Justice and Mercy in the Old Testament: Part 1

Scripture: Psalm 146:7-9, Exodus 22:21-23, Isaiah 1:13-17
Date: 07/16/2016 
Lesson: 3
"One can't imagine a worse witness than those who are too busy 'worshiping' God that they don't have time to help those in need."
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Good morning, friends. Welcome again to Sabbath school study hour coming to you here from the Granite Bay seventh-day adventist church in the area of Sacramento. A very warm welcome to our friends joining us online - our extended Sabbath school class - and also those watching on the various television networks across the country and around the world. Thank you for being part of our study this morning - and also to the members here at granite bay church and those who are visiting, very good to see you again on this beautiful Sabbath morning. We've been studying through our lesson quarterly dealing with the role of the church in the community.

Today we find ourselves on lesson #3 entitled justice and mercy in the old testament - part 1. Now, for those of you who are joining us who don't have a copy of the lesson, you can go to the Amazing Facts website, just amazingfacts.org. Click on the link that says Sabbath School Study Hour and you'll be able to download our lesson and follow along with us as we study. We also have a free offer that goes along with the program - a book entitled the Jesus difference - and we'll make this available to anybody (in North America) who calls and asks. In order to receive the book, give us a call on our resource phone number.

The number is 866-788-3966 and you can ask for offer #814. That number again is 866-788-3966 - ask for offer #814 and we'll be happy to send you this book as a part of your study during our lesson quarterly. At this time we'd like to invite our song leaders to come forward and they'll join me and we'll begin our time together by lifting our voices in praise. Thank you, Pastor Ross, we are ready to sing and we know that you are too. Those of you who are joining us, like you do every week, from across the country and around the world as our extended Sabbath school family.

We are going to start with shall we gather at the river. If you have a hymnal at home, pull it out and join with us - #432. We will do the first, the second, and the fourth stanzas. Join with us. Shall we gather at the river where bright angel feet have trod, with its crystal tide forever flowing by the throne of God? Yes, we'll gather at the river, the beautiful, the beautiful river; gather with the saints at the river that flows by the throne of God.

On the margin of the river, washing up its silver spray, we will walk and worship ever, all the happy golden day. Yes, we'll gather at the river, the beautiful, the beautiful river; gather with the saints at the river that flows by the throne of God. Soon we'll reach the shining river, soon our pilgrimage will cease, soon our happy hearts will quiver with the melody of peace. Yes, we'll gather at the river, the beautiful, the beautiful river; gather with the saints at the river that flows by the throne of God. Thank you for joining with us and at this time Pastor Ross will continue with our Sabbath school.

Before we get to our study, let's bow our heads for a word of prayer. Dear Father in Heaven, what a privilege it is for us to be able to open up the Bible and to study together. And once again we ask that you would guide our hearts and our minds as we look at this lesson dealing with the great controversy and the different parts of how we can be involved in standing up for the truth and standing up for you. So we ask your blessing upon our time together. In Jesus' Name, amen.

Our teacher this morning is Pastor Doug Batchelor. Welcome. How is everybody? Good. It's good to be home. In the last ten days I've been to Michigan, New York, and tennessee yesterday, chicago yesterday - for just flying - and it's always nice to sleep in your own bed.

Yeah, amen. And so we're glad you can join us today for our study. We're continuing - for Sabbath school study - we're continuing our study dealing with the role of the church in the community. A lot of very good and practical information. And today's lesson, in particular, is lesson #3 talking about justice and mercy in the old testament - and this is part - and so we're going to be talking a little more about the subject and the theme of the church in the community having a voice of justice and mercy.

And so, if - we have a memory verse if you want to join me. This is a long one and so you may want to read it right out of your page 1 in your quarterly, and it's psalm 146, verses 7 to , and for those who may be watching - you know, we have a lot of people who are channel surfing and start watching the program. I met some this last week and others, this is part of their regular study. You can get these quarterlies - you can look online under Sabbath school Bible study guide. You can find them, I think, if you go to the Granite Bay sda website.

There might be a link there that will take you to where you can download and study the guide. Go to your local Seventh-day Adventist Church and I'll bet they'll share one with you and you can join them and study along with them. And so it's, once again, psalm , verse 7, and this is in the niv. Would you say it out loud with me? "He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. the Lord sets prisoners free, the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous.

the Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow," - well, there's a lot compassed in there regarding what the mission of the church is. And so we're going to begin by looking at a few verses. Christianity is, sort of, summarized in Micah 6:8, which says, "he has shown you, o man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" Loving mercy - that doesn't mean just loving mercy for yourself, it means being merciful to others. 'Blessed are the merciful for" - what's the rest of that? So when it says 'blessed are the merciful' it means those who are sharing mercy with other people. Now, even in the laws of Moses - you know, many governmental laws and a lot of basic social laws are based on the law of Moses - not just the Ten Commandments, which were written by God, but a lot of the civil laws that were written by Moses.

