What the Bible says about caring for Orphans
Care for Orphans
Obedience to God’s Word
The LORD’s care and compassion for orphans and widows in their affliction is a theme that runs throughout the Bible. It is encouraging to read our Bibles with the focus of seeing how the LORD cares for the helpless. In the Law, the LORD repeatedly commanded Israel to execute justice and to provide for the orphans, widows and aliens in their midst (Exo 22:22-24, Deu 10:18, Deu 14:29, Deu 16:11, Deu 16:14, Deu 24:17, 19-21, Deu 26:12-13, Deu 27:19, Isa 1:17, Jer 22:3, Zec 7:10). When the Lord came against the Israelites in judgment, one of the indictments against them was that they had not cared for the orphans and widows in their midst (Isa 1:23, Jer 5:28, Mal 3:5). Job was one who apparently shared God’s heart for orphans for while defending himself to his friends, he declared several times that he cared for the orphans (Job 24:9, 29:12, 31:16-18, 21:22).
In the New Testament James’ epistle says that pure and undefiled religion consists, in part, of caring for orphans and widows in their affliction (James 1:27). James was not revealing some new teaching but he was simply applying what is revealed of the Lord’s character and law in the Old Testament.
So, as a church, what are we to do with these truths? How are we to respond? Sometimes it is easy for us to despair when we read of all that God has commanded us in his Word. It is therefore helpful to acknowledge that while these commands are to individual believers, they are primarily made to the church of God. In our finitude, we simply cannot keep all of God’s commands, simultaneously and in just intensity at all times. When we as a church come together, we can rejoice in the gifts and callings of others and share in the Lord’s blessings as we fulfill what he has commanded us to do.
**An orphan ministry in the church allows those individuals who feel the call of God’s heart for the orphan on their own hearts to respond in obedience – either by participating in foster care/adoption or by giving of their resources in support. And when this happens, we as a church can rejoice and share in the blessings of the LORD.
Demonstration of God’s Adopting Love for Sinners
It is amazing to consider that where Israel failed, God promises to succeed.
Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation (Ps. 68:5).
The LORD watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin (Ps. 146:9).
Fundamentally, sinful humanity is called to recognize their helplessness and to seek God in their utter dependence upon him.
As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God! (Ps. 40:17)
All who are called by the name of Christ are a product of God’s care and concern and mercy upon the helpless. In John 14:18, Jesus promises not to leave His followers as orphans. God the Holy Spirit will be sent for our care.
In Ephesians we learn that we have in love been predestined for adoption into God’s family through Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:4-5). Despite being without hope and God in the world, the Lord brings us into his family.
In Romans 8 we learn that in the spirit of adoption we can cry out to God as our Father.
The theological doctrine of adoption is so rich and full. As we learn what it means that believers are adopted into God’s family through the work of Christ, and as we consider the LORD’s will in caring for orphans and widows in their affliction, it moves us to consider earthly adoption as a reflection of God’s adopting character.