Confession: I read the last line of this chapter before reading the rest of it. I never do that! Endings are sacred to me. If you ever tell me the ending of a book or a movie I haven’t read or seen so help me I will . . .
Woah, sorry, I got a little carried away there.
Anyway, this was the last line of Deuteronomy 24: Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I am commanding you to do this.
Oh, I’ve seen this before. Remember your story. You were foreigners so be kind to foreigners. Got it. Moving on.
But then I got to the part that comes right before that line. And while there certainly is a good amount about being kind to foreigners, there was so much more.
Don’t deprive resident aliens or orphans of justice
Don’t take a widow’s cloak as a pledge.
Leave the edges of your fields unharvested for the orphans, widows, and aliens.
Leave the spare olives on your trees for the orphans, widows, and aliens.
Leave the spare grapes on your vines for the orphans, widows, and aliens.
Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I am commanding you to do this.
Hang on a sec. What does leaving olives on trees have to do with being a slave? There doesn’t seem to be much connection to me. I always thought that remembering their story involved certain key points:
- Remember the LORD who brought them out. (this includes no idolatry, celebrating festivals, and such)
- Being kind to slaves and foreigners, because they were slaves in a foreign land.
But now, they are being called to expand the implications of their story.
Suddenly, the Exodus is about much more than it was. It is about making sure that everyone in their land, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, or lineage, receives justice, fairness, and kindness. It’s about giving laborers fair wages (especially if their are foreigners working in your fields. Hmmmmmmm) and not putting people in so much debt that they cannot provide for their families.
If I may be so bold, it is starting to look like God was freeing his people from a lot more than physical slavery, though that is an extremely important part of it.
He was freeing them from greed, racism, selfishness, injustice, partiality and a host of other things that nobody likes to talk about.
The Exodus was much bigger than I thought.