You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. 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.
God’s heart for the poorest and least powerful is intense. He has strong words for Israel as He reminds them that they must do no wrong to the weakest members of their society: the fatherless and the widowed. This is not some liberal pablum for the disenfranchised. This is divine justice concerned for all people made in the image of God. God does not bless one group of people at the expense of another. His design is that the blessed group help those in need, so that the blessed people might grow closer to God in character, and the blessed people might rejoice in grace.
I believe that is why God has such harsh words for Israel for the mistreatment of widows and orphans. To do so was to forget their own history where they suffered under the mistreatment of the Egyptian system for so long. They had been the lowest of the poor. They had been dispossessed of land and property. They had been at the mercy of the government system that exploited them. But God heard their cries and rescued them. He does the same for those in suffering today, and He wants to use His people for the work.
Yesterday I toured the Urban Scholastic Center in Kansas City, Kansas. There, literally in the community I grew up in, I saw how the church is making a difference in the urban core among the neediest people. The inner-city culture is dying. Families are a novelty (at least in the sense of husband/wife/children) and education is being abandoned as an option. It is hardly being offered in the public schools. Spiritual death is all around with drugs, gangs, murder, abortion, and crime being all too common in the lives of most people.
But God has raised up a group of people who will not be deaf to the cry for help. And I think I just became one of them. I hope to help by offering counseling training, discipleship training, educational assistance, all as a volunteer. I want to see Christ take back the urban core. I want to see the gospel make a huge impact in the lives of these people. I do not idealize the situation. I grew up in the inner city and I know firsthand the life that has to be lived there. But God can change people and redeem the culture through the gospel. If I first really hear the cries. And I do.