And if you start, for instance in Exodus 22:21, you'll see that we're going to just look - there's, kind of, a bouquet of different laws that are here. "You shall neither mistreat a stranger nor oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt." - Now when it says 'stranger' what does it mean? You ever told your kids 'whatever you do, don't talk to strangers. Strangers'? Well, does it mean you're never to talk to strangers, or are you just telling your children to be careful about people you don't know? Make sure mom and dad say 'okay', but when it says 'stranger', what does it mean in the context of the Bible? They were a nation of believers - of jews. People that were non-jews - I mean a lot of nations did commerce by going through Israel. You see, God put Israel at the intersection - the crossroads, really - of three continents: africa, asia, and europe all could intersect through the Jordan valley there - a lot of caravans - a lot of traffic.

They'd meet a lot of people that were out of town and, basically, he's saying show mercy to people who are foreigners - whether they are foreigners who have come to stay with you or foreigners who are traveling through, you're to be witnesses to them by showing mercy, by being kind, by being hospitable. And so this is what it's talking about when it talks about the stranger. There's been a lot in the news lately on the subject of immigration, talking about people that might be different or people coming from a different culture or different background. And Christians ought to be good to every child of adam, amen? And show kindness to them. So he said, 'remember, do not afflict them.

You are strangers. You are in a foreign land.' And God's people have been a nation of pilgrims. Moses, when he had his sons, he talked about 'I'm a stranger in a strange land.' Joseph, when he had his sons in Egypt, he highlighted that, 'I'm away from home.' And, you know, they would name their sons, talking about being wanderers. Even Abraham said he looked for a city that had foundations - that he had no permanent dwelling here. They saw themselves as strangers.

And so God's people ought to show love and kindness to other strangers or travelers or immigrants. You shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child. Now we're going to say quite a bit in this study about the widow and The Fatherless - and I'll delve a little deeper into that as we get to it. "You shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child." - An orphan - "if you afflict them in any way, and they cry at all to me, I will surely hear their cry; and my wrath will become hot, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless." Now what is God saying there? It's tough when you're - you're married and - especially back in Bible times, as a woman, if you lost your husband, there was a loneliness there and that person should receive appropriate mercy. If you're a child and you've lost your father.

I don't know if any of you out there lost your father's early or while you were young - it can be devastating. And, you know, all the other kids talk about what they did that week with their fathers and - and to be fatherless - the Bible has a lot to say about that. And you should have compassion and show mercy on people in those situations. God said, 'otherwise, maybe your wives will be widows and your children will be fatherless.' What is God saying by that threat? It's the old American-indian proverb, 'don't criticize your neighbor until you've walked a mile in their moccasins.' And try to empathize with other people and say, 'you know, it's probably tough for them.' Show them mercy because, you know, put yourself in their shoes. That's what sympathy comes from - 'pathos' - empathy - it means to feel what they feel.

Exodus 23 - we're kind of jumping around now. In a moment I'm going to have someone read Proverbs 14:31 - who's got that? Someone? Does someone have - oh, down here, okay. I'm going to read Exodus 23:2, "you shall not follow a crowd to do evil; nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after many to pervert justice." It's talking about do not do what the mob does just because the mob is doing it. You know, one of the advertising methods that madison avenue uses - it's called the bandwagon - and the bandwagon is basically sell a product by saying, 'everybody's using it. Everybody's doing it.

It must be really good.' And you don't really look at it for its own value, it's just the idea that this is the popular thing. I used to wonder, you know, when you see kids going around with purple mohawks - I thought, 'what kid ever woke up in the morning and looked in the mirror and said, 'I've got to do something with my hair. I think I'm just going to dye it purple and make a mohawk.' You know how they do it? It becomes a trend. Some of their stars and their idols begin to do it. And when the fads - fashions change - it's all this idea of getting on the bandwagon.

'Oh, don't dress that way anymore, that's out. This is what's in and you're supposed to wear your shirt inside-out. That's what everyone's doing now. Oh, look at that. Your shirt's normal! That's awful - everybody's wearing it inside-out.

' So bandwagon mentality, but sometimes a crowd would begin to persecute someone who was innocent just because it was popular. Other people got swept up in it. Some of the same crowd that was saying, 'hosanna to The Son of David', later was saying, 'crucify him! Crucify him!' And they were just following the crowd. 'What are we yelling about? Oh, sounds good. I'll yell too.

' And they all began to shout for Jesus' blood. Do not follow a crowd to do evil. "Nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after many" - don't follow the crowd - "after many to pervert justice." God looks for people who will stand up even though everyone else is bowing down. Can you think of some famous people in the Bible who stood up against the crowd? Shadrach, meshach, and abednego? Who else? On Mount Carmel - Elijah? Do some of you remember the story in the Bible of a prophet named micaiah? King jehoshaphat and king ahab had a big pep rally to go to battle, but it wasn't of the Lord and all these false prophets said, 'go, go' and they were all getting excited and someone even told micaiah, 'please don't say anything negative. Everybody is of one spirit.

We need unity. Just go along so we'll have unity in the battle. Don't ruin their morale.' And micaiah said, 'look, I'm going to say what God tells me to say.' And so - and he went to jail for it. He was right. Ahab died in the battle.

