Numbers 15: 15,16
"The community is to have the same rules for you and for the foreigner residing among you; this is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You and the foreigner shall be the same before the LORD. The same instructions and regulations will apply both to you and to the foreigners living among you.”
Numbers 15 consists of a set of instructions given to Moses to help the Israelites maintain a right relationship with Yahweh once they were settled in the promised land. Verses 15 and 16 speak of justice. Foreigners who lived among the Israelites were to follow the same laws and be subject to the same consequences as the children of Israel. This principle of equality before the law is central to this chapter and is repeated several times.
The idea of treating outsiders not just fairly, but as equals, must have been pretty radical in the ancient world. But it is clearly something that we are still struggling with today on global, national, and individual levels. It is a principle that speaks against tribalism and privileging of the in-group. Beyond that, I believe it calls us to respect those among us who are different or unfamiliar.
In reading these words, I find myself challenged to reflect on ways that I treat outsiders as less-deserving than my family and friends. I can take time in this Lenten season to find ways to welcome those I have labeled as "other." As I move towards that ultimate expression of grace that is found on Easter Sunday, I can seek out ways to express grace and inclusion in my own life.
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