“Wash yourselves. Make yourselves clean” (Isaiah 1:16a). God through His prophet Isaiah just dropped a theological atomic bomb. God set up the sacrificial system to cleanse His people from sin because they could not do it themselves. Now He was telling them all bets are off? Why? Because they were treating the system of purification as an impersonal formula so they could live just like the world, while attempting to manipulate God. They were devoted more to their own comfort than to God’s revealed character. After getting their attention he then proceeded to give His people Israel the road map out of the oppressive circumstances God had allowed them to experience. The reason for God’s indictment was that their “hands are covered in blood” (Isaiah 1:15). More specifically, they had systematically legalized injustice as noted in verse 23, “Your rulers are rebels…They do not defend the orphan, nor does the widow’s plea come before them.” The weakest, most defenseless categories of people were being oppressed and in that oppression, dehumanized. And God was judging them.
What was God’s solution? A command: “Remove the evil of your deeds (society’s systematic injustice) from my sight” (verse 16). The verb in the Hebrew implies that this removal of bad cultural habits must become a way of life. They must refuse to allow the oppression of the vulnerable of their society lest they suffer oppression and exile themselves.
God goes on to tell them exactly how they are to go about removing this evil: “Learn to do good” (17a). Here again the verb is a command but in the imperfect tense meaning this kind of learning needs to become a habitual way of life. Added to that this learning refers to yet another verb, ‘to do good.’ This verb is also a command and refers to doing specific good for someone else.
It begs the question, “What is good?” Perhaps the better question is, “Who is good?” The rich young ruler called Jesus ‘Good Teacher.’ Jesus responded by revealing who He is: “No one is good except God alone” (Mark 10: 18). Since there is none good but God, then learning to do good requires our study of God’s character and nature in order to reflect Him in our behavior. Any other standard of goodness is an attempt to dethrone God and results in evil toward others.
What then would be God’s good response to government-sanctioned evil of abortion? “Seek justice. Reprove the ruthless. Defend the orphan. Plead for the widow.” Every single one of those four phrases represents a command and a way of life. ‘To seek’ means that we continually inquire about whether justice is being fulfilled. Justice itself represents a standard code of conduct between individuals and groups of humans, especially the conduct of the strong in relationship to the weak.
To seek justice demands that when we see injustice we reprove it, that we restrain the oppressor wherever we find him. It is easy to find injustice. Just look for ruthless oppressors. They are easy to spot too. All we need to do is find the most vulnerable of society. Find the categories of people that those in power have deemed less than human in order to legalize their oppression and murder. The widow and the orphan in Israel’s day were the most marginalized of society. There was a time in our history that this class of person was the Native American, or the Black American, or the ‘mentally unfit’ American.
In America today there is only one category of person left that has been stripped of all legal standing, just one category of human that has no voice, no power, and no influence to leverage against their oppressors…the preborn baby. God tells us to ‘Defend the one who has become fatherless.’ There is no child more utterly fatherless than the preborn child. We must take up the cause to redeem the orphan’s life and the life of his mother. The widow in America is the woman facing unplanned pregnancy. She too is being exploited and coerced by relationships and cultural pressures beyond her control, to force her into aborting her baby. God says that we must ‘plead’ for her. We must make a case on her behalf, publically countering the false rhetoric of “reproductive freedom” with honest information.
As people of God we understand that without someone taking up our cause we would still be dead in our trespasses and sins, spiritual widows and orphans, helpless before our holy Creator. But Jesus redeemed us from the oppression of sin. He freed us and empowered us to walk in His footsteps. Through the gospel Jesus resurrected us to live the gospel on behalf of women and their preborn boys and girls, to replace the evil around us with good.
CompassCare has helped 27% more women to have their babies so far this year over last. Join CompassCare in taking another great stride in humanizing an inhumane society by reaching 10% of the market of at-risk women in 2015.
P.S. Please consider deepening your commitment to erasing the need for abortion as CompassCare pursues new life-saving initiatives, reaching more at-risk women, more effectively.