Two Bible studies on illegal immigration

Joseph FarahBy Joseph Farah

We know what George Bush thinks.

We know what the Minutemen say.

We even sort of know what Hillary Clinton believes about illegal immigration.

But what does God have to say about it?

That should be of paramount concern to any believer before taking a position. Yet, I seldom hear it discussed. Some might even suggest the Bible is silent on the issue.

So let’s take a look at this issue from a biblical perspective.

Nations were first established by God as a judgment in Genesis 11. Remember the Tower of Babel story? It seems there was a man named Nimrod who attempted to set up the first world government and the first false religion.

After the Flood, God decreed that man should scatter across the whole earth and be fruitful and multiply. But, about 100 years later, a large contingent of men, under the leadership of Nimrod, whose very name means “let us revolt or rebel,” decided they would settle in Shinar and build a tower to make a name for themselves.

God foiled this plan by scattering them around the world and creating new languages among the new nations that were thus established.

Make no mistake about it: Nation-states are an invention of the Creator – a deliberately chosen device to serve His purposes.

That’s what we’re told in Acts 17:26-27: That God “hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord.”

Ultimately, the purpose of nation-states seems to be to restrain Satan’s efforts at creating his kingdom on earth. That will happen eventually – only when God Himself permits it in His timing, as shown in Revelation 17:17: “For God hath put in their hearts to fulfill his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.” But nation-states serve another purpose as well – to be God’s instruments on earth for meting out justice and providing protection for the people. (Deuteronomy 17:14-17)

Ultimately, the debate about borders and illegal immigration is a debate about national sovereignty. You have heard it said that if we don’t have borders, we don’t have countries. It’s really true – especially when two countries very different from one another in language, culture and economy share a 2,000-mile border as do Mexico and the U.S.

Illegal immigration didn’t just happen because no one was paying attention. President Bush made it clear on any number of occasions that he believed it made good economic sense to allow millions and millions of illegal aliens to enter our country, in spite of our laws, because they were willing to do work Americans weren’t willing to do.

He didn’t try to change the laws first. As chief executive of the country, Bush simply decided not to enforce the laws of the land. That was wrong. It was immoral. It was illegal. It was a violation of his constitutional oath of office.

Furthermore, the problem didn’t begin with Bush. Back in 1993, the North American Free Trade Agreement was approved by Congress and Bush’s predecessor, Bill Clinton. This agreement, which was supposed to stem the tide of illegal immigration by stimulating the economy of Mexico, had the exact opposite effect. It wrecked it beyond all recognition, stimulating, instead, a massive exodus of Mexican workers to the U.S. trying to provide for their families.

Again, this was no accident. It was not just a mistake. It was, I believe, an effort to “harmonize” the two countries – to begin integrating them, erasing the differences between them, mixing the populations to such an extent that discussions of merging the three major North American nations along the lines of the European Union would no longer seem inappropriate.

In other words, what is happening in North America and Europe and Africa and Asia – breaking down the barriers of nation-state sovereignty – is not that much different from what happened back in the days of the Tower of Babel.

It is, ultimately, about moving away from differences between nations that God Himself created for His own divine purposes. It is about following the path of Nimrod and all the others who have attempted to build super-states in defiance of God.

Another Bible study on illegal immigration

Joseph Farah

By Joseph Farah


So well-received was my first Bible study on illegal immigration, I decided to write another.


I can tell you from personal experience, it is rare when you can write about what the Bible says or suggests about a certain topic without attracting some heavy flak. To my astonishment and joy, I did not receive even one critical e-mail about a column that was read by many thousands of people.

Maybe this follow-up will bring out the naysayers.

With my first effort, I purposely approached the issue of illegal immigration with Scriptures I had never before seen applied to this particular debate. Instead of dealing with the people we call illegal aliens, I dealt with the larger picture of what it means to be a nation-state.

Countless Bible studies have been conducted in America in recent years using some familiar citations about “strangers” and “aliens” and applying them to our current controversy.

Leviticus 19:33-34: And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

Exodus 22:21: Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.

Exodus 23:9: Also thou shalt not oppress a stranger: for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.

Deuteronomy 10:19: Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.

Some churches have stopped right there after reading that verse and decided they know all they need to know about their duty as Christians to illegal aliens.

“We’re supposed to treat them just like one born among us, according to the Bible,” they proclaim. “That means amnesty. It means all the benefits of citizenship.”

But hold on there, partner. Not so fast. You can develop some really bad theology – not to mention politics – by reading the Bible out of context, by not fully understanding what is being said to whom and about whom.

Strangers that sojourn with you or live with you does not equate with illegal aliens. In fact, the corollary here, in each and every case, is that the children of Israel were “strangers” in Egypt. That’s why they were to treat their own “strangers” well, because they knew what it is like to be “strangers” in a foreign land.

