wednesday, January 16, 2019
One day a petition was presented by the daughters of Zelophehad—Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. Their father, Zelophehad, was a descendant of Hepher son of Gilead, son of Makir, son of Manasseh, son of Joseph. These women stood before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the tribal leaders, and the entire community at the entrance of the Tabernacle. “Our father died in the wilderness,” they said. “He was not among Korah’s followers, who rebelled against the Lord; he died because of his own sin. But he had no sons. Why should the name of our father disappear from his clan just because he had no sons? Give us property along with the rest of our relatives.” So Moses brought their case before the Lord. And the Lord replied to Moses, “The claim of the daughters of Zelophehad is legitimate. You must give them a grant of land along with their father’s relatives. Assign them the property that would have been given to their father. “And give the following instructions to the people of Israel: If a man dies and has no son, then give his inheritance to his daughters. And if he has no daughter either, transfer his inheritance to his brothers. If he has no brothers, give his inheritance to his father’s brothers. But if his father has no brothers, give his inheritance to the nearest relative in his clan. This is a legal requirement for the people of Israel, just as the Lord commanded Moses.” Numbers 27:1-11(NLT)
Our Federal Government partial shut-down is approaching one month since the furlough of non-essential personnel began. Frankly, it’s a lot easier to say personnel than men and women who have families to feed. It’s a lot easier to look at rosters of those who fall above or below a line-item in the budget manual, than to look in the eyes of someone who’s nervous about this month’s mortgage payment on the family house.
Israel’s form of government was appropriate for desert wanderers that had stumbled into the Promised Land, and were about to settle-in. Leadership had fallen to Moses, and he responded to needs of the powerless with fairness.
(Incidentally, Ruth Bader Ginsberg would have been proud of Mo. This was a landmark victory for women’s rights in a day when women and children were considered little more than part of the family’s herd of oxen and donkeys).
Someone once made a statement about government that you can tell a lot about the design and foundation of a government by the way it treats the powerless. Using that rule as a baseline for understanding the heart of governance, we can trace the sunbeam back to its source in Moses’ day. The Lord cared for the widows and the powerless, even though humans had a hard time not being hard toward each other. That hardness is a development of the sinful nature each of us has inherited from Adam and Eve. It is the source of all that is death to humanity. And that is why God, who is love, mercy, grace, and peace did something unmatched to save us from ourselves:
But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) Ephesians 2:4-5(NLT)
Our system of government is not perfect, nor were the hearts of the founding fathers of this nation. The ideals and basis, however, which permeate our founding documents (Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights) are a derivative of the liberty and life we crave, because that’s how God hard-wired humanity.
And therein is the basis for an outcry against the political machinations of elected officials who dabble with impunity in power. Their gamesmanship with who’s got the power today sends ripples of uncertainty to the masses, and, in the wake of that uncertainty is the certain hardship forced-upon government workers and their families as they labor without a paycheck.
I was always under the impression that my country was better than this, holding its integrity and compassion hostage over a squabble on how to keep the power, while tens of thousands of families suffer the consequences of broken promises.
It’s easy enough to sit back and do nothing if you’re not affected by this shutdown. But what will you do tomorrow when they come for your paycheck?
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