THE BIBLE AND IMMIGRATION – “NEW LIFE” BULLETIN
Among the issues Christians face, especially in the United States, is immigration, and it is a complex and thorny issue. Ask about it in any church and you will find out how thorny it is.
Interestingly, President Trump was about to deport illegal Iraqi Christians, until the ACLU stopped him. It seems Iraqi Christians stand a good chance of being killed if they are returned to Iraq. As far as I can tell, this is still on hold. However, it brings up a question: Why should illegal Iraqi Christians be treated differently than illegal Christians from El Salvador or some other country where they live in danger? The answer, I suppose is in how clear and present is the danger of death. But the issue is “illegal” and why some illegal immigrants get a religious pass, while others don’t .
As “People of the Book” we should know what the Bible says about immigrants, and how it spells out how they are to be treated.
First, the word for “stranger” and “alien” in the OT is the same word, “gur.” It had nothing to do with nationality, since such lines were not yet drawn. It had to do with what gods people worshiped, what language they spoke, or the area in which they lived. Keeping that in mind, here is everything, well nearly everything, the Bible has to say about the subject.
The people of the Bible were always aware they were immigrants. Psalm 39:12, the plea is for God to hear, and it says. “For I dwell with you as an alien, a stranger, as all my fathers were.”
Abraham was probably the first immigrant. He moves to Canaan, a land already occupied where he has no land or kin.
Israel moves his family to Egypt to survive and becomes enslaved. They leave Egypt and migrate to the land of Abraham.
The book of Ruth is maybe the best immigration book. It is the story of a Moabite woman who immigrates to Israel and eventually becomes the ancestor of King David and Jesus. Speaking of Jesus, according tp Matthew, he and his family were political refuges in Egypt for awhile.
Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy all say, “Do not oppress an alien; you yourselves know how it feels to be aliens, because you were aliens in Egypt. Ex. 23:9.
“When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt.” (Lev. 19:33-34 )
Deut. 24:17-18 says, “Do not deprive the alien or the fatherless of justice, or take the cloak of a widow as a pledge. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your Go redeemed you from there ” It adds that when they harvest they should not go over the harvest a second time because they should remember they were slaves in Egypt. (V. 19-22.)
Deut. 10:18-19 says “He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing. And you are to love those who are aliens for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt”
Isaiah 16:3b-4 says, “Hide the fugitives, do not betray the refugees. Let the Moabite (longtime enemies of Israel) fugitives stay with you, be their shelter from the destroyer.”
Numbers 15:15-16 “The community is to have the same rules for you and for the alien living among you; this is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You and the alien shall be the same before the Lord. The same laws and regulations will apply both to you and to the alien living among you.”
Exodus 12:48 “An alien living among you who wants to celebrate the Lord’s Passover must have all the males in his household circumcised; then he may take part like one born in the land. No uncircumcised male may eat of it.”
I Kings 8:41-43 “As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your name–for men will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm–when he comes and prays toward this temple, then hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel.” This is from Soloman’s dedication of the Temple.
This view of the alien continues into the prophetic period, which is interesting because it’s the time foreign countries had taken Israel captive, and they are looking for the reconstruction of the country and the Temple. Ezekiel 47:22-23 says, “You are to allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the aliens who have settled among you who have children. You are to consider them as native-born Israelites; along with you they are to be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel. In whatever tribe the alien settle, there you will give him his inheritance.”
The NT books of Romans and Hebrews tell those who follow Jesus to “Extend hospitality to strangers” And of course there is the passage in Matthew 25:35&40 where Jesus says all nations will be called before his throne. The blessed will hear that they took in strangers (v. 35) and the cursed were those who did not. (v. 40) The reason for the division was that in doing or refusing to do such to the least of them was the same as if it was done or not done to Jesus.
Most folks reading this are not directly involved in immigration, but it is part of the general conversation. As I said, it’s a thorny issue. It is interesting that the Bible does not see it as such. Neither religion, conduct or morality is discussed.
II Peter 1:3 says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”
That’s the biblical foundation where the children of God should start the discussion.
CONCERNS: Judy Hall is making very good progress in her recovery at Raleigh Court. She is in Room 116. Carlos and Silvia Baltedado, who were with Health Talents in Guatemala (and friends of Susan Jordan) are moving to Nashville so Carlos can work on a degree in ministry. Continue in prayer for Deanna McRoy, Joni and Alan Beach’s parents. Del Bolin’s mother, Teryn Gaynor’s mother. Sheila Jansen and daughter, Amber Weaver. Marjorie Wilson, Melanie Gentry, Wayne Phlegar, Ray & Darnel Barns, Gil Richardson, Jamie Cole, Jim & Mary Smith and Tim Elder.
Today Is Super Sunday. The fellowship meal will be in the annex following the service. Plan to stay and take a look at some of the new quilts Judy McWhorter has on display. The quilts have improved the acoustics in the room. If you are a visitor, please be our guest for the meal.
Today, for our special third Sunday service, Joanne Elder will be speaking to us about the grace of God.
The city has trimmed the tree that had a large branch leaning toward the front porch. This had become a worry to us because it would have caused a lot of damage had it fallen. They also trimmed back some other branches as well. We were hoping they might take down the whole tree because it is slowly dying. Perhaps that will be the next step. As for now we can breath easier.
Thanks to those who prepared the evening meal at the Ronald McDonald House last Sunday evening. And also to those who picked up the bread at Panara Bread and to those who delivered it to the Rescue Mission.
Let’s take a good look at finding a time when we can do some yard work around the building. We want to gradually clean the area at the lower end of the property between us and the apartments. They have already cleaned part of the area and it has been that way for more than thirty years.