Here are seven Bible verses that directly relate to social injustice.
Isaiah 1:17 “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.”
This is one of the most powerful verses in the entire Bible about societal justice. Here, Isaiah the Prophet reminds them what it is that God seeks for the nation of Israel, and something in the latter years that was missing before they were taken into captivity and was part of the reason the nation fell. They weren’t doing good at all, so God tells them that they had to “Learn to do good” and to “seek justice,” indicating that they weren’t doing them before, and now they had to learn these things all over again. More, they needed to correct the oppression that was causing harm or neglect to the fatherless and for widows, who had no ability to seek justice on their own. When the orphans and widows are neglected, they are not doing what God describes as “pure religion” (James 1:27).
Zechariah 7:9-10 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.”
There is a whole list of people in the nation that are being neglected and being taken advantage of. Sometimes, sad to say, it is the churches that are neglecting their own fatherless, widows, strangers, and poor, and God is angry at such intentional neglect. They have no excuse in the church, but that doesn’t mean society is off the hook either. When we visit the local nursing home to visit and provide church services, almost 9 out of 10 say that their own families have disappeared and want nothing more to do with them. What a “cast away” society we live in.
Proverb 31:8-9 “Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
By Solomon writing, “Open your mouth,” he may mean we have to speak up for those who have no voice in society. We can’t keep silent when we see social injustice. The fact that he repeats the phrase “Open your mouth,” shows the importance of speaking up for those who are being treated unfairly, and most often it’s the poor and needy, including those who are disabled and have no other means to seek justice on their own.
Jeremiah 22:3 “Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place.”
The Jews had not been administering social justice. They had been favoring those in power and those with money, while turning a blind eye to the laws they knew, like in Leviticus 19:15 which demands, “You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.” If you read many of the Old Testament prophets, the neglect of strangers, aliens, widows, and orphans are mentioned so many times that these things were an ongoing problem with the nation…and today, we see much of the same thing.
Micah 6:8 “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
Micah the Prophet is being told by God that we know what is good and what the Lord requires, yet mankind is still turning away from God and toward their own self-interests instead of insuring justice is done and there was a lack in showing loving kindness toward our fellow man, but more than that, God requires that we walk in humility, because really, what do we have that we did not receive from God (1 Cor 4:4)? God has said that He is opposed to the proud and will only give His grace to those who walk humbly before God, so we are without excuse because we know in our hearts what is right and what is wrong (Rom 1:18-20).
Psalm 82:3 “Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.”
The psalmist also mentions the command to give justice to the weak and the fatherless and to maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute of heart. God rebukes the rich and the proud, saying “Therefore because you trample on the poor and you exact taxes of grain from him, you have built houses of hewn stone, but you shall not dwell in them” (Amos 5:11), but more so, “you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe, and turn aside the needy in the gate” (Amos 5:12). How many bribes are given out today by businesses, politicians, and even by judges? We cannot even know. That’s why God tells us that we must be intentional and “Seek good, and not evil, that you may live; and so the LORD, the God of hosts, will be with you” (Amos 5:14). If we don’t, then the converse is true; the Lord God will not be with us, either individually or as a nation.
Matthew 7:12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
Jesus’ point in this verse is if we want others to treat us kindly, we should treat others in a similar fashion. Whatever way you desire others to treat you should be the way that you desire to treat others, and that would include the Apostle John’s admonition; “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1st John 3:17-18).
Society is in such deep trouble today because we are neglecting the least of these in the world. We reasons, if it doesn’t help us, we are not interested, and these verses are not just referring to the world, but to the people of God. They (we) have no excuse for neglecting the poor, the widows, the orphans, the disabled, the homeless, and others who are pushed to the fringe of society. Notice that these verses are not written to unbelievers in the world, but to the nation of Israel, Judah, and in the strictest sense, the people of God. That doesn’t mean that society is off the hook, but it does mean the church has no excuse.
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.