Monday, June 27, 2011

God's Heart for Justice and the Oppressed (Part 2)

This is the second in a series of five blogs. (They will be interspersed among the others) If you don't read any others, please read these. This is the heart and soul of our summer.

In Part 1 we looked at the problem of Human Trafficking in the world today. We know it is a problem, we know that the Bible is not silent about this evil, and we will now see that God is not silent in showing us his love for justice. In this second part we will simply examine the heart of God through the blessing of scripture and see his revealed plan for injustice.

We read the first part of Psalm 10 when looking at the problem. Take a moment to reflect on the magnitude and horror of the problem.

Now, read Psalm 10:12-18
"Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up your hand; forget not the afflicted. Why does the wicked renounce God and say in his heart, "You will not call to account"? But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation, that you may take it into your hands; to you the helpless commits himself; you have been the helper of the fatherless. Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer; call his wickedness to account till you find none. The LORD is king forever and ever; the nations perish from his land. O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more."

Psalm 11:5-7
"The LORD tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup. For the LORD is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face."

Isaiah 59:15-16
"The LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him."

We have enjoyed speaking with several youth groups at churches this summer. When Brady asks someone to read one of these verses and then asks what it means, they pause for a second and questioningly say, "God.. loves.. justice?" "God... hates evil?" Yes! Absolutely! I so appreciate Isaiah 61:8 because it blatantly shows us God's heart.

Isaiah 61:8
"for I the Lord love justice; I hate robbery and wrong."

That's as clear as a glacier stream. (really clear)

For me, this is pretty encouraging. I have to smile and wriggle around when reading these verses, because I am assured that God is passionately opposed to evil and oppression. Beyond that, he hears the cries of the oppressed, he hears the cries of those calling to him on behalf of the oppressed, and he is active. He is breaking the arm of the evildoer and calling them to account. He is lifting up his hand against evil. Is that not an awesome, empowering image? God is delivering them their fiery portion. God's actions against evildoers will become even more significant in the next part of this 5 part series.

All the passages we have looked at are in the Old Testament, written before the coming of Jesus Christ, God's son. In Luke we have the account of Jesus reading from the book of Isaiah. We will look at this passage more in the final part of the series, but as it further reveals God's heart toward the oppressed, I think this is a fitting place for it.

Luke 4:16-21
"And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."

God is not silent about the problem of human trafficking or modern-day slavery. I feel that his concern for the oppressed and his aggressive fury toward evil is clearly seen. More than anything, be encouraged. Pray for God to continue to strengthen and uphold the oppressed, and to raise us his supremely powerful hand against the evildoers.

God loves justice and hates evil. So what is his plan? How is God intending to bring about justice and freedom for the oppressed? What is the role of believers in his plan? Fortunately for us, the scriptures provide us with those answers, as well, and that is what we will look at in the next part.

Jeremiah 9:23-24
"Thus says the LORD: "Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD."

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