The Torah portion for this week is called “Toldot.” It is the story of the generations of Patriarch Isaac. You’ve probably heard the story to some degree over the years; but in case you haven’t, here is the nutshell version.
After being barren for 20 years, Isacc’s wife, Rebekah, finally becomes pregnant. When she seeks after Yahweh due to her unusual pregnancy, she is told that she will bring forth twins and that - contrary to Hebrew culture - the older would serve the younger. Meaning, Jacob (the younger) would receive the birthright blessing over Esau (the elder). Before the twins were born, before they could act or choose good over evil, the election was made. Jacob would be the line of Promise.
Fast-forward to adulthood. Esau was a hunter and Jacob was quiet. In Hebrew, this is symbolic of Esau being outside of Torah while Jacob was walking in obedience to Torah.
Tired and hungry from his hunt, Esau demanded some of the lentil soup Jacob was making. Jacob told Esau he could indeed have some of the soup ... in exchange for Esau’s birthright. With no forethought or future thought of the consequences, he traded his most valuable inheritance as the firstborn for a bowl of soup. In essence, Esau thought he was getting a “free lunch.”
I believe America has done the same. She has traded her birthright of religious freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for the illusion of a free lunch. Illusion because ALL things free come a a cost. Free lunch because the majority now prefer dependence on government handouts rather than the freedom to earn their own way.
The Bible is quite clear about social justice. We, not the government, have an individual and personal mandate to care for the poor, the orphans, and the widows. Government taking from those who have to give to those who don’t want to earn it themselves, is stealing and therefore a violation of the 8th Commandment.
The Bible is also quite clear about those who prefer to get handouts rather than work ...
For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you; not because we do not have the right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would follow our example. For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. [Emphasis added] 2 Thess 3: 7-11
This mandate is rooted in the Torah and can be found in Deuteronomy 23 beginning in verse 20. Poverty is not defined as making bad decisions that leave you inconvenienced. It is not defined as living on extended credit and then expecting handouts when you can no longer pay for your lavish lifestyle. Poverty isn’t having to sacrifice when things get tough. Nor is it defined as blowing your food stamps on drugs or alcohol and then expecting the government to provide you with even more.
Rather, poverty is not having a roof over your head, a coat to wear when it’s cold, and/or not knowing where your next meal is coming from or even whether you will eat. Poverty is having nothing and those are the folks for whom we, as Jesus-following Believers, have been given a “care mandate.”
Sadly, the shining City on a Hill has lost her glow. We are now a country populated by a majority that believe the government, rather than Yahweh, can provide for our needs. As long as we continue to make government our god, our country is doomed.
“Well, Doctor, what have we got - a Republic or a Monarchy?” To which Benjamin Franklin responded, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”