SPECIAL TOPIC: HUNGER

I. Introduction

A. Hunger is one ever-present reminder of the fallen condition of humanity and creation.

B. Hunger is one aspect of the problem of evil and suffering. It is directly attributed to mankind, not God. Although God used agricultural blessings or cursings as a way to reward and punish His Covenant People (Deuteronomy 27-28), this has not been true for unbelievers in general (Matt. 5:45). Hunger is one more example of greedy, selfish, materialistic humanity. The problem of hunger is not really one of food, but of human motivation and priorities.

C. Hunger is an opportunity for redeemed humanity to reflect God's love.  Believers' reactions to physical needs in the Church and in the world show who we really are.

II. Biblical Material

A. Old Testament

1. Moses

a. one of the three possible tithes in ancient Israel was for the poor (Deut. 14:28-29)

b. the Law provided special provisions for the poor (Exod. 23:11; Lev. 19:10; 23:22; Deut. 24:19-22)

c. the Law provided for special, inexpensive sacrifices for the poor (Lev. 14:21)

d. Israel was to have a compassionate and open-handed attitude toward the poor and needy (Deut. 15:7-11, cf. Job 29:16; 30:25; 31:16-23)

2. Wisdom Literature

a. there were special blessings reserved for those who helped the poor (Ps. 41:4)

b. to help the poor was to help God (Pro. 14:31; 17:5; 19:17)

3. The Prophets

a. God demanded worship to Him in the form of social justice and compassion to the needy (Isa. 58:6-7; Mic. 6:8)

b. one sign of God's message was that it was also proclaimed to the poor and needy (Isa. 61:1-2) 

c. God's prophets railed against social exploitation (Amos 2:6-8; 5:10-13; Micah)

B. New Testament

1. The Gospels

a. help for the poor is admonished (Mark 10:21; Luke 3:11)

b. judgment is based on our social deeds and love towards others in Jesus name. In fact, to help others is to help Jesus (Matt. 25:31-46)

c. Mark 14:7 has been badly misunderstood when it asserts this reflects Jesus' lack of concern for the poor. This verse is meant to emphasize His uniqueness, not a put-down to the poor.

d. Isaiah 61:1-2 reflects that the recipients of God's message will be the socially ostracized (Luke 4:18; 7:22; 14:21).

2. Paul

a. Paul learned from the church at Antioch of Syria the concept of a special love offering for the poor in the Jerusalem church (Rom. 15:26; 1 Cor. 16:1; 2 Cor. 8:4,6,19; Gal. 2).

b. Paul emphasizes grace, faith, and works (Eph. 2:8-10).

3. James (NT Wisdom Literature)

a. faith in God through Christ without social concern is immature (James 2:14-17).

b. he even says that faith without works is dead!

4. John -- the book of I John asserts that Christian assurance is based on a changed life of faith and service (1 John 3:17-18).

III.Conclusion

A. Human misery and need are related to humanity's sin. There are several aspects to hunger:

1. foolish behavior (Pro. 19:15)

2. punishment of God (Deut. 27-28)

3. related to spiritual service (2 Cor. 11:27)

4. cultural circumstances (greed, conception, etc).

5. material circumstances (famine, floods, hail, etc).

B. God really cares for people. He loves those in need in a unique way!

C. The Church in action is God's answer to human need (physical and spiritual)

1. direct, personal action

2. corporate parish/church action

3. political organization for change

D. We must critically evaluate our culture and personal priorities in light of the Scriptures (2 Corinthians 8-9).

E. We need our eyes, hearts, and hands opened to human need at home and abroad; in the church and in the world.

F. Help must be related to who we are in Christ in light of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20). Help must be physical and spiritual.

 

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