It was a disaster. Jehoshaphat nearly died - but he stood up. And so God wants people who will stand up for what is right, regardless of what everyone else is doing. How important is that going to be for us in the last days? Will the majority be following God or will the majority be following the beast? The beast. Yeah, it's going to be straight is the gate and narrow the way that leads to life.

So you have to learn early on in your Christian experience to stand for your principles. I really admire young Christian men and women who are in colleges where everybody around them is compromising morals and they take a stand and say, 'no.' 'Well, come on. What - are you crazy, you fanatic?' 'I'm a Christian. I don't do that. I'm not going there.

I'm not reading that. I can't take that test' - or - 'I can't take it that day.' And so when they stand up for what's right, I think the Lord'll bless - heaven'll rejoice - the Lord'll bless them. Then it goes on to say - I'm still in Exodus 23 - "if you meet your enemy's ox or his donkey going astray, you shall surely bring it back to him again. If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying under its burden, and you would refrain from helping it, you shall surely help him with it." So, the Bible says 'love your enemy' 'overcome evil with good'. And so you've got this neighbor that just has been giving you fits and he's, you know, you've got a dispute - he's your enemy - for whatever reason, you make up your own scenario in your mind - and then you're on your way to Market that day and you see he's on his way to Market and you see he's loaded his donkey down a little too much and the donkey trips and - you know, a donkey, when it's got a load, it can carry quite a bit, but donkeys aren't very good at getting up if they fall under their load.

You have to basically completely unpack them, get them up again, and then re-load them and it's very work-intensive. But if you get a couple of men, you can help, kind of, push and prod and get the donkey up again and on the road. He said, 'so if you see your neighbor is trying to tug and pull and get the donkey up again and someone might be needed to help lift the hindquarters of the beast, you're not going to say, 'good for you. You're my enemy. Serves you right.

' And walk by - even though he's your enemy or she's your enemy. You help them. Who knows, maybe you'll kill your enemy with kindness. What that means is you'll stop being enemies. And so, you - it says if you have somebody that's in - and you find your enemy's donkey, say, 'oh, isn't that so and so's donkey wandering? Well, I'm not going to help.

That's his problem. I want bad things to happen to him or her.' No, you're supposed to do the just thing. Do you see the principle? Do unto others as you would have them do unto you - even if it's your enemy - is what Moses is saying here. "You shall not pervert the judgment of your poor in his dispute. Keep yourself far from a false matter; do not kill the innocent and righteous.

For I will not justify the wicked. And you shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds the discerning and perverts the words of the righteous." So he's talking about when you're going to court - they had court back then and often, you know, the Judges were the priests and they would listen to a dispute. You remember it said Samuel was honest but his sons took bribes and they began to pervert and someone said, 'you know, the rich people are getting better justice than the poor people because they could give favors to the Judges and they could send them on vacations and they got treats.' It's kind of like these lobbyists in Washington. We just had somebody - I guess this last week - another politician - it happens frequently - was indicted for taking bribes and using their power - closing their eyes to what the truth was, for personal gain. God says you need to do the right thing because it's the right thing and don't be - don't respect a person because of their wealth - because of their position.

Do not neglect a person who is poor - say, 'oh, it doesn't matter if I take care of them because they're poor and they can't help me. There's no connections.' And now I was going to have someone read Proverbs 14:31. Go ahead, terry. "He who oppresses the poor reproaches his maker, but he who honors him has mercy on the needy." Now, if you have mercy on the poor, it says that honors God - it pleases God. Did Jesus have a lot of converts that came from the rich, or were they typically among the poor? And so, if we want to be Christ-like, we need to show mercy to the poor.

Now you notice there's two extremes here - showing mercy to the poor - helping them, caring - and then there's those who oppress the poor. Well, maybe you might say, 'well, I'm - I'm kind of neutral. I don't oppress the poor, but I also don't show them mercy.' Well, you know, sometimes simply by neglecting you are oppressing. Doesn't the Bible say, 'when I was hungry'? Matter of fact, I'm going to get to that in a little bit so I don't want to jump ahead to it. Leviticus 19:10, "and you shall glean your vineyard" - I'm sorry, "you shall not glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather every grape of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I am the Lord your God.

" Now we've got some squirrels and birds in our backyard. I'd like to teach them to read the Bible. (Laughter) especially Leviticus, because when they glean, they don't leave anything for us. They just completely picked all the cherries on our tree. I didn't get a single cherry from the tree.

Huh? For years. For - oh no, we've gotten a couple but they usually don't - they're pretty quick. They don't leave much for us. And - but I haven't been able to teach them to read the Bible yet. The idea was - gleaning means - after you've harvested they called - the gleanings were like the edges of the field or some that was left behind or missed, and the idea is don't go over it twice.

Now there's several verses here - it talks about after you beat all the olives off your tree and you gather them, they would put a big tarp or cloth underneath the tree, they'd beat and shake all the olives down - they'd gather them - he said, 'don't go over the branches a second time. Yes, there'll be some that you've missed. Leave them for the poor.' Do you know the story of Ruth? How did boaz first meet Ruth. He told the young men - it was funny - he saw the poor women in the town and the widows - and Ruth was a widow and her mother was a widow and do you know how they got their food during harvest? After the men went through - they're doing the heavy work - they're doing the big harvest, the big shocks of grain - the women would come and get what they dropped. That was the gleanings or things that had been missed.

