The Bible records some troubling instances of oppression of the weak by the strong. The case of Naboth comes to mind.* Ahab, a king of Israel in the tenth century B.C.E., allowed his wife, Jezebel, to have Naboth and his sons killed so that the king could take the man’s vineyard. (1 Kings 21:1-16; 2 Kings 9:26) Why did God allow such a gross abuse of power?
“God . . . cannot lie.”—Titus 1:2
Let us focus on one important reason: God cannot lie. (Titus 1:2) What does that have to do with wicked acts of oppression? Well, in the very beginning, God warned mankind that rebellion against him would bring a grim result—death. True to God’s word, death has been a part of the human experience ever since the rebellion in the garden of Eden. The first human death, in fact, came about through an act of oppression—when Cain murdered his brother Abel.—Genesis 2:16, 17; 4:8.
Regarding human history since then, God’s Word summarizes it this way: “Man has dominated man to his harm.” (Ecclesiastes 8:9) Have those words proved true? Jehovah warned the nation of Israel, his people, that they would find their kings oppressive, causing the people to cry out to God. (1 Samuel 8:11-18) Even wise King Solomon taxed his people excessively. (1 Kings 11:43; 12:3, 4) Wicked kings, such as Ahab, were far more tyrannical. Consider: If God had prevented all such acts of domination, would he not, in effect, have turned his own words into a lie?
“Man has dominated man to his harm.”—Ecclesiastes 8:9
Remember, too, that Satan claims that people serve God only for selfish reasons. (Job 1:9, 10; 2:4) If God protected all his servants from all forms of domination, would that not tend to substantiate Satan’s claims? And if God prevented all forms of oppression for everyone, would he not be responsible for an even greater falsehood? Under such protection, many might assume that humans can rule themselves successfully without God. But God’s Word says the very opposite—that man is completely incapable of governing himself. (Jeremiah 10:23) We need the Kingdom of God to come; only then will injustice end.
Does that mean, then, that God does nothing about oppression? No. Consider two things he does: First, he exposes tyranny for what it is. For example, his Word exposes every aspect of Jezebel’s plot against Naboth. The Bible further reveals that such evil deeds are promoted by a powerful ruler who wants to hide his identity. (John 14:30; 2 Corinthians 11:14) The Bible exposes him as Satan the Devil. By exposing wickedness and oppression along with their true source, God helps us to keep free of wickedness ourselves. He thus protects our eternal future.
Second, God provides solid hope for an end to oppression. The way he exposed, judged, and punished Ahab and Jezebel—as well as many like them—gives us confidence in his promises to punish all evildoers one day. (Psalm 52:1-5) God also provides reliable hope that he will soon reverse the bad effects of wickedness for those who love him.* Faithful Naboth will thus see a time when he and his sons will live on a paradise earth forever free from injustice.—Psalm 37:34.
See the article “Imitate Their Faith” in this issue.
See chapter 11 of the book What Does the Bible Really Teach? published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.