More than one in four Australian seniors [65 and over] live in poverty on international measures [less than half of median household income]. This is the fourth highest old-age poverty rate in the OECD countries and more than double the OECD average.
OECD (2009), Pensions at a Glance 2009: Retirement-Income Systems in OECD Countries
Admittedly, the definition of poverty used here means there will always be someone under the poverty line, but it still gives me pause. As a community, our generosity to our elders clearly isn’t overflowing…
Read Part (i).
You may not know that some people consider providence an unscriptural idea. Imposed on the Bible as a distorting grid.
And the word itself is pretty rare in Scripture. More common are notions of ‘governance’ — drawn from the image of God’s kingly rule over creation and history — and ‘preservation’ — associated with God’s care for the world, which he lovingly upholds and sustains through his personal involvement with it.
Some feminist theologians have protested that even these biblical images can be (and often have been) hijacked by oppressive patriarchal agendas. As when God’s kingship, for example, is wrenched from its proper context — the manifestation of his loving fatherhood (Matt 6.9-10) and essential attitude of humble service (Phil 2).
But potential abuse doesn’t eliminate proper use. There are moments in the Bible at which providence occupies the limelight, and God’s provisio — ‘seeing to’ his creatures’ needs — is highlighted. Such as the climax of that story in which Abraham is called upon to sacrifice his beloved son, Isaac (Genesis 22). With wood piled, son bound, and knife poised, God makes good on Abraham’s confession of hope against hope: ‘God himself will provide (see to) the lamb for the burnt offering’ (v 8).
Here, God hints at the unbreakable connection between his sovereign provision and what he achieves through the propitiating sacrifice he himself graciously sets forth.
This, furthermore, is taken up in the New Testament reflection establishing that the God who provides is the God of resurrection. The God of the living not the dead. Whose intention to secure peace, life and harmony won’t be thwarted by sin or death. Even through the fires of judgement, God will achieve cosmic renewal, establishing the home of righteousness (2 Peter 3).
In Abraham and Isaac we thus get a (shadowy) preview of the fact that providence has its centre in God’s achievement in Christ, inaugurating the new creation and guaranteeing the ultimate victory of life and hope…