And boaz was such a merciful man, he told his harvesting men, 'let a lot of it fall.' Do you remember that? He said, 'leave some behind. Leave a little extra. Act like you're dropping it.' And he said for the poor - and Ruth came home and naomi was so happy she said, 'man, I've just got this whole shawl - this tarp - full of grain.' Because boaz deliberately was leaving extra. Now does God like that? Yes. When we show mercy to the poor - and so that's what he said when - and don't - don't take all the gleanings.

Leave something for the poor. Not just the poor, you know, even the creatures do that. And then it says in Deuteronomy 27 - these are just scattered principles that the Bible shares. Deuteronomy 27:19, "cursed is the one who perverts the justice due the stranger, the fatherless, and widow." There you have it again. "And all the people will say, 'amen!'" Now, you remember one of the things they were supposed to do when they came into the promised land? They were instructed by Joshua that six of the tribes - I forget which ones they were - would be on mount ebal and six would be on mount gerizim and one was called the mountain of blessing and one was called the mountain of cursing.

And from the mountains they would say these blessings and these cursings. And after they said it, the other tribe would say 'amen!' And, basically, they were in the land saying, 'we are going to live righteousness and justice in the land.' One of the things they would say is 'cursed is the one who perverts justice due to the stranger, The Fatherless, and the widow and all the people will say, 'amen!'' So God not only says he won't bless you, if we don't show justice, he says there's a curse. That's pretty serious, isn't it? In a moment someone is going to read for me Hebrews 4:4 and 5 - okay, katrina? I'm going to read Genesis 2. Now we're talking about under the heading of universal concerns from among God's people - one of them being the Sabbath. Now some people say, 'well, the Sabbath was made for the jews.

' Is that what the Bible says? Jesus said the Sabbath was made for - man. Man. Is that how you spell jew? M-a-n? That word there, I think, is anthropos, and it means - it's where we get anthropology - the study of mankind. And so it means it was made for humanity - for everybody. And, of course, Genesis 2:1, "thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished.

And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it he rested form all his work which God had created and made." How many people were in the world then? Two. Two. How many races of the world are related to those original two? All. Everybody.

And so when we talk about the principle of the Sabbath and allowing people to have rest and not oppressing people and not - now children of Israel, they were saved from hard labor and God's people ought to be concerned with, also, other people's rest. In the notes in the lesson - I copied this - it said, "indeed, the seventh-day Sabbath tells us that God's a creator and rest provider of all who live on the planet. If we truly observe the Sabbath, we'll not remain satisfied only with our own rest and redemption, but the ultimate restoration and in the new earth as well. Go ahead, read for us Hebrews 4:4 and 5. "For he has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: 'and God rested on the seventh day from all his works'; and again in this place: 'they shall not enter my rest.

'" Alright, very good. Even the new testament says, 'there remains a Sabbath for the people of God.' So you've got the Sabbath in the old testament; you've got the Sabbath and it tells you he spoke in a certain place on the seventh day - everybody can harken back to that. The whole world still keeps the seventh-day Sabbath, right? Now in the commandment does it say who's supposed to rest? Son, your daughter - manservant. Manservant. Maidservant, stranger - ox and ass.

Your ox - your animals - and, now in that commandment, do you realize it also says in that commandment that your land is supposed to rest? Were they supposed to harvest on Sabbath? No. They were told to keep the Sabbath in seed time and harvest. They weren't to be sowing seeds. Does the Bible have other Sabbaths for the land? Yes. Besides the weekly - do you realize every week the land was to get a little bit of rest - one day? But also, every seventh year the land was to get a rest.

And so the Sabbath commandment tells us that as Christians we are to be concerned about people being overworked - the stranger, families, animals, the land - it's something that really cares about the health and the vitality and the rest of all creatures and all creation. And in the new earth - will that all be restored? And that was referred to in our lesson in Isaiah 66, verses 22 and 23 - the new heavens and the new earth. And so, the Sabbath truth - when you're sharing the Sabbath, you don't say, 'I've got - our denomination has this belief that we made up.' Is that our - is that the reason we believe the Sabbath or is it God's idea and it's a principle of truth that's for all people? So don't ever feel like that 'well, this is just our denominational - we've got a monopoly - we've got a brand. This is our slogan.' The Sabbath truth is part of the justice of Christianity for all people. Amen.

And I always think it's sad. Even Sunday-keeping Christians - Christians that keep the first day of the week as their Sabbath - they used to keep it, years ago, more carefully than many Sabbath-keepers keep the Sabbath now. I've got friends, you probably knew some too, that they had clothes they only wore on Sunday. They never ran around on Sunday. They never went to the store on Sunday.

They never went to their fields on Sunday. It was a day of rest. And they kept it more carefully than some adventist Sabbath keepers are keeping the true Bible Sabbath, which is the seventh day, today. Would you agree with that? Yes. Amen.

