In part 1, we saw that we must look to the truth of God’s word and not to the world’s “wisdom” if we are to understand and obey His will regarding orphans. If we are to appear as lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, we must hold fast the word of life. And frequently this word of life points us in the opposite direction versus the “wisdom” of the world. Such is definitely the case when it comes to orphans.
So far, we have seen that God views orphans as very important. He has deep feelings of compassion and concern for them, and He promises to be their father, care taker and protector. (Ps 68:5-6a, Ps 146:9)
As we continue seeking God’s heart about orphans we find that God knows these precious orphans are vulnerable, and He commands us not to oppress them or take advantage of them.
"Our" vulnerable ones (Cassandra-7, Speedy-5, and Jaynie-8) on the day we first met them at their orphanage (July 2001). Tessa, Joe and Lissie had carefully shopped for the stuffed animals and asked us to present them to their new siblings when we traveled to meet them. By the time we returned 2 months later to bring them home, bullies had already stolen their precious gifts.
- “You shall not afflict any widow or orphan. If you afflict him at all, and if he does cry out to Me, I will surely hear his cry; and My anger will be kindled, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.” (Ex 22:22-24)
Is there any doubt here about the seriousness with which God regards the plight of the vulnerable?
- “For the Lord your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality nor take a bribe. He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing.” (Deut 10:17-18)
If even the God of gods and the Lord of lords makes a point of caring for these most vulnerable people, what excuse do we have for ignoring, or worse, oppressing them?
- “Cursed is he who distorts the justice due an alien, orphan, and widow…” (Deut 27:19)
It’s interesting to note here the context of this verse. Take a look in your Bible at verses 15-26. What you’ll find is that God puts this oppression of the alien, orphan and widow in amongst sins like: idol worship, dishonoring fathers and mothers, stealing from neighbors, misleading the blind for sport or injury, committing incest, striking a neighbor in secret and taking bribes.
Notice that most of these things are considered serious enough that even wicked men would call them crimes! And this isn’t an isolated list – we see the oppression of widows and orphans show up in many other lists of abominations elsewhere in Scripture (e.g. Ezek 22, Mal 3:5-6, etc.).
- “… and do not oppress the widow or the orphan, the stranger or the poor…” Zech 7:10a.
If you read beyond this in your Bible you’ll see what happens when HIs people harden their hearts against this and other warnings in the passage:
o God sends His wrath against them
o He refuses to listen to them when they pray, and
o He desolates their land and their material blessings and scatters them to the wind.
God’s heart for the orphan seems unmistakable. He sees them as very important, and worthy of His special care and attention. He sees them as naturally vulnerable, and warns us not to take advantage of them or oppress them. And He warns us that He will be their care taker and father, defending them against us if we fail to heed His warnings.
In part 3, we’ll turn from looking at God's warnings about the vulnerable to His instructions about how we are to care for them.
~ Mr. Beaver