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A Biblical View Towards Immigration & Immigrants

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A Biblical View Toward Illegal Immigration & Illegal Immigrants – Part One To my knowledge we don’t have any “illegal immigrants” at the church I serve. Nor do we have any who are contemplating illegally entering into another country. Yet the issue is a growing concern for U.S. citizens and Christian U.S. citizens as well.What should be our stance on illegal immigration & immigrants? The Bible can shed some light on this topic for us. Immigration is not something that is exclusive to America.  Nations all over the world have laws on who can enter into their nation and how long people can visit their nation.  Most people are happy to remain in their homeland all their lives.  Others may leave their homeland because of oppression and poverty. People want to go where they can be free and prosperous, which is why so many people in the world want to come to the U.S. Thanks to the blessings of God and righteous leadership America is the destination of many people who desire a good life. As Proverbs 14:34 says, “Righteousness exalts a nation”. Immigration in not an issue limited to our time.  Throughout history people have dealt with laws distinguishing kingdoms, geographical boundaries, and national heritage.  As early as Genesis 4:17, Cain built a city. Concerning the sons of Japheth (Noah’s son), it is written, “From these the coastlands of the nations were separated into their lands, every one according to his language, according to their families, into their nations” (Genesis 10:5). Nimrod began building a kingdom in a place called Babel (Genesis 10:10) and was apparently successful until “the Lord confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:9). Thus, very early in Scripture we see the development of nations, kingdoms, and property. In the Bible people migrated with relative ease between nations.  Abraham traveled extensively and ran into little trouble concerning borders.  The first record of deportation in the Bible, other than that of Adam & Eve from the garden, is in regards to Isaacwho was told by Abimelech of the Philistines, “Go away from us, for you are too powerful for us.”  So Isaac departed from there and camped in the valley of Gerar; and settled there (Genesis 26:16-17). As families grew, nations grew, and so did the amount of property and resources that they would use.  Seventy Hebrews went down into Egypt, yet over “600,000 on foot” came out (Numbers 11:21). These people will need land and resources with laws governing how it is used.  This concerned the Moabites so greatly that they tried to hire Balaam to curse the Israelites (Numbers 22-23).  Moab was afraid of Israel because they were numerous.  In fact, the Moabites said to their elders, “Now this horde will lick up all that is around us, as the ox licks up the grass of the field” (Numbers 22:4).  Their concern is over their resources.  None of the nations wanted a massive immigration of Israelites.  When the Israelites asked for permission to pass through the land of the Amorites, they sent messengers to their king saying, “We will go by the king’s highway until we have passed through your border” (Numbers 21:22). Israel was trying to be polite by asking nicely but since the Amorites refused and tried to make war, “Israel struck him with the edge of the sword, and took possession of his land” (Numbers 21:24). With the population growth of families and nations, laws concerning immigration would become more specific.  After Israel took firm possession of the land they enacted their own laws in regards to “strangers” and “aliens”. This will be continued in the bulletin, Lord willing, two weeks from now. -Caleb Cunningham A Biblical View Toward Illegal Immigration & Illegal Immigrants – Part Two As we saw in part one of this article, property laws and geographical boundaries have been in existence since the events of the book of Genesis. Though people traveled relatively easily across borders there were times that the city gates were shut tightly.  An example of this is found in Joshua 6:1, “Now Jericho was tightly shut because of the sons of Israel; no one went out and no one came in.” Population growth, limited resources, and fear of invaders, would cause the nations to design specific property and boundary laws. Laws also were developed for immigrants who were often called “strangers” or “aliens” in the Bible. Though I was unable to find any specific immigration laws in the Old Testament, I found multiple verses on how to treat immigrants.  “You shall not oppress a stranger, since you yourselvesknow the feelings of a stranger, for you also were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 23:9).  