That's unfortunate. But today, what's sad, is even those that are Christians in other faiths, they're missing the rest because right after church they're back in the world doing everything again and they're working and they're farming and just - they say, 'oh, well, I've got to, because' - for this reason or that reason - it's usually a financial gain - and they're losing a blessing by doing that. Colossians 2:16, "so let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths, which are shadows of things to come, but the substance is of Christ." Now, there were some ceremonial Sabbaths: the Jewish annual feasts came once a year. They came after sin. They are nailed to the cross.

The Sabbath of the week, did it come before or after sin? It's part of God's perfect plan. It came back in creation. Are we going to still keep it in heaven when things are perfect? Amen. Yeah. Does God want us to keep it now? But there were certain ceremonial Sabbaths that were nailed to the cross and those are the ones that all pointed to Christ.

Now, is it possible for a person to keep the Sabbath and - if they don't have a relationship with the Lord or if they're oppressing the poor, they're missing the whole purpose of it. I've got some verses I think you'll find interesting. If you look, for instance, in Isaiah 8:4 - I'm sorry, I meant Amos 8:4 - Amos 8:4, "hear this, you who swallow up the needy, and make the poor of the land fail, saying: 'when will the new moon be past, that we may sell grain? And the Sabbath that we may trade wheat?" 'When will the Sabbath be past?' Sometimes you see the kids, they're kind of saying, 'is the Sabbath over yet?' They're looking at the clock saying, 'oh Sabbath - when's it going to be? Is it Sabbath? Let's hurry up and have sundown worship.' It's like we can speed up Sabbath being over. But the people back in God's time and in the time of Amos, anyway, they were swallowing up the needy. They were keeping the Sabbath, but they're not enjoying it - they're not getting a blessing.

They're saying, 'when will it be over so we can get back to work?' - "Making the ephah small and the shekel large," - in other words, they falsified their weights. What the grain that they would give people - a shekel is a weight - and ephah is a measurement of grain. It's basically saying they'd put a big weight on it and make it look like it was heavier than it was and they were cheating the people - "falsifying the scales by deceit, that we may buy the poor for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals - even sell the bad wheat?" - They not only were not selling right quantities, they were selling stuff that had gone bad - taking advantage of the poor - selling the rich the good and selling the poor the bad - or the moldy - wheat. "the Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob: 'surely I will never forget any of their works.'" - God sees when we are being unjust in our dealings. Years ago, I was in the firewood business and a zealous Christian.

Matter of fact, one of our friends who's been to church here a few times, dave boatright, was in business with me. Some of you know dave boatright and cindy - and when we advertised our firewood, we always said, 'a full cord' - a cord is 128 square feet of wood, it's usually in three tiers - depends on if it's 16-inch wood - if it's 12-inch wood it would be four tiers - anyway, it's 128-square feet no matter how you cut it - that's a cord of wood. And so we used to advertise, 'pressed down, shaken together, running over.' And we always gave people extra so they'd never have doubt, 'is this a cord of wood?' And, you know, what? Word spread around, 'why, you buy a cord from Batchelor or boatright, you're going to get a full cord of wood.' We couldn't keep up with the orders and we would, you know pass these things out and say, 'we want to do unto others as we would want them to do unto us.' And the Lord blessed. So if you're honest with people and if you treat people the way that you want to be treated, in your business dealings - but if you're stingy and if you're cunning and if you exploit people, God won't bless. Amen? That's what - the principles it's talking about here.

Alright, prophetic voice - part 1 - and if you look here in Proverbs 31, it's talking about not only doing these things, but we need to be willing to speak up. "Open your mouth for the speechless," - Proverbs 31:8 - "open your mouth for the speechless, in the cause of all who are appointed to die. Open your mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy." You know, the brothers of Joseph were going to kill him. They weren't just going to sell him, they were going to kill him. And reuben wasn't exactly sure what to do because his brothers were violent.

I don't know if you remember, simeon and levi went into a town and killed a whole town. And reuben delivered Joseph from their hand and said, 'don't kill him. Just put him in the pit here.' And he planned on coming back to get him later. So he spoke - he didn't realize while he was gone they sold him. But that's one of many cases you can think of in the Bible where someone needed someone else to speak up for them and to stop - there's a lot of stories in history - everything from pocahontas to others who have spoken up in behalf of others that were going to be slain.

So we need to use our voice. - "Open your mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy." Isaiah 1:13 - these are some famous verses - it says, "bring no more futile sacrifices; incense is an abomination to me. The new moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies - I cannot endure" - what, God doesn't want the Sabbaths? The sacrifices - didn't he - why is God saying that? He's saying, 'you do all these things and you do it with a wrong heart - it's - you don't get a blessing. If you - yeah - the people - keep in mind, the people who killed Jesus wanted to hurry up and have him killed so they could go home and keep the Sabbath. Now, how much blessing do you think they really got that Sabbath day? Did they get any credit for keeping that Sabbath when they had just committed terrible injustice by crucifying Jesus? They said, 'oh, it's almost sundown, we've got to go keep the Sabbath.

