Submitted by Auntie M on Fri, 05/11/2018 - 12:23

 

 

Is God Silent on Immigration?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[Last week I posted part 1 of a Christian Conversation on Immigration. If you have not read it you can find it here: (Immigration Part 1) Today, I am posting part 2 of a 3 part conversation.] 

 

Statement #2. “I truly wanted to learn from the conversation until it turned to what seemed to me judgmental about an issue that isn’t clearly outlined in the Bible.”

 

But is this a true statement? Is the issue of immigration omitted from scripture? Is God not clear in His instruction for how we are to treat each other or how we are to properly live in community with each other whether native or foreign?

 

It may just be that He is explicitly and unmistakably clear.

 

At first blush, the mind wanders to texts from the Bible that instruct the Christian to do unto others as you would want done unto you or to think more highly of others than you do of yourself.[1] Better still are the verses that state that the Christian is to love their neighbor as they love themselves all the while understanding full well from the story of the Good Samaritan who we are to understand is our neighbor. [2],[3] And while these scriptures should prove to be enough to spur the passionate believer on to reconsider this current immigration issue in America God speaks even more clearly on the topic than may be first recognized.

 

Beginning in the Old Testament we see laws that God set down for His people, Israel, to follow concerning the foreigner or the alien. But then driving the point home lest we think it unnecessary for us who live after the cross God again sets down His desires for how His children, citizens of His Heavenly Kingdom who have now been welcomed into and made a part of the commonwealth of Israel, are to act in their current physical state within the fallen creation.

 

First, let’s clear up this issue of what exactly a foreigner or an alien is. This concept of alien in scripture can be summed up as such:

 

Essentially one who does not belong to the house or community in which he finds himself; an outsider (1 Ki. 3:18). It can therefore mean one who usurps a position to which he has no right.[4]

 

 

So then we can see how we were once foreigners and aliens of the Kingdom of Heaven but are now as citizens of a new world considered foreigners and aliens in this present world. Again, we are commanded by God in His Word to remember this!

 

We can also see how the founding fathers of this country were foreigners and aliens in what is now known as America. They traveled to and took up residence in a land in which they were outsiders; they found themselves in a community in which they did not belong; the Native American community. And finally we can see how the Native American became a foreigner in their own country. The community changed and they became the outsiders.

 

This is how this country was founded. It was founded by foreigners and aliens.

 

So what does God say about how foreigners and aliens are to be treated? Does He say anything at all on the topic?

 

It is important to understand that scripture makes a clear distinction between foreign nations and foreign individuals, the latter of which were to be allowed to live freely among Israelites within the land.[5]

Among the Hebrews there were two classes of aliens.[6]

(1.) Those who were strangers generally, and who owned no land or property.

(2.) Strangers dwelling in another country without being naturalized.

 

 

Now that we have a basic understanding of an alien from scripture we can begin the arduous task of seeking out what God has to say about their treatment. For brevity because of the vast amount God has spoken about the issue I will use bullet points to lay out the scriptural foundation.

 

  • Both of these classes of alien were to enjoy, under certain conditions, the same rights as other citizens (Lev. 19:33, 34; Deut. 10:19).
  • They might be naturalized and permitted to enter into the congregation of the Lord by submitting to circumcision and abandoning idolatry (Deut. 23:3–8).[7]
  • They were required by the law to be treated with kindness (Ex. 22:21; 23:9; Lev. 19:33, 34; 23:22; Deut. 14:28; 16:10, 11; 24:19).
  • They enjoyed in many things equal rights with the native-born residents (Ex. 12:49; Lev. 24:22; Num. 15:15; 35:15), but were not allowed to do anything which was an abomination according to the Jewish law (Ex. 20:10; Lev. 17:15, 16; 18:26; 20:2; 24:16, etc.).[8]
  • Civil rights were provided for them by the Law of Moses (Ex 12:49; Lv 24:22), and they came under the same legal processes and penalties (Lv 20:2; 24:16, 22; Dt 1:16).

