"Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in it." Psalm 119:35
Text: Exodus 22 : 21-24
LAW CONCERNING STRANGERS
The four hundred years spent as “slaves” in Egypt were meant to leave an indelible mark on the memory of Israel, as a nation and as individuals! They had been treated as if they were “strangers” that is, “second-class citizens”. God’s laws forbade them to ill-treat strangers in their midst.
“You shall neither mistreat a stranger nor oppress him,
for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
1. Bullying spirit forbidden
Israel was the smaller community. Egypt was a much larger body of people. How easy it was to develop a bullying spirit! Israel had experienced that first-hand! They must never adopt a bullying spirit towards “strangers” in their midst!
2. Mistreatment and oppression forbidden
The laws that God had given to Israel were to apply to the nation. But God did not give a second set of laws for strangers! The meaning was very clear. God’s laws were to be equally applied to the children of Israel and strangers. There must be no mistreatment or oppression of strangers whatsoever, for the law would go against the children of Israel!
WARNING CONCERNING VICTIMISING WIDOWS AND ORPHANS
How vulnerable widows and orphans were in any age! God’s laws ensured that the weak and the helpless were not bullied with impunity!
“You shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child.
If you afflict them in any way, and they cry at all to Me,
I will surely hear their cry; and My wrath will become hot,
and I will kill you with the sword; your wives shall be widows
and your children fatherless.”
1. Express prohibition
The prohibition to “afflict any widow or fatherless child” was most clearly stated! There was no getting around this express prohibition!
2. Vengeance promised
If any of the victims, widow or fatherless child, cried out to God because of their suffering, Divine vengeance would be meted out!
3. A most solemn word of warning
Why would anyone want to afflict the widows and the fatherless? Their plight was already sorrowful enough! The Lord warned that those who took advantage of the weak and the helpless would experience His wrath! What if they were to be killed? What if their wives became widows and their children became fatherless? Those were chilling words of warning not to be taken lightly!