“You shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child. If you afflict them in any way, and they cry at all to Me, I will surely hear their cry; and My wrath will become hot, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless.” Exodus 22:22-24
The second half of Exodus chapter twenty-two contains a variety of different moral and religious laws. I could write a post on any of them and find appropriate application for today; fortunately most of them don’t have any direct application to my life. I praise God that I’ve been sheltered from being drawn into so many sinful actions that are so common in this world. I know it hasn’t been me and my strength of will. God and my family know that I am as weak as the next man. That’s why I’m sure that my life has been the product of being sheltered and blessed by God.
I was, however, drawn to our focus text, “You shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child.” The passage preceding this one warned the people to “neither mistreat a stranger nor oppress him.” In both of these admonitions God is commanding his people to be careful and gentle in their treatment of those that are most vulnerable in their society.
The care and protection of women and children fell to the men in their lives. Most of the time husbands and fathers were most concerned about how they would protect and provide for their own families. Many times, just like today, it took virtually all their attention and energy to simply supply the needs of their own households. Wild animals, natural disasters, thieves and marauders, were always a danger and when a person is always needing to be on guard for the protection of his own it’s hard to generate a lot of concern for someone else. When you think about them you feel bad; there’s just so much pressing in calling for your attention.
But those vulnerable ones that are so easily forgotten in the press and rush of life are never out of the notice of our Heavenly Father. He sees, he hears, and he cares. Don’t make life hard for them. When you’re one of the vulnerable: widowed, fatherless, homeless, a runaway, mentally ill or challenged, life is already hard for you. You still have all the needs everyone else has but you have fewer resources to supply those needs. Less time, less energy, less strength, less money.
God promises to protect the vulnerable from the oppressor and he warns the oppressor that very easily they and their families could join the ranks of the vulnerable.
Most of us aren’t very far from being at risk of being displaced and homeless and the fragility of life reminds us everyday that in just a blink it could all be over.
Don’t make life hard for the widow, the fatherless, the displaced stranger. The burdens of living may already be pushing them to the breaking point. Jesus call is for us to come along side and bear one another’s burdens not add to them.
Let’s follow Jesus and do things his way.