03/14/S – Grace to the Vulnerable

Exodus 22:14-23:13; Matthew 24:15-28; Psalm 30:1-3; Proverbs 11:9-11

OT: “You must not exploit a resident alien or oppress him, since you were resident aliens in the land of Egypt. You must not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, they will no doubt cry to me, and I will certainly hear their cry… If you lend silver to my people, to the poor person among you, you must not be like a creditor to him; you must not charge him interest. If you ever take your neighbor’s cloak as collateral, return it to him before sunset. For it is his only covering; it is the clothing for his body. What will he sleep in? And if he cries out to me, I will listen because I am gracious.” (‭‭Exodus‬ ‭22:21-23, 25-27‬ ‭CSB‬‬)

In our church, we refer to the “quartet of the vulnerable.” The quartet of the vulnerable, includes the widow, orphan, poor, and alien. Through the past few chapters of Exodus, Moses documented specific laws that God’s people were to follow, specifically laying out how the Ten Commandments were to be practiced within the cultures present at that time in history. God took the time to include and make provisions for the vulnerable. God’s heart always goes out to the vulnerable, and His people should be no different. Instead of exploiting those who are vulnerable among us, we are to protect them and be gracious toward them, just as God protects and is gracious toward us. When we care for the vulnerable among us, we display the heart of God in a powerful way and allow the glory of His kingdom to shine in an otherwise harsh and unforgiving world.

Psalms: “I will exalt you, Lord, because you have lifted me up and have not allowed my enemies to triumph over me. Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you healed me. Lord, you brought me up from Sheol; you spared me from among those going down to the Pit.” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭30:1-3‬ ‭CSB‬‬)

God hears our cry for help. When we are overwhelmed by circumstances that are greater than we are – when we are oppressed by those who seek to overpower us and pin us to the ground – when we are vulnerable to sickness and death, God hears us when we cry out to Him and He helps us, He delivers us, and He heals us. Therefore, we both exalt God, and show the same mercy and grace to others.

Proverbs: “When the righteous thrive, a city rejoices; when the wicked die, there is joyful shouting. A city is built up by the blessing of the upright, but it is torn down by the mouth of the wicked.” (‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭11:10-11‬ ‭CSB‬‬)

When the righteous truly live righteously and are allowed to thrive, there is no oppression or exploitation. All (vulnerable and invulnerable alike) are afforded the same opportunities, and the city is blessed. However, if righteousness is oppressed by the ways of the dog-eat-dog, survival-of-the-fittest, each-man-for-his-own world system, instead of being a place of blessing, the city becomes a place of wickedness and destruction.

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