Clearly, then, what it means to be a “stranger” is to be a foreigner. In the case of the children of Israel in Egypt, they were invited and, at first anyway, were honored guests. Later, they would be oppressed by a generation who “knew not Joseph.” But they were certainly not trespassers. They were certainly not in Egypt illegally. They were certainly not breaking the laws of the land by being in Egypt. In fact, they were commanded not to offend their hosts in any way (Genesis 46:28-34).

So, we must conclude that “stranger” does not equal “illegal alien.” Even when the term “alien” is used in the Bible, it seems to have the exact same meaning as “stranger.”

God loves the stranger, we’re told. You should, too. They should be treated with respect and dignity. They should not be mistreated. These foreigners should be given food and clothing when they are in need. That’s the clear message of the Bible – treat law-abiding foreigners and aliens with love and compassion.

The aliens and strangers of the Bible were expected to obey the Hebrew laws, though they were exempt from some. They were also treated differently than the children of Israel in that they could not own property; they could be bought as slaves and charged interest on loans.

Only if these aliens and strangers were fully converted as Jews – and that included circumcision – could they be landowners, partake of the Passover and be fully integrated into the nation of Israel.

In other words, even though the aliens and strangers of the Bible were not illegal aliens, they were still expected to fully assimilate into the Hebrew religion and culture before they could receive all the blessings and all the responsibility of full citizenship.

Further, keep in mind these godly instructions were meant not just for the governing authorities in Israel – the judges and kings – but, more importantly, for the people. These were personal instructions. And they are clearly good instructions for us all today.

If we want to be compassionate to the strangers and aliens of our world today, those law-abiding foreigners who desperately want to come to America and are patiently awaiting their turn, we need to be certain they don’t get squeezed out unfairly by those who broke the law and pushed ahead of them in line.

We shouldn’t be mean to those lawbreakers either. We shouldn’t mistreat them. We should even forgive them. But they have to leave.

They haven’t been invited. They are not our guests. They are not just strangers; they are trespassers. They need to go back home and get in line like everyone else waiting to enter our country lawfully.


24 Responses to “Two Bible studies on illegal immigration”

  1. We should also be aware of who those “strangers” are. I live in Mexico and know many people who have gone over to the USA both legally and illegally, and notice that several of the illegal ones have been getting caught and returned, good news. The most interesting thing to me, however, is those comic books that instruct, in the simplest way, because it it directed to those who can barely read anyway, how to get (sneak) across the border and avoid detection (hide) are given to the uneducated unemployed and prisoners getting out of Mexican jails.
    Mexicos way of emptying the trash.

  2. Joseph McB Says:

    Your biblical exegesis has some merit to it, but it saddens me that in your explaination of Christian beliefs you left out the words and actions of Jesus Christ on the matter of the word “alien” or “stranger,” much less our “neighbor.”
    Although your OT words used for “alien” and “stranger” are in Hebrew, and the NT is in Greek, the words and intentions of Christ are clear in how Jesus interacts with “strangers” of His time. Jesus’ interaction with the samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-42) and the Good Samaritan (Luke 10). In the time of Jesus and the early church, the Jews were not to interact with the Samaritans, but Jesus did not heed that social construct.
    As you advocate, we should be wary of taking scripture out of context–however, we should also look at the words and teachings of Jesus in thier context and see how they apply to our current situations and issues.
    It is very difficult to take Jesus’ actions towards strangers (whether law abiding or not) as anything but loving and compassionate.
    Thanks for your time.
    Joseph McB

  3. […] A view that God would be helping build a wall to keep brown people out of the US can be found here. Bookmark […]

  4. I fully agree with your assesment of Illegal aliens verses “strangers”. To add to your reasoning; It took months and many plagues to convince pharo to let the Israelites go. I, nor most American citizens would consider stopping an illegal alien from going back to his native country if he so desired.

    In fact I would be over-joyed that they decided to do the Godly thing ie. become obedient to God and the laws of the land.

  5. To introduce something altogether new would mean to begin all over, to become ignorant again, and to run the old, old risk of failing to learn.IsaacAsimovIsaac Asimov

  6. In the consciousness of the truth he has perceived, man now sees everywhere only the awfulness or the absurdity of existence and loathing seizes him.FriedrichWilhelmNietzscheFriedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

  7. There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval.GeorgeSantayanaGeorge Santayana, 1863-1952, original name Jorge August?n Nicol?s Ruiz De Santayana

  8. She-who-runs-quick Says:

    Well Sir, I, as a representative of the Native Americans that have lived in these lands of the U.S.A I will also have to leave since your ancestors were also not invited when they came here. At least the illegal immigrants that come here don’t take our lands away and donate to us disease-ridden clothing to kill us. These are a lot nicer, we like them. Remember to be kind sir. If you want the U.S. to be a godly country, then do unto others as you would have them do unto you and focus not on the illegal immigrants but on serving your God, otherwise, God may ask you to leave his kingdom. Seeing as how you take such a delightful interest in what the bible has to say, I think God could use you in his most awesome work on helping the poor. This would probably give you more joy since Jesus promoted helping the poor more than anything else. Join God in his loving work and may he bless you and may you get to know him better.

