Bible Studies
Written by Jim Jordal   
Tuesday, 25 November 2014


By Jim Jordal

“Woe to those who decree unrighteous decrees, and to the writers who write oppressive decrees; to deprive the needy from justice, and to rob the poor among my people of their rights, that widows may be their spoil, and that they may make the fatherless their prey!”                                                                   Isaiah 10:1-2, WEB

It’s fairly common knowledge now that the “game” is rigged, and it’s not in your favor. Politicians crow about all the new jobs their efforts have provided, but few if any admit that corrected for inflation, the average working class wage has actually decreased over the past generation. And corporations brag about all the new jobs they’ve created, but don’t want you to know that many formerly well-paid jobs lost in the recession  have been replaced by low-wage and part-time positions with few or any benefits. Perhaps it’s as progressive columnist Jim Hightower says: “Jobs aren’t the issue. Even slaves have jobs. The issue is wages.”

The game is rigged by the ultra-rich so as to allow them to gain and keep the political and economic power necessary to maintain their exorbitant wealth and life-styles at everyone else’s expense.

They speak of “trickle-down” economics and actually seem to believe that money gained by the very rich does trickle down to the poor. That may once have been true when capitalists lived near their workers and shared virtually the same interests, but it’s not true today. Money invested by the very rich does not usually create jobs. It is frittered away in high-risk casino capitalism and the many exotic investment vehicles deliberately designed to pass any profits to the rich and any losses to the people (You’ve  heard, no doubt, of the bailout of powerful Wall Street banks from having to bear the full costs of their own greed and faulty judgment).

And how do the rich manage to rig the game in their favor? Isaiah identified the process above: “Woe to those who decree unrighteous decrees, and to the writers who write oppressive decrees.” These evil laws and court decisions over the years have emasculated the poor and seriously damaged the middle class. Some of these unrighteous decrees take the form of tax benefits favoring certain power groups; others are foreign trade agreements benefitting the U.S. while destroying agriculture, forests, and rivers in developing countries; and others are subsidies and grants given to favored businesses.

And who gets hurt? Isaiah said it was the poor and vulnerable who are the prey of those writing unrighteous decrees, or laws. They are deprived of justice because they lack voices that will be heard in the market-place of public policy. They lack influence in the halls of power, and are in great need of advocates to speak for them. Solomon put it this way: “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).

It seems to me that generic religion has a responsibility to speak out for the poor who lack the power to speak for themselves. This means much more than the bestowing of charity, no matter how copious or ever-present it is. It means speaking out or advocating against the economic and political systems that create poverty and oppression. It means crying out against injustice wherever it exists. It means yelling “foul” when you see widows and orphans oppressed by those having more clout or power. And it means peaceably yet firmly resisting those who cannot see that the game is rigged, and thus continue to support the very systems that destroy them.

If churches are the supposed custodians of morality, then perhaps we should begin acting as if this were so. If we believe in Jesus then perhaps we should begin doing as he said. And if love for our neighbors is as important as Scripture indicates, then maybe we should begin loving the vulnerable enough to stand in solidarity with them.