“Is God on the side of the poor”

Is God on the side of the poor? There are obviously many different views and answers given to this question, either derived from the Bible, from one’s own opinion or a cohesion of both. But how can it be answered from the simple form of this question? Further Biblical knowledge as well as a greater understanding of Liberation Theology is required to provide a substantial answer to this, which can be obtained by looking at the individual aspects that arise when questioning God’s position in relation to the poor.These are things such as the concern God had for the poor at the Exodus, The Exile and the Incarnation; The sense in which God identifies with the poor; Gods frequent work through the poor and the oppressed; The Biblical teachings that God constantly demolishes the rich and elevates the poor; and the question of whether God commands his people to have a special concern for the poor and oppressed but not the rich. There are three main points or stories in the Bible when God uses his power to intervene and Liberate the poor and oppressed, they are 1) The Exodus, 2) The Exile and 3) The Incarnation.The Exodus is the story of Moses, the burning bush, the ten plagues and the Ten Commandments. In this God shows his power by freeing oppressed slaves from the Egyptians. God refers to these poor and oppressed slaves as ‘his’ own people, ” I have seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt…and i have come down to deliver them out of the hands of the Egyptians” (Exodus 3:7-8). This blatantly shows God saw the poor and oppressed people as being his own, and that he was going to free them because they were his own people. But was this the one and only (main) reason for him doing this? It would be naive to think so.There was his Covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the fact that he may have done it to show everyone not only how powerful he was but also how merciful and caring he was – which shows he could have done it simply for himself, to make himself look virtuous to ‘his’ people, so he could be known as the One who freed these people from slavery. The whole story of the Exodus is the first time in which God selects the ‘chosen’ people, as he calls them ‘his’ people and then frees them from slavery and oppression; these people are poor people because they are slaves – therefore this story would suggest the poor are God’s chosen people, ‘his’ people. What also must be taken into consideration is the fact that God forsaken idols and the Egyptians had created idols for Gods, so this could be another reason for God releasing the slaves and destroying the Egyptians.The Exile is another story in which God shows his preference of poor and oppressed people. The story shows how he would free them when they were oppressed, but if they themselves became the oppressers then a fate of destruction he would impose upon them. God called Israel out of Egypt and made an agreement with them, he said they could live together in justice and peace. But this did not happen. Israel broke God’s covenant so God destroyed Israel and sent ‘his’ chosen people into captivity. This shows how God destroyed Israel because the poor were wrongly treated; and therefore they were ‘his’ people. Why else would he protect them?He had done it before and then does it again. This obviously shows God preference and favourability of the poor and oppressed when compared to the other people, even if they themselves before had been poor and oppressed. It just shows how God sides with the poor and is always against the oppressers even if they have been oppressed before and freed by God because of this. It could be possible that God’s people may have been any poor person that is being oppressed, no matter what has happened before and vice versa (opressed to being oppresser).The whole idea of the Exile is that God destroys Israel, his previous chosen land, because they failed to live by his covenant as they oppress the poor (which he sends into captivity). This could be seen as being strange as the people that were the oppressers were previously the ones being oppressed (in Egypt) and you would think that God would not destroy his own people? Bu the fact is that these were no longer ‘his’ people as the were not the oppressed or the poor, they were the persecutors. Up to this point it seems as if God is always completely on the side of the poor and always destroys anyone who oppresses them, even if they were poor before and were seen as being God’s chosen people. So God must chose his people not because of who they are but for the simple fact that they are poor and he hates seeing them being discriminated against.The third and final main story which shows Gods choice to help and protect the poor and oppressed is the Incarnation, or in simple terms, Jesus Christ. This was when God revealed himself in a person; his son; our lord – who himself a poor. And at the start of his public ministry he preached, “The spirit of our Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppresed, to proclaim the accpetable year of the Lord”.The message of this is obviously intended for the poor and the actions suggested in this are to help the poor out of the oppression they have found themselves in. These are the words of God, and it seems as if he is preaching one message for one reason – to get ‘his’ people free from oppression. And although he himself freed us from the oppression of guilt, the oppression refered to here is physcial oppression, from captivity.Throughout Jesus’ preaching life he spent nearly all of his time with the poor and the sick, giving freedom and curing, which in a way shows the roots and objectives of Christianty itself. Gods destructive comes through in Jesus as in Matthew 25:31 – 46 Jesus says