A ruler over Egypt learned that immigrants in his country were becoming more prosperous than the citizens, outnumbered the citizens, and worshiped a God unknown among the multiple deities of the Egyptians, which included the pharaoh himself. In response to this news, the ruler turned up the heat, demanding that the immigrants work longer days, supply their own materials, and increase their output (see Exodus 5).
In the twenty-first century the circumstances have changed, but the mass exploitation and injustice resulting from the collision of politics, economics, and diverse cultures create cycles of poverty and displacement. The biblical account of how God deals with oppression is still an encouragement for people today. When people cry out to God, He still hears. Once God’s word is spoken over any circumstance or situation, He enters into covenant relationship with the pleading heart and sets about to accomplish His word. “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).
It is the work of an oppressed individual or community to know, speak, and believe God’s Word, and its transforming power will bring about personal and societal changes to lift the heavy burdens of oppression.
GOD BELIEVES IN JUSTICE
Psalm 103:6 declares, “The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed” (NIV).1 Psalm 103 reiterates in 22 different verses how God desires to deliver people and communities from the deprivation of sin and injustice. Injustice can be multifaceted. Poverty creates crime, fosters a lack of safety, initiates fear, and stimulates disparities. Oppression has a deeply spiraling effect. Yet God has promised to handle injustice and redeem people and communities from total destruction.
GOD STILL WORKS MIRACLES
Ephesians 3:20 is a powerful declaration for the oppressed people and communities: “God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us” (Message).2 This is a reminder that the finite mind cannot even imagine everything God is able to do; miracles make the intelligent brain feeble by comparison. The oppressed can expect God to work miracles when they believe His Word.
Philippians 4:19 declares, “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Jesus inherited everything as a result of His obedience to His Father, even to death on the cross (Philippians 2:9-11). And the promise of His provision is a byproduct of His obedience. This Lordship given to Jesus Christ by God the Father also gives Him authority and sustenance to meet the need of all His creation—including oppressed people and communities. Just imagine how amazed the fisher- man in Luke 5:1-10 felt returning to shore on an empty boat having fished all night. Jesus commanded them to go back out and cast their nets on the other side, and they caught a great number of fish, almost breaking the net. God’s Word declares that He provides for His people.
When situations require more than human wisdom, power, or strength, God’s Word declares that He will deliver. Psalm 107:6-9 says that when the people cried out to the Lord, He not only delivered them, but also pointed them in the right direction to a safe haven. Those on the receiving end gave thanks and praise to God as their tired souls were filled with His goodness. Over and over the Bible testifies of a God who delivers the oppressed.
GOD ANSWERS PRAYER
The God of heaven is a caring Father who loves to respond to the needs of His children. Mark 11:24 declares this in an emphatic tone. The only requirements: pray, ask, and believe. One story of answered prayer is found in the book of Esther. One teenage girl asked her people—people slated for destruction to fast and pray with her for three days as she mustered the strength to go before her husband, the king. God granted Esther favor in the eyes of the king and saved a nation from destruction. But the combined prayers of the oppressed can get great results even if only two or three gather in prayer in the powerful name of Jesus Christ.
GOD HEALS AND FORGIVES
Healing and forgiveness lies in the hands of a merciful God. Oppressed people need to know that God heals and forgives. The Word declares in 2 Chronicles 7:14 that God’s healing and forgiveness works hand in hand. When oppressed people bow in humility before God, confess sin, and seek answers from God through prayer, healing and forgiveness follow. In the New Testament book of Acts, 120 men and women in the upper room spent 10 days in prayer and received true healing and forgiveness before the Holy Spirit was poured out in abundance.
GOD’S LOVE IS EVERLASTING
Jeremiah 31:3 says that God’s love is eternal because God personifies loving kindness. It is impossible for God not to love. The essence of His love is demonstrated in this: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). The oppressed can know without a shadow of a doubt that God’s love will last forever. There are hundreds of declarations in the Bible that demonstrate God’s love and concern for people who were oppressed. There are stories of hope, deliverance, forgiveness, and healing; testimonies of God’s goodness, grace, and mercy; evidence that His love never changes and His faithfulness endures forever.