BY ELDER DR MASIMBA MAVAZA
The Stranger in Your Gates
Memory Text: “ ‘Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt’ ” (Deuteronomy 10:19, NKJV).
As we read last week, when asked by a scribe about “ ‘the first commandment of all’ ” (Mark 12:28), Jesus answered by giving the affirmation of God as one, and then He said: “ ‘ “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” This is the first commandment’ ” (Mark 12:30, NKJV).
However, Jesus continued, talking then about the “ ‘second, like it’ ” (Mark 12:31, NKJV), something that the scribe hadn’t asked about. Nevertheless, Jesus, knowing how important it was, said: “ ‘And the second, like it, is this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these’ ” (Mark 12:31, NKJV).
No commandment greater than these? Jesus linked love for God and love for one’s neighbor into one commandment, and that commandment was the greatest of all.
SABBATH: True love is not just an emotion but a living principle shown by action. Jesus summed up the whole commandment into one—Love (a love for God & man). This is described as the greatest of all the commandments (Mark 12:28, 30, 31). In answering the Scribe, Christ went beyond what was asked. He spoke of the need to love man & supremely love Him. It was nothing new but one from Deuteronomy.
SUNDAY: The immeasurable love of God was revealed in redemption to the Israelites. God didn’t cast them out for their sin in Horeb. He still wanted to renew His covenant with them (Deut. 10:1-11). The smashing of the 10 commandments signify the broken covenant. Israel broke God’s law through idolatry (Deut. 9:17, Deut. 32:19, PP, p. 320). Yet, God wanted their hearts, minds, love & affections (Deut. 10:14-16).
MONDAY: The heavens & earth with unmistakable voice proclaim the love of God. His hands formed the world & man who dwells in it (Deut. 10:14, Ps. 24:1). God is the God of gods & Lord of lords (Deut. 10:17). This shows that there is only one God whom we’re to worship. We’re to obey God by loving men, even strangers (Deut. 10:14, 17-19, Deut. 32:39, Col. 1:16, 17). Care for others (Matt. 10:29, Ps. 146:5-10).
TUESDAY: On looking back, the Israelites were to recall how they were strangers in Egypt & how God saved them. They were to replicate God’s love for them to others. God had told Abram (Abraham) that his descendants would be strangers. Yet, God would saved them through Christ (see Deut. 10:19, Gen. 15:13, 17:8, Acts 13:17, Exod. 15:13, 14:13, & 19:6, read Matt. 7:12). In Christ, outcasts & slaves become royals.
WEDNESDAY: There’s no partiality in God. He’s a just Judge who cares for the; weak, poor, & the outcast. He’s not a human judge to take a bribe. He does not judge based on country, color, or culture. He’s the same (good) in every era. He bid us to do same (be just & fair) in our dealings with others (Deut. 1:16, 16:19, 24:17, 27:19). Paul bids us to reflect Christ (Gal. 4:19, Gen. 1:27, Lev. 19:2, Amos 2:6, 4:1, 5:11).
THURSDAY: “Pure religion” before God is being kind to all people no matter their race or status (James 1:27-2:11). God bid the Israelites to show some dignity & respect to their debtors. They were to treat the poor & downtrodden in society with compassion & sympathy. They were not to sin by oppressing other people (Deut. 24:10-15). Strict adherence to religious ritual is nothing if we mistreat others.
FRIDAY: Under the reign of David & Solomon, Israel experienced her best times. Yet, there were still traces of oppression in their courts. The marginalized & the poor had their houses emptied of its treasures, & were taxed unfairly. God keep records of all the injustices in the world. The just Judge will one day judge the world (read Amos 5:11, 12, Isa. 3:14).
PP- Patriarchs and Prophets
SUNDAY- Circumcise Your Hearts
MONDAY- Love The Stranger
TUESDAY- For You Were Strangers In Egypt
WEDNESDAY- Judge Righteously
THURSDAY- Pure Religion Before God
📌 Israel needed to remember that they had been “strangers” in Egypt, which was one reason they were to treat strangers and outcasts in Israel as they wished they had been treated when they were outcasts. How does this truth relate to the gospel, to the idea that, through the blood of Jesus, we have been freed from the slavery of sin? Why, and in what parallel ways, should what Jesus has done for us impact how we treat others, especially the helpless among us?
📌 Think about it. We can worship on the right day and understand the truth about death, hell, the mark of the beast, and so forth. That’s fine. But what does it all mean if we treat others nastily or oppress the weak among us or don’t administer justice fairly when we need to judge a situation? Especially because of the truth that we have, why must we be extra careful not to think that, somehow, just knowing the truth, in and of itself, is all that God requires of us? Why is that a potentially dangerous trap for us?
📌 What role should our faith have in helping us understand what is commonly referred to as “human rights”?