Attacking the Needy

I’ve been thinking about a couple of stories lately that seem somewhat relevant to current events. They are Old Testament stories, which are often exciting and full of danger, mystery, wonder, and God’s direct action! These, stories, though, are kind of sad, really. They show a darker side of humanity which should be examined every once in a while.

The first comes from Exodus 17:8-16. The Israelites have just escaped the chaos, suffering, and pain of their Egyptian slavery. They’ve recently received divine help through the gifts of manna, quail, and water to feed them and quench their thirst in the wilderness. This rag-tag group of former brick makers and builders are now having to forage and become tent dwellers in a wandering city. They’ve been blessed with supplies, but eventually they will run out or become scarce. Any identity they had with their job or place of living has been stripped away.

In their distress, one of the national powers of the region take an interest in them… but not to the Israelites’ benefit. You see, the nation of Amalek sees a people who look weak, easy to plunder and gear up for an attack. Suddenly, the rag-tag group of nomads has to pick up weapons and learn how to wage war. God comes to their aid, but the Amalekites would suffer for their actions later in the book of Samuel.

The next story comes from Numbers in chapter 20 verses 14-21. This time, the Israelites would like a slightly shorter, straighter road for their journey. They are bumped up against the borders of Edom (descendants of Esau) and request passage. The Israelites do not ask for supplies, or water, or anything but the ability to pass through safely. Edom refuses, threatening violence if the Israelites so much as cross the border.

Despite their poverty and relative weakness, two ancient kingdoms refused to show them mercy or kindness. It seems odd to see someone in need and to threaten violence, but it happens even today.

When you family sees someone in need, what is your first reaction? How does your family talk about the poor, the needy, the hurt, and oppressed? As a subject of King Jesus, what role do you think your family could play in caring for others?

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