Monday: Justice for the Oppressed
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God’s universal judgment is one of the central teachings found in Amos.

Image © Rolf Jansson from GoodSalt.com

Image © Rolf Jansson from GoodSalt.com

In the beginning of his book, the prophet announces God’s judgment on several of Israel’s neighbors because of their crimes against humanity. Then, however, Amos boldly declares that God also will judge Israel. The anger of the Lord was directed not only at the nations but also at the people He had chosen. The people of Judah had rejected the Word of the Lord and had not kept His instructions.

At the same time, Amos dealt with Israel much more extensively than even Judah because she had broken God’s covenant and committed so many sins. Israel’s economic prosperity and political stability led to spiritual decay. This spiritual decay displayed itself in social injustice. In Israel, the rich exploited the poor, and the powerful exploited the weak. The rich cared only for themselves and their personal gain, even when it came at the expense and suffering of the poor (Not much has changed in a few thousand years, has it?).

In his preaching, Amos taught that there is a living God who cares about how we treat others. Justice is more than an idea or a norm. Justice is a divine concern. The prophet warned that Israel’s stone houses, ivory-laid furniture, top quality food and drink, as well as the best body lotions—all would be destroyed.

Read Isaiah 58. In what ways does this chapter capture aspects of present truth? In what ways, though, is our message to the world much more than this?

The Bible clearly teaches that social justice should be a natural product of the gospel. As the Holy Spirit makes us more like Jesus, we learn to share God’s concerns. The books of Moses insist on the fair treatment of foreigners, widows, and orphans (Exod. 22:21-24). The prophets speak of God’s concern about the just and compassionate treatment of less privileged people (Isa. 58:6-7). The psalmist calls the God who lives in His holy dwelling “a father of the fatherless, a defender of widows” (Ps. 68:5, NKJV). Christ showed great concern for those who were rejected by society (Mark 7:24-30John 4:7-26). The Lord’s brother James calls on us to put our faith into action and help the needy (James 2:14-26). No follower of Christ can do anything less and really be a follower of Christ.

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Monday: Justice for the Oppressed — 10 Comments

  1. James 2:14-16 call us to help our broth/sisters in Christ. Not to "give them a word: be warmed " but to give a need. To have faith can be manifested only in comunity of beilevers. To be a family. Christs relatives.

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    • Goran,

      I think the notion of help is not confined to helping out community of believers. Certainly it should start there but James is talking about a wider context. This discussion takes place in the context of faith and works, and essentially James is saying that if you only give words and do not give the physical help then your words are hollow.

      I would also add that if we only serve our community of believers then our words are also hollow. We are here to make a difference - and that includes those outside our own community of believers.

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  2. Questions about international social justice often confront us. We continually see oppression of minorities reported on the media and are encouraged to support wards to fight for the oppressed. Some of us are old enough to remember the Vietnam war - communism oppressing the democratic south, the Gulf war Iraq oppressing Kuwait, not to mention the ongoing conflict and involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. The problem is that most of these "conflicts of oppression" that western nations have become involved in, have a strong element of self interest in them. To a large extent Western involvement in current conflict has a strong element of protect our sources of energy rather than the the interests of the oppressed people.

    Even where war is not involved, the politics of helping the oppressed becomes complicated by economics, political advantage, and downright greed.

    In the light of the biblical instruction to care for the needy and to look after the oppressed, how do we best carry out that instruction in the international arena? Or do we say that it is not our business; we are here to preach the gospel and God, in the fullness of his time will punish the oppressors?

    No easy answers eh!

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    • You are right Maurice
      If only we (western countries) had the attitude of the Master (Jesus), helping others selflessly or without an advantageous complication, The world would be a much better place and we would not hear of desperation, terrorism and radicalization. As disciples of Christ, we are called to spread the good news and help suffering and grief whenever it is in our power while we are on earth. However, we are not called to stop or fight the wickedness, injustice and the unfairness that we see around us today. I believe that it's right to call them out as a sign of things to come. The bible reminds us that in the end of times, the wickedness will increase. Matthew 24:13-14. "And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come." Also, there will be a time for judgement when all things will be restored by the Master of the universe, God himself. Psalm 37:10 "For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be."

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      • Louisdon, even though the Bible points to the beast, and the false prophet which essentially speaks of the western countries as major players in the problems of the world the other countries do enough evil among themselves to fill hell many times over. In the rest of the world that western countries tend to label as third world there is tribal and ethnic warfare that often involve cruelties that are unbelievable where selfishness knows no boundary. Even in ancient times there was trouble worldwide between groups of people. So the problem is not confined to any particular group but involves everyone on every level.

        To me the main thing is that the devil has done a lot of damage here on planet earth and only because he is too selfish not to. He only thinks of himself while actively trashing everyone else and delights in everyone's misery for the sole purpose of serving his own agenda. The same goes for those that follow him.

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  3. You are right, Maurice. No easy answers present themselves, but we can just keep doing good! Galatians 6:9 - "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."

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  4. From Sunday's lesson through to Monday, we are reminded that as followers of Christ we are already a privileged group of people. To this end we aught to care for the needy and do justice to those who we have dominion over. 'To whom much is given, much is expected'. We should always strive to have the mind of Christ and to live , love and treat everyone equally, regardless of class creed or color.

    To those who are suffering injustice at the hands of others, be reminded that God see and He knows and cares about all the the things that concern us. He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities.

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    • Indeed God will deliver the oppressed. James has awakened our moral consciousness to not be a "silent" participant in the oppression of people and animals, especially when we have the authority to make a difference.

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  5. If we talk about west oppression, it is to be modern. I am from Balkans; if you see "east oppressors" you will like your west more than now. But what is for us to talk about world politics? Are we somebody important ? If we do not love brothers in faith than to talk about poor east and bad west is just from boredom. Universal justice is God's job and will be ours when judgement will be given to saints. Now if we stand against "west oppressors" we are not loyal citizens. There is 8 billion peoples on planet and in sinful state just there is not space for all.

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  6. We have been opressed by satan.our sins have led us into troubles and therefore
    we need to repent from all our bad doings

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