STAND UP against SOCIETY’s oppression of the POOR: "Woe to those who decree unrighteous decrees, who write misfortune, which they have prescribed to rob the needy of justice, and to take what is right from the poor of My people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless. What will you do in the day of punishment, and in the desolation which will come from afar? To whom will you flee for help? And where will you leave your glory?" (Isaiah 10:1-3)
As the prophet Isaiah announces the wrath of God against many unrighteous deeds of the Israelites (5:8–23; 10:5; 18:1), he points out God’s displeasure against those leaders who had robbed the needy, oppressed the poor, and had passed unjust laws that took advantage of the weak and the helpless segment of their society. God would surely punish these rich and powerful rulers in such a manner that they would vainly try to seek help as their riches would be stripped away on God’s ‘day of reckoning’ against them. When God’s judgment would fall upon them, they would lose all the wealth that they had gained through graft and extortion from the poor!
We should understand that the government officials who held power and authority in Israel during the days of Isaiah had abused their positions and power given by God and had perverted justice with unrighteous decrees that perpetuated evil in the community. These leaders in Israel were greedy for gain. They used unjust laws to support their selfish practices by robbing the poor, and as a result, the rich were prospering greatly while the poor were languishing!
It is therefore not a surprise that God’s judgment would not be averted since the sin and social injustices of these oppressors were just too great! The day was soon coming when these evil officials would be brought before God’s bar of justice and then would be led away into exile through the coming Assyrian invasion. They would certainly lose all their wealth for ignoring the warnings of God (see 8:5-9). The principle of retribution is an important biblical teaching and we reap what we sow, whether to our destruction or for our benefit. God’s Word tells us: "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life" (Gal. 6:7-8).
As a spiritual application for us today, we should think twice before taking this same attitude against the poor in our society. Many times the rich and powerful can twist the laws of the land to oppress the poor and powerless, and if that happens, we should stand up against the unjust laws and regulations that are passed against the downtrodden segment of our society. In fact, we should stand for social justice in many areas such as housing, lending practices, zoning laws, education, jobs, crime prevention, the courts, the prisons, rezoning creation of political districts, voting, and many more.
The Word in Life Study Bible has proposed two principles that emerge in particular from Isaiah’s warning in this passage:
- First, God pays attention to what societies do to the poor. God calls it robbery when policy makers “decree unrighteous decrees” that “rob the needy of justice” (vv. 1–2).
- Second, God promises to bring justice to the poor, and to judge those who mistreat the poor. God is a God of justice, and He promises a day of punishment for the unjust (vv. 3–4).