(old article, but some info to add to other pages)
Does the Bible care about human rights? Most certainly! Most ancient peoples and books cared little if anything for human rights. But, the Bible was VASTLY different. Here are just a few of the 100s if not 1000s of verses in the Bible on this topic.
Jeremiah 32 33 My people have turned their backs on me and have refused to return. Even though I diligently taught them, they would not receive instruction or obey. 34 They have set up their abominable idols right in my own Temple, defiling it. 35 They have built pagan shrines to Baal in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, and there they sacrifice their sons and daughters to Molech. I have never commanded such a horrible deed; it never even crossed my mind to command such a thing. What an incredible evil, causing Judah to sin so greatly!
Jeremiah 7: 3 This is what the LORD of Heavens Armies, the God of Israel, says: Even now, if you quit your evil ways, I will let you stay in your own land. 4 But dont be fooled by those who promise you safety simply because the LORDs Temple is here. They chant, The LORDs Temple is here! The LORDs Temple is here! 5 But I will be merciful only if you stop your evil thoughts and deeds and start treating each other with justice; 6 only if you stop exploiting foreigners, orphans, and widows; only if you stop your murdering; and only if you stop harming yourselves by worshiping idols. 7 Then I will let you stay in this land that I gave to your ancestors to keep forever.
8 Dont be fooled into thinking that you will never suffer because the Temple is here. Its a lie! 9 Do you really think you can steal, murder, commit adultery, lie, and burn incense to Baal and all those other new gods of yours, 10 and then come here and stand before me in my Temple and chant, We are safe!only to go right back to all those evils again?
12 Go now to the place at Shiloh where I once put the Tabernacle that bore my name. See what I did there because of all the wickedness of my people, the Israelites. 13 While you were doing these wicked things, says the LORD, I spoke to you about it repeatedly, but you would not listen. I called out to you, but you refused to answer. 14 So just as I destroyed Shiloh, I will now destroy this Temple that bears my name, this Temple that you trust in for help, this place that I gave to you and your ancestors. 15 And I will send you out of my sight into exile, just as I did your relatives, the people of Israel.[a]
Jeremiah 22:15 But a beautiful cedar palace does not make a great king! Your father, Josiah, also had plenty to eat and drink. But he was just and right in all his dealings. That is why God blessed him.16 He gave justice and help to the poor and needy, and everything went well for him. Isnt that what it means to know me?, says the Lord. 17 But you! You have eyes only for greed and dishonesty! You murder the innocent, oppress the poor, and reign ruthlessly.
Here a godly king is compared to an evil king. Note that the godly king gave justice AND help to the poor. Justice is definitely a government function and its associated with helping the poor which also must be understood as a government function. These 2 concepts, justice and helping the needy are both part of a governments function in the Bible. And they were not only the responsibility of Israel. God also expected other nations to help the poor. If they didnt, it was sin.
Sodoms sins were pride, gluttony, and laziness, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door. Ezekiel 16:49
King Nebuchadnezzar, please accept my advice. Stop sinning and do what is right. Break from your wicked past and be merciful to the poor. Perhaps then you will continue to prosper. Daniel 4:27
Ezekiel 45:9 For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Enough, you princes of Israel! Stop all your violence and oppression and do what is just and right. Quit robbing and cheating my people out of their land! Stop expelling them from their homes!
Proverbs 29:7 says, The godly care about the rights of the poor; the wicked dont care at all.
Psalm 82:3 Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.
These rights are grounded in the fact that God created man and as such we have rights that derive from Him.
