04 March, 2016

Deuteronomy 10:18—“He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger …”



Only the Lord had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked. For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward: He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment. Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt (Deut. 10:15-19 KJV).


COMMON GRACE ARGUMENT:
This passage is used to support a love of God for all men, at least in some sense, and that this love for all men is demonstrated in “common” thingsin the giving of food and raiment.


(I)

Prof. Herman C. Hanko

[Source: Covenant Reformed News, vol 10: issues 14 and 15 (June 2003)]

In Deuteronomy 10:18, we read that God “loveth the stranger.” Israel had thousands and thousands of foreigners in the nation. This began with the Egyptians who came out of Egypt with Israel. There were also Rahab, the Gibeonites, Ruth and many from various countries and nations who made Canaan their home. Some were taken there as slaves; some were attracted to the nation for various reasons. Uriah, whose wife David stole, was a Hittite. Araunah, on whose threshing floor David sacrificed to stop the angel of death, was a Jebusite. Foreigners were plentiful in Israel.

What is unique to all these foreigners who took up permanent abode in the nation was that they were so incorporated and absorbed into the nation that they and their descendants became, in fact, Jews. They were, therefore, members of the church of the old dispensation. In this way they too were saved. This was all prophetic of the coming age when God would save a church from all nations and tribes and tongues.

Is it any wonder then that Israel was commanded to be kind to these strangers? And is it any wonder then that God loved them? They were part of the church and nation which God loved. This does not mean that God loved every one of them, for He did not even love every single Israelite. God has mercy on whom He will have mercy and compassion on whom He will have compassion (Rom. 9:15). But the nation, with its many strangers, organically considered, was loved by God.


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(II)

Rev. Martyn McGeown

[Source: British Reformed Journal, Issue 63 (Autumn/Winter 2016)]

In [Deuteronomy 10], God assures Israel of His love: “only the Lord had a delight in thy fathers to love them …” (v. 15). This love is a particular love, for God did not love, delight in or choose others (cf. 7:6-10). In response to His love, God demands love from Israel, for “He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment. Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt” (10:18-19).

From these verses, [common grace theologians aim] to prove two assertions. First, God loves all men, at least in some sense … Second, God’s love to all men is demonstrated in “common” things, “in giving [them] food and raiment.”

However, what [must be demonstrated] exegetically is that the “stranger” of verse 18 includes all strangers. Does God love, show mercy to, and provide food and raiment for absolutely all strangers? Do not some strangers starve to death and do not some strangers remain unclothed? God fed and clothed the widow of Zarephath but there were many other widows with sons in Sidon, whom God did not feed and clothe; and there were many widows in Israel, whom God did not feed and clothe (Luke 4:25-26). Do not even some of God’s people starve to death (cf. Luke 16:22)? Did God not love them?

When Paul says in Romans 5:6 that “Christ died for the ungodly,” he does not mean all the ungodly. He simply means that those for whom Christ died are ungodly. Similarly, those whom God loves are the believing strangers who joined God’s people Israel and He commands Israel to provide for strangers. This does not mean that God loves absolutely all strangers or that He has mercy, grace or favour for all strangers. And it certainly does not mean that God loves reprobate strangers or that He is gracious to them. Moreover, that God loves some by giving them food and raiment does not mean that, whenever God gives food and raiment, He always gives these things in love (or in “common grace”), and, whenever God withholds food and raiment, He always withholds them in wrath as a sign of His displeasure.

An ungodly rich man, upon whom the curse of God rests in Proverbs 3:33, has a house stuffed full of food and raiment, and the poor man, in whose house the blessing of God resides, is deprived of much food and raiment, for “Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble therewith” (Prov. 15:16).

In Numbers 11, God supplied quails for Israel, but we read, “And while the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the wrath of the Lord was kindled against the people, and the Lord smote the people with a very great plague” (v. 33). Psalm 106:15 is a commentary on that history: “And he gave them their request; but he sent leanness into their soul.”

Many Calvinists […] are short sighted in their view of providence: food and clothing are never in themselves indications of God’s favour. The Heidelberg Catechism makes a wise distinction here, for we learn to acknowledge in our prayers, that “neither our care nor industry, nor even [God’s] gifts [of daily bread] can profit us without [His] blessing” (A. 125). God can and does give daily bread to the wicked without His blessing or so-called “common grace.”

Similarly, when God “did good” in Acts 14:17 (another text to which [common grace theologians refer to]), it was as a “witness,” but the ungodly heathen must never imagine, when God “gave [them] rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling [their] hearts with food and gladness,” that this was a demonstration that the Creator loved them, favoured them or sought to bless them. Indeed, Paul writes elsewhere that the wrath of God—and not His love or favour—is revealed from heaven through the creation that God has made (Rom. 1:18-20).

God reveals His love, grace, mercy and favour in Jesus Christ! Only in Jesus Christ!


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(III)

Rev. Herman Hoeksema (1886-1965)

[Source: The Standard Bearer, 1 September, 1930, vol. 6, p. 549.]

Firstly, it should be noted that the distinction, which is so often made ​​between man “as a creature” and man “as righteous or wicked,” is an abstraction which does not exist in reality. It is simply a philosophy which is foreign to the Scriptures. To say that God loves the wicked “as a creature,” but hates him “as a reprobate and wicked” is nonsense. In reality, men are either righteous or wicked, elect or reprobate, objects of God’s love and grace or objects of His wrath and anger.

This should also be taken for consideration in explaining Deuteronomy 10:18. Of course this does not mean that he loves the ‘wicked’ stranger. Jezebel and the priests and prophets of Baal were also foreigners, but God certainly did not love them. “God loves the stranger” does not mean that He loves ‘all’ foreigners. We read elsewhere in Scripture that “Christ died for the ungodly.” Does that mean that He died for all ungodly persons without exception? Of course not. But the Lord here in this passage will have Israel learn that they are not to think in their hearts that He hates the stranger because he is a foreigner. This they could easily do, and they did indeed later fall into this mindset. But He also loves the stranger, and He wants His people, which were strangers themselves in a strange land, to love and receive the stranger as such.


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(IV)

More to come! (DV)



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