If you see that the donkey of someone who hates you has collapsed under its load, do not walk by. Instead, stop and help. – Exodus 23:5
Moses had led the people of Israel out of Egypt to the mountain of God, Mount Sinai. Once the people arrived there, they rested temporarily. Then God delivered to them his laws and decrees on how to conduct their lives in conjunction with God, other peoples, and themselves.
In the passage above, God commanded the Hebrews to help their neighbors when a beast of burden was under a heavy load. The interesting note was when God told them to help the one “that [hated] thee.” Why? Because Jesus would teach later in time, “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! (Matthew 5:42-44) I’ve come to learn that love isn’t always something we receive but rather something we give away. Even John the apostle wrote that God loved mankind enough to give him his one and only Son as payment for their wrongs. True love is self-sacrificing. Many times I Hear people say, “What good is there in reading the OT?” Well, as I read through the litany of God’s commands to Israel, I sense his love. He may have said on one hand, ‘Do’ or ‘Don’t,’ but we see his love in his decrees.
Helping a neighbor with an issue despite that person’s hatred for us demonstrates God’s love for others. Yes, he commanded Israel to do so, but we now, in faith, do so out of love not coercion. Isn’t it amazing that when people asked Jesus what was the greatest commandment that he answered with two centered on love! 1) Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. 2) Love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus even told us to lay aside our offerings to God first and then go and rectify any situation in which a brother/sister has an issue with us. God desires mercy not justice. To whom do you need to show love despite the issue between you and that person? Go show love and make peace first. Then come offer your praise to God.
Father, it amazed me how many people discount the OT because of the NT. They forget the words of Jesus that he didn’t come to nullify or do away with the OT but to fulfill it. Through him you’ve shown us that faith and love existed all throughout the OT, but people got lost in the letter of the law rather than adhere to the Spirit of the law. Thank you for confirming in my heart that there’s much we can learn from the OT in light of the NT. Your word never changes! In Jesus’ name, Amen.