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Written by Jim Jordal   
Saturday, 04 February 2012

JESUS CAME TO DELIVER THOSE WHO ARE CRUSHED

By Jim Jordal

The book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. He opened the book, and found the place where it was written, "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, Because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim release to the captives, Recovering of sight to the blind, To deliver those who are crushed

Luke 4:17-18, WEB, emphasis mine

The fifth promise in Jesus’ mission statement as recorded by the apostle Luke offers Divine deliverance to those who are crushed by the stresses of life and the world systems of oppression. To be crushed is worse than to be merely injured, since it involves not only temporary physical damage but also lasting emotional, psychological and even spiritual trauma.

From the very beginnings of world history humans have been oppressed and crushed individually by each other and as a group by world systems of domination and repression. Think of the earth’s many historical monarchies and the "Divine right of kings" philosophy that gave kings the power of God in the eyes of their subjects. Consider the various feudal movements of Europe and the crushing burdens they placed upon landless serfs who were attached to the land and could be sold at the whim of their masters. Consider also modern dictators and their almost unlimited ability to oppress their people. Yes, oppression is nothing new.

The crushing of people and their hopes continues today even in modern developed countries as the juggernauts of productivity and efficiency run amok, stealing whatever benefits have been gained by years of struggle by laboring people and the disadvantaged.

The prophet Isaiah recognized such travail among his people when he presented God’s case against the leaders of Israel: "The Lord rises to argue his case; he stands to judge the peoples. The Lord enters into judgment with the elders and princes of his people: It is you who have devoured the vineyard; the spoil of the poor is in your houses. What do you mean by crushing my people, by grinding the face of the poor? says the Lord God of hosts" (Isa. 3:13-15, NRSV).

It appears more and more that this is what is happening to our nation. Our leaders devour the vineyard of national wealth, prosperity and gainful employment for all. They take into their gated enclaves and seaside estates the spoil or wealth of the poor derived from the labor of their workers and victims of their financial schemes. They crush God’s people through unjust political and legal policies that make it almost impossible for anyone not already rich or very favored socially to succeed. And they grind the faces of the poor into their own suffering as they blame the poor for their plight while accepting no responsibility for the major cause of poverty---their own manipulations of business and finance.

The remainder of Isaiah 3 chronicles the disintegration of societies that allow such evils to flourish. Isaiah says they lose the very supports of their culture---food, protection from enemies, effective leadership, national dignity, personal freedom and decency in familial relationships. That’s quite a cost for the evil of crushing the people and grinding the faces of the poor. And we pay this price at a higher level each year as the unraveling of American society continues.

Jesus promised deliverance from this seemingly intolerable situation. Not just deliverance in the sweet-by-and-by; but deliverance on this earth and in the flesh. I know people who believe that America is doomed as a nation because of our egregious sins. But it’s not the nation that is doomed---it’s the ungodly systems of deceit and oppression that are doomed. The news almost daily reports their death throes as they struggle for power and continuance in the face of increasing anger by the people and impossible odds as they fight against God and the coming earthly kingdom of his son, Jesus Christ.

The financial aspects of Divine deliverance are being worked out now in the endless deliberations over budgetary and deficit matters. Unfortunately, the struggle continues inside the box of classical economic and financial thinking. We still believe that we must borrow our way to prosperity. But someday someone will proclaim that God has a better way---the Jubilee way that creates debt-free money as it is needed to maintain economic health and national prosperity.

It’s not here yet, but it’s coming.