' God says, 'pretending to worship me when you're unjust - there's no benefit in that. You see what the principle is? This is why these lessons are so important. "I cannot endure...your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they are a trouble to me, I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands," - what does that mean? They used to spread out their hands in prayer - in the Hebrew culture there - "when you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not hear." - Why? - "Your hands are full of blood." So here they were, guilty of innocent blood, but they're praying long prayers. And God says, 'who are you kidding? That doesn't mean anything to me.

If you're not living the life and living a Godly life and caring for those who are oppressed and speaking up for those who are being trodden down, your religion is vain. It doesn't do any good. We all get that, right? Alright, and then you look - go to verse 16 - Isaiah chapter 1, verse 16 - you all know this, "wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings" - it's not talking about their doctrines - "the evil of your doings from before my eyes. Cease to do evil, learn to do good;" - now this is an important verse - "learn to do good." When a person comes to the Lord and they have been a pagan out in the world their whole life, after accepting Jesus, are they going to know everything? No. Or is there a learning process? They call that sanctification.

That means you may have to study to find out, 'well, what does the Lord want of me?' And you learn - "cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor;" - that means speak up against those who are oppressing - "defend The Fatherless, plead for the widow." Sometimes in the schoolyard, everyone's afraid to speak up to the bully and call the bully a bully. And I remember one time, I was on the streets in palm springs - I just - I never forgot the courage of this young man. I came up the streets - I was not involved in what was happening, but I came upon just after it happened, but these three thugs - young drug gang people - had just roughed up an old man and he was on the ground and I don't know if they were misbehaving and he spoke up against them - he said, 'oh you guys need to calm down' - whatever - and they just - they beat him up a little bit and he was on the ground and this one young man, who was not any bigger than any of them, he came up and he stood up against them. He said, 'you guys think you're tough doing this to this old man?' He said, 'why don't you do it to me?' And there was three of them. Now I'm just watching this.

I came on it, but I was - he scared them. He was so bold and so brave they all talked to him - he said, 'alright, you're really tough' - and he took his shirt off - he was bulging muscles - little guy but bulging muscles - he said, 'alright, come on show me how tough you are. You want to do this?' They all turned and they went away. Amen! And I thought, 'wow, that takes courage to do that.' But he was incensed that they were doing this to an old man. And his wife was there too, but they basically roughed up the old man and I thought that's courage when you do something like that.

I had a friend that his name was jay - if you ever read my book he's in the book - and he was from brooklyn, new york - and we were all sitting around this waterfall and there were, literally, a hundred people around this big waterfall - sunbathing, swimming - some people were drinking - and this one guy jumped off this rock and he didn't come back up and I wasn't watching the minute it happened, I was there with jay - and jay jumped in to pull the guy out. Now the reason this is so amazing is jay could not swim. But he thought, 'that guy needs help and he figured, 'I'll get down there and I'll walk out underwater.' But he did - he pulled the guy - he had hit his head and he was unconscious and jay had spotted it. And I thought, 'boy, that takes courage to risk your life like that.' And he couldn't swim. He just - in New York - he just never learned.

And here I could swim and I was watching. I didn't see what happened. Anyway, but - so that's courage. You know, when you care for your neighbor. Alright, someone's going to read James 1:27 in just a moment.

I'm going to read Matthew 18. Now, we told you we're going to talk a little more about The Fatherless and the widow - in Luke 18 Jesus talked about an example where poor widows don't get justice and he spoke a parable to them that people ought to always pray and not lose heart. Now, his parable's about prayer, but he uses a story that was common in those days. "There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him saying, 'get justice for me from my adversary.

'" - Someone was taking advantage of her or wasn't paying or took her property - or whatever it was - and she's looking for justice - the right thing to be done. But she's poor. She can't bribe him. She's a widow. He doesn't care - why? Because he doesn't regard God.

A judge who regards God is going to care. That's what Christianity's all about. And she said, "'get justice for me from my adversary.' And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, 'though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.'" - She just kept coming and coming and coming and he said, 'alright! Alright!' There's something there to be said for persistence, but you notice it wasn't uncommon for people who weren't converted, to not show justice to the poor, to the widows, to The Fatherless. Go ahead, read for us James 1:27. James 1:27, "pure and undefiled religion before God and The Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

" The orphans, The Fatherless, and the widows. Any of you ever read the story about george mueller, who started those orphanages in england and how he sustained those orphanages for, I think, thirty or forty years of his life, from prayer and he never asked for money, never sent out an appeal letter - and God always seemed to bring the food that they needed, the money they needed, the clothes they needed from day to day. And he just believed - he said, 'the Bible has a lot to say about how God cares for the fatherless and if I pray, he will certainly answer my prayer.' Now he just had like a reckless faith. I mean, they would be totally out of food. He wouldn't tell anyone.

He said, 'I'll tell the Lord.' And all of a sudden a truck from the bakery would show up. Any of you ever read his books? Just incredible miracles of prayer. It's very inspiring. If you haven't, read some of those books on george mueller. You'll be encouraged.

