Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor, and do not plot evil in your hearts against one another.
Zechariah 7:10 HCSB
God speaks over and over again of his concern for the widow, the orphan, the poor and the foreigner. He warns again and again that, not only will he protect them, but anyone who harms them will face his anger. Why? Why such concern for these people in particular? God is a God of justice and if he is concerned with justice then he must act on behalf of those who are vulnerable. The widow has no husband to fight for her. The orphan has no father to nurture him. The poor are at the mercy of fortune and the more fortunate. The foreigner is outside the culture and, at those times, outside the full protection of the law and usually without full civil rights.
To love God is to love and protect the vulnerable. But perhaps there is another aspect to this which we are overlooking. Perhaps in calling us to protect the vulnerable, God is calling us to see ourselves as he sees us. Yes, you may have a husband and a father. You may have enough in your bank account so you don’t worry month to month. You may be a citizen with full civil rights. And yet, how does God see us?
In Jeremiah 31:32, God refers to himself as the husband of Israel and we know that believers are considered the bride of the Messiah. So the relationship which God intends for mankind is the close relationship best pictured by marriage. This was the relationship which God and man had in the Garden of Eden and this was the relationship which was broken by the fall of man. Man was separated from God and lost his protection. Mankind is like a widow. We are left without the protection and love of God because are alienated from him. We face the universe on our own.
Children need a father. Fathers are supposed to nurture them and provide an example on how to live. Our broken relationship with God deprives us of his protection. He is still an example to us of what we should be but we are incapable of living a fully godly life. We are at the mercy of the consequences of our inability and suffer because we cannot live a perfect life and have the relationship we were created to have. Without God, we are orphans in the world.
And yes, we are poor. God holds the universe in the palm of his hand. The cattle on a thousand hills are loose change to him. Everything is his and that includes us. What do we have to offer him? If he were a god that could be bribed, what could we use to bribe him compared to what he already has or could create?
And foreigners? See Ephesians 2:12 which says “At that time you were without the Messiah, excluded from the citizenship of Israel, and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.” We were on the outside looking in and we couldn’t even find the door, much less the doorknob. Without Jesus, we were without hope.
So what is the point I am trying to make? The heart of God is attuned to the widow, the orphan, the poor and the foreigner because that is what we ALL are in the eyes of God. They are us if you look at us through the eyes of God and the saddest of all truths is God has to protect them from us. Do you want to feel the deep, deep joy of God? Then live like God and protect the widow, the orphan, the poor and the foreigner. Look at them. Understand God’s perspective on all of us. Without God we are all widows, orphans, poor and outcasts. With God, through Jesus, we are beloved brides, children of God, heirs and citizens. Be like God. Give to those who can never repay, who can never return the favor and with them, give glory to the God and Father of us all.