God of the oppressed – Part 1
In this series, we are going to connect what exists within the biblical text with the material realities of poor, oppressed people within history, thereby seeking to bring the two into a critical conversation.
God’s decisive entering into history in order to liberate God’s people from the shackles of bondage and slavery in Egypt is found in the book of Exodus.
Exodus tells the story of the leadership of Moses and the exodus from Egypt, of the stay in the wilderness and the erection of the Tabernacle.
In the book, God reveals Himself as the Lord (Exodus 3:15; 6:2-7) and as the all-powerful Liberator (6:1-3; 7:10).
Exodus 6:7 emphasises the point that God is superior to all the gods of Egypt and to the all-powerful Pharaoh, who governed the land.
The oppression happened because the Pharaoh in power did not know Joseph, and because he saw the multiplication of the Israelites as a threat to the Egyptians.
The Israelites were reduced to slavery. They were put to forced labour (Exodus 1:8-14), their midwives were instructed to kill male infants at birth (Exodus 1:15-21) and, when they refused to cooperate, orders were issued to throw all newborn Israelites boys into the Nile (Exodus 1:22).
The midwives chose to obey God, for we were told that they feared God and did not do what the Pharaoh had told them to do (cf. Exodus 1:17).
Those who excuse their unethical behaviour in pretext of saying ‘they are following orders from their boss’ should learn from those midwives. “Obedience to God – Better than Sacrifice” (1 Samuel 15:22).
In our community and in the nation at large, if we can take similar stand, it is likely that we would have been spared many political assassinations and other killings, much diversion of public funds and many other vices.
Despite the difficulties in the land of Egypt, the people of Israel increased and became even more numerous.
God of the oppressed rewarded Pharaoh and his men based on their cruelty. His power was unleashed against the oppressors.
Moses made a request to Pharaoh, which was exactly what God had told him to ask for (Exodus 3:18).
Instead of Pharaoh to listen to the voice of God, he turned to ask Moses, ‘Who is the Lord, that I should obey him?’ His question clearly shows that he has no interest in other people’s religious practices and sacrifices.
God of the oppressed finally revealed Himself to Pharaoh and his people (cf. Exodus 9:1-4, 16, 29; 10:2; 14:4, 18).
If you are a leader, examine yourself. Is your name synonymous with Pharaoh? Moses had asked Pharaoh to ‘send my people away’ (cf. Exodus 5:1).
Who will be the Moses of our time? Who is an envoy from God in our generation? To confront Pharaoh, we must be united. Moses and Aaron stand united, ready to confront Pharaoh.
The collaboration and solidarity of these two men will be needed to break the resistance of the Pharaoh.
In the new dispensation, looking through the life and ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we will see that the God revealed in Jesus Christ is a God of the oppressed.
Jesus Christ is God’s supreme agent for realisation of the kingdom of love, justice, peace and reconciliation.
This has shown us that God is not an abstract and distant Being. He lives among His people, even in the face of oppression and slavery.
Injustices of slavery are not the concern of God. Jesus comes to deliver the oppressed, to give life and light to all people.