Monday, August 5, 2019
“He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor” (Proverbs 14:31 KJV).
Is this a good verse to support minimum wage increases?
Doubtless, the Law of Moses shows us JEHOVAH God was quite merciful toward individuals living in poverty. Jews were to lend money to their disadvantaged brethren without charging “usury” or interest (Exodus 22:25; Leviticus 25:35-37). They were commanded to do whatever they could to alleviate the financial struggles of their relatives—and even neighboring Gentiles (Leviticus 25:25,35,39-43; Deuteronomy 15:7-15). Fields were never to be completely stripped during harvest, lest the poor passersby starve (Leviticus 19:9,10; Leviticus 23:22). In the seventh or sabbatical year, the land was not to be sown or harvested; it was to be left to grow wild to feed needy people and animals (Exodus 23:11). Under no circumstances whatsoever were poor hired servants—Jews or Gentiles—to be mistreated.
Deuteronomy chapter 24: “ Thou shalt not oppress [same Hebrew word as “oppressed” in today’s Scripture] an hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers [Gentiles/foreigners] 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.” Also, Leviticus 19:13: “Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour, neither rob him: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning.” Payment was to be proportional to the work. It was a fair transaction for both employer and employee: it was not some exorbitant amount exchanged for meager labor. Furthermore, the paycheck was given on the very day of the job.
In the context of today’s Scripture, the Jew is not following the Law of Moses concerning these matters. Dishonesty and inequality are present. JEHOVAH God, who has given this Law, has been disrespected. Had they honored the God of Abraham, they would have valued the servants He had instructed them not to defraud! Now, we add a prophetic layer to what we have learned thus far….