Text: Exodus 22:22-24
On Father’s Day a pastor generally deals with how vital a father’s role is in the growth of a soul. Today, I’m not going to do that. I want to highlight the fatherhood of God, but not in a typical way. The truth is there are folks here who don’t have fathers for one reason or another. Some of you carry guilt because you don’t have a father and you wrongly think that has to do with you. And it doesn’t, but you blame yourself sometimes. Some of you have lost your dads. But your dad was your hero and to this day still is. And rightly so, he should be. This morning I’d like us to see the fatherhood of God as a shepherd to the innocent. I’d like us to see God’s careful treatment of victims and of the innocent.
Sin creates victims and the innocent suffer unjustly. But the Lord makes special provision for that. The Bible says he is a father to the fatherless, and a judge of the widows. And the Lord classifies those two groups as helpless victims in this world.
Protection for the helpless
- Exodus 22:22 Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child.
- In 1972, a Lebanese girl who was raised Muslim in an affluent family read the first 5 books of the Bible for the first time. She ran to her dad in wonder and excitement to tell him how great God was. He told her the Bible was just stories that changed, but the Koran was God’s real book.
- She grew up in war where night after night brought terror: no electricity, only lights were explosions interspersed with screaming. Her dad had been gone for weeks by this time. She remembered thinking, Why doesn’t Allah help us? As she reflected on the truth her dad spoke when he said, Allah is not the same god as the God of the Bible.
- She had two sisters and two brothers, one of which was only a few months old. They had nothing to eat, not even for the baby. One of the rich shaiks, who her father knew, came by and she begged him for help. She said he had an evil grin on his face and said he would help, but he would need something from her first. He took her home, but she managed to get away before he could do anything to her. She went to her roof and cried, “God, I don’t know where my father is. You will just have to be my Father and help me. Please keep me pure and take care of me and help me take care of my family. She prayed on her roof everyday.”
- She found work and held several jobs for three years. By this time most of her friends were dead and she knew girls her age didn’t live much longer. She thought maybe Allah would reward her with Paradise if she became a suicide bomber. She went to enlist, but could not find peace in it. But by then it was too late. The officer taking her information snatched her up when he found out she was going to back out. He drove her to a abandoned building and tied her to a steel post. He said he would come back in two hours with his men and either she would change her mind or they would have fun with her and then kill her.
- She was tied there all night and awoke to some rumbling. She was scared to death it was the men coming back for her. But, it was a beggar looking for food. He untied her and they both ran off. The bombing was still going on. As she ran down the street she saw an overturned jeep with four bodies in it, one of which was the officer that had tied her up. Apparently they were returning for her when their jeep had been blown up.
- Shortly after that she met an American Christian missionary who witnessed to her. She got saved, they got married.
- Read pgs 10-11 starting with “Years later…” ending with, “Now I’m praying…”
- Chris Resmondo was here, but he didn’t tell you this story about himself. When he was a medic in the army in Afghanistan, he came to a village that had been terrorized and blown apart. He found a little girl covered in ash and blood. He held her in his arms and began to cry. He thought to himself why was I raised in a good home and this little helpless girl suffers in a warzone? He thought, I am no better. And she is going to grow up a Muslim. Most likely never trust Jesus Christ, and after living a life in war, being taught lies, she will die and go to hell. He said I am no better than her. My kids are no better than her. But they have a chance while she is forced to suffer here. He said his heart was so wrenched, it was one of the events in his life that God used to call him to be a missionary in Malawi.
- If you want to know what a call on your life is like, it’s getting a glimpse of God’s heart. It is having a heart that resembles God’s heart. Remember David? God said he was a man after his own heart.
- God has a father’s heart for the helpless.
Prayer of the helpless
- If thou afflict them in any wise (vs 23)
- Notice the broad warning from the Lord: in any wise. That sounds like a father saying, If you lay a hand on them, if you even look like a threat.
- He has no patience for someone who would terrorize the helpless with fear.
- He has no patience for someone who would terrorize the helpless with guilt.
- And inevitably the victim of someone else’s sin will carry guilt that doesn’t belong to them.
- And if you want to help the helpless you’re going to have to learn not to take what’s said personal. Or take their actions so personal. There is trouble in their spirit and perhaps in their body, caused by someone else. And that trauma is working itself out.
- I remember a funeral for a dad who was a drunk. The funeral was particularly hard because the dad had committed suicide while he was drunk one night. His daughter was at the funeral. She was obviously grieving and very angry. She cussed out the preacher and swore at him up and down. She was mad at dad, not the preacher. The preacher didn’t react in kind, he just cried with her. Others came by and apologized for her outbursts, but the preacher said it was OK. He said she’s going to be mad and in time you’ll be mad too. But remember this is not God’s fault, it is a lust for alcohol that destroyed his life.
- He has no patience for someone who would terrorize the helpless with violence.
- And they cry at all unto me (vs 23)
- The Lord says if he hears so much as a whimper calling his name from a helpless victim, he will turn himself toward that call and begin immediately to address the problem.
- Let me make an application to you in your sin. You are helpless to avoid the consequences of your sin. And when a sinner cries to God about his sin and begs God to take away their sin and guilt before him, do you know what he does? He hears!
- And they cry AT ALL unto me… God says if I hear so much as a peep from them, I will run to their aid.
- I will surely hear their cry (vs 23)
- You talk about a prayer promise! Because that is the character of God. And that is his heart toward the helpless.
- Some prayers God doesn’t care about. Just like to you some cries have no meaning. The “I want, I want, I want” cries aren’t as compelling to you as the “Daddy, help me!” “Momma, help me!” Guarantee that one gets your attention. You know the cry of distress versus the cry of selfishness. And the cry of distress hits you in the heart. That pain in your heart is something that originated with your Creator, a God who cares for the helpless.
Prosecution for the helpless
- And my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword (vs 24)
- The Lord himself goes after the perpetrator. He does not use a court or trial as he normally does in cases. Now a court case may be part of what happens, but God himself goes directly after the perpetrator.
- Before we get too focussed on the sinner that has created victims, this is about God’s heart for the helpless, not about the sinner. And this is about the helpless.
Provision for the helpless
- Psalm 68:5-6 A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation. God setteth the solitary in families: he bringeth out those which are bound with chains….
- He guides the helpless who call on him and provides for them relationships that have been lost because of sin.
- He is the shepherding father who has shown every father how to be a father. Whether people listen or not, God is the original father.