Readings from the Old Testament / Hebrew Scriptures
At the time of creation, God provided humankind with companionship.
Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to live alone. I will make a suitable companion to help him.” Then the LORD God made the man fall into a deep sleep, and while he was sleeping, he took out one of the man’s ribs and closed up the flesh. He formed a woman out of the rib and brought her to him. Then the man said, “At last, here is one of my own kind – bone taken from my bone, and flesh from my flesh. ‘Woman’ is her name because she was taken out of man.”
The Ten Commandments, given to Moses at Mount Sinai, form the basis of a committed relationship between God and God’s people and is foundational to life in community.
God spoke, and these were his words:
“I am the LORD your God who brought you out of Egypt, where you were slaves.
“Worship no god but me.
“Do not make for yourselves images of anything in heaven or on earth or in the water under the earth. Do not bow down to any idol or worship it, because I am the LORD your God and I tolerate no rivals. I bring punishment on those who hate me and on their descendants down to the third and fourth generation. But I show my love to thousands of generations of those who love me and obey my laws.
“Do not use my name for evil purposes, for I, the LORD your God, will punish anyone who misuses my name.
“Observe the Sabbath and keep it holy. You have six days in which to do your work, but the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to me. On that day no one is to work — neither you, your children, your slaves, your animals, nor the foreigners who live in your country. In six days I, the LORD, made the earth, the sky, the seas, and everything in them, but on the seventh day I rested. That is why I, the LORD, blessed the Sabbath and made it holy.
“Respect your father and your mother, so that you may live a long time in the land that I am giving you.
“Do not commit murder.
“Do not commit adultery.
“Do not steal.
“Do not accuse anyone falsely.
“Do not desire another man’s house; do notdesire his wife, his slaves, his cattle, his donkeys,or anything else that he owns.”
Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, advises Moses to delegate leadership responsibilities to others so that he does not have to bear the burden alone.
Jethro said, “You are not doing this right. You will wear yourself out and these people as well. This is too much for you to do alone. Now let me give you some good advice, and God will be with you. It is right for you to represent the people before God and bring their disputes to him. You should teach them God’s commands and explain to them how they should live and what they should do. But in addition, you should choose some capable men and appoint them as leaders of the people.
Let them serve as judges for the people on a permanent basis. They can bring all the difficult cases to you, but they themselves can decide all the smaller disputes. That will make it easier for you, as they share your burden. If you do this, as God commands, you will not wear yourself out, and all these people can go home with their disputes settled.” Moses took Jethro’s advice and chose capable men from among all the Israelites.
Life in community involves providing for the poor and respecting all people.
“When you harvest your fields, do not cut the grain at the edges of the fields, and do not go back to cut the heads of grain that were left. Do not go back through your vineyard to gather the grapes that were missed or to pick up the grapes that have fallen; leave them for poor people and foreigners. I am the LORD your God.”
“Do not bear a grudge against others, but settle your differences with them, so that you will not commit a sin because of them. Do not take revenge on others or continue to hate them, but love your neighbors as you love yourself. I am the LORD.
“Do not mistreat foreigners who are living in your land. Treat them as you would an Israelite, and love them as you love yourselves. Remember that you were once foreigners in the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.”
Like a loving husband, God continues to reach out to his people.
I will establish my people in the land
and make them prosper.
I will show love to those who were called “Unloved,”
and to those who were called “Not-My-People”
I will say, “You are my people,”
and they will answer, “You are our God.”
The prophet Micah teaches what God requires to live in community with one another and in fellowship with God.
The LORD has told us what is good. What he requires of us is this: to do what is just, to show constant love, and to live in humble fellowship with our God.