The Just Truth About Injustice, Part 2

“So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter. Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead more than the living which are yet alive. Yea, better is he than both they, which hath not yet been, who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.” – [Ecclesiastes 4:1-3 King James Version]

Next, I turned to look at all the acts of oppression that make people suffer under the sun. Look at the tears of those who suffer! No one can comfort them. Their oppressors have all the power. No one can comfort those who suffer. I congratulate the dead, who have already died, rather than the living, who still have to carry on. But the person who hasn’t been born yet is better off than both of them. He hasn’t seen the evil that is done under the sun.” – [Ecclesiastes 4:1-3 GOD’S WORD Translation]

When I was a senior in high school, I was sitting on the bleachers in the gym one day reading my Bible. I remember that I had an old 1917 Scofield Reference Bible, King James Version, and I determined that I was going to read through the book of Ecclesiastes. I read the first three chapters, but as I begin to read the fourth chapter, I stopped right after verse three and I had to absorb exactly what Solomon was talking about. For roughly three years now I’ve had Ecclesiastes 4:1-3 rolling around in the back of my mind and whenever I read it I go back to that moment where I was sitting on the bleachers in the gym at Dover High School and my mind was going over the subject of oppression.

I was a nerd in school and as a result, I didn’t fit in with very well. I mainly stayed to myself and was often picked on. I thought I knew what oppression was. I had no idea what oppression was until I did a word study on ‘oppression’ and found out that this word in the Hebrew implies tyranny by a ruling authority such as a master mistreating a slave, but this isn’t ordinary mistreatment, this is mistreatment by deception. The same root word is used in verses where the words, “deceived” (Leviticus 6:2, KJV), “robbery” (Leviticus 6:4, ESV), and “wrong” (Psalm 105:14, KJV) are also used. What I was going through as a social outcast in high school was kid stuff compared to what Solomon was describing in Ecclesiastes 4.

When we look at the subject of oppression we find that God has a lot to say about oppression and about those oppress other people particularly widows and orphans. One of the first commandments concerning widows and orphans is found in Exodus.

You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry, and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.”– [Exodus 22:22-24 ESV]

God is very plain about what the punishment for the mistreatment of widows and orphans is. From in-depth study of widows and orphans, I think it’s safe to say that He holds them very dear to His heart. This isn’t just an old testament command either. Let’s look at what God has to say through James.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” – [James 1:27 ESV]

In the Church, we’ve created this mantra that has infected infected Christian culture in almost the worst way possible. “It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship.” Does that sound familiar? Anytime I hear someone say that it’s like a cat’s claws running slowly down a chalkboard. It has to be one of the most ignorant and theologically inaccurate things I hear on a weekly basis from various cheesy Christian bloggers that still think it’s so cool to say that. The fact is that pure religion has been defined for us in this passage and it would do us well to realize that and apply it to our lives. No, Christ does not merit us on our good religion, but rather, our good religion stems from the relationship that we have with Christ. The Bible is clear. Injustice and oppression against people, especially widows and orphans, will be recompensed either in this life or the next. One day God will right the wrongs of our society and we will live in peace and harmony the way we were meant to.

The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” – [Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 ESV]

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Knowing and Praying the Will of God

“And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.” – [Colossians 1:9-12 ESV]

Lately I’ve been thinking about the will of God for my life. I’ve been praying and earnestly seeking Him about some decisions that have to be made, and while I was working on my commentary for Colossians I kept coming across these verses and it occured to me, God’s will for my life isn’t some big mystery that He wants to hide and let me go off on a wild goose chase to find. I would even dare say that it is the father’s good pleasure to share His will with His children for their lives. I believe that God not only wants to share His will with us, but He wants us to want His will. For those of us who have been in church for forever and a day, this sounds like an elementary concept, but the fact is there are people out there who are really trying to figure what God wants for them and they are having a hard time figuring it out because we often make out to be this angry guy living in the attic of the universe ready to strike someone down for even thinking about the word ‘sin’. I was raised under the impression that if I didn’t say the blessing over my food then God would allow it to be poisoned and kill me for being an unthankful wretch. People who are under this impression need to know that God is more merciful and loving than that. He has a deep love for all us and longs for us to know what He has in store for us. As a matter of fact, He even wants us to pray for His will.

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; so neither can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for apart from me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatsoever ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; and so shall ye be my disciples.” – [John 15:4-8 RV]

Normally, I’m an ESV man, but in John 15:7 the ESV uses the word, ‘wish’. The word ‘wish’ to me has almost a fairy tale meaning. As one who studies the Greek, I’m not sure that Jesus was implying that God is like a fairy godmother that grants wishes, but rather He is a loving and generous Father and care-giver that gives us the desires of our heart (Psalm 37:4).

I love John 15 because it shows us that we will know the will of God for our lives if we continue to abide in Him. What a profound thought that knowing the will of God is a direct result of abiding in Christ.

I want us to look now at Psalm 34:7 and see what exactly God is speaking to us through the psalmist.

“Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” – [Psalms 37:4 ESV]

What’s interesting about this verse is that it doesn’t mean that if you make yourself happy in God, He’ll give us a nice Lincoln or a big house if that’s what your heart desires. It actually means that God will give you the desires of your heart, if your submit yourself to Him.

The Hebrew word for ‘delight’ that is used here is ‛ânag which means ‘to make soft or pliable’. A more accurate translation would be ‘Make yourself pliable before God, and He will give you the desires of your heart.’ When you make yourself pliable before God He can mold you and make you. When He begins to mold you and make you, He often changes the desires of our heart so when God is changing our desires, we begin to want what God wants and then when we pray for what God wants, He gives it to us, because He knows what is best for us.

“The desires of God and the desires of the righteous, agree in one; they are of one mind in their desires.” – John Bunyan

I hope this has blessed you and encouraged you today.