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by Wayne Blank
"if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to show piety at home"
Right from the very beginning, The Lord was a defender of righteous widows; those who oppressed a widow risked making their own wives a widow i.e. "My wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows":
"Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child. If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto Me, I will surely hear their cry; And My wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless." (Exodus 22:21-24 KJV)
There were no hungry righteous widows in God's Israel; when harvest time came, their needs were supplied:
"When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow: that The Lord thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hands. When thou beatest thine olive tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean it afterward: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow" (Deuteronomy 24:19-21 KJV)
There were also no destitute righteous widows in God's Israel:
"When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of thine increase the third year, which is the year of tithing, and hast given it unto the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled; Then thou shalt say before The Lord thy God, I have brought away the hallowed things out of mine house, and also have given them unto the Levite, and unto the stranger, to the fatherless, and to the widow, according to all thy commandments which thou hast commanded me: I have not transgressed thy commandments, neither have I forgotten them" (Deuteronomy 26:12-13 KJV)
While on the run from those who sought to kill him, the prophet Elijah was supplied with food by a widow, who was miraculously supplied with food, because she supplied Elijah with food. It was a time of drought (1 Kings 17:7) in which the unrighteous went hungry, but righteous Elijah and the righteous widow had all that they needed, "the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of The Lord."
"And the word of The Lord came unto him, saying, Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee. So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink. And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand."
And how do we know that the widow who took Elijah in, as described in the verses above, was a righteous widow, while all of the unrighteous people, including unrighteous widows, in the land went hungry during that time? Because Jesus Christ said so (the King James Version uses the Greek transliteration "Elias" in the New Testament for the Hebrew "Elijah" in the Old Testament).
"And he said, Verily, I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow" (Luke 4:24-26 KJV)
The people who rejected the Christ also "devoured widows' houses":
"And He said unto them in His doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces, And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts: Which devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation" (Mark 12:38-40 KJV)
The distinction between righteous and unrighteous widows was explained by the apostle Paul, who also made plain how the Fifth Commandment, "Honour thy father and thy mother", included all relatives, "if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to show piety at home," but on the other hand, "if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel."
"Honour widows that are widows indeed. But if any widow have children or nephews [see Aunt Mary?], let them learn first to show piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God. Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day. But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth. And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless. But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel."