At the end of God’s instructions for the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost, He gives instructions for what we might call “Biblical welfare.” Leviticus 23: 22 “When you harvest the crops of your land, do not harvest the grain along the edges of your fields, and do not pick up what the harvesters drop. Leave it for the poor and the foreigners living among you. I am the Lord your God.”
Remembering the Poor Has Positive Consequences
Pentecost marked the end of the wheat harvest. It would have been a time of bounty and the Jews were commanded to remember the poor. They weren’t to send grain to the poor but allow them to harvest grain in the corners of the field. This would allow the poor to maintain dignity and purpose while still obtaining food.
The book of Ruth tells the story of how this worked. Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi were widows without means of support. Ruth went out into the fields of Boaz and was able to harvest grain to take home and feed themselves. As a result of her gleaning, Boaz took notice of Ruth and eventually married her. From that marriage came a son, Obed, who would be the grandfather of King David.
Early Christians took Care of the Poor
Acts 2: 43 A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. 44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. 46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— 47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.
Throughout history Christians have taken care of those on the margin of society. Hospitals and orphanages have been built because of the desire to serve God by serving others. Biblical welfare has brought many to faith in Jesus.
To hear more about Biblical welfare, listen here: