There’s been plenty in the news lately about immigration reform, what to do about the “Dreamers,” building walls, protecting borders, etc. We live in a very polarized country right now, particularly when it comes to political issues, and the topic of immigration reform isn’t immune. Often good people end up on very different sides in the immigration debate.
So as a Bible teacher, I’m always asking the question: “What’s Gods take on this issue?” And a lot of time, quite frankly, God’s take isn’t what I expected, or even what I’ve been taught in church. So when I come to a passage of Scripture that begins with “Thus saith the Lord” or concludes with “declares the Sovereign Lord” I take notice. When God declares something, He’s not offering up a political ideology or a moral suggestion. It’s a declaration from Almighty God, and as such, it’s not up for discussion or debate.
Recently I was reading through the Old Testament book of Ezekiel. I don’t typically spend a lot of time there, just happened to be in the scriptural neighborhood. And toward the end of the book, I happened upon a surprising passage, three verses in particular. And they finished with those words, “declares the Sovereign Lord.” I thought they were particularly appropriate considering the current immigration discussion.
At this point in the book, God is giving Ezekiel a vision for the future, specifically about land use. He goes into great detail about national borders, then tribal borders within the national borders (think states), and He emphasizes there is to be equity. But then, God makes a staggering statement about immigration, people who have settled in the land from other nations, known as foreigners or aliens.
“You are to distribute this land among yourselves according to the tribes of Israel. You are to allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the foreigners who have settled among you and who have children. You are to consider them as native-born Israelites; along with you they are to be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel. In whatever tribe the foreigner settles, there you are to give him his inheritance,” declares the Sovereign Lord. Ezekiel (47:21-23)
Wow! I wasn’t at all surprised to see that God was making sure there was land, an inheritance, for the tribes of Israel. But I was quite surprised to see that He insists that the foreigners are also included in that inheritance, and in His own words “You are to consider them as native-born Israelites.” In other words, you are to treat them like family…not foreigners..”
Interestingly enough, God mentions “and who have children.” The dreamers. Typically when a person leaves one country and settles in another, they’re either fleeing something bad (oppression or poverty) or pursuing something good (opportunity or peace) for their family. They want a better life for themselves, but even more so for their children. God understands that desire, and wanted to make sure that His people honored the foreigner and his family.
Treat them just like family.
This mirrors Jesus’ New Testament teaching in Matthew 7:12, “So in everything, do for others what you would have them do for you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Treat others the way you want to be treated. Treat other people’s family the way you want your family to be treated.
In everything. Including immigration.
And just like God’s sovereign declaration in the Old Testament, this is a command from King Jesus. Not a suggestion. Not a political ideology. A command.
So in everything, let’s want for others what we want for ourselves and our families. Amen.