Posted by: Esther | October 21, 2008

True Religion

In the book of Isaiah chapter 1, God is warning Israel, through His prophet Isaiah, to  turn from their idolatry worship and wicked ways. He specifically commands them in verse 17 to:

Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow.

I brought this verse up to the women in my Bible Study and asked them to consider how  we in our present lives, living in the USA, can make this verse a reality. Here are a few things we discussed along with my own thoughts and additions.

Learn to do good:
It was brought up that the only way we can really learn to do good is through Bible study. The only one who is “good” is God himself.

Mark 10:17-18 And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? [there is] none good but one, [that is], God.

Our good God gave the scriptures so that we would be equipped to do good, as He has done and as He is.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

Seek justice (judgment KJV):
Seeking justice does not give us the right to judge others. Paul warns us in Romans not to seek judgment on others unless we have fully searched out our own hearts.

Romans 2:1 Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.

I do not believe God is talking about the type of judgment or justice that would justify those who like to point fingers at others when they fall.

Isaiah prophecies about a judgment that will wash us clean of our sins.

Isaiah 4:4 When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and purged the bloodshed of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning…

This prophecy is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Paul explains the justification that resulted from the His death.

Romans 5:18 So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.

One woman at the study believed that seeking justice refers to seeking the truth. I agree and add that in seeking truth we will find Jesus. Seeking justice and judgment, therefore, is applied in our lives by the working out of our salvation, as explained in Philippians chapter 2, assuming that we already believe the gospel message. For those who have turned from God and have sought other religions or rituals, seeking justice will refer to the justice that only God gives through His son Jesus. Those of us who have found His grace, must then be working out our salvation in order to be a witness of that justice for those who seek it. Seeking justice therefore is a perpetual act in the working out of our salvation.

Reprove the ruthless:

KJV translates this as relieve the oppressed; NKJV as rebuke the oppressor; NLT as help the oppressed; NIV as encourage the oppressed and ESV as correct oppression.
Who are the oppressed in our society? Woman, African American, Arabs, Christians, the unborn child, the poor…? I guess that depends on your perspective and the heart the Lord has given you.

Psalm 37:4 says, “ Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”

As we learn to do good and seek justice, the Lord will show us the group of oppressed that He wants us to help and encourage. Or He may lay on your heart and put in a situation to rebuke the oppressor in order to correct it.

Perhaps you are the oppressed. Learn to do good and seek justice, that is salvation, then the Lord will be your refuge and you will in turn bring encouragement and help to other oppressed peoples as you become a witness of Him.

Psalm 9:9 The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Blessed {be} the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

I did ask for opinions at my Bible study as to who they thought were the oppressed in our society and how we should encourage them and correct it. Two groups stood out: the unborn child, and the poor. Legalized abortion and abortion without parental consent has created a group of oppressed who has no voice, the unborn child. The unborn child has become property and a thing that has no rights and no soul. Not even considered human; lower than a slave used to be considered here in America. The question should not be “when” does the unborn become a child with rights, because the fact is that they will all become a child if they are permitted to. 10 out of 10 zygotes and fetuses become babies unless death prevents them from doing so. This fact should prove that abortion is murder. This group therefore has become oppressed just as the slaves were in this countries beginnings.

Psalm 139:13 For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.

The obvious and best solution for the correction of this oppressed group is prayer and salvation for the oppressors. We also, as Christians, have the obligation to vote for representatives that will correct this oppression.

Romans 13:1 Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.

Unfortunately many Christians see a conflict in our options of representatives. One candidate seems to want to correct the oppression of the poor, yet justifies the oppression of the unborn child by allowing a “choice” to the mother; while the other candidate seems to want to continue the oppression of the poor while fighting for the lives of the unborn child. I do not see this split at all. Many believe that if we move closer to a socialistic society we will be able to correct the oppression of the poor. I do not agree. Our country was not founded on socialist principles, but on the principles of capitalism. As a result, our poorest are among the wealthiest of the poor in the world. There is not a single socialist country without the poor. In fact Jesus says the poor will always be with us. Capitalism is the best way to correct the oppression of the poor, until Jesus returns. Businesses create jobs. The more we head toward socialism, the more oppressed we will all become.

Ultimately it is Jesus who corrects the oppression of all people. Jesus encourages and helps everyone.

Luke 4:18 “THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED,

A socialist government can take away our right to express our faith (not that it would or could stop us), but freedom of religion has allowed this country to be the number one country to send out missionaries who spread and share the gospel. The gospel message is the way to free the oppressed; any oppressed group.

