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Bible study: climate change

Study Four: God’s Concern for the Poor

In groups of two or three discuss:

  • Describe a situation where you thought that resources were shared unfairly. How did you feel about it? What if anything was done to rectify the situation?

Read Leviticus 25.18-28: Jubilee

This passage is part of the provision made in the Old Testament law for the Year of Jubilee, a year in which everyone was required to return to the land first allocated to them and their family under Joshua and all Hebrew slaves were to be released.

This was due to take place every 50 years and designed to ensure that poverty was not passed on from generation to generation and in every generation families had the opportunity to enjoy the fruit of the Promised Land.

Two themes are clear in this passage: one is the close and dependent relationship between the people of Israel and their land (see verse 19), their most basic natural resource, the second was the necessity to ensure that the poor were catered for, not through hand outs but through the just and regular redistribution of resources (verse 28).

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  • Why do you think the Jubilee provision was necessary?

  • What might have been some of the costs of the Jubilee? And some of the benefits? Who in particular would have benefited if this law was practiced?

  • What insight does this give us of the necessity of sharing the earth’s resources fairly today?

Read Proverbs 14.31, 19.17, 21.13, 28.3, 29.7, 31.9, 31.20

The book of Proverbs is a collection of wise sayings that guide the person of faith in how to live in the world. This selection of verses is part of a larger number from this book that show how important it is to treat the poor with kindness and justice.

Although none of them refer directly to the issue of climate change, what they make clear is that justice for the poor is not an optional extra but an integral aspect of faithful living.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

Read each verse in turn and consider these questions after each reading:

  • What attitude towards the poor is advocated in this verse? What does this tell me about God’s attitude towards the poor? What change might I need to make in attitude or action if I am to follow this advice? What might be the social implications of this verse?

  • When you have reviewed all seven verses, consider this question:

  • If the poor are most directly affected by the consequences of climate change, how can Proverbs help to inform our response?

Spend a short time responding to what you have discovered, either in silent meditation or in words of praise and prayer.

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