For 430 years the descendants of Abraham were enslaved in Egypt. Their sons were killed, their backs whipped, their ankles shackled, and their prayers unanswered.
But then God sent Moses to deliver them from Pharoah and, well, you know the story: the plagues, the blood applied on the door frames, the rush to leave, the chase to the Red Sea, the miraculous parting of the waters and then…
God gave his newly freed people his WAY, his LAW, a constitution for a newly formed nation. Part of it said…
“Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt.”Exodus 22:21
Many years later, after all those who received this law died in the wilderness, God gave it again to the next generation of national leaders. That’s the book of Deuteronomy (means “second law”.) And God didn’t leave this part out! He expanded upon it instead…
“God defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.”Deuteronomy 10:17-19
There’s a lot that could be said about these two passages and we’ll eventually say it: We’ll get to the meaning of “foreigner.” We’ll about why widows and orphans are so often included in justice passages. But for now, let’s just talk about the example of God.
Remember when Father Abraham was told to “guide” his family to “do what is right and just” so that the nations would be blessed? Now God is cutting out the middle man and guiding his people himself!
To “guide” is to come alongside and model, the way a master artisan pulls up a stool for his apprentice and says “do what I do.” The way a dad stoops beside his boy and shows him how to tie a shoe.
What do we learn about justice when we watch God stoop down and do it right in front of us? What does God’s good way look like on earth?
Watch closely...God took his children out of slavery. Then, he gave them water to drink (Exodus 15) and food to eat (Exodus 16). Eventually, he gave them land of their own where they could plant and harvest and provide for their families (Joshua 5:12). God traveled every mile with them from slavery to their new home and lived with them there. (Joshua 3)
God gave them back EVERYTHING that had been lost in the garden!
Then God said, “Do what I did, kids.”
His children were to remember what God had done for them and then do the same for others. That’s justice.