The Context That Informs Immigration In Old Testament

Open by citing Blamires book… Sunday Evening reading.

It has been amazing to see how those who typically want nothing to do with the Old Testament case laws suddenly are the most earnest converts when it comes to citing Old Testament case law when it comes to immigration or refugee policy. Now, as we shall see they cite it out of context and without understanding how some of the Hebrew language is working but despite their ignorance, they suddenly want to own God’s law on this subject.  Those who have forever been telling us that Old Testament case law is void when it comes to patriarchy or instruction on sexuality, as just two examples, suddenly are citing God’s law with vigor when it comes to immigration or refugee policy.

They love to cite passages such as the ones that were read this morning,

Leviticus 19:33-34

‘When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. ‘The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God.

Exodus 22:21″You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.

Deuteronomy 10:19 Love you therefore the stranger: for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.

These OT passages that embrace the stranger need some context in order to be properly understood. However, those who would seek to make this a simplistic matter, don’t take the whole context into consideration, and so don’t give proper warrant to the context of the Old Testament where these passages are found. The result of this, whether or by intent or by accident is to place false guilt upon many Christians who sense there is more that needs to be taken into consideration than these texts that are pushed towards them relentlessly but who likewise don’t know the whole context of the OT passages so as to be able to resist the faulty interpretation of high profile Evangelical and Reformed ministers who are pushing for an agenda that in my estimation is not particularly Christian.

That the Church is at the vanguard for this push to de-Christianize the social order even more than it already is can be seen by a recent full page add and circular letter being run by Corporate Evangelicalism,

“Since the inception of the refugee resettlement program, thousands of local churches throughout the country have played a role in welcoming refugees of all religious backgrounds. Ministries to newly arrived refugees are ready and desire to receive many thousands more people than would be allowed under the new executive order.

As leaders, we welcome the concern expressed for religious minorities, including persecuted Christians….  While we are eager to welcome persecuted Christians, we also welcome vulnerable Muslims and people of other faiths or no faith at all.”

So the position we are teasing out this morning is contrary to the majority position today taken up by the consensus of Evangelical Incorporated.

To set the OT passages in context we get counsel from James K. Hoffmeier. Hoffmeier is an OT Scholar, and in his book “The Immigration Crisis” notes,

“Three important questions must be addressed before one attempts to apply Israelite law to the modern situation:

1) Was there such a thing as territorial sovereignty in 2nd millennium B.C. when these laws originated;

2) Within that socio-legal setting, what was a “stranger,” “sojourner,” or “immigrant”; and

3) How does one obtain this status?”

Now we are going to answer these three questions this morning and in doing so it will give us some context that provides qualification and nuance to the reading of these verses that so many well intentioned by un-nuanced people want to run to. But before we do that I want to pause to tell you why I am preaching on this issue and why I think it is of such monumental importance.

I’m preaching on it because I think the future of Christianity in the West is at stake on this issue. The reason that the immigration – refugee battle is so intense is that it is not about immigrants or refugees. It is about the future identity we, as Americans, want to own. We will either be a polyglot coffee and cream colored people who embrace a statist polytheistic religion so that all the colors and faiths bleed into one or we will continue to be a Majority WAS and only questionably P nation.

Rushdoony put it this way many years ago,

“The PROBLEM, of course, is that now we have a great deal of illegal immigration. We HAVE IMMIGRATION LAWS THAT NO LONGER FOLLOW THE OLDER PATTERN AND CONCENTRATE ON EUROPEAN COUNTRIES. We allow many, many peoples in who have nothing in common with us, who are Moslems or members of other religions and it appears that there is an effort to break the Christian heritage and character of the United States.”

~R. J. Rushdoony

So, the reason we get a sermon on this on a Sunday Morning is that this issue is a make or break issue for Biblical Christianity in the West and in this Nation. If those who would conspire to inundate the West with the stranger immigrant and the alien refugee succeed the result will be the continuing diminishing of Biblical Christianity in this country.

It’s a fight worth fighting for both sides and this issue will likely end eventually in increasing polarization.

As a brief aside we might note that Illegal immigration and Muslim refugees are to Western Civilization what partial birth abortion is to life in the womb.

