Bible Studies
Written by Jim Jordal   
Monday, 06 February 2012


By Jim Jordal

 For he saith, By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom; for I am prudent: and I have removed the bounds of the people, and have robbed their treasures, and I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man: And my hand hath found as a nest the riches of the people: and as one gathereth eggs that are left, have I gathered all the earth; and there was none that moved the wing, or opened the mouth, or peeped.

Isaiah expresses the cruel arrogance of those who rob and oppress his people, Isaiah 10:13-14, KJV

Notice in the above Scripture that as the oppressors gathered the earthly treasures of the people no one even peeped or opened their mouth in protest. Today, one can’t help but wonder why there is so little general public outcry against the fracturing of American society into two main socio-economic groups—a few million people of wealth, power and privilege and the remaining 300 million of us who support them with our labor and misplaced loyalty. Due to increasingly unequal distribution of wealth promoted over the past 30 years by proponents of rapacious uncontrolled capitalism, we now face a situation where most Americans scramble for not only jobs, but housing, adequate medical care, decent retirements and the other factors making up the good life.

It appears that most Americans still hope that hard work and a little luck will enable them to ascend the fabled social ladder. Others harbor the illusion that they, too, can be rich if things fall the right way for them. And some still believe that people of wealth and power will exhibit enough human decency and compassion to allow them to survive in spite of the odds against them.

All of these modern illusions were once true at various stages in our national experience. Until about 30 years ago hard work did make success possible, the educational ladder of upward social mobility was still available to people of moderate means, the tax system still required the rich to pay their fair share and public safety nets were considered inviolable. But no more!

It now seems as if the only people crying for the rights of the needy are various advocacy organizations like A Minnesota Without Poverty and Half-in-Ten. Pure charities too often remain silent in the struggle because they believe their major role is not to advocate for justice, but to provide direct aid during times of distress.

We need renewed public awareness and increased advocacy. Especially, we need religious institutions, which ought to be the bastions of morality in society, to "speak truth to power," as Jim Wallis says.

We, too, can speak truth to power. Along with political action, why don’t we ask why our religious affiliations or social groups don’t speak out against the many public policies causing poverty? Why are they so supportive of charity but so silent concerning advocacy?

Perhaps it’s because of the pervasive hold of individualism on mainstream American religions. "It’s just between me and God," as I’ve heard all too often. But it’s not just between you and God; it’s a triangle between you and others and God. We find God in our relationships with others, so except for hermits and those of a reclusive nature, it’s vital to our spiritual health that we live in the public arena that equates individual spiritual health with public involvement.

Maybe it’s due to the artificial separation between the profane and the sacred, or between law and gospel in our theological thinking. Somehow, God becomes separate from economic and political reality, allowing us to dismiss current social issues as worldly and of no interest to God. But if this is true why then does Scripture devote literally thousands of verses to these very subjects? Why does God speak out so strongly against injustice through the prophets and through the life and teachings of Jesus Christ?

Whatever our faith or worldview, we are part of both the problem and of the answer: the problem because our silence in the face of evil allows it to continue, and the answer because our compassionate spirits can impel needed change. As I’ve quoted before, "Injustice will not end until those who are not harmed become as incensed as those who are."

We need to stop being so passive and voiceless in the face of monstrous evil. The writer of Proverbs perhaps said it best: " Open your mouth for the mute, In the cause of all who are left desolate. Open your mouth, judge righteously, And serve justice to the poor and needy" (Prov. 31:8-9, WEB).

Let’s get to it!