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Monday: Justice for the Oppressed — 13 Comments

  1. The prophets were pretty strong in condemning the Hebrews for turning to other Gods and worshiping idols but they were also very strong in their condemnation of their treatment of the poor, the oppressed, widows and orphans, and even the stranger in the land. Last year I published an article on the Hebrew tithing system Tithing - A Hebrew Perspective

    The big discovery for me was how much of the tithing system as a whole was concerned with the welfare of the needy. Not only were the Hebrews expected to provide for them but they were to include them in their celebratory feasts. The point was made that it was not just about giving but sharing. That takes time.

    It appears that when the Hebrews turned to idols one of the first casualties was their care and inclusion of the poor and oppressed. Evidence suggests that they exploited them.

    In our modern Western societies, we are often very good at hiding the poor and needy from our sight. On one of my trips to Sydney for my regular retina check, I had to pass an encampment of homeless people not far from the NSW Parliament buildings. The talk at the time was not about how to improve their lot but rather where can we move them so they don't clutter up our beautiful city. It was all about visual impact rather than providing genuine help.

    Are we Seventh-day Adventists immune to this sort of treatment? I know that not only the church but many individuals are deeply involved in the care and welfare of the needy. But on the other hand, there are a lot of folk who for one reason or another, feel disenfranchised from Church fellowship. We like to excuse that by saying it's their own choice and so on. But perhaps we do need to examine our hearts and relationships.

    Leviticus 19 spells it out in detail and then in verse 18 we read:

    Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord.

    In the New Testament, this is noted as the second great commandment.

    Is that commandment still relevant today?

  2. If we really look we will notice that systems of oppression are intricately woven into the foundation of our culture and society’s laws. Exploitation, marginalization, cultural imperialism, powerlessness, and violence are just a few of the categories that exist. Are we actively involved in speaking against injustice, standing up for justice, or are we turning a blind eye and living in our bubbles?

  3. 9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

    13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

    14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

    Luke 18:9-14

    Which man was poor and needy? Who was vulnerable and helpless and had no true help other than God? Is there such a thing as "first world" and "third world" territories when it comes to where to find the poor and needy...or where to find the helpers?

    It's a fact that different people have different material resources available to make life physically comfortable,... but it's also a fact that in my travels teaching and living in monetarily impoverished areas in Cambodia, Thailand and Mexico, the tested spiritual depth and intricate communal ties of the people I was sharing my resources with left me feeling like I was living in the poor and needy country.

    Jesus explained who receives heaven's blessings in His Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 5:3-11). Do our children think they "get to heaven" by being "good boys and girls"?

  4. Someone is always around us to help with material things or cheering up words. God puts us in contact with people in need daily, so we must be aware. And when we are in need, we can always run to Him! He's got His open arms for us; if necessary, He will send someone to us, too.

  5. We live in difficulty financial times, but God is calling us to partnership in the care of the
    needy and the oppressed!

    We might not have the financial resources all the time to assist, but at the very least, we
    can be a voice against injustice and exploitation!!!!

    This is one way we can love our neighbor as ourselves!!!

  6. As Maurice points out, God's greatest concern is for the fatherless, the widow and the oppressed. Israel's apostasy always culminated in child sacrifice ( 2 Kings 17:16-20 ) and God's patience ran out. Israel was given over to their oppressors and the "covenant curses".

    It makes me wonder how long God will remain patient ( 2 Peter 3:9 ) waiting for the saints with what is transpiring in our world today? It is estimated that today's modern slave trade (sex trafficking, mostly children) has reached a far greater number than when slavery was legal in many countries. At $150 Billion annually and rising, Human trafficking will soon pass the illegal drug trade in illicit profits.

    Between this and prevalence of abortion, God is good, I do not believe that He will not tolerate this for long. In the mean time, we need to support efforts to end these atrocities while we wait upon the Lord.

