“And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, ‘The daughters of Zelophehad speak right: thou shalt surely give them a possession of an inheritance among their father’s brethren: and thou shalt cause the inheritance of their father to pass unto them.’”
Numbers 27: 6, 7
King James Version
“They Are Right”
“A right which goes unrecognized by anybody is not worth very much.”
Is there a time in my life when I stood up and spoke up for a “right” I believed in?
“Where no individual in a community is denied her rights, the mass are the more perfectly protected in theirs; for whenever any class is subject to fraud or injustice, it shows that the spirit of tyranny is at work, and no one can tell where or how or when the infection will spread.”
“Right is right, even if everyone is against it; and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it.”
In Leviticus, the previous Old Testament book we studied, God gave this instruction to Moses and to all the children of Israel, “Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment; thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour” (Leviticus 19: 15, K.J.V.). I love the translation of this text in The Message: “Don’t pervert justice. Don’t show favoritism to either the poor or the great. Judge on the basis of what is right.”
The fourth lesson that comes from the lives of Zelophehad’s five daughters is a lesson on “justice” and “rightness.” Joseph Jonberg said, “Justice is truth in action.” If we look at the request of Zelophehad’s daughters, when Moses went before God with their request, in no uncertain terms God said: “These girls are right.” I went to the Hebrew translation of the word “right” as used in relationship to this situation and the word means “this is truly the truth.” In other words, no matter what tradition was in place, no matter how society viewed the situation, no matter what the majority thought – God wanted everyone present at this hearing to understand clearly that the request of these five women was just and that straightaway their petition was to be granted.
I find this revealing about the character of our Father in heaven. At a time in history when males dominated the rulership models of governments and families including the laws of inheritance, the justice of God, the fairness of God, and the gracious kindness of God was reflected in the allocation of property to the heirs of Zelophehad, even though they were women.
While society at that time, and down through history, may have relegated women to a subservient position, God’s intention was that all of His children, male and female, rich and poor be treated with Heaven’s hand of justice. A hand that lifts rather than lowers. A hand that helps rather than hinders.
I’m a big fan of the stories written by the English author Jane Austen. In one of her books, Sense and Sensibility, she begins the tale just as a father has passed away leaving a wife and three daughters at the mercy of his son to whom he had left his inheritance. However, the father did not stipulate in writing how this son should treat the rest of the family and the reader is led to believe the father expected his son would be as generous-hearted as he. Instead, the son, who was married to a miserly woman, treated the family in a most penurious way. His stinginess left the mother and three daughters in financial hardship and if it weren’t for the kindness of other relatives, they would have been poverty-stricken.
Of course, as the story develops, the reader can’t help but be repulsed by the greedy behavior of a relative who had no concern for other family members.
Our Father in heaven has also left you and me to be the bestowers of His justice and fairness to those whom He brings into our lives. So there wouldn’t be any confusion, He left us with a beautiful blueprint for carrying out the kindness that is so evident in the bounty our Father bestows.
In Acts 4: 32, we are given a picture of how the early Christians functioned as they took care of each other’s needs. And it wasn’t just spiritual and emotional support they gave one another. The Bible tells us: “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that aught of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things in common;….Neither was there any among them that lacked; for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need” (Acts 4: 32, 34,35, K.J.V.).
I’ve read this passage often when I find myself caught up in the more, more, more materialistic world dominated by what we have – not what we can give. While I’d like to say Christians have so unselfishly given there is no want among all God’s children on planet earth, I can’t say that, for today the divide between those who have and those who have-not is at one of the most significant levels in history. Everyday I ask God to remind me that His bountiful gifts, so generously bestowed to me, are not given so I may live the high-life but they are given so I will share Heaven’s good-life-a life of justice and fairness that cares for each other until it can be said again, “There was no lack among them.”
“The spirit is a stream, a fountain, and must be continually poured out, for only if it is poured out will more and clearer streams come.”
“Jesus will continue to be condemned to death so long as we do not establish the human and historical conditions that will allow justice to flower and right to flourish. And without justice and right, the kingdom of God will not be established.”
You challenge the powers that rule this world
through the needy, the compassionate,
and those who are filled with longing.
Make us hunger and thirst
to see right prevail,
and single-minded in seeking peace;
that we may see Your face
and be satisfied in You,
through Jesus Christ, AMEN.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
Available May 2009