Two Bible studies on illegal immigration
By 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, . 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 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
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.