  9. She-who-runs-quick Says:

    Well Sir, I, as a representative of the Native Americans that have lived in these lands of the U.S.A, will also have to ask you to leave since your ancestors were also not invited when they came here. At least the illegal immigrants that come here don’t take our lands away and donate to us disease-ridden clothing to kill us. These are a lot nicer, we like them. Remember to be kind sir. If you want the U.S. to be a godly country, then do unto others as you would have them do unto you and focus not on the illegal immigrants but on serving your God, otherwise, God may ask you to leave his kingdom. Seeing as how you take such a delightful interest in what the bible has to say, I think God could use you in his most awesome work on helping the poor. This would probably give you more joy since Jesus promoted helping the poor more than anything else. Join God in his loving work and may he bless you and may you get to know him better.

  10. She-who-runs-quick Says:

    Also, mexicans in mexican jails are not altogether bad. You must remember that many were imprisoned without fair trial and well, the mexican goverment is corrupt anyways. Mexicans coming out of mexican jail may or may not be evil.

  11. She-who-runs-quick Says:

    Did you know that once Jesus frees you that you are above the law? Of course we must remember that this freedom of being above the law doesn’t mean that we will do sinful actions like Paul reminds us. But what if one of these illegal immigrants is a freed Christian and God has given him/her a mission to reach across the border and share the real message of love to people like you. Really, there are no borders, no boundaries of any form that can stop the spreading the message of the gospels of Jesus Christ our Lord.

  12. She-who-runs-quick Says:

    Anyways, it seems to me that you’re targeting mexican illegal immigrants. You know this is more like racism and well, this is quite unlawful. I thought you sought justice? I don’t know that God would be all that pleased with your racist hateful sentiments.

  13. She-who-runs-quick Says:

    I love you man. I’m sorry if I’m being a bother.
    But I love you anyways, I don’t care what you do or think. In the end, none of this matters, only God matters. Goodness gracious he loves us no matter what! So I just gotta pass on this contagious love! I love you and everybody else who hates the lawbreakers, just like Jesus loved the people who judged and condemned the prostitutes, taxcolletors, and hated the poor and diseased. I LOVE YOU ALL. No matter what. Amen.

  14. why don’t you start a “build a border fence for the lord campaign”?

    bye bye miss american pie…….

  15. first of all, you are using the bible out of context, trying to support your personal opinion, also your opinion is based in the excuse that illegals were not invited, but that’s not true, because the statue of liberty is a symbol that invites inmigrants to form part of this nation, also nobody here was invited in first place, the english came to take over the land of native americans and made a huge sin taking them out of their own land, and making them suffer.
    Now, I really doubt about your love in God, if you cannot love the illegal people as your own people, because it is true that you had to do many things to become a jew, but jesus hated that. God made them suffer many things throughout history because of their racist behavior, and he cried over jerusalen because they didnt even accepted jesus. But they know that is pain, because they were slaves for hundred of years, and they were killed and who knows how many things more because of their behavior, they were proud of being jews, like americans of being americans, and they didn’t even left space for God, thats whats happening now with this country, and whoevers believe in God, must believe all of His teachings, not only the ones like look “right” for them, so please before posting your ideas, and even more, supporting them with the bible, please read the whole bible, and pray, and ask God what is His opinion about this, not yours, because even the enemy knows the bible, but only the Holy Spirit gives interpretation of it. God bless you

  16. If you want to hear a reader’s feedback 🙂 , I rate this post for 4/5. Detailed info, but I have to go to that damn yahoo to find the missed bits. Thanks, anyway!

  17. I hope you provide as careful and nuanced a study when dealing with homosexuality and sexism in the Bible.

  18. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy
    Matthew 5:7

    Matthew 5
    38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
    39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
    40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.
    41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
    42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
    43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
    44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
    45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
    46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
    47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
    48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

    There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death
    Proverbs 14:12

    Deuteronomy 8
    17 And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth.
    18 But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.
    19 And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the LORD thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish.

    Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God
    Ephesians 2:19

  19. Francisco Trujillo Says:

    Do you have this study in spanish by any chance, I need it , please
    God bless you

  20. You’re right about not allowing politics to influence the way we read the word of God. Since political policy is decided by believers and non-believers, in the name of stepping in line, many compromises are made by believers sometimes.

    I’m curious if you have run across any history of the process aliens had to go through to officially be invited into other lands in biblical times. How did legal migration work back then? We should design our system to follow the more traditional way instead of working with visas and green cards.