that those who do not feed the hungry, clothe the naked and visit the prisoners will expreience eternal damnation. i.e. Gods destructive power. The whole idea of the incarnation is get Gods messages and intentions on to earth and into practise, and these all involve the poor and are all in favour of the poor. Feeding the hungry, healing the sick, enabling the blind to see again and getting those being oppressed free from it. God obviously sees the poor as h’his’ own people, as he always protects them over anyone and will do anyhting (e.g. destruction) to help them out and get them free.Although these three stories represent the main times in which God shows his complete backing of the poor and oppressed, there are other points in the bible where God implies that the poor are ‘his’ people. Psalm 146 explains how it is God’s essence to defend the weak and the oppressed as well as lifting the mistreated. The base of Christian concern for the hungry and oppressed is that God cares especially for them. In Proverbs 14:31 he says, ” He who oppresses a poor man insults his maker”, the follows up with ” He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord”. This shows that God does see the poor as being ‘his’ people and that anyone who goes against or mistreats ‘his’ people, go against God himself. This is a very strong attitude and God would not say this unless he meant it and did actually believe that the poor were his people and were linked to him in a way.From all of this evidence taken pfrom the Bible, the word of God, there seems to only be one way to sum it up, that God believes the poor and oppressed to be ‘his’ people whom he will protect over anyone else, even if they themselves were in this position before. Anyone poor is chosen by God, yet anyone who isnt will suffer in the hands of the very same.If God was on the side of the poor, why would he allow suffering? Disease? Famine? Starvation? and Death? These are common traits identified with the word ‘poor’. If you are poor you have little or no money, little or no land, little or no food and little or no hope. Although God may promise good things and deliver hope, where does it actually get the poor people? He may be able to kill people for oppressing the poor, but this does not lead to the poor having more money, more food and just a better life in general, because if they had that then they would not be poor, they would be rich. So how can God give the poor what they need to survive without making them rich? As seen in the Exile, if you are rich then you will be destroyed by the very same God who chose you to be ‘his’ people because you are poor?He may well be able to give each of his chosen people enough to survive without being seen as being rich, but what kind of existence is that? The God of the bible is meant to love and provide for his children yet, some are better off than others and are having much more of a comfortbale life that those which arent. By destroyng the rich and the oppressors, all of which have been given free will by God himself, he is surely trying to cover up for gaps or mistakes in his creation which have allowed this to happen. If he really loved everyone then he would make us equal, no man greater than another, but this isnt so, which makes God try to make things equal again by making the poor seem more important than the rich. But how does this help? How does destroying the rich make a difference? Rich people are needed in the world just as much as poor people are, so why does God destroy them?He may well be siding with the poor because they have been hard done by, but a caring and loving God would not have let this happen in the first place. All of these questions cannot be answered only thought and speculated about, it makes one think about why there is a a rich/poor divide in the world and why God let it happen. He may be providing justice for the oppressed, because what is happening to them is not right, but he is only doing it because the balance between the peoples is uneven and he wants to steady the boat again, but why let this gap evolve in the first place? That is the biggest question that can arise from God claiming that the poor are ‘his’ people.After taking both sides of this argument into account a decision could be reached on this question. Yes, God does side with the poor in the Exodus, the Exile and the Incarnation because he has to, because he is the loving God who provides equailty and a chance for all. It is the right thing to do. If someone is less well off than someone else, then make them equal, give them the chance – but by destroying the oppressors? I’m not so sure this is the answer. God obviously shows love, and is love, but the question that arises from the whole of this debate, is Why he sides with the poor? Is it because he has given free will and it has been wrongly used, so the balnce must be restored? Or is it because it is the right thing to do in the circumstances, something a loving God would do (and person).I do believe that God is on the side of poor, but not because they are ‘his’ people specifically, but because he is loving and feels they need his help to regain what they deserve, a chance. And if this chance can only come about by destroying the rich and the oppressers then so be it. Even if there are mistakes in his creation, it doesnt mean it isnt prefect, it may have these faults in it for a reason, maybe so God can show how loving he is and how poor people should be seen as equals to other people. I don’t know. Nobody knows, but what i do precieve to be true is the fact that God does side with the poor simply because they have been oppressed – and God is doing the right and loving thing by freeing them from their oppression.

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