  7. So,the question in two parts is, "How much do we think of the poor and needy among us, and how much do we do for them?"
    Answer: Not nearly enough. It seems to me we are more concerned with buildings and acquiring more properties and yes adding to our numbers. All of these might be good, depending on the motive. However, if we apply the radical counsel Christ gave to the " Rich Young Ruler" (Mark 10:21)-though the context is different- we might align more with His heart for the poor. By all means acquire those material possessions that will help us to live and worship in more comfortable surroundings, but consider, as well, whether they will help us to contribute more to the wellbeing and uplifting of the spiritually poor and needy.

  8. I believe that it takes several parts to make a whole, thinking about cognitive issues, several individuals doesn't identify with physical needs if one is not aware of emotional and Psychological problems.

    There are dangers in extending oneself if one is not aware Psychological problems.

  9. I thought I would share an original psalm today:

    psalm 2
    of Andrew

    1 the little hills
    are mountains to me,
    when i walk without You.

    2 swift to the kill,
    dry fountains decree
    lies and doubts about You.

    3 let not my steps be lonely:
    i hunger for You only.

    4 the hills have eyes that penetrate
    the lonely path, to seal my fate.

    5 the little clouds
    are blankets of doom,
    when my feet go astray.

    6 i cry aloud
    from out of the gloom;
    come and take me away,

    7 that I may cease from fainting,
    where evil hands are painting

    8 the corridors of time and space,
    to hide from earth Your boundless grace.

    © Copyright 2020 November 18
    by Clyve A. Bowen♫

  10. Thinking the “poor,needy & oppress” are two parts. #1, Physicial, which our Lord tells us to take care of with our increase & ability. Deut. 15:11, &1John 3:17. #2 Spiritual ,we need to be poor and needy spiritually.“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for they shall see God, Matt.5:3, Luke 18: 1-8 & 9-14, Rev3:14-7. “..you say, I am rich, I become wealthy, and have need of nothing”.. Jesus speaking to the Laodicean church.

  11. The poor,the needy, the homeless, fatherless , etc. Much depends on how we believe they got into that condition. In Social Work one may use the medical model and see the state of the individual as caused by his/her personal failure or incompetence . Another Social worker using the structural model looks to see the individual’s access to resources. I have found that very often Christians blame the homeless and immigrants for their state but ignore government policies that have created the injustice. How do we relate to minorities in our midst? Do we see them as other or as fellow pilgrims. May God help me to see them as His jcreation

  12. Our God’s virtues –

    “Who executes justice for the oppressed?”
    “Who gives food to the hungry?”
    “Who gives freedom to the prisoners?
    ”Who opens the eyes of the blind?”
    “Who raises those who are bowed down?”
    “Who loves the righteous?”
    "Who watches over the strangers?”
    “Who relieves the fatherless and widow?”
    “Who turns the way of the wicked upside down?”
    It is the LORD who shall reign forever – our God for all generations!

    Psalms 146:6-10 restated in the form of questions directed to those who ask about the Source that motivates man desiring to do that which is good and right!

    We are the vessel through which God pours out His blessings; it is not a desire inspired by ‘self’. These acts express God's virtues - they are His Goodness, born of His Spirit which He has provided to all who love Him. He is the source providing our understanding and motivation to do that which is right - to care and express compassion toward all His Creation!

    I consider the believer’s true blessing to be God revealing Himself to us and in us, causing us to understand that His children can do no different than that which their Father shows them - 1 John 4:19-20.

    It is the Father who instills in us the desire to not only understand His Truth but to live His Truth, to thank Him for our salvation and praise His Glory; we know the One from whom all blessings flow because He reveals Himself to all who love Him in loving their fellow man!

    The ability, the awareness, the joy when being caring, just, and merciful is the blessing of the true believer. Truly – it is He who brought us out of the darkness of this world into His marvelous Light ! 1 Peter 2:8-10

  13. Deut 14:28
    And the Levite, (because he hath no part nor inheritance ,with thee) and the stranger, and the fatherless , and the widow , which are within thy gates , shall come , and shall eat and be satisfied , that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou first.( KJV)
    My questions are.
    Who are the Levites today?
    Are we as a church taking the special care about those vulnerable groups of people in today's lesson by also sharing with them the tithe after they are collected or we don't have those vulnerable groups of people in our churches today? Is that verse applicable today or not ?


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