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The Cry of the Orphan

In the previous post, we looked at the nature of our spiritual adoption in Christ. This is the second post resulting from my thoughts in light of Orphan Sunday that was celebrated last Sunday to bring awareness and call God’s people to hear the cry of the orphan, as God has promised he will. By the way, Orphan Sunday has already been scheduled for November 7, 2010. Plan to be a part of it!

As we grasp our adoption as children of God, our hearts should be moved toward sharing his heart for those who are without mother or father here on the earth. Exodus 22, right in the middle of the giving of the covenant to Moses and the Israelites, records this, “Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives will become widows and your children fatherless” (Exodus 22:22-24). That is a stunning passage. God warns his people that failure to care for the orphan is a punishable offense. In fact, God warns the Israelite that if they take advantage of orphans, they will be killed, leaving their own kids as orphans! The stakes are very high.

The orphans will cry out. How we respond matters. The Scriptures lay out two directions our response will take. Either we will fail to come to the rescue of the orphan and face condemnation or we will show our true repentance through justice and defending the orphan. Let us briefly look at a few passages for each of these points…

Failure to defend orphans will be a source of condemnation

“Your rules are rebels, companions of thieves; they all love bribes and chase after gifts. They do not defend the cause of the fatherless; the widow’s case does not come before them” (Isaiah 1:23).

“Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robing the fatherless” (Isaiah 10:1-2).

“Your wrongdoings have kept these away; your sins have deprived you of good. Among my people are wicked men who lie in wait like men who snare birds and like those who set traps to catch men. Like cages full of birds, their houses are full of deceit; they have become rich and powerful and have grown fat and sleek. Their evil deeds have no limit; they do not plead the case of the fatherless to win it, they do not defend the rights of the poor” (Jeremiah 5:23-28).

“‘So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me,’ says the Lord Almighty” (Malachi 3:5).

Ok, so failure to care for orphans is bad. But did you catch that? The Scriptures discusses failing to care for the fatherless in the same breath as making unjust laws, accepting bribes, stealing, committing adultery or perjury and sorcery! Just as we are not to do those things, we are to care for the fatherless.

True repentance means justice for the orphan

“When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, please the case of the widow” (Isaiah 1:15-17).

“If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, if you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your forefathers for ever and ever” (Jeremiah 7:5-7).

“This is what the Lord says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of his oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the alien, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place” (Jeremiah 22:3).

“And the word of the Lord came again to Zechariah: ‘This is what the Lord Almighty says, ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not thing evil of each other”” (Zechariah 7:8-10).

We have seen the warning against failing to care for the orphan. But consider the verses above. True faith and repentance will show itself in mercy and justice for the fatherless. Learning to do right means seeking justice for the oppressed and defending the orphan!

There are 143 million orphans in the world. It has been asked (don’t know where this originated – I saw it on Twitter!), “If there are more Christians in the world than orphans, why are there any orphans in the world?” James 1:27 tells us that “Religion that God our father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted.” In Christ, we have been adopted and have a spiritual Father who loves us and gave himself us for us. May we be moved to extend that love to the 143 million orphans here on earth that they may be cared for and Christ may be glorified.

Interact: How will you care for the orphan? Are you called to sponsor a child through Compassion? To adopt? To support someone who is adopting? To become a Big Brother/Big Sister?


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