Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Orphan's Cause

"Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress..."James 1:27 (New Living Translation). The Amplified Bible explains further: "to visit and help and care for the orphans and widows in their affliction and need..."

The orphan's cause is carefully highlighted in The Bible. The word orphan or fatherless (Hebrew: yatom, Greek: orphanos) occurs at least 41 times in the Bible, 39 times in the Old Testament and twice in the New Testament. The New Testament passages are James 1:27 and John 14:18. In some manuscripts the word is in Mark 12:40 as well.

The word orphan or fatherless (Greek: orphus, Latin: orbus) means "bereft of parents or of a father." The word "orphanos" in the Greek is used in the Bible in the more general sense of being "desolate", "comfortless". or "friendless". In the King James (Authorized) Version the word is rendered "fatherless" instead of "orphan" , except in Lamentations 5:3 where the word "orphan" is used. Newer translations, however, mostly use the word "orphan" rather than "fatherless".

From earliest times, caring for orphans was a priority concern of the Israelites, and even of some surrounding nations. Yet God's people were often chastised by the prophets for neglecting and defrauding the orphans. God works on their behalf (Deut. 10:18) and condemns those who oppress them (Deut. 27:19, Mal. 3:5). When men fail the orphans (Ps. 27:10), God shows special concern (Ps. 10:14,18; 48:15; 146:9; Hosea 14:3 cf. John 14:18). The orphan is directly contrasted with the wicked in Psalms 146:9.

We definitely see a priority, even a mandate, for aiding and for caring for the orphans, as well as other helpless and hopeless of the world. Orphans, widows, and aliens (or foreigners) are often mentioned in the same Bible passage, as in need of our help and support.

The orphan cause is, therefore, very important, especially now when there are so many orphans and abandoned children in the world because of AIDS, wars, genocide, famines, and poverty. Remember to pray for the orphans, and for specific orphan ministries and Christian adoption organizations.

"See the orphan as the opportunity, not the tragedy." -Paul Myhill, World Orphans

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