God’s people are in exile. They are homeless, sleeping in the streets of our cities. They are hungry, not knowing where the next meal will come from. They are exploited because they are not male, or white, or European, or middle aged, or healthy. They are abused, tortured, and abandoned by society.
Who will be Cyrus, the liberator of God’s people? Who will be Christ, saving God’s people by joining them in their suffering? Who will bring light into this world of darkness? Who, if not the follower of Christ, will “turn hatred to love, conflict to peace, death to eternal life”?
We live in a world that is in need of salvation. God sends messengers to us such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King, and we scoff at these prophets.
There remains, however, the challenge of Christ, who “brought us to life when we were dead in sin, and who came not to condemn the world but that the world might be saved.”
The poor are an exiled and oppressed people whom God will rescue (Isaiah 51:21-23) as well as a faithful remnant who take refuge in God (Zephaniah 3:12-13). Throughout the Bible, material poverty is a misfortune and a cause of sadness. A constant biblical refrain is that the poor must be cared for and protected and that when they are exploited, God hears their cries (Proverbs 22:22-23).