“Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are in thy land within thy gates: At his day thou shalt give him his hire, neither shall the sun go down upon it; for he is poor, and setteth his heart upon it: lest he cry against thee unto the LORD, and it be sin unto thee.” (Deuteronomy 24:14-15)
Anyone who has taken a job and had to wait until the following pay period before getting paid understands the pressure of not being paid on time, especially if one doesn’t have any savings. Employers that delay payment are using the employee’s money for their own benefit, effectively cheating him of the use of his pay. Like the Old Testament Law, United States law requires that employees be paid on time.
People Are To Be Held Responsible For Their Own Actions
“The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.” (Deuteronomy 24:16)
Modern society tends to blame wrong doing on others, usually the parents. God was specific the individual committing the act was responsible for his action. Parents were not to be executed for the actions of a child, nor a child for the actions of the parent. In the story of Achan in Joshua 7, Achan’s family was killed as well as Achan, but if we read the story, it is apparent that the entire family must have helped conceal his sin as he had buried the spoil in his tent. They were not executed for his sin but for helping conceal it.
Judgment To Be Completely Fair
“Thou shalt not pervert the judgment of the stranger, nor of the fatherless; nor take a widow's raiment to pledge: But thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt, and the LORD thy God redeemed thee thence: therefore I command thee to do this thing.” (Deuteronomy 24:17-18)
Judgment was not to be influenced by a person’s connections or ability to hire lawyers. True justice does not depend on having connections or selecting the right lawyer. They were not to take advantage of a foreigner, an orphan, or a widow. Necessary items such as clothing could not be taken as collateral for loans, or pawn, just as the millstones could not. They were to remember the experience of slavery in Egypt and how God redeemed them and treat others in a similar fashion.
The Charity Or Welfare Program
“When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hands. When thou beatest thine olive tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean it afterward: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt: therefore I command thee to do this thing.” (Deuteronomy 24:19-22)
Anything missed on the first pass through the field was to be left for the poor. A foreigner who had no land, orphans, and widows were to be allowed to gather what was left in the field and use it. In fact, Leviticus 19:9-10 commanded that they deliberately leave some for the needy. “And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest. And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the LORD your God.”
What was left was to remain in the field for the needy, but it was up to them to do the work needed to gather it. There was no obligation to gather it for him. In II Thessalonians 3:10 Paul commanded Christians not to feed a person who would not do his part. “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” Much of the charitable work in the United States, while well intentioned, is sin. Part of our economic problems are a direct result.
Punishment Not To Be Abusive
“If there be a controversy between men, and they come unto judgment, that the judges may judge them; then they shall justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked. And it shall be, if the wicked man be worthy to be beaten, that the judge shall cause him to lie down, and to be beaten before his face, according to his fault, by a certain number. Forty stripes he may give him, and not exceed: lest, if he should exceed, and beat him above these with many stripes, then thy brother should seem vile unto thee.” (Deuteronomy 25:1-3)
Civil disputes were to be settled by designated judges. Those judges were to be careful to find out who was at fault and sentence accordingly. If physical punishment was deemed appropriate, the guilty was not sentenced to prison, but was to be flogged or caned.
Chastening treats the condemned with respect and humanity, seeking only a change in behavior. It is and essential part of training. Punishment seeks revenge for what the person has done, with no concern for the other person, and is only appropriate for deliberate, willful repeated wrongdoing. They were to chasten the guilty when needed, but they were not to dehumanize the person by excessive beating.
Modern society has little concept of chastening, focusing on punishment, which results in abuse, whether of children, spouse , or prisoner. Since they have not been properly trained themselves, they then abuse those around them, resulting an ever increasing problem of rebellion, recidivism and abusive behavior. Modern American society is a clear example of improper training.
Labor Deserves An Appropriate Reward
“Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn.” (Deuteronomy 25:4)
The ox used to thresh the grain was to be permitted to eat freely of the grain while he worked. Paul stressed that this was less about caring for the ox than about the principle that the laborer, whoever he might be deserved an appropriate recompense for his work. I Corinthians 9:9-11 refers to this command as relating to the pastor or teacher in the church. “For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?”