Moses carried this law a step further from a negative point of view towards a positive view in Leviticus 19:34, “The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for your were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God.” Though the immigrants were to be treated respectfully and graciously, they were notexempt from following the laws of the land. For example, in regards to the Day of Atonement a permanent statute was given that all the inhabitants of Israel “shall humble your souls and not do any work, whether the native, or the alien who sojourns among you” (Leviticus 16:29).  “No person among you may eat blood, nor may any alien who sojourns among you eat blood” (Leviticus 17:12).  Neither God nor Moses cared about what the immigrant used to do in another land.  In Israel, you must obey Israel’s law.  In regards to sexual immorality, “You are to keep My statutes and My judgments and shall not do any of these abominations, neither the native, nor the alien who sojourns among you” (Leviticus 18:26). Throughout the Old Testament laws the strangers were encouraged to assimilate. Laws and provisions were made for people to become citizens and participants in the nation of Israel (Numbers 9:14,15:14).  This would help greatly in helping the immigrants to be one with the Israelites: “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” (Numbers 15:15). It is my opinion that a Bible and a good concordance would be very helpful to those in Washington who want “comprehensive immigration reform”.  If the Lord is willing, next week we will look at the New Testaments teachings towards immigrants, our duty to obey the laws of the land, and our duty as Christians. -Caleb Cunningham A Biblical View Toward Illegal Immigration & Illegal Immigrants Part Three The Bible has a surprisingly large amount of information in it concerning property laws, geographical boundaries, and immigration.  Very early in Genesis people began to build cities with boundaries. Sometimes people were kept out and sometimes people were kept in (Jos. 6:1).  Under the Old Covenant, Israel was commanded to be kind and compassionate toward “the stranger” in their land (Lev. 19:34).  “The stranger” was commanded to respect ceremonial laws and obey the civil laws of Israel (Lev. 18:26).  Provisions were also made for the “stranger” to assimilate and become a child of Israel (Num. 15:15-16). According to The _International Standard Bible Encyclopedia_ (ISBE), “No difficulties were put in the way of those strangers who wished to settle down in the land of Israel.”  As long as Israel remained faithful to God, they would be blessed by God andbe a blessing to the stranger.  But when Israel allowed “the stranger” to influence them to do evil, it led to their downfall. As the ISBE says, “The Mosaic Law endeavored to bring him [the stranger] nearer to the cult of Israel, not from any proselytizing motives, but in order to preserve the theocracy from admixture of foreign elements, which would speedily have proved fatal to its existence.” The Christian’s personal duty to be hospitable is of divine importance. Throughout the Bible Christians have been taught to be hospitable to the weary traveler, the hungry neighbor, and to the stranger in town.  But what about hospitality in regards to unlawful immigration?  How should Christians respond biblically to the current flux of illegal immigrants?  Two things are absolutely necessary in our response:  love and sympathy for the needy (Matt. 25:34-40), respect and obedience to the laws of the nation (Romans 13). There is a mandate in the Bible that Christians show love and compassion for all people, even our enemies (Matt. 5:43-44).  One of the six benevolent acts considered on the Day of Judgment was visiting the prisoner (Matt. 25:36). Jesus said, “I was a stranger, and you invited Me in” (Matt. 25:35). Christians must be known for their love, mercy, and compassion for all people, whether they deserve it or not.  Remember, Go gave His Son for us even though we didn’t deserve it (Rom. 5:8). In the New Testament we also see respect for national laws including property and immigration laws.  When Paul arrived at Corinth in his missionary journey, he found a Jew named Aquila along with his wife, Priscilla.  The Scriptures tell us that Aquila and Priscilla had “recently come from Italy…because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome” (Acts 18:2).  We don’t know why Aquila and Priscilla had migrated to Rome from Pontus.  Maybe he was looking for a work or opportunity. Whatever the case may be, Aquila and Priscilla obeyed the governmental laws even though it may have hurt them economically (see Romans 13). Proverbs 6:30-31 says, “Men do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy himself when he is hungry, but when he is found, he must repay sevenfold; He must give all the substance of his house.”  It is not wise to allow crimes to go unpunished.  It ignores justice and invites more crime.  Illegal immigration may take place to satisfy the hungry, but it is still illegal, thus it is a crime and a violation of commands in Scripture (2 Peter 2:13-14). God expects people to be loving and compassionate, but He also expects people to recognize and obey the law. -Caleb Cunningham