After giving Moses the Ten Commandments, God fleshes out what they mean for everyday life.
“You must not mistreat or oppress foreigners in any way. Remember, you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt.”
The Israelites mistakenly believed that since God was for them, he was against every other nation. This error grew out of the belief that God shows favoritism and that Israel qualified somehow for God’s favor (but see Romans 2:11).
On the contrary, God wanted to bless the people of Israel so they, in turn, could be a blessing to all people (Genesis 12:2-3). The Israelites only heard the first part though—that God would bless them.
God sought to dispel these myths of favoritism in Exodus 22:21. God’s blessing would empower the Israelites, and God didn’t want them to abuse that power. God warned the Israelites not to treat foreigners unfairly because they themselves were once foreigners in Egypt. Similarly, God sought to protect slaves (Exodus 21:1-11), widows, and orphans (Exodus 22:22-24). God rooted this protection in empathy, reminding the Israelites to remember their own experiences as powerless slaves in Egypt.
It is not easy coming into a new environment where you feel alone and out of place. Are there foreigners around you? Immigrants? New students at school? People in need? Think about their struggles. How has God blessed you so you can bless others?