God is a compassionate God who loves justice and goes out of His way to show He cares for the underdog. Three groups of people in the Old Testament that had no one to provide for them or look out for their rights were widows, orphans, and foreigners. These people were especially vulnerable to oppression and suffering. It was this way the world over. Still is. But, God wanted Israel to be different. God gave laws to His people that reflect His nature and several of these laws specifically protected the fatherless. God shows His special love and care for the weak and poor in these laws and I've really enjoyed reviewing them.
God prohibited His people from depriving the fatherless or the foreigner of justice (Deut 24:17) and says, in fact, that He, Himself, defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow (Deut 10:18). God also commanded that when harvesting crops His people should leave gleanings behind for the foreigner, fatherless, and widow (Deut 24:19-21). This is especially interesting to me, because He tells Israel that if they are generous and leave behind sheaves of wheat, olives, and grapes for those who have no means to provide for themselves, that He will bless them. (Remember Boaz and how he told his workers to leave extras behind for Ruth and Naomi?) This seems counter intuitive to us, but God's ways are higher than ours and require us to trust Him and not lean on our own understanding. Furthermore, God requires that a portion of the tithe be set aside for helping the fatherless, foreigner, and widow (Deuteronomy 26:12).
God's loving provision for the fatherless extends beyond His law, as well. The Psalms describe God as being the Helper, Defender, and Sustainer of the fatherless (10:14, 82:3, 146:9). Even more precious, Psalm 68:5 calls God a Father to the fatherless. Hosea pleads with God for idolatrous, abandoned Israel that in Him the fatherless find compassion (14:3). And Isaiah equates defending the fatherless with doing good and seeking justice (1:17).
What about now? Does God still care about the orphan? Jesus, Himself, said He came not to destroy the Law or Prophets, but to fulfill them (Mathew 5:17). This alone causes me to answer with a resounding, "Yes!" Jesus takes many pains to point out that He came not for the rich and great of the world, but to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). He chooses the weak things of the world to put to shame the mighty (1Corin 1:27). And just in case there was any lingering doubt, James tells us visiting orphans and widows in their trouble is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of God (James 1:27). This is interesting because visiting widows and orphans in their trouble AND keeping oneself unspotted from the world qualify as pure and undefiled religion, but not one without the other. This is typical James, showing us that faith without works is dead (2:14-26). Even if we were able to keep from sinning (unspotted from the world), this is not enough to be pure religion. We have to show our faith by works. The first example that comes to James' mind is visiting orphans and widows (well, that and controlling the tongue). I think orphans must be pretty important to God, and aren't we glad? Jesus promised His disciples before He was betrayed that He would not leave them as orphans, but would come to them (John 14:18). He doesn't leave us as orphans, either. He has not abandoned us. We have a heavenly Father and a heavenly home. Our God is compassionate and loves the fatherless!
- I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.