The Old Testament book of Leviticus is not the first place I turn for wisdom or instruction. However, that doesn’t mean we won’t find wisdom there. Here are three verses from Leviticus 19:31-33 (ESV):
“Do not turn to mediums or necromancers; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them: I am the Lord your God. You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord. When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong.”
Mediums and Necromancers: In our world many have a fascination with necromancers (wizards, magicians, enchanters and witches) and mediums (fortune tellers, mind readers and those who say they are talking to the dead.) God has a very dim view of all of those, because these sources never cause us to look to God for truth and wisdom. We generally want to hear what we want to hear and we want to know the future, often to our own undoing. God knows no good comes from their insights or direction.
Strangers: There is also a tendency to treat immigrants (strangers who sojourn with you) poorly. God also has a tender heart for those who are the neglected and abused in society. To abuse or do wrong to a widow, an orphan or a foreigner is certain to capture God’s notice. When He sees it, you can be certain He is not only grieved, but angry. You don’t want to be a sinner in the hands of an angry God.
Old People: Finally, the middle verse of this trio of commands says, “You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.” God says the elderly are to be treated with special respect. There is a reason God allowed them to get gray hair and wrinkles. Many of us don’t make it that far down life’s pathway, so God’s command to honor the older members of a society is not to be taken lightly.
I say all of this because I so appreciate what several young people did today with me at a local nursing home. Several piano students played the piano, one of them, my granddaughter Violet, played her ukulele and other younger adults played the piano and helped the “gray heads” find the pages in the hymnal so that they could sing or follow along. They were ‘standing up before the gray head and honoring those with wrinkles.’ That is fearing God. He is the Lord. They could have done something else with their time, but they saw the need to be a blessing to those who cannot get out or go to church. This is related to the command, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Sometimes you have to go where your neighbor is to love them.
One older gentleman touched my heart during the entire hour. His face went from tears of joy to great smiles as he heard the truth and sang the songs. Not many could sing, but he and a few others certainly did. We honored him and the others by giving them some time and by helping them remember some eternal truths. I came away from that hour glad that I could have a part in honoring the old men and women with wrinkles and gray hair.