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There was Columbine, then Shady Hook, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School came next, and recently we had Uvalde Elementary. Each time, our nation wept at the horror and loss of those innocent lives. Is there any answer? Does God even care? The book of Leviticus is often not one that excites many believers when they read the Bible. It is rarely chosen for sermon text. Even those who followed Jesus rarely reflected upon its wisdom. Leviticus is a record of God’s instructions to Moses and Israel after His presence fell upon the nation. It contains lessons on sacrifice, worship, the priesthood, ceremonial cleanness, the Day of Atonement, feasts and holy days, and the Year of Jubilee. While these topics seem out of favor for most of us today, there is one lesson that may help us understand our world. In a time when we are too often burdened by the pain of death from within our schools, there is the question of whether those who perpetrate such heinous crimes were somehow assisted by the lack of God within today’s homes, classrooms, and country.

In the United States, one out of every five students reports being bullied. 1 A higher percentage of those bullied are males. What is bullying? Bullying is being made fun of, called names, or insulted; being the subject of rumors; being pushed, shoved, tripped, or spit on; and being excluded from activities on purpose. Add to the fact that we are an interconnected society, cyberbullying reaches beyond the schools into the home lives of many children. A study by the U.S. Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Center (NTAC) says that most school shooters not only showed warning signs before committing their crimes but most of them had been bullied. Many had physical limitations and mental issues, that when bullied, escalated into horrific deeds. 2 A byproduct of cyberbullying is increased suicide in children and adolescents. 3. Where does such hate emanate from? Is it the schools, the home or is there something more dangerous affecting our society?

We might start with the fact that removing God from the daily lives of children carries consequences. Students who experience bullying are at increased risk for depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties, lower academic achievement, and dropping out of school. Students who are both targets of bullying and engage in bullying behavior are at greater risk for both mental health and behavior problems. Evil only needs fertile soil to grow and bear fruit! It is especially prevalent in how children treat those in our schools with special needs such as physical and mental impairments. It is unfair to place all the blame on schools. Parents have too often subcontracted their children’s morality to the schools. God would be the first to say, it starts in the home!

(Leviticus 19:14) 4 – “Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but fear your God. I am the Lord.”

God gave the Israelites a set of ordinances and laws that commanded them to take care of the poor and weak. This shows God’s heart for justice and the social welfare of even the seemingly most insignificant people. In God’s eyes, no one is more and less important. God demands equality by establishing that everyone is of the same value. God expects that His people show consideration for those who had physical and mental limitations. For example, the Israelites were not to curse a deaf man, threaten them or treat them as a lesser person. This is reinforced by the example of Jesus’s compassion for those who had such limitations.

(Luke 7:20-22) – “When the men came to Jesus, they said, ‘John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’ At that very time, Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses, and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. So he replied to the messengers, ‘Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.’“

Christians are called to imitate Jesus’ compassionate attitude toward those who have physical and mental needs. Within our schools (and homes) daily lessons must include those on kindness, not divisiveness and hate. Children must learn to be considerate and patient with those who are not like themselves. While we may not have the power to perform miracles of healing, every person, young and old, we are called to “show and tell” those who are physically, mentally, or spiritually blind the good news about a paradise where humankind will be restored to full physical and spiritual health.

(Luke 4:18) – “The Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free,”

Most of us know of cases in which a person has held a grudge against a coworker, a schoolmate, a relative, or a family member, even for years! Recall that Joseph’s ten half-brothers harbored a grudge against him, which finally led them to attempt murder. (Genesis. 37:2-8, 25-28) How differently Joseph acted toward them! God holds us responsible for our responses to injustice.

(Leviticus 19:18) – “‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord. “

The principles behind the law stated in Leviticus 19:18 still hold today. The problem is that we no longer teach God’s Truth at home or school. On June 25, 1962, the U.S. Supreme Court declared school-sponsored prayers unconstitutional in the landmark case Engel v. Vitale. It was the final removal of any moral compass for students in public education. What have we accomplished in these past fifty years? We also have done a good job of taking God out of the family too. The decline of moral guidance is universal in our society. It has extended to our businesses and government. Leviticus covers this also.

