1. God has a plan for your community to live in justice and peace— First of all, Moses isn’t talking about individuals, but peoples. Perhaps an ethnicity, perhaps a community with a variety of ethnicities, but a people who sees them. And God’s plan isn’t to make us individually happy, but for us, as a community, to live in justice and peace with each other.
2. Oppression separates us from justice and peace.— Not our individual sin, but people who have power, who use that power to keep us from meeting our own needs. Oppressors could be governments, or wealthy people, or religious people, or families or many other people or groups with power. Groups of human beings have great power, no matter how that group is collected. And if a powerful person or a group of people move the basket, or blame people for being unable to meet the standards they themselves create, then they are oppressors. For instance, to take a privilege, like having certain colored skin or being able to pay for electricity or running water, and establishing that as a standard to live or to have children, and they will take your right to have children or to live because of that standard, then that is oppression.
3. We separate ourselves from oppression by crying out to God for deliverance, an act of grace.— The third spiritual law has to do with crying out to the highest judge. The God of the Hebrews is the god of slaves, the god of the poor, the god of the oppressed. Not the god of one ethnicity, nor the god of one religion, but the god of the poor. And God’s job is deliverance from oppression. God created the world and gave it to humans to rule. But if one group of humans force a second group to live and work for the benefit of the first because of their power, then God, as judge of the world steps in and brings salvation, deliverance, freedom from oppression. God asks only that we cry out and ask, even demand, that deliverance. Because God will not step in to take over the sovereignty that God established us from the beginning. God delivers by request only.
4. God requires that in receiving deliverance and grace, we also generously give it. So God steps in and delivers the poor, the enslaved, the oppressed. God grants them freedom from their oppressors and grants them resources to live, to survive. Some would say that this is unconditional, but Moses didn’t and neither did Jesus. There is one standard— that we are to live according to the deliverance we have received. If we have obtained freedom from debt, we are to give freedom from debt. If we were immigrants in other people’s lands, we are to give place to immigrants. If we have had education granted to us for free, we are to give education for free. If we have been healed, we are to heal others. Whatever we have received, we are to give. That is the payment. We will talk about this more another time.
Yahweh then said, ‘I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying for help on account of their taskmasters. Yes, I am well aware of their sufferings. And I have come down to rescue them from the clutches of the Egyptians and bring them up out of that country, to a country rich and broad, to a country flowing with milk and honey.
2. Oppression keeps us from peace and justice.
The Egyptians gave them no mercy in the demands they made, making their lives miserable with hard labour
Exodus 5:5-6, 9
And Pharaoh said, ‘Now that the people have grown to such numbers in the country, what do you mean by interrupting their forced labour?’ That very day, Pharaoh gave the order, ‘Give these people more work to do, and see they do it instead of listening to lying speeches.’
‘You will not molest or oppress aliens, for you yourselves were once aliens in Egypt. You will not ill-treat widows or orphans; if you ill-treat them in any way and they make an appeal to me for help, I shall certainly hear their appeal, my anger will be roused and I shall put you to the sword; then your own wives will be widows and your own children orphans.
If any of your people sell themselves to you and serve you six years, in the seventh year you must let them go free. And when you release them, do not send them away empty-handed. Supply them liberally from your flock, your threshing floor and your winepress. Give to them as the Lord your God has blessed you. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you. That is why I give you this command today.
Celebrate the Festival of Weeks to the Lord your God by giving a freewill offering in proportion to the blessings the Lord your God has given you. And rejoice before the Lord your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name—you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, the Levites in your towns, and the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows living among you. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt, and follow carefully these decrees.