 

Concerning Civil Law:

  • ‘There shall be one standard for you; it shall be for the stranger as well as the native, for I am the Lord your God.’ ”[9]
  • “Then I charged your judges at that time, saying, ‘Hear the cases between your fellow countrymen, and judge righteously between a man and his fellow countryman, or the alien who is with him. ‘You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small and the great alike. You shall not fear man, for the judgment is God’s. The case that is too hard for you, you shall bring to me, and I will hear it.’[10]
  • “You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. “You shall not afflict any widow or orphan. “If you afflict him at all, and if he does cry out to Me, I will surely hear his cry; and My anger will be kindled, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.[11]
  • “You shall not oppress a stranger, since you yourselves know the feelings of a stranger, for you also were strangers in the land of Egypt.[12]
  • ‘When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. ‘The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.[13]
  • “For the Lord your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality nor take a bribe. “He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing. “So show your love for the alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.[14]
  • ‘Now when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. ‘Nor shall you glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger. I am the Lord your God.[15]
  •  “When you reap your harvest in your field and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow, in order that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. “When you beat your olive tree, you shall not go over the boughs again; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow. “When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not go over it again; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow. “You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I am commanding you to do this thing.[16]
  • ‘You shall give three cities across the Jordan and three cities in the land of Canaan; they are to be cities of refuge. ‘These six cities shall be for refuge for the sons of Israel, and for the alien and for the sojourner among them; that anyone who kills a person unintentionally may flee there.[17]
  •  “You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your countrymen or one of your aliens who is in your land in your towns. “You shall give him his wages on his day before the sun sets, for he is poor and sets his heart on it; so that he will not cry against you to the Lord and it become sin in you.[18]
  • “You shall not pervert the justice due an alien or an orphan, nor take a widow’s garment in pledge. “But you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and that the Lord your God redeemed you from there; therefore I am commanding you to do this thing. “When you reap your harvest in your field and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow, in order that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. “When you beat your olive tree, you shall not go over the boughs again; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow. “When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not go over it again; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow. “You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I am commanding you to do this thing.[19]
  • …you may not put a foreigner over yourselves who is not your countryman.[20]

 

  • They were to be treated politely (Ex 22:21; 23:9), loved as those under the love of God (Lv 19:34; Dt 10:18, 19), and treated generously if poor and receive the fruits of the harvest (Lv 19:10; 23:22; Dt 24:19–22).
  • They could receive asylum in times of trouble (Nm 35:15; Jos 20:9).
  • Foreign servants were to receive treatment equal to Hebrew servants (Dt 24:14).
  • A foreigner could not take part in tribal deliberations or become a king (17:15).[21]
  • The work of Christ allowed all foreigners to become members of God’s household (Eph 2:11–19).
  • Resident aliens were included in the Israelite legal system (Lev. 24:16, 22; Num. 35:15; Deut. 1:16) and were subject to most of the religious requirements, such as the laws of ritual cleanliness (Lev. 17:8–13; but cf. Deut. 14:21) and the keeping of the Sabbath and fast days (Exod. 20:8–10; Lev. 16:29). [22]
  • If friendly, foreigners were entitled to hospitable treatment. In contrast, “resident aliens” enjoyed some social and religious privileges (Exod. 12:49).
  • Foreigners were not permitted to participate in ritual festivities (Exod. 12:43; Neh. 9:1–3), nor could their animals be used for Israelite sacrifices (Lev. 22:25).
  • In economic dealings, interest was chargeable on loans to foreigners, but not on those to fellow Israelites (Deut. 23:19, 20), and a foreigner’s debt was not remitted in a year of release (Deut. 15:2, 3).
  • Foreigners are to be treated graciously Lev 19:34 See also Lev 19:10; 23:22; Dt 10:19; 14:29; 24:19-21; 26:12-13
  • Foreigners must not be oppressed Lev 19:33 See also Ex 22:21; 23:9; Dt 24:14,17; 27:19; Ps 146:9; Jer 7:6; 22:3; Zec 7:10
  • Foreigners have a positive role to play in Israel Isa 14:1
  • Foreigners are to share in Sabbath-rest See also Ex 20:10 pp Dt 5:14; Ex 23:12
  • Foreigners are to receive a fair trial Dt 1:16
  • Ultimately inheritance rights were envisaged for foreigners Eze 47:22-23
  • The obligations of foreigners are similar to those of native Israelites Nu 9:14; Ex 12:19,48-49; Lev 16:29; 17:8,12-13,15; 18:26; 20:2; 22:18; 24:16
  • The penalties for blasphemy apply to Israelite and foreigner alike; Lev 24:22; Nu 15:14-16
  • The rules on the presentation of offerings are to be the same for both the Israelites and the foreigner; Nu 19:10; 35:15; Eze 14:7
  • The Israelites must not oppress them (Ex. 22:21; 23:9; Lv. 19:33–34). Indeed they are to go further and to love them (Dt. 10:19).
  • One reason given for the observance of the Sabbath is that they may be refreshed (Ex. 23:12).
  • The gleanings of the vineyard and the harvest field are to be left for them (Lv. 19:10; 23:22; Dt. 24:19–21).
  • They are included in the provision made in the cities of refuge (Nu. 35:15; Jos. 20:9).
  • They are ranked with the fatherless and widow as being defenseless; and so God is their defense and will judge their oppressor (Pss. 94:6; 146:9; Je. 7:6; 22:3; Ezk. 22:7, 29; Zc. 7:10; Mal. 3:5).[23]
  • To be treated with justice, Ex. 22:21; 23:9; Lev. 19:33, 34; Deut. 1:16; 10:19; 24:14, 17; 27:19; Jer. 7:6; 22:3; Ezek. 22:29; Mal. 3:5.
  • Hospitality to the alien was required by Jesus, Matt. 25:35, 38, 43.[24]