(Leviticus 19:35-36) – “Do not use dishonest standards when measuring length, weight, or quantity. Use honest scales and honest weights, an honest ephah 5, and an honest hin 6. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt.”

What harm could come from a little “white lie,” a thumb on the scales? Truth in advertising, truth in our daily news, and truth from our politicians all reflect a need for Truth from within our society. Leviticus expanded the Ten Commandments to make sure everyone understood the standards were to be applied to life. If we reflect on bullying for a moment and the tragedies that have happened in our schools, no one is solely responsible. Failure of adults within homes, schools, and communities all share responsibility. Students today are merely a reflection of the adults in their lives. Children also learn at home and through all forms of media!

It might be interesting to see what Jesus Himself chose to emphasize from Leviticus. A Pharisee once asked Jesus: “Which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied that “the greatest and first commandment” is to love God with our whole heart, our whole soul, and our whole mind. Then Jesus quoted Leviticus 19:18, saying: “The second, like it, is this: ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matt. 22:35-40)

(Leviticus 19:17-18) – “Do not hate a fellow Israelite in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in their guilt. Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.”

Our world will not be saved because of electric cars and solar panels. No political party holds the keys to happiness and eternity. Our schools will not be saved by resources officers and hardened entry doors. Our world will only be saved when we look to make God the number one priority within our families and schools again. The Bible does not promise to save us all. But that does not mean that a godly father or mother does not have a profound moral and spiritual influence on the children in that family. It takes leadership in schools, homes, and a government to set examples of high moral standards. We all need to pray and work for the salvation of our families and our country.

Your laws ignore our deepest needs,

Your words are empty air.

You’ve stripped away our heritage,

You’ve outlawed simple prayer.

Now gunshots fill our classrooms,

And precious children die.

You seek for answers everywhere,

And ask the question “Why?”

You regulate restrictive laws,

Through legislative creed.

And yet you fail to understand,

That God is what we need!

~ Darrel Scott, 1999

The above poem is from Darrel Scott, the father of Rachel Scott, killed at Columbine High School. He included the poem written after his daughter’s death in his address to the U.S. Congress. To read his entire comments, click Here.

Contemplations

  • Many blame access to weapons as the reason for school violence. Is it that simple?
    • Ideas to Explore: Drugs, cars, knives are killing many more than guns. Why now is there a problem when so many people for hundreds of years, grew up with weapons in their households? 
  • What is your opinion on the effects of violent video games and movies on young minds?
  • If parents demonstrate hatred in the home, what impact do you think it has on the children?
    • Ideas to Explore: Children do model their parent’s behavior! How can parents promote a healthy respectful attitude for their children?
  • How does the hatred demonstrated through movies, social media and news affect our youth?
    • Ideas to Explore: Have you watched a broad spectrum of the 24 by 7 news lately? What about the talk shows that spew hatred? How does this affect families?
  • What are the small ways children learn that cheating is OK?
    • Ideas to Explore: How a parent drives; how a parent speaks about others; how people in their lives treat others who have special needs; involvement of family with education.
  • If a school or enforcement agency is made aware of a child with issues that threaten those around them, what would you do?
    • Ideas to Explore: What would assure the safety of the innocent? How would you address corrective counseling or education?

Notes:

  1. https://www.pacer.org/bullying/info/stats.asp
  2. https://www.securitymagazine.com/articles/91243-federal-report-says-most-school-shooters-were-bullied
  3. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/1840250
  4. NIV New International Version Translations
  5. an ancient Hebrew unit of dry measure equal to ¹/₁₀ homer or a little over a bushel
  6. an ancient Hebrew unit of liquid measure equal to about 1.5 U.S. gallons (5.7 liters)
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