21 “Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt.
22 “Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless. 23 If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. 24 My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives will become widows and your children fatherless.
26 If you take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge, return it by sunset,27 because that cloak is the only covering your neighbor has. What else can they sleep in? When they cry out to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate.
Exodus 22:21-24, 26-27 (New International Version)
Example to the Nations
When God called Israel out of Egypt, He did so for a specific purpose. He wanted to form a nation that was unique among all the nations; a people which all the world will follow by example when it comes to living a life that is righteous before the Lord. One of those things which was to make Israel different was the way it was to treat the oppressed of the world.
The Oppressed of the World
Due to the fallen nature of this world, there are some groups of people who seem to be taken advantage of more than others. These groups comprise of, but not limited to, the foreigner; the widow and the fatherless; and the debtor. Why does life treat these people so cruelly?
Plight of the Foreigner
When someone new, who comes from a culture different from yours, comes into your social sphere, what is your first response? It is human nature to be suspicious of things or people that are different from you. Some people may even view the foreigner as a threat to who they are. Now these fears have no foundation in facts, nevertheless, it is this irrational fear which causes people to despise the foreigner.
The Plight of the Widow
The plight of the widow is challenging indeed. With the loss of her husband, the widow has no security and is heart-broken over the loss of her life mate. Such a woman is vulnerable to evil people who would try to take advantage of her grief in order to advance their greedy gains. People, who do such things are despicable in my opinion.
The Condition of the Fatherless
For the fatherless child, it is even more difficult. Without a male role model in their lives, their development into adulthood becomes stunted. Without a Father telling her that she is precious and needs to be cherished, a daughter may seek relationships that are shallow in an attempt to fill that role which the Father didn’t fulfill. For the son, without a godly male role model to guide him into manhood, he is easily influenced by the evil desires of the world which offer an altered view of what being a man should look like.
The Life of the Debtor
As for the debtor, their lot in life is oppressing indeed. Those who owe money to others have made themselves slaves to those whom they have a debt to. As a result, the lender may view the debtor as someone that is their inferior, especially if they haven’t paid their debt yet; and may treat the debtor with contempt until the debt is paid. Even then, it is unlikely that the relationship between the lender and the debtor will ever be the same even after the debt was paid off.
Caring for the Oppressed
In Exodus 22:21-24, and 26-27; the Lord gave to Moses the rules of conduct which Israel was to have towards the foreigner, the widow, the fatherless, and the debtor. When it comes to such people, the Lord commanded that His people were to love them and not take advantage of them; and any person who disobeys these laws would face the anger of the Lord. Why does the Lord care for such people?
Defender of the Oppressed
The Lord is the the defender of the oppressed and He provides for all their needs. He does this because they too were made in His image; just like the rest of humanity. Since the Almighty cares for all people regardless of their condition, those whom the Lord called to be His own are commanded to follow His lead and love all people; even the undesirable. By doing this, they show to the whole world that they are the Lord’s people.
Love Like God
Like Israel, we who are in Christ are called to be God’s people. Therefore, we ought to love those whom the Almighty loves. We must show grace to the foreigner, the widow, the fatherless, and the debtor: for the foreigner, be a friend; to the widow, be a frequent visitor and caretaker; for the fatherless, be a mentor; and for the debtor, show grace and forgiveness. When we do these things for the oppressed, we reflect the love of God in us; and He will be glorified in the eyes of the world.