Solomon wrote that there is “a time to be silent and a time to speak” (Eccl. 3:7, NIV). He was right, and finding that balance is not simple for any of us. However, when it comes to speaking for the oppressed and being a voice for the voiceless and seeking to overcome evil with good, is it possible that as a church we have erred on the side of too much silence when our voice should have been heard?
Christians have often talked about being the hands and feet of Jesus, referring to the call to practical service for others as Jesus would have us do. But in the prophetic role as demonstrated in the Bible, God’s first call is for men and women to be His voice—and in speaking on behalf of God, also speaking up on behalf of those God wants to defend (see Ps. 146:6-10).
Read Isaiah 58:1-10. What should this message, given in its specific time and place and context, say to us today in another time, place, and context? How much has really changed between the time Isaiah wrote this and our world today?
The prophets’ call to justice was never a path to popularity. But motivated by their commission from God, understanding God’s passion for justice, sympathizing with the plight of the poor and oppressed, and seeking the best for their society, these prophets dared to be a voice for the voiceless in their time and place, despite opposition, discomfort, and danger (see 1 Pet. 3:17).
Based on our understanding of the gospel and the call to reflect Jesus to the world, Seventh-day Adventists also have many good things to offer in regard to dealing with the evil in the world.
Such as: “Seventh-day Adventists believe that actions to reduce poverty and its attendant injustices are an important part of Christian social responsibility. The Bible clearly reveals God’s special interest in the poor and His expectations as to how His followers should respond to those who are unable to care for themselves. All human beings bear the image of God and are the recipients of God’s blessing (Luke 6:20). In working with the poor we follow the example and teaching of Jesus (Matthew 25:35-36). As a spiritual community Seventh-day Adventists advocate justice for the poor and ‘speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves’ (Proverbs 31:8 NIV) and against those who ‘deprive the poor of their rights’ (Isaiah 10:2 NIV). We participate with God who ‘secures justice for the poor’. (Psalm 140:12 NIV)”. Seventh-day Adventist Official Statement on Global Poverty, June 24, 2010.