Sunday word BY PROSPER TINGINI
Oppression comes in many forms. It can come through the abuse of power, or to govern with brutality. Suppression of opponents is common in the political circles. Cruelty on foreigners is also witnessed across the planet. Injustices perpetrated against the weak and poor are quite frequent. Maltreatment of domestic servants and other labourers is a daily occurrence. Strangers are kept at bay in society, and not easily welcomed in people’s homes. Widows are often abused by men such that most of them end up being turned into sex objects in return for money, thus promoting prostitution. The same goes for the orphans and the street kids whose misery is often overlooked. People within a society often oppress each other for many other reasons and without justification.
In Exodus 22: 21-24 the Lord our God commanded mankind, through the people of Israel, saying, “You shall not wrong a stronger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. You shall not afflict any widow or orphan. If you afflict them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless”.
The Israelites were strangers in the land of Egypt and they were ill-treated and turned into slaves, hence God rescued them after hearing their cries. In turn, God brought various afflictions upon the Egyptians. Anyone ill-treating strangers or foreigners is committing a sin. The Lord our God created one planet, Earth, as one habitat for all.
Country borders are man-made and He does not recognise them. People should be allowed to move freely cross borders without being subjected to injustices, according to the Lord. This applies mainly for political and economic migrants.
Widows are women who have lost their husbands, in most cases they have lost the breadwinner of the family. The income that the husband was bringing home is therefore lost, hence the need to protect and assist such people. The orphans are left without their only source to life, and as such, they need assistance and protection too. God expresses His deepest anger towards anyone found to be mistreating either the widow or orphan. He would bring severe punishment to the offenders such that their wives will also become widows and their children thrown into orphanhood. The Lord our God also has a very soft spot for the poor people in general. God drafted and proclaimed a lot of other laws to protect the unfortunate people of society.
In Deuteronomy 24: 14-15, He warned, “You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your brethren or one of the sojourners who are in your land within your town; you shall give him his hire on the day he earns it before the sun goes down; lest he cry out against you to the Lord and it be sin in you”. Domestic workers are the ones most oppressed of all groups of workers. They work the longest hours and yet earn the least. Most of the time they are not paid on time. Failure to get paid on time affects their dependants as they in turn have to endure periods without adequate food or inability to pay for other basic needs. It creates a chain of suffering across the workers’ families. On the opposite, the employers themselves would be indulging in excessive luxuries at the expense of the workers, enjoying themselves while the workers and their families go hungry.
God offers solutions and answers to most of human problems. In order to try to eliminate the problem of oppression, He came up with a very simple solution. He advised people to love others as they would love themselves. In Leviticus 19: 33-34, He instructs mankind, “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. The stranger who sojourns with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself”. He is telling us not to oppress, discriminate and treat people according to their ethnicity, colour or creed. He created all humans as a single species and that should be observed. We are all brothers and sisters to each other, across all nationalities.
The Lord our God has a habit of saying the same things over and over again, in different ways to put across a point and ensure that everyone clearly and properly understands His message. In Leviticus 19:13-18, He had commanded of the same things, saying, “You shall not oppress your neighbour or rob him. The wages of a hired servant shall not remain with you all night until the morning. You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind, but shall fear your God! I am the Lord.”
“You shall do no injustice in judgement; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbour. You shall not go up and down as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand forth against the life of your neighbour: I am the Lord”.
“You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason with your neighbour, lest you bear sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear any grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbour as yourself: I am the Lord”. When He says, ‘I am the Lord’, He is putting a signature to His words, as the author.
Therefore, the law of the love for one another was authored by the Lord our God, and adopted by Jesus Christ, His son.
lProsper Tingini is the president of the Children of God Missionary Assembly. Registration in progress for those who wish to undertake Bible studies or train as ministers of religion. Contact 0771 260 195 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org