Justice for the Powerless

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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“You must not mistreat or oppress foreigners in any way. Remember, you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt.”

Exodus 22:21

Exodus 22:21 introduces God’s concern for those who were powerless in the ancient world. This verse mentions foreigners. The Hebrew word ger could also be translated as “sojourner” or “alien.” The next verses focus on justice for widows and orphans (or, children without fathers, 22:22-24). Many times throughout the Old Testament, foreigners, widows, and orphans are linked together as those for whom God cares deeply and concerning whom God’s people must strive for justice (see, for example, Ps. 146:9; Zech. 7:10). Foreigners, widows, and orphans were all powerless in the societies of the Ancient Near East. They could be harmed, enslaved, or simply left alone to starve, suffer, and die. But the Lord called his people not to oppress these who had no social status or protection. In other biblical passages, God instructed the Israelites to extend special grace to the powerless members of their society (for example, Deut. 24:19-21; Prov. 19:17).

Today, in our part of the world, foreigners, widows, and orphans are protected from oppression by law. But this doesn’t release us from the call to make sure they are treated justly and not oppressed. As God’s people, we must not step back and assume that government will do the job of caring for the powerless.

Moreover, in many parts of the world, foreigners, widows, and orphans are badly mistreated. Children without parental protection are often terribly malnourished. Thousands are forced into fighting in armies, even though they are just children. Millions are caught in the web of human trafficking, where they are forced into slavery or the sex trade. As God’s people, we are called to seek justice for the powerless in our world.

Since most of us wouldn’t know what to do in this regard, let me mention an outstanding organization that is fighting human trafficking in the name of Christ. It’s called the International Justice Mission.

Founded in 1997 by Gary Haugen, this ministry is established in many of the countries of the world where the powerless are misused and abused. For more information on IJM and its work, check its website. Recently we had Sara Groves, the wonderful singer/songwriter at Laity Lodge. Sara is an active supporter of IJM, and uses her influence to raise awareness and money for this ministry.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: In what ways do you have the opportunity to seek justice for sojourners, widows, and orphans? What might God want you to do, even today, for the powerless in our world?

PRAYER: Gracious Heavenly Father, today I’m reminded of your concern for the powerless, including foreigners, widows, and orphans. Help me, dear Lord, in all that I do, to reflect this concern. May I seek justice for the powerless in my personal life, my work life, and my civic life.

Today I ask you to protect and rescue those in our world who, because they are powerless, are victims of injustice. In particular, I pray for those who are involved in human trafficking. Deliver them from evil. Bring justice to them. May laws be changed to protect the innocent. May oppressors be stopped. May your justice prevail.

I also want to pray for people who are committed to bringing justice to the powerless. In particular, I ask you to bless the effort of the International Justice Ministry. Give them wisdom, resources, and, indeed, success in their effort to rescue and protect the powerless in our world. Amen.