Deuteronomy 15 presents a seeming contradiction:
Verse 4: “There should be no poor among you . . .”
Verse 7: “If there is a poor man among your brothers . . .”
Verse 11: “There will always be poor people in the land . . .”
Which is it?
Verse 4 is not a statement of fact. It is a conditional statement: Poverty would not exist if Israel would “fully obey the Lord” and be “careful to follow” all His commands. Verse 11 indicates that God knows, this early in the game, that Israel will not be faithful to Him. And yet, he continued to love them.
Given that Israel was not going to be faithful, the Lord decreed that she should at least be generous and kindhearted. When a man became poor among her number, the community was to take care of him.
But of course, if Israel wasn’t going to obey the Lord on other things, why would she obey Him on this?
And her own lack of obedience likely brought out the law of the Sabbath year: Every seven years, all debts were to be canceled and Israelites who had sold themselves as slaves to their countrymen were to go free. Nothing on this earth belongs to anyone forever, and no debt to any mortal can ever be so great as to be owed forever. Because all belongs to Him, God can provide everyone with a clean slate and a new start.
It may not make a difference to unbelievers, but when God provides a clean slate to those who are His, all those who belong to Him must recognize it.