 

 

The basic principle was, “You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Deut. 10:19). And, again, “You shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt” (Lev. 19:34).[25]

 

The New Testament picks up this concept in two different ways. On one level, the Gentiles, who were excluded by Judaism from being the people of God, are no longer aliens and strangers in the new Christian community, but are counted as full citizens of God’s own household (Eph. 2:11–21).

 

On another level, Christians are not citizens of this present world, but citizens of the heavenly kingdom and therefore only strangers or pilgrims in this world (1 Pet. 1:1, 17; 2:11; cf. Heb. 11:13).[26]

 

We can hopefully see from the wealth of information that God is not largely silent or unclear at all on this topic of the treatment of aliens and foreigners; the topic of immigration. The question is do we truly desire to learn from the conversation as my friend does or is our motivation really a spiritually masked attempt to promote and protect America.

 

Are we seeking to learn?

Are we asking God?

 

God tells us in His Word that He has given us everything we need that pertains to life and godliness.[27] If this is true then there isn’t an issue that humankind wrestles with that God has not instructed us in.

 

He is not silent.

 

The question remains are we truly listening to His voice and Word?

 

 

m signature

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Matt. 7:12; Luke 6:31; Phil. 2:3). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[2] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Matt. 12:30-31). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[3] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Luke 10:25-37). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[4] Carson, H. M. (1996). Foreigner. In D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, & D. J. Wiseman (Eds.), New Bible dictionary (3rd ed., p. 380). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[5] Manser, M. H. (2009). Dictionary of Bible Themes: The Accessible and Comprehensive Tool for Topical Studies. London: Martin Manser.

[6] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Leviticus 22:10; Psalm 39:12). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[7] Easton, M. G. (1893). In Easton’s Bible dictionary. New York: Harper & Brothers.

[8] Easton, M. G. (1893). In Easton’s Bible dictionary. New York: Harper & Brothers.

[9] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Le 24:22). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[10] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Dt 1:16–17). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[11] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Ex 22:21–24). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[12] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Ex 23:9). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[13] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Le 19:33–34). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[14] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Dt 10:17–19). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[15] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Le 19:9–10). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[16] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Dt 24:19–22). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[17] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Nu 35:14–15). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[18] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Dt 24:14–15). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[19] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Dt 24:17–22). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[20] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Dt 17:15). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[21] Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). Foreigner. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 1, p. 807). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

[22] Bratcher, D. R., & Powell, M. A. (2011). alien. In M. A. Powell (Ed.), The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary (Revised and Updated) (Third Edition., p. 21). New York: HarperCollins.

[23] Carson, H. M. (1996). Foreigner. In D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, & D. J. Wiseman (Eds.), New Bible dictionary (3rd ed., pp. 380–381). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[24] Swanson, J., & Nave, O. (1994). New Nave’s Topical Bible. Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems.

[25] Bratcher, D. R., & Powell, M. A. (2011). alien. In M. A. Powell (Ed.), The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary (Revised and Updated) (Third Edition., p. 21). New York: HarperCollins.

[26] Bratcher, D. R., & Powell, M. A. (2011). alien. In M. A. Powell (Ed.), The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary (Revised and Updated) (Third Edition., p. 22). New York: HarperCollins.

[27] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (1 Peter 1:3). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.