Week 1 – Lessons from the Law
Day 2 – The Basis of the Command Deuteronomy 10:17-19
“For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward: He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and the widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment. Love ye therefore the strangers for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
The basis for every commandment regarding the widows, the fatherless, the poor, the needy and the stranger is provided in these verses. We find that it is firmly rooted in the character of God Himself.
The God of the universe, God over all gods, Lord over all lords, King over all kings (1 Timothy 6:15) is the Giver of this command. If all the rulers of the earth were assembled and He entered that room, His position would exceed them all. Their place would be to bow, to submit, to obey. This should give us pause before dismissing our responsibility in this area.
Consider His power
These verses give three descriptions of God’s Power. He is:
Great. The Hebrew word here simply means “big.” I don’t know of anyone else who can measure all the waters of the earth in the hollow of His hand.
Mighty. This Hebrew word applies to hunters, impetuous soldiers, mighty warriors, and kings. But it also applies to power, energy, and wealth.
Terrible. We have lost the full meaning of this word in modern English. We see something wrong that deeply saddens us and we say, “That’s terrible.” But the word has much greater meaning.
“Terrible: 1. Frightful; adapted to excite terror; dreadful, formidable…2. Adapted to impress dread, terror or solemn awe and reverence.” [Webster’s 1828 Dictionary]
This dictionary pulls its sample sentences right out of the Bible. Here are the examples it gives for the word terrible:
“Thou shalt not be affrighted of them: for the Lord thy God is among you, a mighty God and a terrible.” Deuteronomy 7:21 This statement follows a reminder to the people not to be afraid (same word as terrible) of their enemies but rather to remember all that God did to Pharaoh. THAT would truly be cause to fear God, to stand in awe of Him and revere Him.
“Let them praise thy great and terrible name; for it is holy.” Psalm 99:3 – If you want a picture of the awesome power of our God – read this Psalm:
- He reigns – let the people tremble.
- He sits between the cherubims – let the earth be moved.
- He is holy!
- He loves judgment: establishes equity, executes judgment and righteousness.
- We are to worship – where? – at His footstool.
- He spoke out of the cloudy pillar – AND THEY OBEYED!
- He forgave. (Even though they created a false God in the wilderness, when they repented, He forgave.)
- He is Holy!
“He is thy praise, and he is thy God, that hath done for thee these great and terrible things, which thine eyes have seen.” Deuteronomy 10:21. This, of course, is just a couple of verses down from the “fatherless” verses, which we are considering. What great and terrible things had He done? He had brought Israel into Egypt as a group of 70 people and brought them out of Egypt “as the stars of heaven for a multitude.”
Our God is a terrible God. He is mighty. He is Great.
God’s Relation to All Men:
He “regardeth not persons, nor taketh rewards.” This is vitally important to this entire study of the Bible and the fatherless. God does not play favorites. His standards for you are the same as His standards for me. His standards for the rich are the same as His standards for the poor. We are to emulate His character. We are to follow the example Christ set for us and to walk in His steps.
“God, if you do this, I’ll do this.” How often do we try to bribe God? Even if we do not consciously say or think it, often we look back and see that something we did fell in line with that thought pattern. God does not take bribes; His mercy cannot be bought. He is just.
His Relationship to the Fatherless and the Widow
He “executes judgment.” He defends them. He decides their case. We already know from the previous passage that He defends them with the sword! He is a faithful judge. He knows the beginning from the end.
His Relationship to the Stranger
He “loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment.” God doesn’t just declare His love; He shows it. He sees the stranger in need of food and provides it. He sees they have need of clothing and provides it. That same awesome, terrible God that we discovered in the first half of the verse reveals His love and mercy in the tender compassion of its second half.
“Love ye therefore the strangers for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.” In essence, God says, “Because of everything you have just seen and learned about Me – LOVE. Love them as I love them. Feed them. Provide for their needs. And since I know you well enough to know that doing it as a reflection of my character is not reason enough, do it because you were strangers in Egypt.”
Caring for the fatherless, the widow, and the stranger is to be a reminder of the place from which God has brought us. We also have “come up out of Egypt” if we have come to Christ for salvation. We will go further into this in the next blog.
In short, the command to care for the fatherless is based on God’s Character: His Position, His Power, His Relation to All Men, His Relation to the Stranger, and His Redeeming Relationship with us.
How should we respond to this command based on His character?