He was a real man of faith. Why does it say so much about the widows? Why don't you hear 'show mercy to the widowers'? Anywhere in the Bible where it says, 'take care of the widower? No. Well, if - if a woman lost her husband in that agricultural society, with the heavy work on a farm - I know this is not politically correct - I was talking to Pastor Ross - I read some statistics this week that said that the average man has % more brute strength than a woman. They can kind of take care of themselves a little better. But women in that culture could be taken advantage of.

I know there are probably cases where a man was raped by a woman. Not too many, but it does happen the other way, doesn't it? And so women need to be protected. They - they're - they were taken advantage of and if they didn't have a husband who was their advocate, that was the house-band to help watch over them, then - this is in the days before they had tasers and mace spray and pepper spray and all those things to protect them - and they needed men - and they couldn't get work often and if they didn't have children they had no one to take care of them. And so they needed people to show them mercy. The Bible talks about that: 1 Peter 3:7: "husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel," - it doesn't mean weaker morally, or weaker spiritually, it means weaker what? Physically.

And so they need to be protected and this is - the Bible talks about protecting the widows all through the Bible. You know, when the titanic was down, reportedly the captain said, 'we don't have enough life boats.' He told the crew, 'we'd better get the women and children first.' Today that would be very socially unacceptable to say that, right? No. Shouldn't be! You know what I mean? You all know what I mean? Do I need to spell it out for you? Okay. Prophetic voice #3 - Isaiah 58 - this is a great chapter. I don't know if we're going to have time to read all this.

Let me read the first few verses here, "cry aloud, spare not; lift up your voice like a trumpet; tell my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and did not forsake the ordinance of their God. They ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching God." So in this whole chapter - Isaiah chapter 58 is a great chapter - but why don't you just jump, for instance, to verse 6? Well, let's see, verse 5, "is it a fast that I have chosen, a day for a man to afflict his soul?? Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush, and to spread out sackcloth and ashes? Would you call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord?" - For a person to, you know, fast, by just denying themselves food, covering themselves with ashes, sit on sackcloth - "is not this the fast that I have chosen:" - what is the fast that will get God's attention? "To loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh?" - Meaning your brothers and your sisters - "then your light" - he promises - "then your light will break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, 'here I am.'" Now why do people fast? Some people fast for health reasons. But in the days of Esther, why did Esther tell the people to fast.

To pray. They needed prayer answered and it was life or death. There was a crisis. You - did a man once have a demon-possessed son and Jesus said 'this kind does not come forth except by prayer and fasting.' So they would pray because they needed different things. It wasn't just for health reasons.

What does God say is the most important fast? If you're going to start fasting and say, 'well, hey, Lord, answer my prayer. I haven't eaten for two days. I've been fasting. I'm wearing humble clothing. I'm not watching television.

I'm fasting.' And God is saying, 'well, that's nice, but you know what I'd really like you to do? You've got this poor neighbor next door. The mother, you know, she doesn't have clothes for the kids. There's no food on the shelf. So while you're denying yourself of food, why don't you take it next door to them? That would really make me happy. Then you'll call unto me and I will answer.

' You see what God is saying? So the first and most important fast we could participate in as Christians, is the one of really living Christian lives - loving your neighbor. What are the two great commandments? Love the Lord with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself. You see what he's saying here? 'This is the fast that I've chosen. Share your bread with the hungry. When you see the naked, cover them.

And he says when you do these things, "the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard." - God'll protect you - "you shall cry, and he will say, 'here I am.' If you take away the yoke from your midst," - that means putting a burden on people - and the "pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness," - gossip - "if you extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then" - here's the promise - "your light shall dawn in the darkness," - you'll be bright and your life will be illuminated. Your depression may go away. Your darkness will be as the noonday. the Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. Those" - not only will he bless you, those who be of you, your children - listen - "those from among you shall build the old waste places; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; and you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in.

" Now, when he talks about repairing the breach, there is a breach in God's law that needed repairing. You read on, he tells what that is, "if you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, and shall honor him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words," - then here comes the promise - "then you shall delight yourself in the Lord; and I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the Lord has spoken.'" And so, that chapter is just full of all the blessings of caring and sharing justice with others. Alright - and then there's one more verse here - Proverbs 21:13 - whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry and not be heard. Now, is there anyone here who can feed all the poor in india? So when he says 'the cry of the poor' how do you apply that? God will, usually every week, bring you in contact with people who have some need.

And you pray for the Holy Spirit to help you recognize those opportunities to show the love of God to those people. It may not be food. They might need clothes. They might need some encouragement. They might need a lift - they're hitchhiking - I'm not telling all the ladies you want to do that but, I mean, just all kinds of things.

But just caring about people that are in need - showing your Christian love. It might be some - helping somebody carry their bag - that they're weak. It's just showing the love of Jesus in the practical things of life. A force for good - Luke 7:11, "now it happened, the day after, that he went into a city called nain; and many of his disciples went with him, and a large crowd. And when he came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow.