Defend the Orphan:

KJV calls the orphans the fatherless.  So we must ask, “Who are the fatherless or orphan’s in our society, community or neighborhood?” Maybe we should first understand what a father really is before we try to determine who is truly fatherless. Take a look at Abraham, the father of many nations. He was chosen as the father of many nations, so that he would command his children to keep the way of the Lord.

Genesis 18:19 “For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.”

So, according to the Word, a father commands a child to keep the way of the Lord. How many fathers in your neighborhood are commanding their children to keep the ways of the Lord. I see a lot of fatherless children in my neighborhood.

So now we ask, “How do we defend these fatherless?” A child must be accused of something before we can defend him/her. But all children are already accused sinners. All have been given the death penalty for their sins. A fatherless child does not know that their heavenly Father wants to grant him/her mercy, grace and eternal life. We can defend these fatherless children through intercessory prayer, being a witness of our heavenly Father, and teaching them the steps to salvation. Once a child believes that Jesus, the Son of God, died for his/her sins and was resurrected to give him/her eternal life, the child will no longer be fatherless.

Romans 8:14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God,

John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name:

Some practical ways, therefore, to defend the orphans may be to invite some fatherless children to Sunday School, or tell Bible Stories to children in your neighborhood. Pray for the fatherless children that the Lord has put in your life. Ask Him to open their heart to receive salvation. Ask the Lord to empower you through His Holy Spirit to be a witness to a fatherless child. Invite them into your home, feed them, befriend them and show them Jesus.

Plead for the Widow:

Only males, during Biblical times, could take legal action, make contracts, and manage property. This is not the case here in the US. Widows may seek government aid and may be taken care of by life insurance plans, etc. So how does this verse relate to us today?

We can learn a lot from the best known Biblical widows in the book of Ruth. Once Ruth and Naomi returned to Jerusalem, they were reduced to gleaning the fields for food. In a sense, this gleaning is like the government aid widows receive today. It may be just enough to sustain them, if they spend it wisely, yet as Ruth and Naomi were, the widow is still alone, and unprotected from evil. Ruth, by the grace of God, wanders into Boaz’s field. Aware of the dangers Ruth faced, Boaz commanded his servants not to harm her and even commanded them to drop extra grain for her to glean.

Ruth 2:8-9 Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Listen carefully, my daughter. Do not go to glean in another field; furthermore, do not go on from this one, but stay here with my maids. “Let your eyes be on the field which they reap, and go after them. Indeed, I have commanded the servants not to touch you. When you are thirsty, go to the water jars and drink from what the servants draw.”

Ruth 2:15-16 When she rose to glean, Boaz commanded his servants, saying, “Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not insult her.  “Also you shall purposely pull out for her {some grain} from the bundles and leave {it} that she may glean, and do not rebuke her.”

Widows today may need extra help paying bills that may have been left to them from the deceased. Government aid is not always enough. Many widows today loose their homes because of taxes they cannot pay.

Ultimately Boaz, a picture a Jesus, became Naomi’s kinsmen redeemer. Naomi needed a kinsmen (relative) to purchase back the land which belonged to her husband. Not only did he purchase back the land, but he married Ruth in order to provide Naomi with a son to inherit the land. Boaz provided for Naomi and Ruth in every way possible.

Every widow which God has placed in our lives must know about her true redeemer, Jesus Christ, who purchases us from sin with his blood on the cross. It is our duty to be a witness of Him, as was Boaz.

Ephesians 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.

Paul gives the church specific guidelines for widows in 1 Timothy 5. He suggests that young widows should remarry. He states that widows should be cared for by their family members, so they are not a burden to the church. We, as believers, must make sure that the widows in our family are being cared for.
We must provide for them, pray for the them, protect them and share the gospel with them.

In conclusion,  we must seek God in His Word, proclaim the gospel in the working out of your salvation, and be a witness of His love to the oppressed, to children, and to widows. This is true religion.

James 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, [and] to keep himself unspotted from the world.


Responses

  1. God has a plan and most definitely we must be stedfast. We are to be meek with a thankful heart. With a world of non-believers and wrongdoers, how are the innocent protected? If the element of wrongdoers over populates the believers (and in the scheme of biblical teachings), is it not best to make sure the nation of believers are nurtured, educated and spared? Surprised you wrote today – Jeanne’s B-day and death of grandfather 34 years ago today : )


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