Immigration and the Bible

I know, I know, many think that religion and politics do not mix. Those same people usually do not realize that before modern politics ever came on the scene, God’s Word spoke loud and clear on important subjects. Just to give a few examples, long before the pro choice pro life debate, God spoke clearly on the right to life. You can see it in His Word. To claim that your religious convictions should have no place in the pro life pro choice debate is ludicrous. This debate was settled long ago by God, way before modern politics tried to highjack it. The same goes for same sex marriages. God defined marriage as being between one man and one woman from the very beginning. He also condemned homosexuality (along with all the other sexual sins practiced by people today). The final verdict stands on immigration. Many claim that the Bible speaks of no such issue (just like they claim that the Bible does not mention abortion, He does by describing the act instead of just using a word because we can manipulate words too easily). Although you will not find the word “immigration” in the Bible, there are some principles taught in the Bible that would apply to immigration.

I. God allows the boundaries of your nation to be established

Some would argue that the modern division of landmasses (nations) is strictly man made and therefore we should not limit ourselves to things such as borders (whether man-made or natural, e.g. rivers, mountains, oceans etc.) This is simply not true. God establishes borders for countries. He was general when explaining the borders of the Promised land to Abraham but later gives more detail the the exact boundaries.

14 The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward ; 15 for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever . 16 “I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth, so that if anyone can number the dust of the earth, then your descendants can also be numbered. 17 “Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth ; for I will give it to you.” (Genesis 13)

If we just limited ourselves to this passage then we would not know the exact boundaries. How far could Abraham see in every direction? We do not know. God does not leave us hanging though. That is why we let Scripture interpret Scripture so that we can see just how specific God is in what He says. In Exodus, we receive some very specific boundaries for the borders of Israel.

31 “I will fix your boundary from the Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the River Euphrates; for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you will drive them out before you. (Exodus 23)

Ezekiel also gives us a pretty detailed description of the land, specifically the borders for the nation of Israel.

15 “This shall be the boundary of the land : on the north side, from the Great Sea by the way of Hethlon, to the entrance of Zedad ; 16 Hamath, Berothah, Sibraim, which is between the border of Damascus and the border of Hamath ; Hazer-hatticon, which is by the border of Hauran. 17 “The boundary shall extend from the sea to Hazar-enan at the border of Damascus, and on the north toward the north is the border of Hamath. This is the north side. 18 “The east side, from between Hauran, Damascus, Gilead and the land of Israel, shall be the Jordan ; from the north border to the eastern sea you shall measure. This is the east side. 19 “The south side toward the south shall extend from Tamar as far as the waters of Meribath-kadesh , to the brook of Egypt and to the Great Sea. This is the south side toward the south. 20 “The west side shall be the Great Sea, from the south border to a point opposite Lebo-hamath. This is the west side. (Ezekiel 47)

So, what does this have to do with those of us who live in the modern world? Are we not now under the New Covenant? Do borders still matter to God? Yes they do, at least that is what Saint Paul teaches us, a man who was taught directly by God.

24 “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands ; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things ; 26 and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, 27 that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; (Acts 17)

You and I were born exactly where God wanted us to be born. The reason that we were born there is so that we would seek God and find Him. Does this mean that you must live out your days only in the country or region of your birth? Of course not because when Paul wrote what he did in Acts, he was a long way from the place of his birth. Immigration is not a sin and no one ever said that it was. No one, on the other hand, can claim that borders are evil and not of God.

II. God commands us to obey the laws of the land

The government under which you live may not be a godly one but the idea of government originated with God and must be honored. Paul and Peter both make this very clear. BTW, when Peter and Paul wrote what they did, they were under the Roman Empire’s corrupt rule so claiming that you do not have to submit to your government because they are corrupt is not Biblical.

