This week’s topic in our service is Domestic Abuse. This is a topic that has been ignored or swept under the rug within the walls of the church for too long. It is also a topic that many have a hard time understanding.
Trouble comes when we think, “Well I wouldn’t…” or “I could never….” or “There is no way I would let someone…” When we think or verbalize these statements, we are making assumptions about those that have found themselves in a devastating position. From the outside we are blaming the oppressed for not being strong enough or smart enough or bold enough. The question that we must ask our own hearts is this: are we so different? Are we so strong that we won’t find ourselves oppressed? Are we so holy and righteous that we are confident we will not find ourselves being the one oppressing another? Are we strong enough to protect and help the one being oppressed?
Exodus 3:9 shows that God looks upon the oppressed:
“And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them.”
These words of our Lord appear amidst the proclamation that He makes to Moses about rescuing the Israelites. They were an entire nation being oppressed under the Egyptians. Did that mean that all of them were weak and none were strong or bold? Could it be that the oppression they were under was so heavy they didn’t see a way out? Maybe they were worried what might happen to them and their children if they tried to leave. So they stayed.
Yet, God looked upon them. He saw their hurt. He saw their pain, and He saw the wrong being done to them. He didn’t turn a blind eye. No- He sent help. He sent one that could lead them out of that oppression. He sent a man that would stand in the gap and say, “Enough!” Moses trusted the Lord to lead and bring freedom, and Moses was willing to be the one to do the good work God called him to. The Lord was the strength of Moses and the place of refuge and hope for the people of Israel.
The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you. ~Psalm 9:9 and 10
Moses helped to lead the Israelites out of the oppression that they were under. Are we as a church willing to do the same thing? Are we willing to stand in the gap and say, “Enough!”? Are we even aware that there are those around us in need of our help and protection?
Later in the book of Leviticus, we find God’s instructions:“You shall not oppress your neighbor.” (19:13) In fact throughout the Old Testament the Lord instructs Israel several times not to oppress others. Don’t oppress your neighbor; don’t oppress the worker; don’t oppress the poor; don’t oppress the needy; don’t oppress the traveler; don’t oppress the widow or the fatherless. We fool ourselves if we don’t see that people in this world are being oppressed, and that too often this oppression is taking place within the walls of their own home. We also fool ourselves if we think that we would never be tempted or act upon the temptation to oppress others.
Jesus read these words from Isaiah while standing in the synagogue of his hometown: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” ~Luke 4:18-19
We have certainly been called to share the gospel and to spread the good news of God’s salvation. But we, as followers of Christ, have also been called to set the captive free, give sight to the blind, and give freedom to the oppressed. To do these things, we must be willing to open our hearts and minds to those around us who are living within walls of oppression. We must stand between the oppressed and their oppressor and say, “Enough!” We must trust that the power of Christ can and will change hearts and lives.
O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more. ~Psalm 10:17-18