For months now, I've wanted to discuss God's feelings towards the oppressed. Oppression (in the Bible) is one of those words that I discovered early in my healing process and it gave me a lot of comfort. Until that time, I did not have "proof" that I could step away from my marriage to get clarity and healing without feeling like I was violating God's plan for marriage. However, upon reading scripture that described God's heart for those who were oppressed, I finally saw how "abuse" was indeed mentioned in the Word of God and just how the Lord of the Universe cared for us and our plight!
Let's start in the Old Testament, in the book of Isaiah, chapter 58, This is a chapter dedicated to God's people who have manipulated the system in hopes of getting God's blessing. They have denied themselves food in the form of fasting and yet God's evaluation of their sacrifice is simple. (verses 3b-9)
"Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high. Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself? Is it only for bowing one's head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?
"Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter-when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I."
Do you see what is happening here? God's people were focused on the physical obedience of the law in hopes of gaining God's blessing. In verse 3 they actually asked God why He had not noticed. The author goes on to explain that although their bodies were demonstrating obedience, their hearts were not! He continues in verses 6-9 to tell them what a real fast looks like. One that involves using your physicality to help others. Instead of being self-driven (selfish), God is explaining that it is being others-driven (selfless).
And then, did you catch what he said about the oppressed? He wants the oppressed to be free! Also in this same sentence he mentions injustice and yokes! This sounds a whole like my former life in an abusive home. Let's take a look at each of these definitions:
oppression - unjust or cruel exercies of power or authority; a situation in which
people are governed in an unfair and cruel way and prevented from having
opportunities and freedom; the exercise of authority or power in a burden-
some, cruel, or unjust manner
injustice - violation of a another's rights or what is right
yoke - the stick that connects 2 work animals together, or the act of connecting
2 things together as with a yoke. A classic tool of farmers for centuries, the yoke
has also become a symbol of oppression — no one wants to live under the
yoke of a tyrant's rule
As I speak to more and more victims, I see an emerging theme amongst these Christian families. That is, a husband who believes and acts like he is the supreme ruler of his house. He does not do it with love and instruction but rather with harshness and anger. He believes to have the good ole book backing him, but just like the scripture above, he has lost the essence of God. He has lost the essence of love. He has lost the essence of loving these who God has put in his care. As result, the women and children lose opportunities and thereby their freedom is stolen. They become prisoners within the walls of the home they believed would be a place of refuge for themselves and their children. Instead they feel confined, friendless, fearful, and caged.
Continuing reading Isaiah 58:9b-12.
"If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You willl be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broke Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings."
This section of scripture is laden with talk of the oppressed. God is telling His people to do away with oppression! Did you hear that? Not only is oppression wrong, but the God of the universe cares about those under this tyranny and wants His people to do the same!!!
I can't help but see the abuser in verse 9b where it references their pointing finger and malicious talk. That is so familiar to me, and I'm sure to you. I frequently felt like a child with the authoritarian figure lording over me. Notice, that God is asking us all to take the opposite view of one another. Help those in need and our Father above, will bless you!
I also find it interesting that verse 12 is referencing the Israelites right after their captivity, as they return to their homes in Jerusalem, only to find them in shambles. Looking at their city was daunting and overwhelming and yet God is telling them that they will rebuild and raise up their walls, streets and homes. Doesn't that too, sound a whole lot like our desires? The walls of our homes have been tainted with anger and destruction. And yet God will restore those for us too! Praise be to God!