The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), July 15
Cain and his descendants, who lived outside of the presence of God, became violent, murdered, and oppressed women through polygamy. Later, when the descendants of Seth intermarried with Cain’s descendants, the entire world succumbed to violence and exploitation, except for Noah and his family, who were rescued out of a global flood. During the Patriarchal Era, Abraham rescued Lot and the citizens of Sodom from a superior army that used its power to capture and exploit smaller cities.
While the human narrative reveals the dark thread of exploitation, the Bible’s story also testifies to the goodness and faithfulness of God through His advocacy for the exploited. As the writer of Psalm 146 reflects upon God’s goodness, he uses the story of Jacob to describe the God’s advocacy:
Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps truth forever, who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The LORD gives freedom to the prisoners. The LORD opens the eyes of the blind; the LORD raises those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous. The LORD watches over the strangers; He relieves the fatherless and the widow; but the way of the wicked He turns upside down (Ps. 146:5-9).
Jacob and his mother Rebekah take advantage of Isaac’s blindness to deceive him and gain the birthright. Later, Laban turns the tables on Jacob, teaching him a lesson about exploitation when he desires Rachel as wife, but is enslaved to Laban by trickery. Though God uses that exploitation to accomplish His purposes of laying the building blocks of the nation of Israel, he rebukes Laban for his deception.
The Egyptians enslave Israel to build their own nation, but are dismantled by the God of Israel to bring about Israel’s release.
Scripture reveals a number of truths about exploitation:
- The exploitation of the hungry occurs when those who have resources refuse to share with those who are disadvantaged (not lazy!).
- The exploitation of the vulnerable occurs when those who have power use that power for evil instead of blessing.
- All exploitation is the result of living outside of God’s presence and choosing to act by selfishness.
- God sometimes uses the exploitation of others in the lives of His people to strengthen them and to prepare them for what’s ahead.
- One day all exploitation will be judged by God; He will vindicate the exploited and bring holy judgment to those who have exploited others.
Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading (Ps. 136; 146-150):
How do thankfulness and praise to God and praise alter one’s outlook?
What contrasts between trusting man and trusting God does the writer make in Psalm 146?
According to Psalm 149 what does praise prepare God’s people to do?