In today’s society, the word equality is a hot potato. Gender equality. Social equality. Racial equality. If you show a preference for a certain group of people, you are showing discrimination. You might get hate mail. You might get fired, or worse, even jailed. Thus the Bible troubles me. Those pesky rules in the Old Testament seem so weird. So unbalanced. Let’s look at one example of ascribing value in the book of Leviticus (the book where many sincere Christians give up).
“The LORD gave Moses the following regulations for the people of Israel. When a person has been given to the LORD in fulfilment of a special vow, that person may be set free by the payment of the following sums of money, according to the official standard:
adult male, twenty to sixty years old: fifty pieces of silver
adult female: thirty pieces of silver
young male, five to twenty years old: twenty pieces of silver
young female: ten pieces of silver
infant male under five: five pieces of silver
infant female: three pieces of silver
male above sixty years of age: fifteen pieces of silver
female above sixty: ten pieces of silver”
Ever heard anyone preach using that text? Me neither. Maybe because it’s just boring. Or maybe troubling. It seems God is assigning during values of worth to different individuals. Redeeming an adult male costs more than a female. Redeeming a young male is twice as costly as a young female!
What’s happening? It’s so ridiculous! Why are males worth more than females? Why are infants so cheap? Why are older people above sixty so invaluable? God is perhaps showing discrimination in the greatest degree. How can we understand what’s happening?
Flip your lens. God is not saying that males are worth more than females. Neither is old lady devalued when she hits the big six-zero. God is being kind, merciful and loving. What, loving? Yes, God knows that males have greater ability to earn money and pay to redeem the person. It has nothing to do with worth, but rather their life situation. Thus a young person has less money and God understands. He requires more from those who are given more responsibility. In Israel’s male-dominated society, females depended on their husbands.
But Gods kindness even goes further. What if a person can’t even afford it o pay the requirement? No problem. The priest determines a new price based on their ability.
“If anyone who made the vow is too poor to pay the standard price, he or she shall bring the person to the priest, and the priest will set a lower price, according to the ability of that person to pay.”
Leviticus 27:8 GNB
The Old Testament doesn’t portray a brutal God who is out to make lives difficult for his people. God has always been loving. We see God’s character in his covenantal rules. God is infinitely loving and has a soft heart for the poor, widow, the orphans. Often, Israel is rebuked by God for their discrimination as a deviation from God’s character.
Is there anyone or a group of people that you are discriminating against? It might be a certain race that you write off as lazy and dumb. It might be you think all females should stay at home and not work. It might be you think old people are a burden to society and should not be paid for by the state. It might be you think children are irritating critters that spoil your life. Think again. See them as God sees them – valuable. Love them as God loves all people. Ask God to give you compassion today to love beyond all boundaries.