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 strangers is provided in these verses; and we find that it is firmly rooted in the character of God Himself.
Consider what it says of His position: He is God of gods and Lord of lords. This in itself should give us pause. The God of the universe, God over all gods, Lord over all lords, King over all kings (1 Timothy 6:15) is the One giving 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, for HE is Lord of lords.
Consider His power: He is “a great God, a mighty, and a terrible.” Great. Our God truly 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. He is mighty. As I looked up this word, I was amazed at the group of people to whom it is applied: hunters, impetuous soldiers, mighty warriors, kings. But it also applies to power and energy, and to wealth. He is terrible. I think we have lost the full meaning of this word in modern English. We see something that is wrong and that deeply saddens us and we say, “That is terrible.” But the word has much greater meaning than this. Back to Mr. Webster and his 1828 dictionary – “Terrible: 1. Frightful; adapted to excite terror; dreadful, formidable…2. Adapted to impress dread, terror or solemn awe and reverence.” One of the things that I like so much about this dictionary is that it pulls its sample sentences right out of the Bible! Here are the samples 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 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 – though He TOOK VENGEANCE upon their INVENTIONS. (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 at which we are looking. What great and terrible things had He done? He had brought 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. Should we not obey Him?
Consider 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, do not forget it. 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 that Christ set for us and to walk in His steps. He also cannot be bribed. Oh, how often do we try to bribe God. “God, if you do this, I’ll do this.” 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. Should we not obey?
Consider His relationship to the fatherless, 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. Should we not obey?
Consider 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 compassions of its second half. Should we not obey?
Consider your response in light of all this: “Love ye therefore the strangers for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.” THEREFORE – 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 of this: “for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Caring for the fatherless, the widow and the stranger are to be reminders 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 tomorrow. For today, let us consider whether or not it is enough that this is God’s command, based on His own character, which He expects to be worked out in our daily lives by the working of the Holy Spirit in us – Should we not obey!
Up next: Day 3: God’s Reminder – The Purpose of the Command