FORGET NONE OF HIS BENEFITS
volume 16, number 10, March 9, 2017
“Remember, O Lord, what has befallen us; Look, and see our reproach! Our inheritance has been turned over to strangers, our houses to aliens.” -Lamentations 5:1-2
Our Current Immigration Crisis
President Donald Trump’s Executive Order to postpone immigration of people from seven countries which, under former President Obama, were designated as hotbeds of terror; as you know, has met with great hostility by many in the country, including some evangelical, Bible believing Christians.
What does the Bible say about immigration? A lot. I counted at least fifty-five times the Hebrew root word guwr (to turn aside from the road, alien, sojourner) is used in the Old Testament. God is certainly not opposed to all immigration. He told His people to care for the alien, to not oppress him, because they too had once been aliens in the land of Egypt (Exodus 23:9, Leviticus 19:33,34). However Yahweh also commanded that certain peoples never be allowed into the country of Israel. When Israel was to drive out the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, Yahweh commanded, “Watch yourself that you make no covenant with the inhabitants of the land into which you are going, or it will become a snare in your midst,” (Exodus 34:12). He had particularly strong words against the Ammonites and Moabites, “No Ammonite or Moabite shall enter the assembly of the Lord; none of their descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall enter the assembly of the Lord,” (Deuteronomy 23:3). At the dedication of the wall reconstruction in Jerusalem, Nehemiah had the leaders of Judah read from the book of Moses, and they found that Ammonites and Moabites were barred from the assembly (Nehemiah 13:1,2). Why such a hard line position against certain aliens? Because any religion beside the true faith of Yahweh was a serious threat to the nation. Why a serious threat? Because the values and culture of these pagan nations were very much at odds with Yahweh’s vision and values for His covenant people. For example, the Lord spoke to Moses and said, “You shall also say to the sons of Israel, ‘Any man from the sons of Israel who gives any of his offspring to Molech, shall surely be put to death,’” (Leviticus 20:2). In Leviticus 18:21.) God says, “You shall not give any of your offspring to offer them to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of the Lord your God.” God is decidedly and unquestionably opposed to child sacrifice. Any nation propagating it was to be kept out of Israel.
Then in Yahweh’s wisdom, He commands His people to take a great deal of time before allowing other nations to assimilate into the culture of His covenant people. For example, after three generations the Egyptians were allowed into citizenship of Israel. “You shall not detest an Edomite, for he is your brother; you shall not detest an Egyptian, because you were an alien in his land. The sons of the third generation who are born to them may enter the assembly of the Lord,” (Deuteronomy 23:7,8). Why after three generations could Egyptians enter into the assembly of Yahweh’s people? Because Yahweh wanted to give ample time for the Egyptians to “buy in” to the Jewish culture, to be aware of it and to embrace it, at least to some degree, to not be actively opposed to it. And we see this principle further illustrated in many places in the Pentateuch. In Numbers 9:14, “If an alien sojourns among you and observes the Passover to the Lord . . . you shall have one statute, both for the alien and for the native of the land.” Exodus 12:48 says that if an alien sojourns among you and celebrates the Passover . . . he shall be like a native of the land. Leviticus 17:10 states the same principle negatively. “Any man from the house of Israel, or from the aliens who sojourn among them . . . I will set My face against that person . . . and will cut him off from among his people.”
So, putting this all together we find certain basic principles of immigration which are gleaned from the Scriptures and which we should most certainly observe as a nation founded on Christian principles.
Principle 1, there are two types of aliens. One is a person or family passing through a nation, much like a tourist seeing the sites in a particular nation. The other is one who intends to live in that new nation as a citizen.
Principle 2, there are two general attitudes of these two types of aliens. One is very happy to be visiting or putting down roots. He is in the new nation peacefully and has no theological, philosophical, or cultural ax to grind. God tells us to welcome gladly such people into our nation, whether on a “tourist” visa or one planning to live out his life in that new nation.
Principle 3, if the “permanent” resident makes a strong effort to assimilate into the new culture (who learns the language, who finds a job, who is productive and not taking a welfare check, who buys into the general religious and ideological mindset of the culture, who does not seek to begin Sharia law into the community, for example) then he is by all means encouraged to come and stay.
Principle 4, if the permanent resident has cultural, religious, or moral values very different from the host culture, then he should not be allowed to enter the country. This takes time to distinguish so immediate citizenship is ill advisable. The host nation chooses who may enter the nation, and this is not a right, but a privilege conferred by the host nation at its discretion, hopefully keeping in mind these principles.
If any nation uses a similar rationale, then peace will reign and the values held by generations of their people can be passed down to the aliens. This is good. This is the way to handle our present immigration crisis.
So, we should:
—vet all foreigners coming as tourists or permanent residents
—not allow those not in step with our values into the country
—thoroughly vet those coming from countries sponsoring terrorism before allowing them into our country, and if any evidence is found to cast doubt on a commitment to our values, then they must be barred from entering.