" - So here's a widow and she's lost her only son who could support her later in life. Jesus is so moved - large crowd comes - was with her - "when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, 'do not weep.' Then he came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And he said, 'young man, I say to you, arise.' So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And he presented him to his mother." You got that picture? This is great. Someone's going to read for us a verse here, in a moment.

Okay. You've got the collision of two processions. Jesus as a son of life is in one, out of the city comes a procession where a woman is carrying a son of death. These two processions meet, Jesus sees the woman weeping and he is so moved he stops the procession and he completely ruins the sermon for the pastor - he was going to do at the funeral. He resurrects the boy.

Pastor's going, 'what do I do with my notes now?' And he presents him back to his mother. Does Jesus care about widows? Amen. He does. And this boy, if she was a widow, he was fatherless, too, wasn't he? Yes. And he restores him to life.

Alright, go ahead and read our next verse for us. Psalm 82, verse 3, "defend the poor and fatherless. Do justice to the afflicted and needy. Amen. And that's self-explanatory.

I'm going to read one more - 1 John 3:17, "but whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?" You know, Jesus said, as I mentioned - Matthew chapter 25 - it starts with verse 31 - that parable - he said, in the great judgment day, what's he going to say? You kept the Sabbath, you paid your tithe' - is he going to go there? - 'You were vegetarian' (laughter) - oh, you know what he says? Those things are all good - don't misunderstand - I don't want to be sarcastic, even though I just was - I don't like doing that. He says, 'I was hungry and you fed me; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick or in prison and you ministered to me; I was a stranger and you took me in.' And when we minister to these things he says, 'well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of the Lord.' So it's looking at the needs in the world around us and Christ said, 'inasmuch as we take care of those needs, who are we really blessing? He said, 'inasmuch as you've done it for them, you've done it for me.' Because Jesus feels the relief of his children that you and I minister to. So we have run out of time for our lesson, but I want to remind those, before we go off the air, we do have a very special book. This is by our friend, the late dr. Herbert douglass, it's called the Jesus difference.

We will send it to you free. This is an incredible book. It's a great offer. Don't miss this. It's offer #814 and just call the number on your screen, which is 866-788-3966 - that's 866-study-more - we'll send it to you free.

Please read it and then share it with someone else. God bless you until we study His Word together again next time. Have you ever heard the expression before, 'they eat like a bird' talking about somebody who has a minuscule appetite? Well you might want to think twice next time you use that expression. For example, take the hummingbird: in order for it to maintain its incredible metabolism, it has to eat about -percent of its body weight every day. To put that in perspective, if a hundred-pound woman was to eat like a hummingbird, she would have to eat 50 pounds of sugar a day just to maintain her body weight.

Imagine that. Maybe you don't want to imagine that, but perhaps you'll want to consider this another way: the hummingbird typically consumes between four to seven calories a day, on the other hand, a human: about 3,500 calories a day. But if you were to eat like a bird - a hummingbird - you'd have to eat over ,000 calories a day. That's like a man - 170 pounds that would be eating 3,000 oreo cookies. Under normal conditions, a hummingbird needs to eat every five or ten minutes, but there's actually one time during the year the hummingbird will eat its entire body weight every day.

You see, once a year they make this migration 500 miles across the gulf of Mexico from Texas to the yucatan peninsula. In order to do that, the hummingbird feasts on nectar and gorges themselves on this nectar for about a week, doubling their body weight. That's the only way they can store enough calories to help them with their 70-wing beats per second or roughly 4 million wing beats on that journey. You know, in the same way, friends, as we near the end of time, we need to be feasting and gorging ourselves on the nectar of God's Word. We've got to be able to have that strength to get us through the times of trouble that are ahead.

So when it comes to the Bible and your personal devotions, if you're going to eat like a bird, eat like a hummingbird. Can't get enough Amazing Facts Bible study? You don't have to wait until next week to enjoy more truth-filled programming, visit the Amazing Facts media library at 'aftv.org'. At 'aftv.org' you can enjoy video and audio presentations as well as printed material all free of charge, 24 hours a day 7 days a week, right from your computer or mobile device. Visit 'aftv.org'. Amazing Facts has impacted my life.

And I just praise God for Amazing Facts. Amazing Facts actually did have an impact on my life. This whole process - getting to where I am today - I felt good about that. I didn't feel condemned, I felt - I began reading the Bible and - I got baptized into a Seventh-day Adventist - I realized that there had to be more to life. God is really doing this.

The life that he's given me. This message was so powerful. I'll follow Christ wherever he goes. Amazing Facts. More than 45 years of proclaiming God's message around the world.

And then the logo pops across Amazing Facts presents. I've listened to a lot of different ministers, but this was the first time that he's actually saying something where I had to grab my Bible and actually pick it up and I've never heard this before. Let me - let me look through and find this. Then I just couldn't get enough. And so I started doing Bible studies.

Every single one of these guys started being changed, including myself. My question was, 'why did that happen to me, God?' the Lord was able to reach out and - and I actually saw him as a father. I lost everything and that was when I realized that it was God missing in my life. I went to a prophecy seminar, which knocked me out. This message was so powerful and so irrefutable, I just went, 'this is real.

This is - this is amazing.'

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