Friday, June 17, 2016

God hears crying

The Hebrew word זַעֲקַ֛ת, zoaqah, means a cry or crying. It almost always means sorrowful crying (with a rare exception). According to the Bible, God pays special attention when people cry. The first tears shed in the Bible were those of Abel when his brother Cain beat him to death. It was a painful and sorrowful event for Abel.
Genesis 4:10
And the LORD said, “What have you done? Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground!”
Abel’s crying lingered in God’s ears.
Israel’s sorrowful suffering is given as God’s reason for acting against the Egyptians in the book of Exodus.
Exodus 3:7-9
Then the LORD said, “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. The cry of the Israelites has come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them.”
God hears the crying of the poor when they are oppressed.
Exodus 22:26-27
If you take your neighbor’s cloak in pawn, you shall restore it before the sun goes down; for it may be your neighbor’s only clothing to use as cover; in what else shall that person sleep? And if our neighbor cries out to me, I will listen, for I am compassionate.
When Ishmael, as a boy, was about to die of thirst his mother Hagar turned away because she could not bear to see him die. She wept. God’s agent told Hagar that God had heard the crying of Ishmael! So not only was Hagar crying but so was Ishmael.
Genesis 21:17
And God heard the voice of the boy; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Do not be afraid; for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is.”
When a sinner cries out to God for grace, God hears the prayer (contrary to the view of the formerly blind man in John 9:31). Peter said as much to the Gentile Cornelius.
Acts 10:31
He said, “Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God.”
God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of all the crying that was coming out of the cities.
Genesis 18:20
Then the LORD said, “How great is the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah and how very grave their sin!”
When the angels came into Sodom they did not find anybody being treated in a way that would cause an outcry; but the townsfolk were ready to treat the angels in a very brutal fashion. They planned to subjugate the strangers evidently to death. The past victims of the two cities had not survived to cry again.
We might recall that God informed Abraham of his plans to investigate Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham, concerned about the innocent being swept away with the guilty, persuaded God to spare the cities on the account of a few (ten) faithful.
The angels learned that the cities were indeed corrupt and there were not even ten righteous ones in them; so God destroyed the cities.
However, God did spare Lot and his family (minus Lot’s wife who disobeyed and “looked back”). We see that the sparing of Lot’s family was an answer to Abraham’s prayer, “Suppose ten are found there;” but not in the way he had specifically asked. Abraham pleaded with God on behalf of the innocent and his prayer was answered.
When righteous people are suffering, and indeed they are in this world, we must add our own voices to their cries to God. We must plead for mercy and divine justice.

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