Sunday, January 06, 2008

Immigration

I have become concerned about the growing anti-immigrant attitude that I hear on talk radio programs, read in letters to the editor in newspapers, and see among some people. These Scriptures are rarely heard, but the Bible is full of similar statements that we should hear:

"For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt" (Deuteronomy 10:17-19, NIV).

"At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year's produce and store it in your towns, so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands" (Deuteronomy 14:28-29, NIV). These verses refer to a little-known tax upon the Israelites that was collected every 3 years to care for the Levites and the poor (including aliens or immigrants). It was an early Israelite welfare program.

"Do not deprive the alien or the fatherless of justice, or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge" (Deuteronomy 24:17, NIV).

"When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. When you beat the olives from your trees, do not go over the branches a second time. Leave what remains for the alien, the fatherless and the widow. When you harvest the grapes in your vineyard, do not go over the vines again. Leave what remains for the alien, the fatherless and the widow. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt. That is why I command you to do this" (Deuteronomy 24:19-22, NIV). This provision in the Law of Moses provided an opportunity for the poor and powerless (including immigrants) to get enough to survive if they would work for it. The law also discouraged greed and hoarding by the wealthy members of society. The famous immigrant Ruth used this provision to survive when she arrived in Israel (Ruth 2:1-12).

"'Cursed is the man who withholds justice from the alien, the fatherless or the widow.'
Then all the people shall say, 'Amen!'" (Deuteronomy 27:19, NIV).

"The LORD watches over the alien
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked" (Psalm 146:9, NIV).

"If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, if you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your forefathers for ever and ever" (Jeremiah 7:5-7, NIV).

"This is what the LORD says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of his oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the alien, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place" (Jeremiah 22:3, NIV).

"This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other'" (Zechariah 7:9-10, NIV).

"'So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me,' says the LORD Almighty" (Malachi 3:5, NIV).

7 comments:

choosingtodiscover said...

I whole-heartily agree with you. I understand many people's pride and patriotism about their nationality.

But we also have to remember that the biggest gift we were given was the ability to be grafted into another nation and inherit their promises.

In no way do I support lawlessness or national insecurity, but at some point, a group of people must become the individuals that make it up and treating them with hostility is not acceptable as a Christian.

Terry said...

Thanks for the comment, Choosingtodiscover. You are right. I want to treat people with kindness rather than hostility whenever possible, no matter where they come from or how well they speak my language.

NaNcY said...

my mother's parents were from germany
my fathers grand parents were from england/wales

my husband's mother's parents were from ireland
and his father's parents from germany/england

almost all americans have ancestors that came from another country

and we are all aliens in this world

anyway

good post

Terry said...

Good points, Nancy. Your comments reminded me that the apostle Peter referred to Christians as "aliens and strangers in the world" (1 Peter 2:11, NIV). Thanks for the help!

Allen said...

I don't have a problem with aliens, per se, but the flying saucer buzzing my house at all hours of the night and the crop circles in my cornfields have got to stop!

I think the word that gets passed over in most discussions on immigration is "illegal." Too often, no line is drawn between those who are here through legal means and those who snuck in under shady circumstances, thus breaking our law and being labelled "illegal."

Unfortunately, the Israelites didn't have much of an immigration policy in Canaan (being aliens, themselves) and so a bunch of Gentiles like me managed to get themselves "grafted into" their "vine."

Terry said...

Allen,
I sleep fairly soundly, so I don't hear their flying saucers during the night. I don't have a corn field either. But if anyone wants to make circles in my yard, please mow the whole thing. Don't just make circles...do a complete job!

Thanks for the comment. I always enjoy your input!

Terry said...

Allen,
I should have responded to your comment about leaving out the word "illegal" in my post. I did that intentionally, because I have heard radio talk show hosts leave it out. In fact, sometimes I have heard them simply say "Hispanics" instead of "illegal immigrants," thus demonstrating what I believe is their key objection to immigration. Many simply do not want more Hispanics in the USA. My post was intended to address such bigotry, rather than the legal system of our country. Thanks for bringing up the topic, so that I could explain my reasoning.