Don’t Reap to the Edge of Your Field

Even though I’m not a farmer, the principles that seem to relate only to the farming society of Israel are applicable in the 21st century, one driven by technology and business.

“When you reap the harvest of your land, you are not to reap to the very edge of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not strip your vineyard bare or gather its fallen grapes. Leave them for the poor and the resident alien; I am the Lord your God” (Lev. 19:9-10).

 

I’m not a farmer.

I’ve wondered at times how I might read the Bible differently if I was. Much of the Bible was written from an agrarian sense of perspective. We read about fields, crops, and harvests in its pages. Jesus told stories about farmers and made spiritual points using imagery from the field. I would imagine that working on the land might change and even deepen the way I read the Bible.

Still, even though I’m not a farmer, the principles that seem to relate only to the farming society of Israel are applicable in the 21st century, one driven by technology and business. Take, for example, the seemingly arcane and very agricultural command in Leviticus 19:

“When you reap the harvest of your land, you are not to reap to the very edge of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not strip your vineyard bare or gather its fallen grapes. Leave them for the poor and the resident alien; I am the Lord your God” (Lev. 19:9-10).

God did not want His people reaping to the edge. He wanted them to have some margin at the end of their rows. Now, before we disregard this verse as something inapplicable to us, consider why the Lord would make this command. It wasn’t just about preserving His own people. He didn’t tell them to create this kind of margin because doing so is personally healthy and psychologically balanced. He gave the command for the sake of other people who might wander into those fields.

God is so concerned about the poor and the foreigners that He built in a means into the regular life of His people in order to provide food for them. He made sure that the people didn’t harvest all the way to the edges of the field. Some days the people might not come; other days they would. Regardless, the edges of the field were “just in case.”

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