Genesis 1:27 ESV
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Genesis 1:26 ESVThen God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.
|Existence of objective moral values, Fixed standards, Absolute truth,
Sanctity of life
|Declaration (“unalienable” rightslife, etc., “self-evident” truths)||Ex. 20:1-17, Dt. 30:19, Ps. 119: 142-152, Pr. 14:34, Isa. 5:20-21, Jn. 10:10, Rom. 2:15, Heb. 13:8|
|All men are sinners||Constitutional checks and balances||Gen. 8:21, Jer. 17:9, Mk. 7: 20-23, Rom. 3:23, 1 Jn 1:8|
|Judicial, legislative, and executive branches||Constitution||Isa. 33:22 (See Madison)|
|Church protected from state control (& taxation), but church to influence the state||First Amendment||Dt. 17:18-20, 1 Kgs. 3:28, Ezra 7:24, Neh. 8:2, 1 Sam. 7:15-10:27, 15:10-31, 2 Sam. 12:1-18, Mat. 14:3-4, Lk. 3:7-14, 11:52, Acts 4:26-29|
|Importance of governing self and family as first level of governance||First, Second, Ninth, and Tenth Amendments||Mat. 18:15-18, Gal. 5:16-26, 1 Cor. 6:1-11, 1 Tim. 3:1-5, Tit. 2:1-8|
|Fair trial with witnesses||Sixth Amendment||Ex. 20:16, Dt. 19:15, Pr. 24:28, 25:18, Mat. 18:16|
|Biblical liberty, Free enterprise||Declaration||Lev. 25:10, Jn. 8:36, 2 Cor. 3:17, Gal. 5:1, James 1:25, 1 Pet. 2:16|
|Biblical capitalism not Darwinian
capitalism (service and fair play over strict survival of the fittest)
|Anti-trust laws||Ex. 20:17, Mat. 20:26, 25:14-30, 2 Thes. 3:6-15, 1 Pet. 2:16|
|Religious education encouraged||Northwest Ordinance||Dt. 6:4-7, Pr. 22:6, Mat. 18:6, Eph. 6:4|
You shall not murder.
Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.
Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.
Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.
Jesus replied, A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. …
Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus said to him, If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.
You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, …
Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, Here I am. If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. …
For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth, or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.
1 John 3:17-18
But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
And the Lord said to him, Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you. But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.
Therefore because you trample on the poor and you exact taxes of grain from him, you have built houses of hewn stone, but you shall not dwell in them; you have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink their wine. For I know how many are your transgressions and how great are your sins you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe, and turn aside the needy in the gate. Therefore he who is prudent will keep silent in such a time, for it is an evil time. Seek good, and not evil, that you may live; and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you, as you have said. Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.
Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse.
Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.
I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them. Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
Justice, and only justice, you shall follow, that you may live and inherit the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
A righteous man knows the rights of the poor; a wicked man does not understand such knowledge.
Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.
For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. …
Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness, and his upper rooms by injustice, who makes his neighbor serve him for nothing and does not give him his wages, who says, I will build myself a great house with spacious upper rooms, who cuts out windows for it, paneling it with cedar and painting it with vermilion. Do you think you are a king because you compete in cedar? Did not your father eat and drink and do justice and righteousness? Then it was well with him. He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well. Is not this to know me? declares the Lord. But you have eyes and heart only for your dishonest gain, for shedding innocent blood, and for practicing oppression and violence.
A bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.
But with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.
And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, Give me justice against my adversary. For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming. …
The people of the land have practiced extortion and committed robbery. They have oppressed the poor and needy, and have extorted from the sojourner without justice. And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none. Therefore I have poured out my indignation upon them. I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath. I have returned their way upon their heads, declares the Lord God.
Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.
If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be. Take care lest there be an unworthy thought in your heart and you say, The seventh year, the year of release is near, and your eye look grudgingly on your poor brother, and you give him nothing, and he cry to the Lord against you, and you be guilty of sin. You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.
And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.
You shall not oppress a sojourner. You know the heart of a sojourner, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.
With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
O house of David! Thus says the Lord: Execute justice in the morning, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed, lest my wrath go forth like fire, and burn with none to quench it, because of your evil deeds.
Woe to those who decree iniquitous decrees, and the writers who keep writing oppression, to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right, that widows may be their spoil, and that they may make the fatherless their prey!
And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.
Nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his lawsuit.
For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. …
You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.
Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.