[The Lord Invites Israel to Turn Away from Sin ]
Get your evil deeds out of My sight.
Stop doing evil.
Learn to do good.
Plead the case of widows.”
Wow!! Although the note before these verses calls this an invitation, I read it as a strong challenge! I think the Writer…the Lord (via Isaiah)…sounds pretty ticked! There is strong emotion in his words.
He begins with the challenging list that speaks to the reader’s own personal condition…sin! It’s a short list of heart issues…attitudes….things hidden in our own hearts, but blatently clear to God. He hates sin. It ruins us, ruins our relationship with Him, and wreaks havoc on the people in our lives.
It’s as if God is taking our faces in His Hands….”Look at Me! Listen!!” These commands have to do with our own choices. . . things we need to do ourselves. I hear passion and emotion in His heart towards this pointed list.
Then, there comes a short list of behaviors that should be outcomes of the work we need to do in our own hearts and attitudes. They have been placed in a catagory that focuses on “others.”
- Arrest oppressors
- Defend Orphans
- Plead the case of widows
Justice involves setting the “wrong”….right. The three examples listed are such a common part of life in our world. These are not descriptions of people in a certain part of a city, or some other country……they’re often right in our own neighborhoods and circles of relationship.
Arrest oppressors: Oppression involves using power to push others down. Vulernable people are easy to see. And it’s a fair assumption that those in a position of greater strength or power in the life of “the weaker” have used that strength or power to push someone else down….or out. Whether it’s a matter of oppressing someone’s life circumstances, or their emotional vulnerability, their financial poverty, physical or mental limitations, or tough circumstances of life that have put them in a place of weakness, the people who take advantage of that become “oppressors.” The implication in this verse is that there may have even been illegal actions that have pushed those who are already “down” even further down. Arresting means putting a stop to what is going on….perhaps even legally. God’s heart is always soft towards those in vulnerable, weakened, broken conditions. His Heart is for the humble….humbled. Shouldn’t ours be as well?
Defend orphans: We do not have “orphanages” in our American world, but we still have orphans. Broken families are everywhere. Children abandoned by a parent, or parents, are often put into a legal system that allows for moving children from home to home. Millions of children have lived with no sense of stability, safety, emotional attachment or commitment from either their birth parents nor the temporary care of others who may or may not have a love or commitment to the child in their care. God’s Word often specifies His Heart for orphans….He
cares for them. He sees them, and looks to us to get involved in such a way that we add to their sense of being safein this dangerous world. The Bible often refers to God as “FATHER”
because we ALL need a father.
Plead the case of widows: Widows in ancient times stood a good chance of losing everything if their husband died. They became terribly vulnerable. Having lost a husband, they also lost their sense of safety…protection…having that husband who had stood between them and the things of this world that would hurt them. They had no voice. They were “easy targets” for those who would use them for their own benefit. Without the one who had been their protector, the widow now takes the brunt of what this world throws at women who have lost so much, on so many levels. No matter how strong the widow, when the “two” becomes “one”, life is forever changed. It is often still true today. A wife who loses her husband experiences repercussions that continue for the rest of her life.
For God to name these two specific catagories of human reality through Isaiah, matters. His Words are strong. This isn’t a suggestion. His challenge began with heart issues, but ended with practical action.