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For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe. He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing. (Deuteronomy 10:17-18)

The God of Israel, unlike the false gods of the nations, is no respecter of persons; He does not prefer one group of people over another. On the surface, that may sound contradictory to the fact He called Israel to be set apart from the nations, indeed, calling them His “special treasure.” Yet, the reason they were to live holy and set apart from the nations was to position themselves to be a light to the nations. In other words, their purpose was not merely to be different but to make a difference. To keep His commands in isolation — which is to say, without acknowledging their mission to the Gentiles — was not in sync with His heart.

I would suggest that this, once again, reminds us of the weightier matters of the Torah, mentioned by the Messiah. Performance of God’s commands without acknowledging His true purpose might be considered transgression of those commands. Let’s look at it this way: we can’t bribe God with our doing and not doing the letter of the command; our hearts must be in concert with His heart. If that is the case, we will do as He has asked but with the understanding of why He asks us to do or not to do. Because we love Him, we will share His compassion for the fatherless, the widow and the stranger — i.e. those who are not necessarily set apart as we are.

The Jewish sage, Maimonides, wrote: “Our parents we are commanded to honor and fear; to the prophets we are ordered to hearken. A man may honor and fear and obey without loving. But in the case of strangers, we are bidden to love them with the whole force of our heart‘s affection.” His point is this: If we don’t love the stranger in the way God commands, then we don’t really love God as we claim. In short, all our other “obedience” gets called into question.

That, in turn, reminds us of what Messiah said in regards to what commandments are the most important. He said, “Love God” and “Love your neighbor” — everything else we do in obedience to God hangs on those two. If they are not in their proper place, all our other “obedience” has nothing to support it. God’s impartiality and endless love and compassion is one of the things that sets Him apart from the rest of the so-called gods. Likewise, emulating His love and compassion is one of the things that will set us apart from the rest of the world. Let us be about our Father’s business.

Blessings and Shalom,  




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