ometimes when we are studying the Bible, we come across some statements that force us into some uncomfortable conclusions. This is what happened to me when I was studying the asection on the three Pilgrimage Festivals of Israel for my preaching commentary on Deuteronomy. Let me share an excerpt from the commentary.
CELEBRATING WITH THE NEEDY (Deut. 16:11, 14)
Both the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Booths are to be celebrated with a wider circle than one’s own family. Verse 11 says, “And you shall rejoice before the Lord your God, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite who is within your towns, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow who are among you” (see also 16:14). The term “sojourner” is used in the Bible for those we would describe as “resident aliens”—foreigners who have settled in the land. The King James Version rendering, “stranger,” is therefore misleading. Also included in the festival celebration are people whom the hosts would consider as being of a lower class and therefore who would usually not be included in celebratory meals with the family: “…your male servant and your female servant.” Then there were “the fatherless” and “the widows” who were needy people. There was economic disparity in Israel, but no class difference was tolerated among the people of God. We must do things to ease the burdens of the poor and needy (15:1-18), but we must never treat them as in any way inferior or not equal to us.