Everyone who knows me knows that I really hate the political feeding frenzy that happens in our country every time there is an event of great importance, whether it is about gun control, abortion, immigration, or the homosexual debate. I don’t hate dealing with the issues; I just hate the frenzy of sharks that pounce as soon as they see a drop of blood in the water. What I hate even more is that the same people who call the Scriptures a hate-filled book invoke those same passages out of context to defend their political agenda.
The current issue that is on the lips of every political pundit and in the headlines of every news station is the internment and separation of illegal aliens and their children. Even though I am addressing this topic initially, it is not the crux of my blog today.
What I would really like to address is what the Scripture says about how we should deal with the topic of the alien stranger and sojourner. My calling in life is to defend the integrity of the Word. I get tired of folks using and abusing the Scriptures for whatever political or social agenda they have on their minds.
If we deal with the issue properly, we have to examine not only the translation of the passages themselves, but we also have to take into consideration the total context of each verse. This includes dealing with the language, who the author is, who the author is speaking to, what are the issues addressed, the historical narrative, and cultural considerations. Another aspect of interpretation has to with the idea of whether or not we can apply a verse to ourselves, or is the author just speaking in context to the people or person immediately being addressed. If that is the case, then can we say in regards to the verse or verses, this is addressed only to those immediately in front of him, but there might be some principles here for me as well.
That being said I can’t, in a short blog, deal with every verse that has to do with the stranger, foreigner, or sojourner, but there are some major verses being used in light of this “refugee” issue that can be addressed with all of the above criteria being used to properly interpret the original intent of the author. As I said above, my goal is to defend the Word and not to deal with the political aspect. So buckle up, here we go.
While it is clear that the Scriptures do tell us how to deal with the stranger and sojourner, it is not as simple as we think.
Numbers 15:14-16 Says…
“If an alien sojourns with you, or one who may be among you throughout your generations, and he wishes to make an offering by fire, as a soothing aroma to the LORD, just as you do so he shall do. As for the assembly, there shall be one statute for you and for the alien who sojourns with you, a perpetual statute throughout your generations; as you are, so shall the alien be before the LORD. There is to be one law and one ordinance for you and for the alien who sojourns with you."
So it is pretty obvious that we are to treat the alien with respect, courtesy, and magnanimity. We were called to welcome them into our assembly. But then we have to ask the questions I stated above. Who is speaking? Moses. Who is he speaking to? The Israelites. What is the subject matter? Their entrance into His divine guidelines. We, however, are not a theocracy; we are a pluralistic, democratic republic. We are made up of many different people groups of various faiths. So to say that this law is for us is to presume that we are the same as Israel, and we are not.
This does not mean that we cannot apply these principles to our lives nationally, locally or individually. It is just not a specific mandate addressed to us as a nation. So if we apply these concepts of accepting the stranger into our land, they and we are also obligated to obey the rest of the Biblical mandate; that is to obey the mandate of “one law for all”. In this case it is the Law of Moses. In our country it would be the Constitution. If they can’t do this then they are not fulfilling their half of the bargain. You can’t have it both ways. You cannot cherry pick verses out of context to support any political agenda for any reason that suites you at the time
Remember, I am not writing this to defend or protest against the political agenda of anyone. I am writing this to defend the integrity of the Word so that people won’t be confused and continue to eisegete the Scriptures.
There are other passages that are very clear about Israel’s entering the Promised Land, that they were to have nothing to do with the foreign element.
Warning Against Idolatry
"When the LORD your God cuts off before you the nations which you are going in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, beware that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, 'How do these nations serve their gods, that I also may do likewise? "You shall not behave thus toward the LORD your God, for every abominable act which the LORD hates they have done for their gods; for they even burn their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods. Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it.”
In this case the children of Israel were told to have nothing to do with the foreigners. We were even told to destroy them. Which is it? Welcome them or reject them? How do we know what to do in this case? It is pretty clear. In the case above, those who were to be destroyed were polluting society in that they were willing to even sacrifice their babies on the altar to Moloch. If you are going to claim the Scriptures as your source, then you need to consider the context totally. If someone enters a country with total disregard to the laws of the land, then they are not willing to do what Numbers 15 says and accept “one law for all”. They have entered in with their own agenda are desirous to disrupt the law of the land they have entered.
The Temple of the Living God
In 2 Cor 6:14-18 it says…
Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership has righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, "I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. “Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE," says the Lord. "AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; and I will welcome you. And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me," Says the Lord Almighty.
It is pretty clear, in the passage above, that the Scriptures teach us not to join ourselves to an unbeliever in their ways. We are not to make an allegiance with or become entangled with unbelievers in a covenant relationship. But they can join with us in a covenant relationship in the Lord. This is not the same as just allowing anyone in no matter what or who they are. Everyone has to be vetted– even among the body of believers.
It seems like everyone in this debate has now become a Biblical scholar and knows the mind and heart of the Lord. I say this for both sides. I can’t state this enough: I am not addressing the political issue; I am defending the integrity of the Word.
We must remember that even entrance into the Kingdom has standards as well–it is not willy nilly. You can’t sneak in; you must enter the by the gate.
"Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
The problem is that just as universalism has entered into our world of theology, it has also entered into our politics. There is a very specific way to do things in order. Don’t obey order and all that is left is chaos. It is true for the Spiritual and physical world as well. Every verse has a specific context and must be examined as such. They are not generic. They can’t be pulled out on a whim to defend anyone’s agenda, whether political or theological.
Here are some more verses for you to consider in this matter. Remember, ask the right questions. Remember the Scriptures are clear that the alien and sojourner were welcome into the family of Israel, but it was always–without exception– contingent on them obeying the Law of the Lord. If they came in to pollute the ways of the Lord, there was a stern punishment for their sin. Don’t come in with a predetermined idea or agenda.
Welcome the sojourner
Exo 12:19 'Seven days there shall be no leaven found in your houses; for whoever eats what is leavened, that person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is an alien or a native of the land.
Exo 12:48-49 "But if a stranger sojourns with you, and celebrates the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near to celebrate it; and he shall be like a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person may eat of it. The same law shall apply to the native as to the stranger who sojourns among you."
Exo 23:9 "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.”
Deu 10:17-19 "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”.
Deu 27:19 “’Cursed is he who distorts the justice due an alien, orphan, and widow.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’”
Eze 47:21-23 "So you shall divide this land among yourselves according to the tribes of Israel. You shall divide it by lot for an inheritance among yourselves and among the aliens who stay in your midst, who bring forth sons in your midst. And they shall be to you as the native-born among the sons of Israel; they shall be allotted an inheritance with you among the tribes of Israel. And in the tribe with which the alien stays, there you shall give him his inheritance," declares the Lord GOD.
Isa 56:6-7 "Also the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to Him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be His servants, every one who keeps from profaning the Sabbath and holds fast My covenant; Even those I will bring to My holy mountain and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar; for My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples."
Have nothing to do with the nations
Exo 34:14-16 —for you shall not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God— otherwise you might make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land and they would play the harlot with their gods and sacrifice to their gods, and someone might invite you to eat of his sacrifice, and you might take some of his daughters for your sons, and his daughters might play the harlot with their gods and cause your sons also to play the harlot with their gods.
Deu 12:29-31 "When the LORD your God cuts off before you the nations which you are going in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, beware that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, 'How do these nations serve their gods, that I also may do likewise?' You shall not behave thus toward the LORD your God, for every abominable act which the LORD hates they have done for their gods; for they even burn their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.”
Jos 23:5-7 "The LORD your God, He will thrust them out from before you and drive them from before you; and you will possess their land, just as the LORD your God promised you. Be very firm, then, to keep and do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, so that you may not turn aside from it to the right hand or to the left, so that you will not associate with these nations, these which remain among you, or mention the name of their gods, or make anyone swear by them, or serve them, or bow down to them.
Ezra Prays About Intermarriage
Ezr 9:1-2 Now when these things had been completed, the princes approached me, saying, "The people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands, according to their abominations, those of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians and the Amorites. For they have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and for their sons, so that the holy race has intermingled with the peoples of the lands; indeed, the hands of the princes and the rulers have been foremost in this unfaithfulness.”
Ezr 9:10-12 "Now, our God, what shall we say after this? For we have forsaken Your commandments, which You have commanded by Your servants the prophets, saying, 'The land which you are entering to possess is an unclean land with the uncleanness of the peoples of the lands, with their abominations which have filled it from end to end and with their impurity 'So now do not give your daughters to their sons nor take their daughters to your sons, and never seek their peace or their prosperity, that you may be strong and eat the good things of the land and leave it as an inheritance to your sons forever.'
Ezr 10:9-12 “So all the men of Judah and Benjamin assembled at Jerusalem within the three days. It was the ninth month on the twentieth of the month, and all the people sat in the open square before the house of God, trembling because of this matter and the heavy rain. Now therefore, make confession to the LORD God of your fathers and do His will; and separate yourselves from the peoples of the land and from the foreign wives." Then all the assembly replied with a loud voice, "That's right! As you have said, so it is our duty to do.
Neh 13:1-3 On that day they read aloud from the book of Moses in the hearing of the people; and there was found written in it that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever enter the assembly of God, because they did not meet the sons of Israel with bread and water, but hired Balaam against them to curse them. However, our God turned the curse into a blessing. So when they heard the law, they excluded all foreigners from Israel.
Neh 13:23-26 In those days I also saw that the Jews had married women from Ashdod, Ammon andMoab. As for their children, half spoke in the language of Ashdod, and none of them was able to speak the language of Judah, but the language of his own people. So I contended with them and cursed them and struck some of them and pulled out their hair, and made them swear by God, "You shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor take of their daughters for your sons or for yourselves. Did not Solomon king of Israel sin regarding these things? Yet among the many nations there was no king like him, and he was loved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel; nevertheless the foreign women caused even him to sin.
We can clearly see that there is a Biblical protocol in accepting someone into our community of faith, and it is not just a casual affair. One must come to faith in Messiah Yeshua and live and grow according to the principles found in the Word. These principles can be applied to our country as well. Let’s not be fooled by those who would distort the Word of the Lord and use it for their own political, social, financial or personal gain.