November 30, 2008

The Bible on the Treatment of Immigrants

The Old Testament has some interesting things to say regarding the treatment of immigrants among the people of Israel:

  1.        Prohibitions on oppression and unfair treatment (Exo. 22:21; Exo. 23:9; Deut. 10:18-19; Deut. 24:17; Eze. 22:7; Eze. 22:29; Zech. 7:10)
  2.        They are held to the same laws as natives (Exo. 12:19; Lev. 17:15; Lev. 24:22; Num. 9:14; Num. 15:15; Num. 15:30; Lev. 19:34)
  3.        They are included in the provisions for the orphans, widows, and other poor (Lev. 19:10; Lev. 23:22; Deut. 14:29; Deut. 24:19-21; Deut 26:12-13)

While we can’t take the laws and customs of the Israelites and transplant them directly to a Christian era under secular governments, there are certainly underlying principles that apply regardless of the culture and context. Throughout the Old Testament, the reason God gives for this treatment of sojourners or foreigners is that the Israelites themselves were once sojourners in the land of Egypt. Christians everywhere should be able to relate to this sentiment, seeing as we are but sojourners ourselves with a heavenly citizenship (Php 3:20; Heb. 13:14)

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