A friend observed in a conversation that both abortion and mass immigration (globalism, multiculturalism, etc.) are assaults on natural relationships which represent the destruction of fences erected for protection. Who more than a mother should protect an unborn child? Who more than a king (a “father” of the nation) should protect a people from displacement and dispossession?

But both children and nations are not purely material, either.  A nation is more than its material component, as is an unborn child.

Ernest Renan, a French philosopher, and historian, said this about nations:

“A nation is a living soul, a spiritual principle. Two things, which in truth are but one, constitute this soul, this spiritual principle. One is in the past, the other in the present. One is the common possession of a rich heritage of memories; the other is the actual consent, the desire to live together, the will to preserve worthily the undivided inheritance which has been handed down … The nation, like the individual, is the outcome of a long past of efforts, and sacrifices, and devotions … To have common glories in the past, a common will in the present; to have done great things together, to will to do the like again—such are the essential conditions of the making of a people.”

God has appointed the boundaries of nations (Acts 17:26) and is the author of life. Sacrificing our children to Baal is an attack upon God’s image (the 6th Word), but so too is the destruction of a social order and nation in pursuit of Babel. Man is created in God’s image and is thus both one and many–unity and diversity. Nations in their diversity are reflective of the glory of the divine Image and their destruction represents an attack on God’s image that is not all that different from abortion.

Well … back to Hoffmeier’s questions that will help us understand the texts that we are looking at this morning,

“Three important questions must be addressed before one attempts to apply Israelite law to the modern situation:

1) Was there such a thing as territorial sovereignty in 2nd millennium B.C. when these laws originated;

Hoffmeier asks this question because the advocacy of immigration without limits, which is what we are really talking about, is the advocacy of the disappearance of borders. And so Hoffmeier asks this question.

And the answer is that “yes, the OT gives us plenty of examples of territorial sovereignty of Nations. They had borders in the OT and they protected those borders from incursion.

Hoffmeyer observes,

“Not only were wars fought to establish and settle border disputes, borders were vigorously defended, and battles occurred when a neighboring state violated another’s territory. So, national boundaries were normally honored.”

Numbers 20:16-21

16 But when we cried out to the Lord, He heard our voice and sent an angel and brought us out from Egypt; now behold, we are at Kadesh, a town on the edge of your territory. 17 Please let us pass through your land. We will not pass through field or through vineyard; we will not even drink water from a well. We will go along the king’s highway, not turning to the right or left, until we pass through your territory.’”

18 Edom, however, said to him, “You shall not pass through [e]us, or I will come out with the sword against you.” 19 Again, the sons of Israel said to him, “We will go up by the highway, and if I and my livestock do drink any of your water, then I will [f]pay its price. Let me only pass through on my feet, [g]nothing else.” 20 But he said, “You shall not pass through.” And Edom came out against him with a heavy [h]force and with a strong hand. 21 Thus Edom refused to allow Israel to pass through his territory; so Israel turned away from him.

Edom’s refusal to allow Israel to pass, even with Israel paying a Toll, was out of keeping w/ the socially accepted custom of offering hospitality to strangers in the ancient and modern Middle East. Still, it is worth noting that even a traveler — a foreigner — passing through the territory of another had to obtain permission to do so.

Judges 11:16-20

16 For when they came up from Egypt, and Israel went through the wilderness to the [a]Red Sea and came to Kadesh, 17 then Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, “Please let us pass through your land,” but the king of Edom would not listen. And they also sent to the king of Moab, but he would not consent. So Israel remained at Kadesh. 18 Then they went through the wilderness and around the land of Edom and the land of Moab, and came to the east side of the land of Moab, and they camped beyond the Arnon; but they did not enter the territory of Moab, for the Arnon was the border of Moab. 19 And Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, the king of Heshbon, and Israel said to him, “Please let us pass through your land to our place.” 20 But Sihon did not trust Israel to pass through his territory; so Sihon gathered all his people and camped in Jahaz and fought with Israel.

These episodes demonstrate clearly that nations could and did control their borders and determined who could pass through their land.

On the individual, family, and clan level, property was owned and boundaries established. Personal property and fields were delineated by landmarks — stone markers of some sort. For this reason, the Mosaic law prohibited the removal of landmarks. (Dt. 19:14, 27:17).

So the sense of National boundaries was merely an extension of the reality of property owned by individual, family and clan. During the period of the divided Kingdom (8th cent. BC) the prophet Hosea decried the leaders of Judah for seizing territory of her sister kingdom Israel by taking their boundary stones. (Job 24:2).

