Bible Studies
Written by Jim Jordal   
Thursday, 12 April 2007


By Jim Jordal

Open your mouth for the speechless, in the causes of all who are appointed to die. Open your mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.

Proverbs 31:8-9 (NKJV)

And He said to them, "Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him'; and he will answer from within and say, 'Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you'? I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs. So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened."

Luke 11:5-10 (NKJV)

Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: "There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, 'Get justice for me from my adversary.' And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, 'Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.' " Then the Lord said, "Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?"

Luke 18:1-8 (NKJV)

Continuous prayer coupled with persistent advocacy for economic justice can move arrogant, indifferent power structures to act in ways they never envisioned; and that we, the concerned, often had little faith to imagine. As the two above parables of Jesus illustrate, persistence in approaching God pays immense dividends. But sometimes we must do more than pray--we must also act in accordance with God's word. Coupled with our persistent prayers for justice must be continuing advocacy for those treated unjustly and against those persons or groups perpetrating the injustice. As the quote from Proverbs says, we must speak for those who are voiceless and "plead the cause of the poor and needy." That's advocacy, folks!

An example occurred during the last legislative session when the Minnesota State Legislature failed to pass a budget, resulting in temporary shut-down of many state functions. The budget finally passed in special session, and avoided the threatened emasculation of the MinnesotaCare program of health insurance for the working poor and restored some cuts to subsidized child care for low income families.

Had a coalition of faith-based and community groups not persistently and forcefully advocated for the preservation of these programs for the poor, they would without doubt have suffered serious paring by anti-tax legislators implementing Governor Pawlenty's campaign promise not to raise taxes. It's unfortunate that the conflict between those legislators desiring no new taxes and the needs of the poor led to hardships for those state employees furloughed by the shut-down, but that's sometimes the outcome when politicians make promises they cannot keep without further crushing the poor.

As we have said before, charity alone is not enough to solve problems of poverty and hopelessness. It's a mere Band-Aid on the festering, open wound of world poverty, in which perhaps half the people of earth subsist on less than $2 daily. It's fine to pray, as we often do, for the poor and wretched of the earth: but we must also advocate against the tyranny of world economic and political systems perpetuating the problem.

Many Christians believe that prayer for something enlists God on our side. But in reality, prayer moves us toward God's side, assuming that we pray according to His will and leading. And how could we not do God's will when we pray for economic justice, given the several thousand Bible references demanding such righteousness and justice.

Egregious economic injustice imperils the earth today. Heartless globalism, which treats workers as just another factor of production to be hired as cheaply as possible and to be displaced and replaced without mercy is merely one example. The rapacious exploitation of the earth's resources as if there were no tomorrow is another. And the refusal of our government to perceive the oil crisis as anything other than a call to further subsidize the energy sector is another.

What is needed now is for people of faith to cry out against these injustices. The prophet Isaiah set the tone when he proclaimed: "Cry aloud, spare not; lift up your voice like a trumpet; tell My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins" (Isa. 58:1). The sins Isaiah cried out against were largely those of idolatry and economic injustice. Can we do less?

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1978, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.