Why We Must Love the Stranger
Title: Why We Must Love the Stranger
Reading for February 7th: Leviticus 19-21
"When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God."
Why were the Israelites to love the stranger?
It's simple. They were strangers in the land of Egypt. They knew firsthand what it felt like to be strangers in a strange land. They should have mercy toward the stranger because they were once strangers.
But there is more to it than just that. Not only did they know what it was like to be a stranger, they had experienced the love of God. God rescued them when they were strangers in Egypt.
That's the reason he says, "I am the LORD your God." This phrase "I am the LORD" or "I am the LORD your God" is repeated no less than 16 times in this chapter. It is a kind of short hand for the phrase: "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt." (19:36; this phrase was also the preface to the Ten Commandments) It is as if God is saying, "I saved you and redeemed you, and so that gives me the right to give you these commandments."
When it came to loving the stranger, the phrase "I am the LORD your God" had special significance, and it should have a special meaning to us as well:
"Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ." (Eph 4:12-13)
Father God, our Savior and Redeemer, thank you for loving us when we were strangers and aliens and without hope. Give us grace that we might show hospitality to others and to love strangers as you have loved us.