    As a second question. Since it took a few years to get from Egypt to Israel, were they officially welcomed/invited everywhere they went as a group? If not, how did they get around the whole “stranger in a foreign land” thing.

    Thanks for the explanation.

  21. D Avila Says:

    Let’s take a closer look at this. Your people came here uninvited. Trespassers They stole the land and killed those who previously possessed it. Theifs and murderers. Broke the law again by waging war against their own government. That’s treason. Made treaties with Mexico and then broke those treaties. That would make them liars. Killed for the sake of land. etc…….and yet you consider yourself to have the God given right to judge others on how they go about getting here.

    In your blog you state “That’s the clear message of the Bible – treat law-abiding foreigners and aliens with love and compassion”

    I’m pretty sure you’ll have to account for this one on judgement day. The clear message of the Bible is to Love thy neighbor as thy self. NOT the LAW-ABIDING neighbor. Somewhere along the line you’ve given yourself the right to judge what is law-abiding in the eye’s of God. What is right in the eyes of God. Study Pauls life really good before you think about responding with the obeying the law of the land speech. The law of GOD always trumps the law of the land.

    Please do us other Christians a favor, and stop posting subjects that involve mixing your opinion with what you think God is trying to say. I’d rather see you just preach what is in black and white. That means preach “LOVE THEY NEIGHBOR AS THY SELF”.

    May God have mercy on your soul.

  22. Satan is currently the ruler of this world. Jesus referred to him as such in John 12:31; 14:30; and 16:11. Also, when Satan offered Jesus the kingdoms of the world, Jesus did not deny that they were his to offer. 1John 5:19 says, “The whole world lies under the sway [power] of the wicked one.” Thus worsening world conditions since Satan began his influence. Soon, Satan’s dominion will be destroyed. At such a time, there will be an abundance of peace on the earth. Psalms 37:11 (King James).

  23. Ram Herns Says:

    You know I agree with you. However, aren’t we all strangers to this land. Were early settlers invited to live as guests in this land? History shows that this countrys’ early begining demontrates a lot pain caused to the inhabitants (Indians) of this country. Yet, how soon we forget that the reason that others came to the USA is the same reason the early settlers came. Those early settlers were escaping from thier country of oirgin and seeking a better form of life. Which they found at the cost of the people already here. If this country was given back to them I wonder what kind of laws would be written favoring thier people. Would we all have to leave this country then? I wonder?

  24. The facts of this are not exactly clear. I see a lot of propaganda, fear tactics, name calling, etc.

    I see a lot of people taking sides and trying there best to make the point and justify an action or a belief. This is what god would do, this is what the bible says, etc.

    What do we call a person that takes bits and pieces out of a book of instructions and use what they want but ignore the rest?

    Furthermore, what do we call the person that changes the words to mean something that they personally feel in there hearts, although possibly twisted but yet, capable of voice and allowing masses to be corrupted?

    We are all gonna be judged one day. Will these arguments, justifications and beliefs win God over? Is this something God would approve of? If God was here right now and God was reading over your shoulder, would he give ya a pat on the back or thump your head? One or the other is alright with me, means God cares and is either rewarding me or shaping me!

    Since when is it ok to judge our neighbors and we all know what kind of world they live in, and if someone is in that environment do you honestly believe they have trained, experienced skill sets that would provide a benefit to a society at the current level of expectation?
    Do you feel the education of such an individual is going to be up to the level of expectations so as to provide a continuance of education should they so choose?
    Do you think most people coming from that environment will have on them the monies necessary to get into housing, buy clothing, pay for utilities? Citizens of this country are having problems with all these things. What defines the citizen, the birthright or the service?

    Now not all people would have these problems, and to assume that would be the same flawed outlook that has been allowed to plague this countries media centers since the early 1990s and possibly before. But who am I to make a comment about how people push entertainment programming, except to note that entertainment programming goes where the money goes.

    The fact is, people that are in survival mode, will justify whatever it takes to go to a better place. Much the same as anyone on this planet. Did you know there is a very real possibility that Americans will experience this same plight? Look hard at the trends, what historical reference comes to mind of a people who judges those less fortunate and instead of lending a helping hand we lend our boot heels. All in the name of law?

    Im sure it was a law to round up people who look different or did not act a certain way, or have a particular last name or did not believe in the something. It probably starts with something like this too, something that seems harmless, meaningless, oh they dont belong here, there different, they dont respect our heritage, etc. Most American children grades 9 – 12, college students, graduates, citizens would not be able to pass a basic citizenship test right now. Most would not care either.

    What do we call the person who makes others do things that ourselves refuse to partake in or even have knowledge of or worst do not respect or refuse to enforce?

    When you see a fellow human and that fellow human is struggling, you help them. If they thirst, you provide water, if they hunger, you provide food. We do not turn our backs on people, we are better than that.

    Wake up America…

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