What Does The Bible Teach Concerning Immigration?

Yesterday, we began looking at the legal or Constitutional side of Obama’s executive order. We said the order itself was illegal. We came to this conclusion because there is no power in the office of President to make law or set aside law. We also said that it set a bad precedent to have the President act in such a way. There is the issue posterity. This kind of behavior only encourages tyranny.

Then we brought up the issue of the Bible. When it comes to the Christian; where should we stand on immagration. Does the Bible inform us how we should think about immigrants?

I told you that to start we needed to look at two passages. The first is Ruth 1:19 and the second is in Matthew 2:13-14. We will deal with these today, and then see if there are any other passages that we need to contend with before we settle our minds on this issue.

We are all familiar with the story of Ruth and Boaz, but there is one part that bears on our discussion. It occurrs right after Ruth’s vow of commitment to Naomi, the most well know section of the book. In 1:19 of Ruth we read:

So they both went until they came to Bethlehem. And when they had come to Bethlehem, all the city was stirred because of them, and the women said, “Is this Naomi?”

Now I want you to notice not just what is said, but what is not said. In the first place, Naomi was an Israelite and Ruth a Moabite. But we do not have Ruth going to an immigration office and applying for a gleaning visa. She simply goes to Bethlehem and lives and gleans there.

I know that things are different now, but we have to remember that Israel was God’s people. They were chosen to receive the special care of God, yet we do not see any attempt to restrict people from moving into or working in their land. This, at least it seems is a foreign (no pun intended) concept.

Immigration restrictions were a foreign concept because it would have been the opposite of what the law taught them. If we look at the book of the Law or the Pentateuch, we find that aliens are mentioned 43 times. 43 is a big number, yet all but 17 of these mentions have to do with justice being the same for them as with the Israelite. The 17 all come from the book of Deuteronomy.

There God lumps the alien in with the provision and care He has for the widow and orphan. We then find that not rejection but special care was to be given to the alien. This comes out clearest in chapter 24 of Deuteronomy, where the alien is mentioned five times. In each of these mentions, there is the care and provision for those aliens as God’s concern.

So from Ruth and the Law, we have strong evidence that God would not have such restrictions on immigration as we have here in America. Rather, we see that when there is a lack of resources in one land and an abundance in another, then movement, to enjoy those resources, is desirable and good.

The next text we will look at comes from the book of Matthew in the New Testament. Matthew 2:13-14 reads:

Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.” So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt.

Once again, we see the same thing. There is no restrictions on the movement from one place to the other. Joseph took his family to Egypt to live. They were not Egyptians, but they lived there until things had improved. Once we read this and apply this to the issue, it is very hard to have a “biblical” stance against immigration.

What is harder, is if we looked at every passage in Scripture that dealt with immigration. Once we think of Abraham, Jacob, Joseph and the twelve brothers, it is hard to say that God is for restrictions on immigration.

So then, does this mean that we should not restrict any from entering the country? Well, not so fast. There are a few passages we will deal with that shows that open borders are not the way to go either. We will look at these tomorrow.