“…you shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the heart of a stranger, because you were strangers…”
– Exodus 23:9
God began passing Moses the laws of the land. Moses would take these commands to the people as a covenant, and the Hebrews would eventually affirm it once it was written. They had promised to be obedient to holy living.
To oppress is to squeeze, afflict, or to crush by force. To push down upon in an attempt to keep down. Oppression is what the Egyptians did to the Hebrews as a result of their advancing growth in numbers. It was something God was telling them they needed to remember. They needed to remember how it felt so that they would consider others before doing the same thing to them.
I find it interesting that God, in advance of establishing them in the land of Canaan, felt it necessary to establish this mandate. Could it be that they could crush others under the weight of the pursuit of their own happiness? Could it be that we too can do the same thing?
When Jesus found you, what was the position of your soul? I say He saw you in opposition to Him, and empty as a result. Did He not find you like Samson? In a foreign prison of the enemy, lowly and humbled, pushing a grinding mill with the donkeys? Did He not find you a stranger to Him? A stranger that felt friendless, dejected, distressed of heart, and easily depressed by the misjudgments of others? I remind you, He most certainly did! Remember that day well, Christian!
How do you look at others? Do you look down on them from a high position you placed yourself on, or from the lens of who you once were? Remember the emptiness that Jesus pulled you from because the person you look at in disgust could be who you once were and going through what you once did. Will you look down on them or will you reach out to them? As a wise man once wrote, “make them an object of pity, not of malice or injustice.”
“All men are our neighbours, and we are to love them as ourselves. We are to do this on the basis of creation, even if they are not redeemed, for all men have value because they are made in the image of God. Therefore they are to be loved even at great cost.”