So we see that nation states, large and small in the Biblical world were clearly delineated by borders. These were often defended by large forts and military outposts. Countries since biblical times have had the right to clearly established borders that they controlled and were recognized by surrounding Governments.

The borders of countries were respected, and minor skirmishes and even wars followed when people and armies of one nation violated the territory of their neighbor.

All this meant that nations, including Israel had the right to clearly established secure borders and could determine who could and could not enter their land.

2) Within that socio-legal setting, what was a “stranger,” “sojourner,” or “immigrant”;

This is where context becomes incredibly important. We have a need to understand the OT words in their context before we start trying to apply them to our context.

The word “stranger” in the above cited passages is Hebrew ger, and is translated variously in English versions, “stranger” (KJV, NASB, JB), “sojourner” (RSV, ESV), “alien” (NEB, NIV, NJB, NRSV) and “foreigner” (TNIV, NLT). These differences create tremendous confusion. Ger occurs in the Old Testament more than eighty times as a noun and an equal number as a verb (gwr), which typically means “to sojourn” or “live as an alien.” More recent English translations (e.g. TNIV & NLT) use the word “foreigner” for ger, which is imprecise and misleading because there are other Hebrew terms for “foreigner,” namely nekhar and zar. The distinction between these two terms and ger is that while all three are foreigners who might enter another country, the ger had obtained legal status.

So when the OT Scripture speaks about treating the ger a certain way it is speaking about someone who had obtained legal status. He had the permission of the people who dwelt in the land to be there. In our context we might say he was a green card holder. That person was to be treated justly.

However the ger is always seen as a ger… as a stranger. There were always some matters that were restricted from even the ger. The stranger could not own land in perpetuity; it would revert to the original Hebrew owners in the Jubilee. Gentiles were not expected to assimilate fully to Israel, and at some points they were accorded second-class status. They were to be treated justly but they would always be ger — a stranger.

3) How does one obtain this ger status?”

There are several episodes in the Bible that illustrate how a foreigner became a ger. The individual or party had to receive permission from the appropriate authority in that particular culture. Perhaps the best-known story has to do with the Children of Israel entering Egypt. In the book of Genesis, we are told of how during a time of famine in Canaan, the sons of Jacob did the natural thing under the circumstances—go to Egypt where the Nile kept the land fertile. Even though their brother Joseph was a high-ranking official, they felt compelled to ask Pharaoh for permission:

And they said to Pharaoh, “Your servants are shepherds, as our fathers were.” They said to Pharaoh, “We have come to sojourn in the land, for there is no pasture for your servants’ flocks, for the famine is severe in the land of Canaan. And now, please let your servants dwell in the land of Goshen.” Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Your father and your brothers have come to you. The land of Egypt is before you. Settle your father and your brothers in the best of the land. Let them settle in the land of Goshen” (Genesis 47:3-6).

Notice that they declare their intention “to sojourn” (gwr) and deferentially they ask “please let your servant dwell in the land of Goshen.” No less authority than the king of Egypt granted this permission. This means that the Hebrews, though foreigners, were residing in Egypt as legal residents, gers.

The delineation between the “alien” or “stranger” (ger) and the foreigner (nekhar or zar) in biblical law are stark indeed. The ger in Israelite society, for instance, could receive social benefits such the right to glean in the fields (Leviticus 19:9-10; Deuteronomy 24:19-22) and they could receive resources from the tithes (Deuteronomy 26:12-13). In legal matters, “there shall be one statute for you and for the stranger who sojourns with you, a statute forever throughout your generations. You and the sojourner shall be alike before the LORD. One law and one rule shall be for you and for the stranger who sojourns with you” (Numbers 15:15-16). In the area of employment, the ger and citizen were to be paid alike (Deuteronomy 24:14-15). In all these cases, no such benefit is extended to the nekhar or zar.

Now it has taken us 30 minutes to just give this introduction and to try and carefully see the context of Scripture. And it takes time and effort to do this. You can not sound bite what we’ve done this morning like Corporate Evangelical can sound bite these verses that we have been considering. There are distinctions that have to be made. Context that has to be provided. Hebrew language that has to be considered. That takes time and effort.

