“Your Majesty saw a holy one, a messenger, coming down from heaven and saying, ‘Cut down the tree and destroy it, but leave the stump, bound with iron and bronze, in the grass of the field, while its roots remain in the ground. Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven; let him live with the wild animals, until seven times pass by for him.’
“This is the interpretation, Your Majesty, and this is the decree the Most High has issued against my lord the king: You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox and be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes. The command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots means that your kingdom will be restored to you when you acknowledge that Heaven rules. Therefore, Your Majesty, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue.”
All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar.
- Daniel 4:23-28
“Oppress (definition) – keep (someone) in subservience and hardship, especially by the unjust exercise of authority.”
- Oxford Dictionary
“All oppression starts with the experience of Lack. A lack of ideas, creativity, money, investors, health, friends, love, or kindness. Lack creates the emotional effect of Depression.”
- Deborah Bravandt
“Help us to be right as employers. May there be no oppression, no hardness, and no unkindness. Help us to be right as employees. May there be no slipshod service, no pilfering, but may there be everything that adorns the Christian character.”
- Charles H. Spurgeon, The Golden Key of Prayer, from the prayer entitled “Deliver Us from Evil”
These days, when we hear the word “oppression” in conversation in the USA, we think of racism, and in a lesser sense the women’s liberation movement. Nothing else counts. I grant that slavery is oppression in that, according to the definition above, it deprives people of their freedom, making them subservient. Since the days of slavery in the US, avoiding the knowledge that slavery still exists in the US, just against the law… There has been oppression of those marginalized in our society, and will continue forever, as long as there are sinful people on the earth. I wrote this a few days ago, on the anniversary of the Greensboro Sit-In. Yes, our nation, but not all people within the nation, has been guilty of institutionalized oppression.
Yet, there is reverse discrimination in these days of “awareness.” I have run large organizations at a pay grade 4, 5, 6 times below what I should have been paid, often far less than those I supervised. Once having my job analyzed, showing that I should have had my pay tripled. I was always told that there were not enough blacks, women, and people of Spanish surnames who had been promoted. The company needed to meet those quotas. Was that oppression? According to the definition, it was, but no one would consider it oppression in these days of being “aware of oppression.” White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPs) are the ones doing the oppression and any oppressing of the oppressors is fair game, even if the WASP had nothing to do with any of the oppression. Right? (Sounds like racism, but with the colors reversed.)
Am I angry? I have been in the past, when I really needed that pay raise to keep up with the rising cost of living and not tell my children, countless times, that we can’t afford that luxury that all your friends have. It was hard for the boys to understand why we could not afford such things when I had over a hundred people working for me, either direct hires or contractors, especially when new engineers coming to the plant made more than I made.
But no, I am not angry now, not even bitter, just stating facts. I was not oppressed in the world’s view, and I always knew that God was looking over me, preparing me for “something.”
Daniel was protected by God, being prepared for “something.” Daniel, being a bright mind of his time, was sent to a special school. He then interprets a dream that no one else could interpret (Daniel 2). This should sound familiar, comparing this to Joseph (Genesis 41). But even with Daniel (Belteshazzar) being made a high official, Nebuchadnezzar put his three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, into the furnace. All this before Daniel boldly interprets this second dream of Nebuchadnezzar, and tells him to be kind to the oppressed, which included Daniel himself. Although Daniel was a high official, he could not simply walk away from Babylon.
Even as a high official, when Daniel was caught worshipping his own God, he was thrown into the lion’s den (Daniel 6). Yes, Daniel may have been given great responsibility. He may have been respected for his wisdom and intellect, but he was still oppressed.
I included the Deborah Bravandt quote regarding oppression starting with a “lack.” I was oppressed, not due to a lack of ideas, but I was oppressed because I was willing to give of my ideas, creativity, love, and kindness – things that my bosses only had in short supply. What I had none of was the money, investors, and friends (influential friends, at least).
Daniel had many of the things that Ms. Bravandt suggests also, just not freedom.
Yet, I disagree with Ms. Bravandt in that depression need not be the next step in the process.
With our eyes on Jesus, we know what our ultimate outcome will be, and depressed is not part of that equation. And, not wanting to sound like a prosperity Gospel peddler, God does grant some people a reprieve, allowing them an early release from the earthly oppression.
My wife still prays that a miracle will happen, and the money that I should have been paid years ago will suddenly fall in our lap. I have told her that she’d give it all away, probably before I had a chance to pay the tax penalty for having received it. We have need for money. We want to move near our younger son, actually near our young grandchildren. Just don’t tell our son that. With the recent drain on our bank accounts and rising credit card balances due to our son’s recent illness, it may soon get to the point where we cannot make that move. Our son is back at work, having finally completed a full week of work and gotten a paycheck. Yet, it still seems to be shaky.
You see, God has His eyes on the oppressed. I don’t need to march or carry a sign. I need to keep my eyes on the One who keeps His eyes on me.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.