Today (Saturday) we are preparing for Sunday. In an earlier post today, we commented in another context about Leviticus 19.35-37:
You shall do no wrong in judgment, in measures of length or weight or quantity. You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt. And you shall observe all my statutes and all my rules, and do them: I am the LORD.
As we get ready for the Lord’s Day tomorrow, let’s meditate together on this passage for a few moments.
(Incidentally, among the books that have become so valuable to me because of their formative influence is The Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses, by Vern Sheridan Poythress [Brentwood, TN: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, 1991]. Though he doesn’t discuss Leviticus 19.35-37 directly, we highly recommend his approach, one we would describe as a gospel-driven, Christ-centered understanding and use of the Torah.)
Briefly, then, as we study the gospel of grace in the law of honesty, we observe that God’s redeemed people are
- Taught the principle of honesty in terms of public life (v.35);
- Motivated for honesty in terms of personal redemption (v.36); and
- Called to extend honesty in terms of whole-life piety (v.37).
When Israel came to live in Canaan, and did business with both fellow Israelite and pagan neighbors, she was called to demonstrate her identity as the people of the LORD in her commercial transactions. Her deliverance from the Egypt’s bondage was her national birthday, the day she received new life, literally and figuratively. Living with her covenant LORD had always been the purpose and destination of that deliverance, of her wilderness training, of Mount Sinai’s thunder and smoke, and of the dry crossing through the Jordan.
But death stalked Israel from the moment of her birth. It was as though a mighty dragon was always nearby, waiting to devour and destroy Israel by seducing her to live in Canaan’s ways (think Rev. 12.1-6). As the people of life, she was always tempted by death. As the people of freedom, she was always lured by the chains of idolatry.
Honesty in commercial transactions — using fair and honest weights and measures — was (and is!) both symbolic and symptomatic.
Economic honesty is symbolic because it corresponds to reality. Today’s acronym for this is WYSIWYG: what you see is what you get. Honesty in economics and commerce operates in terms of reality, real-ness, integrity. The openness and transparency that economic honesty permits and fosters enhance life and freedom. This is true personally and publicly.
Honesty is symptomatic because it discloses underlying fundamental, systemic integrity. Honesty in commerce is related to honesty in marriage, and honesty in speech.
Of all people, God’s people are best equipped by grace to live honest lives. Their deliverance by God shows them why they need not be afraid — and fraud is rooted in fear! The God who delivers will not abandon those he has set free. Relying on him liberates us from the need to manipulate, to cheat, to defraud, and to take advantage of others.
In other words, commercial and economic honesty is the embodiment (enfleshed form) of gospel grace in personal dealings and public life.
This Lord’s Day, give thanks for the LORD’s gracious provision in Jesus Christ, which permits and enables us to practice economic integrity, confident that the LORD will bless such obedience, despite its temporary costs, with lasting joy and inner peace.