1 Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God ; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. 3 For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority ? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same ; 4 for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid ; for it does not bear the sword for nothing ; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. 5 Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. 7 Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom ; fear to whom fear ; honor to whom honor. (Romans 13)

From this passage, it is pretty clear that we are to obey the laws of the land. Are there any exceptions? When can I say no to my government, if ever? Peter gives us the answer in Acts. He was told by the governing authorities to stop teaching people the Word of God and no longer to proclaim the Name of Christ. Here is his response.

18 And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge ; 20 for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4)

Is there a time when we can say no to the law of the land? Yes, when that law requires us to break God’s higher Law. If our government asks us to murder someone then we must refuse. If our government asks us to lie and steal then we must refuse.

III. God’s Word on immigration and immigrants

God does not use the word “immigrant” when speaking of foreigners. He calls them strangers or foreigners. God is not against foreigners. In fact, He encouraged them to live among the Hebrews and adopt their ways, especially when it came to worship and obedience to Him. He wants to have a relationship with all people, foreign or native, free or otherwise. He did not want the foreigner influencing the Hebrews in a negative way. Those kind of influences were not tolerated by God. The foreigners who came to Israel were to adopt the Hebrew way of life. They could even be adopted into the nation. This is exactly the policy of the USA, the law of the land today in America. Immigration is welcomed but it must be done the right way. Please come and adopt the Christian way of life. Submit to the laws of the land where they do not contradict the Word of God.

I am definitely not against legal immigration. If it were not for legal immigration, I would not be married to my wife today nor would I have the 3 beautiful children that I do. My wife and I did it legally and encourage others to as well. Rewarding people for breaking the law is not biblical. The Bible teaches praise for obeying the law and punishment for breaking the law. That is exactly what Paul explains in Romans 13:

3 For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority ? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same ; 4 for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid ; for it does not bear the sword for nothing ; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.

God bless all people of all nations with the knowledge of Him so that they can experience salvation and the benefits of eternal life in the presence of God.

6 comments on “Immigration and the Bible

  1. Erik, I find it interesting that you use a quote from the New American Standard Bible as your basis to oppose abortion. If you look at the same verses in the KJV, then you get quite a different story (closer to the original text, if I remember correctly).

    The KJV says “so that her fruit depart from her” – ie, not necessarily a live birth. This is quite a contrast with the more modern version (“so that she gives birth prematurely”). A distinction that was likely deliberately introduced in the new translation to strengthen the argument against abortion. And the no mischief / no injury can be seen to more directly apply to the woman rather than her “fruit”.

    But why not use the bible’s own definition of when life begins (Genesis 2:7): “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”? In other words, life begins when the baby starts to breathe – ie at birth.

    • Good try but wrong in many ways. The NAS is a translation of the original Hebrew and in this case, a better translation than the KJV. The scholarship today in regards to the original Greek and Hebrew is so much better than it was in 1611.

      Genesis 2:7 deals not with a birth but creation, two totally different things. The body created in Genesis still did not have the soul. It was an inanimate object, as opposed to the life inside the mother’s room. You did some mental gymnastics to try and justify abortion. This is the whole “apples to oranges” argument.

      In Judges, Samson was known by God as a person while in his mother’s womb.

      The Christ child was known by God as a living being while in His mother’s womb.

      The psalmist, David, was knitted together as a living being in his mother’s womb.

      Isaiah was called by God while in his mother’s womb. God set him apart and communicated to him as a living being yet while still in his mother’s womb.

      The only way that a womb can become a grave is if there were at one time life in it.

      God interacted with John the Baptist while he was still in his mother’s womb. There was life there. When John and Jesus met for the first time, they were both in their mothers’ wombs and they recognized each other.

      Everything in Scripture points to life in the womb, an animate object, as opposed to the body in Genesis 2, that did not yet have life. Science has clearly proven that there is life in the womb. The baby can feel pain, move, laugh, suck its thumb etc.

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  4. Bravo! Well said and well explained. Thank you for your response to the gentleman who wanted to justify abortion. BTW – if it’s not a life, then why are we harvesting its organs? Just a thought.

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