Lord, Your Bible covers a variety of contingencies in life and illustrates how we should deal with them. Give us the ability to comply in a way pleasing to You.
Read Exodus 22:16–31
16 “If a man seduces a virgin who is not pledged to be married and sleeps with her, he must pay the bride-price, and she shall be his wife. 17 If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he must still pay the bride-price for virgins.
18 “Do not allow a sorceress to live.
19 “Anyone who has sexual relations with an animal is to be put to death.
20 “Whoever sacrifices to any god other than the Lord must be destroyed.
21 “Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt.
22 “Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless. 23 If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. 24 My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives will become widows and your children fatherless.
25 “If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy, do not treat it like a business deal; charge no interest. 26 If you take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge, return it by sunset, 27 because that cloak is the only covering your neighbor has. What else can they sleep in? When they cry out to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate.
28 “Do not blaspheme God or curse the ruler of your people.
29 “Do not hold back offerings from your granaries or your vats.
“You must give me the firstborn of your sons. 30 Do the same with your cattle and your sheep. Let them stay with their mothers for seven days, but give them to me on the eighth day.
31 “You are to be my holy people. So do not eat the meat of an animal torn by wild beasts; throw it to the dogs.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“When they cry out to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate… You are to be my holy people” (Exod. 22:27,31). “Be holy, because I am holy” (1 Pet. 1:16).
This section contains a mixed bag of assorted laws which the NIV places under the heading of “social responsibility.” It starts with a couple of laws regarding sexual relationships and briefly treats witchcraft (18) and idolatry (20) before denouncing the oppression of people, particularly foreigners, widows and orphans. God hears their cries and his anger burns against the oppressor to the point that he himself will kill them (22–24). Similarly, because he is compassionate, he hears the cries of those who have had their coats taken to pay their debts (25–27). The laws then move on to blasphemy and, effectively, not defrauding God (28–30). The last verse calls upon the people to be holy (31).
Being holy involves being set apart for God and imitating his characteristics. It entails being morally and sexually upright, as well as giving God his due in terms of honor, praise and offerings. It means not
taking advantage of others and, more than that, it means that, like God, we need to hear the cries of the widows and orphans. As God is compassionate, so must his people be. The apostle Paul urges his readers to “follow God’s example… and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us” (Eph. 5:1,2).
In a world where we are overwhelmed by the cries of widows and orphans amongst many other cries, where do we start? Many of us may have chosen to support charities or individuals who touch our hearts—and that’s good. We cannot solve the problems of the world and give to everyone. Even when we
are unable to do anything physically, however, when we hear the cries of the oppressed we can react with compassion and lift them up to God.
Try watching or listening to the news, praying for those depicted as you do so. Likewise, when you see posters or leaflets showcasing the plight of the poor, pray.
Father, help me to hear and respond to the cry of others.
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