It is hard to imagine how even in the best of times, such as under David and Solomon, the nation of Israel could have been so blessed by God and yet could have so oppressed the poor, the helpless, and the outcasts among them.
“Therefore, because you tread down the poor
and take grain taxes from him,
though you have built houses of hewn stone,
yet you shall not dwell in them;
you have planted pleasant vineyards,
but you shall not drink wine from them.
For I know your manifold transgressions
and your mighty sins:
Afflicting the just and taking bribes;
Diverting the poor from justice at the gate.” ( Amos 5.11-12, NKJV).
“The LORD will enter into judgment with the elders of His people
and His princes:
‘for you have eaten up the vineyard;
the plunder of the poor is in your houses’” (Isaiah 3:14).
Israel needed to remember that they had been “strangers” in Egypt, which was one reason why they were to treat strangers and outcasts in Israel as they wished they had been treated when they were outcasts.
How does this truth relate to the gospel, to the idea that, through the blood of Jesus, we have been freed from the slavery of sin? Why, and in what parallel ways, should what Jesus has done for us impact how we treat others, especially the helpless among us?
Think about it. We can worship on the right day, understand the truth about death, hell, the mark of the beast, and so forth. That’s fine. But what does it all mean if we treat others nastily or oppress the weak among us or don’t administer justice fairly when we need to judge a situation? Especially because of the truth that we have, why must we be extra careful not to think that, somehow, just knowing the truth, in and of itself, is all that God requires of us? Why is that a potentially dangerous trap for us?
What role should our faith have in helping us understand what is commonly referred to as “human rights”?