“Rescue those being taken off to death, and save those stumbling toward slaughter. If you say, ‘But we didn’t know about this,’ won’t he who weighs hearts consider it? Won’t he who protects your life know? Won’t he repay a person according to his work?” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Have you ever read a verse and felt convicted by it? I’ve spent the past several days reading through Proverbs 24. I initially came to this spot because I caught a verse in another context and wanted to write a note about it. Taking my own advice, I read the whole context. There’s a ton of great stuff in this chapter. And there’s this passage. It’s grabbed my heart and mind and hasn’t let go. If you would, let me explore that with you.
Let’s start with what it says. Rescue those being taken off to death. Save those stumbling toward slaughter. Who are such folks today? Should we understand this death literally or figuratively? Can we take it in both ways? Should we?
Let’s think culturally and globally for a bit. Who are the victims most in danger of death? Globally speaking, our fellow followers of Jesus are the most consistent victims. Around the world, Christians are easily the most persecuted people.
There are also the global poor. The poor are regularly victimized and face the threat of death as the result of things the wealthy do not fear. Now, extreme poverty is disappearing at a remarkable rate as is hunger, but they still exist.
There are the victims and potential victims of warfare, especially the civil wars still quietly raging in Syria and Yemen, as well as the victims of violent Muslim jihad, especially in Nigeria and most recently in places like Burkina Faso and Sri Lanka. The world wants to forget about them, but as followers of Jesus (with many of them being our brothers and sisters in the faith), we cannot.
There are those who are trapped in the sex trade industry. Slavery around the world—including in this country—is at an all time high, and most of the people who are owned as slaves are in the sex trade industry. The global consumption of pornography is a major contributor to this. Any time you look up pornographic images on the internet you are contributing to this global blight.
Closer to home there are the national opioid and suicide epidemics. Deaths from both are happening at an alarmingly high rate. Our nation is increasingly in the grip of a repressive despair. Far too many seek to medicate it away and lose their life in the process. Others skip the medicating and simply take the shorter route.
There are the aged and the terminally or even merely chronically ill as well. Although this has not advanced as quickly in this nation as some would like, in other nations around the world such as Belgium and Canada, the legalization of assisted suicide is gradually morphing from a right to die to a duty to die. There have been several cases of patients in Belgium in particular who have been actively encouraged or even coerced into accepting suicide who weren’t necessarily ready or even willing to take that path.
Another major group of people who are being taken off to death at an alarming rate are the unborn. Abortion takes the lives of hundreds of thousands of totally innocent children every single year. It is easily the single largest cause of death in our nation. And we are in the midst of a fierce national debate, an intense clash of worldviews between those who insist (with the strong backing of science, by the way) the unborn are fully human persons and deserving of the same protections we would extend any other vulnerable human person, and those who are adamant about protecting the ability of women to be able to violently put to death their unborn children right up until the moment they become born. With a birth rate that has fallen dangerously below replacement levels our future as a nation is literally at stake here.
We could probably keep going, but this is a pretty thorough list. The question now becomes: How do we rescue these? How do we save them? Well, to answer that question would take much more time and space than this blog and author can handle right here. There are, however, humanitarian organizations and Christian ministries specifically dedicated to the rescue of each of these different groups. A quick internet search can easily connect you with these. Some are focused locally, some nationally, some internationally. Some simply bring needed attention to and information about the problems and the people in harm’s way. Some are more actively involved in the rescue efforts. Partnering with one of these groups at some level—especially in prayer—is a great place to start answering the command of this proverb.
And while that’s all really good and important stuff to know, that’s not the part that first grabbed me and won’t let go. It’s the second part that did that: “If you say, ‘But we didn’t know about this,’ won’t he who weighs hearts consider it? Won’t he who protects your life know? Won’t he repay a person according to his work?”
You see, as followers of the God who is just, we don’t have a choice but to be involved in these kinds of matters of justice. Even if only in prayer (which is hardly an “only” thing to do), we must be at the very least aware of these justice issues. These are people God and loves whose lives are at stake. They are the people Jesus loves and gave His life that they might live. How can we who have received and embraced that life not do everything within our Spirit-enabled power to make sure they get the chance to enjoy it as fully as they can like we do? Our life-giving God expects it of us. We can’t not do it. Here, then, is where I will leave you on this matter: What will you do? Whose life will you protect? If Jesus is your Lord, you must do something. So must I. Let’s get to work.