God’s Law on Widows and Orphans (Deuteronomy)

The caring of the “fatherless” orphans and the widows is a long tradition under the Law of God. But it seems to me that in today’s policies that we have as churches and as communities forgotten that the Law of God still applies. It is as if because we are “free from the bond of the Law” we seem to think that it allows us to ignore the needs of our church families and the needs of the many people throughout the world that are in special need of Christian Love.

When we say to God that we love Him and yet neglect those in the most need of care and assistance, we forget that Jesus said that we are to care for the least of these. And when God spoke to Moses and gave him the Law, He spoke to the Nation of Israel. He established the Church and the nation of His people. The Law was not only for the individual but for community. Not only for the Nation and its people but also for the leaders of the Religious community and for the leaders of each tribe of the Sons of Abraham. It became the responsibility of the Church, the Government and the individual to Obey and to serve God’s will.

The point I am making is that just because Jesus may not have addressed the caring of widows and orphans directly, it is still the our responsibility to see to the welfare and care of them. Just because we are not “bound” to the Law does not excuse us from honoring it. We can not ignore or allow the churches, governments or each other from neglecting, abandoning or abusing the needs of the elderly or the very young. This is not a debate over the liberal or the conservative outlook of our governments, it is the critical responsibility of all. It is a matter of understanding and obeying God’s will as set down by his Law given to Moses in the desert.

Deuteronomy 10:12-13 reads as this: And now, O Israel, what does your God ask of you but to fear the LORD, your God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and to observe the LORD’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good.” (NIV) It is followed by telling who God is to the people and how His might is great. Verse 17 states that God is impartial and takes no bribes. What is the next thing on His list is (Deut 10:18) “He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widows, and the alien, giving them food and clothing.” This begins a long history of how God looked upon the the care of the needing and the homeless. This was the beginning of God’s Law for the care of the fatherless and the widows. Those who were without defenders had God as the advocate. The third year tithe was for the purpose of supporting the Levies, the sojourners and the fatherless and widows.(Deut 14:29) It was to be shared responsibility of the community for the needs of the helpless and for those who had no support.God told His people that they shall not pervert justice: to the fatherless (orphans), the Widows (Deut 24:17) He also commanded that they “When you reap your harvest,…beat your olive trees,…gather your grapes…. do not go back. It is for the fatherless orphans, the sojourners and the widows.”(Deut 24:20-21)

When the Children of Israel were to enter in the feasts of the Passover, they were to include the fatherless and the widows and the travelers in with their own families so that they would not be excluded. This was also true of the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Booths. God did not want them to be left out of anything that pertained to His Blessings.

The last verse that I want to include here is Deuteronomy 26:12-13. “When you have finished paying all the tithe of your produce in the third year, which is the year of tithing, giving it to the Levites (priests), the sojourner (migrants), the fatherless (orphans and abandoned children), and the widows, so that they may eat within your towns and be filled, then you shall say before the LORD your God, ‘I have removed the sacred portion out of my house, and moreover, I have given it to the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless and the widow, according to all your commandments, nor have I forgotten them.'”

As we reflect on the Law of God, let us realize that when we pass laws of man that impede the welfare of the those who have no fathers and the widows and those who unable to work, we are impeding God. And as He is the the finial Judge, he will give justice to them in Heaven while we are to receive another form of His Justice. This goes back to the Matthew 25, and to Luke 16 and to many other times that Jesus told us that we are to be judged as to how we chose to accept or reject His Word in our lives.

As one old revivalist once told me, we may not be able to earn our way to Heaven but we can surely earned our way to Hades. Because we spend so much time in the New Testament, we tend to forget that the Love of Jesus was in fulfillment of the Old Testament and that when the disciples taught and referred to the Scriptures, they were referring to the Law of God in the Old and to the Prophets. Somehow we have blocked the commandment of community aid to the orphans, widows and, yes, to the immigrants, as we were told to by God’s own words. We have not only put up borders on our nations to keep people out, we have put up barriers on our hearts to prevent us from helping the ones who most need our assistance with in our own cities and towns.

We complain about the taxes we pay and we don’t pay our tithes as we should. Our churches are stopping their food pantries and most do not even have a program slotted to aid orphans and low income widows. And yet, as I have read Deuteronomy, we should direct one third of our tithe to the well being of these members of our society. If our pastors are to be housed and fed by the churches, then so should the orphans and widows and the homeless. It is because we in the churches have failed to take on the the task, that the governments have assumed the burden through taxes. Return to the Law of God in this area of our lives and we shall be blessed. Because we fail in the care of our weakest members of society, we have transgressed against God, we have forgotten how he has commanded us to protect the weak and defend the defenceless

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5 thoughts on “God’s Law on Widows and Orphans (Deuteronomy)”

  1. Amen. I’m a single mom raising a fatherless child (as my ex-husband/son’s father abandoned him years ago/is no longer in the U.S.) and the church has never asked me if I’m okay when I have always struggled. I had worked and mothered myself into exhaustion to the point of health problems and not being able to work for a few months. I have always had a huge problem with the blindness in the church that everyone is okay with supporting an able-bodied man and his family but at the same time can easily reject a widow and fatherless child in the church in need who askes for help & treat them like they’re lepers for asking – seen it happen many times. I know the Lord, when He judgment comes will judge those who rejected us and wouldn’t give our children even a gallon of milk, will deal with them.

  2. # 2Cynthia onOctober 31, 2013
    I agree that some of the churches don’t even acknowledge Widows and fatherless children. They are
    to busy with their own agendas and don’t have the heart
    to care. I’m a witness that if it was not for my heavenly father God through Christ jesus me and my children would have been in a lot of trouble after the death of my husband.

  3. a true widow is “lost her husband and is childless or has no one “including children” that are financially able to support her. this is a true widow according to Yhwh’s law

  4. Michael, you seemed to have fallen into the trap of being bound by the letter rather than the spirit of the Word. I’m sure God’s compassion extends to those who’s circumstances aren’t exact to the letter but are no less difficult.

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