But the multiculturalists just want to instantly reduce everything so that they can achieve their agenda of disinheriting the historic American from their inheritance. The multicult Christians seemingly desire to guilt America into “loving their neighbor as they “love” themselves,” without ever considering how hateful it is to their own posterity — their closest neighbors — to disinherit them from the land, their social order, and their historic Christian culture.

I don’t mind saying that this policy is hateful to what little is left of Christianity in this culture. It is a tactic to recruit the Muslim refugee and dilute the already diluted Christian presence in this land.

RJR captured this,

Our federal government thinks nothing of allowing in as immigrants an increasing number of people who are religiously and racially hostile to us. They see no relationship between faith and land. As a result, the United States and the Western world have embarked on a suicidal course. They reject the concept of Christendom and embrace instead the humanistic “family of man,” and thus immigration policies in the U.S. and Europe are based on myths and illusions of a destructive nature. Because neither land nor inheritance is now seen from the perspective of faith, we have problems in these spheres.
 
~Rushdoony, R. J. (2014-05-01). Numbers: Commentaries on the Pentateuch Vol. 4

And here we have only scratched the surface. We have not spoken of certain segments of the church through what are called Volags (Voluntary Agencies) are getting 30 pieces of silver and more for their advocacy of immigration and refugees. Follow the money applies.

We have not touched on how in many quarters where this refugee policy is being followed 70% of the refugees are men, thus giving countenance to the fact that this is an invasion and not an immigration. We have not spoke about the Muslim idea of Hijra as civilizational Jihad. We have not spoken about the already increasing role of Sharia in the West. We have not covered how to respond to typical objections to our positions as coming from Evangelical Incorporated. We have only scratched the surface this morning.

But we have scratched it enough for you to begin to have an inkling that when “Christians” start throwing around passages that are intended to frog march you into a false guilt about not supporting refugee resettlement programs or about not supporting untrammeled immigration you can resist such propaganda.

We’ll end with a quote from the early 20th century fiction author Lovecraft,

“Only a damn fool can expect the people of one tradition to feel at ease when their country is flooded with hordes of foreigners who — whether equal, superior, or inferior biologically — are so antipodal in physical, emotional, and intellectual makeup that harmonious coalescence is virtually impossible. Such an immigration is death to all endurable existence, and pollution and decay to all art and culture. To permit or encourage it is suicide”

H.P. Lovecraft, from a letter written on 27th September 1926.

Sources

Hoffmeyer
Rushdoony
Corcoran
Simpson
Dow

 

Author: jetbrane

I am a Pastor of a small Church in Mid-Michigan who delights in my family, my congregation and my calling. I am postmillennial in my eschatology. Paedo-Calvinist Covenantal in my Christianity Reformed in my Soteriology Presuppositional in my apologetics Kinist in my family theology Agrarian in my regional community social order belief Christianity creates culture and so Christendom in my national social order belief Mythic-Poetic / Grammatical Historical in my Hermeneutic Pre-modern, Medieval, & Feudal before Enlightenment, modernity, & postmodern Reconstructionist / Theonomic in my Worldview One part paleo-conservative / one part micro Libertarian in my politics Systematic and Biblical theology need one another but Systematics has pride of place Some of my favorite authors, Augustine, Turretin, Calvin, Tolkien, Chesterton, Nock, Tozer, Dabney, Bavinck, Wodehouse, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Schaeffer, C. Van Til, H. Van Til, G. H. Clark, C. Dawson, H. Berman, R. Nash, C. G. Singer, R. Kipling, G. North, J. Edwards, S. Foote, F. Hayek, O. Guiness, J. Witte, M. Rothbard, Clyde Wilson, Mencken, Lasch, Postman, Gatto, T. Boston, Thomas Brooks, Terry Brooks, C. Hodge, J. Calhoun, Llyod-Jones, T. Sowell, A. McClaren, M. Muggeridge, C. F. H. Henry, F. Swarz, M. Henry, G. Marten, P. Schaff, T. S. Elliott, K. Van Hoozer, K. Gentry, etc. My passion is to write in such a way that the Lord Christ might be pleased. It is my hope that people will be challenged to reconsider what are considered the givens of the current culture . Your biggest help to me dear reader will be to often remind me that God is Sovereign and that all that is, is because it pleases him.

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