“He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.”—Deuteronomy 10:18 (NIV)
I have a Bible trivia question for you! What did Jesus tell the Pharisee in Matthew 22:37 when he asked Jesus, “Which is the greatest commandment?” If you answered to “love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul and with all your mind,” then you are correct!
And what about the second greatest commandment? When Jesus answered the Pharisee, He added that “the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:39). However, something we tend to miss in this story is what Jesus says after this. He asserts that “all the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Mathew 22:40).
For a long time, I thought the commands Jesus gave in the New Testament were new for the Hebrew people. However, when I read through the Book of Deuteronomy, which is essentially a repetition of the Law, the same exact values Jesus preached in His ministry are emphasized to the Israelites.
In context, today’s Scripture begins with Moses asking the Israelites, “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 10:12 NIV)? He proceeded to expand upon the Lord’s faithful love and power in an attempt to further persuade the Israelites of what he stated above. It’s in the midst of this that we find today’s verse where Moses reminded them of God’s faithfulness to the fatherless, the widow, and the foreigner.
Apart from God, we’re all “fatherless” and “foreigners,” yet Jesus endured death on our behalf so we may be adopted into God’s family (John 1:12). His heart has always been for those without a voice and without worldly hope or purpose, always caring for both their spiritual and physical needs!
Moses knew this well, but he also knew that loving and serving God meant more than just acknowledging His power and faithfulness. Moses knew that loving and serving God meant acting on behalf of the voiceless as well. Out of his desire for Israel to understand this connection between what we know as the first and second greatest commandments, Moses commanded them to provide for the less fortunate.
By looking at these seemingly unrelated passages, we’re reminded of the never-changing heart of God and of His desire for His people to live with the same heart, actively loving the fatherless, the widow, and the foreigner—our neighbors.
DIG: Read Deuteronomy 10:12-22. Why is it so important for Moses to include God’s acts of faithfulness to the less fortunate?
DISCOVER: Where else in Deuteronomy, and the Old Testament in general, does the Lord talk about providing for and helping the less fortunate?
DO: Make it a goal to help a neighbor this week. (Examples: buy someone a meal who cannot afford it, donate to a nonprofit organization that helps the less fortunate worldwide, donate some food to FoodShare at your campus).