While we were riding in the combine the other day, “helping” with the last of the harvesting, God was making some connections for me to his Word and to my studies. I was reminded of the research I have done lately for my thesis: “God’s Heart for the Fatherless.” It seems that so much of the Israelites’ life was tied to and formed around the harvest. Their social status was determined by whether or not they owned land, the widows and the fatherless being at the bottom of the class system because they had no property or land. Their understanding of God’s blessing was displayed by how well the harvest did that year, and many of their prayers revolved around that blessing. Every seventh year, the land was to have a Sabbath: no one was to plant or harvest on the land but the widows and orphans were allowed to pick what sprang up voluntarily. The tithes and free-will offerings were mostly given from their harvest, and God instructed the landowners to give to a storehouse every three years enough to provide for the widow and fatherless. Some of those tithes and offerings went to a community feast that God made sure included the widows and the fatherless so that they felt a part of the covenant community as well. And God gave explicit commands to His people on how to provide for the widows and the fatherless by leaving the gleanings behind for them to harvest themselves. The landowners were commanded not to go back to a wheat field or to the olives and grapes a second time to make sure they didn’t miss any. Some especially generous landowners, like Boaz, actually left extra behind on purpose to provide for the poor.
As you can see, Israel’s life was intimately tied to the harvest and the orphans and the widows depended on it. As I experienced the harvest the other day, I realized that some very generous, gracious people have left behind some of their gleanings, purposefully, to help provide for the fatherless children we are bringing home. Thank you, Father, for that connection and for that very tangible display of blessing in our lives. You are truly “Father to the Fatherless.”