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This is such a wonderful passage it is hard to know where to start, or how to summarize my thoughts into a succinct message for today. Let’s start with the description of who God is, then think about what he has done, and finish with an injunction for how his people should live as a result.
Verse 17 announces that Yahweh is the God of gods and the Lord of lords. That is, he is supreme above every potential rival. He is great, mighty, and awesome. He owns not only the earth and all that is in it, but even the heavens of the heavens. Yahweh shows no partiality, executing justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loving the foreigner who does not belong. Just stop there a moment. Does that fit with our picture of the jealous, consuming-fire God? Shows no partiality, and yet chooses one nation?
Note that ‘show partiality’ is an interpretation of the figure of speech which could be directly translated as ‘take/lift face’. Another way of saying it could be that God does not judge on face value, or doesn’t make decisions according to a person’s appearance. God has clearly set his affection on Israel, yet his heart is justice for all, and he is particularly concerned for those without natural standing in the society: the poor and oppressed. In fact, we might observe that that was why God chose Israel; he always roots for the underdog, those who are suffering and have no rights. What other god is like this? I know not one.
Israel themselves were foreigners in Egypt, Moses reminds them. God loved them as they were. Therefore, they too should love foreigners – it might help us to think of refugees, or anyone who might be considered ‘outside’ normal society. God’s people should walk in his ways, be like him, love and serve him with all heart and soul (cf 6:5). They should fear him and yet cling to him. To circumcise the foreskin of their hearts is clearly symbolic, a mark on their minds and wills that generates a softness towards him and swearing in his name.
The result will be good for God’s people (10:13). God’s blessing on his people is demonstrated in the signs and wonders he worked on their behalf to bring them out of Egypt and to the promised land, and in the multiplication of seventy people into a multitude like the stars.
What really moves me in this passage is knowing that our God, Yahweh, is the God of the underdog. What if I am not the underdog, though? What if I am not struggling or suffering or having my rights withheld? Then, as God’s daughter, it is my responsibility to stand up for those who are. It is my duty to love the foreigner, the outsider, the outcaste, the widow and the orphan. This is how I demonstrate my fear of God, and how I walk in his ways. This is how I am marked as a child of the covenant, a servant of the most high God. My love for God will bear fruit in love for those he created.
Prayer: Lord God, give me a heart and will that loves you and desires to serve you by loving others. Help me hold fast to you and learn from your word.