The Bible is Quite Clear on Immigration

immigrant

Months ago I considered writing about immigration but decided not to. Now, I no longer have a choice. It seems that many Christians seem to have forgotten what the Bible says about immigrants. It’s baffling when you consider that a significant portion of the Biblical narrative centers on being a foreigner in a strange land.

There are dozens of scriptures that address immigration in both the Old and New Testament. Because of Israel’s history in Egypt, there was an expectation that they would treat foreigners with kindness because they too had been in the same position. Exodus is full of teachings on how to deal with those who are immigrants, but Exodus 23:9 provides an excellent summation by stating – thou shalt not oppress a stranger: for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. And if it weren’t enough, God repeatedly advocates for the immigrant, encouraging the nation of Israel to love the foreigner within their land and remember that they too were once ‘strangers’ in Egypt.

God understands the unique and vulnerable plight of the immigrant. He knew that people might legally mistreat those in the vulnerable position of being an alien in a foreign land. In Deuteronomy, God forbids Israel from using the court system to mistreat those who had newly arrived in the land and lacked inherited rights. The ominous warning issued in Deuteronomy 27 in regards to those who harm immigrants is clear. It states; Do not deprive the foreigner of justice. And to be sure that this law isn’t neglected God connects a curse to those who mistreat foreigners through the legal system.

What’s particularly interesting is that the Biblical narrative of journeying through foreign lands and being an alien isn’t confined to Moses or Abraham. The narrative continues in the life of Yeshua, who while in the womb of His mother fled persecution as Herod issued a decree to kill all the children in the region who were two years old and under. To save the life of their unborn child Mary and Joseph fled to Egypt.

You could correctly state that Mary and Joseph sought asylum in Egypt.

In the New Testament, Yeshua reiterates the message of the Old Testament in regards to how to treat those who are not native born. In a moving display of what love looks like, He tells his disciples, and all that will listen:

For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger, and you invited me in.

In Matthew 25:35 the word stranger in this context refers to a traveler in a land not his own. It is the Greek word used for a foreigner or an alien. Just as God advocated for the immigrant in the Old Testament, His character is unchanged as He identifies with the immigrant in the New. We have to remember Yeshua’s words that whatever we do for the least of these, we do for Him.

 

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The Genesis Question: Where Are You?

Genesis 3:9
Genesis 3:9

The very first time that God asks man a question is found in Genesis 3:9. Genesis 3:9 reads But the Lord God called to the man “Where are you?”

The reason the Genesis question is so notable and beautiful is because this question is regarding the broken fellowship that has occurred between God and humanity. This question occurred immediately after the fall when Adam and Eve chose to take a different route apart from the path God had chosen for them. Adam and Eve decided to separate themselves from the Lord.

It wasn’t just a physical distance that had occurred, but a spiritual one. Their sin had distanced them from God, and God in His mercy and intense love for Adam and Eve called out “Where are you?”

This question in Genesis is a question that confirms that God wants fellowship with us. God loves us, He cares about us, and He wants to know where we are. Yeshua reiterated an identical question to His disciples in Matthew 18:12 which states:

“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost?

If you are far from God, He is asking the question “Where are you?”

Jonah Isn’t Just About a Whale

jonah

When most people read the story of Jonah, the thing that jumps out the most is the fact that Jonah was running from God. Naturally, all that running resonates. Most of us can relate to running away from God.

However, there’s another side to Jonah. Jonah provides a profound lesson on the toxicity of hatred and disdain for unbelievers – hostility towards people who practice religions with which we disagree – bigotry towards people who are unlike us, spiritually.

Jonah wasn’t just running away from God but was also battling with a religious spirit – a spirit tempered by a coldness towards those who didn’t believe. Jonah lacked compassion. He lacked empathy. He struggled with the idea that a nation of unbelievers deserved mercy.

Like Jonah, we have to be careful not to run away from the will of God in our lives. But, we also have to remember to have compassion on the people that God loves – which is everyone. The same God that extended His mercy to Nineveh is the same God who extends His mercy to all of us.

We must have compassion for the world. God is not a God of hatred. God is love. He loves people; He loves us all. Jesus is for everybody.

God Has Already Equipped You With What You Need

When most people pursue any goal in life, one of the first questions that they ask themselves is “Am I equipped?” Our talents and skills are embedded in our DNA, but there are times when we don’t appear to be born with what we need, however, we only need to look to scripture to see that every soul is equipped.

God equipped David with a natural ability and strength to overcome his enemies. He was born a fighter, which came in handy when it was time for him to secure the royal throne. God equipped Joseph and Daniel with supernatural wisdom so that they could bestow divine assistance to pagan kings. Solomon was also equipped with wisdom and riches to lead His people.

God equipped Moses, but Moses refused to acknowledge that he was already equipped, so, God (in his mercy) sent Aaron to help him. In Exodus 31, God tells Moses that he has equipped two special men – Oholiab and Bezalel – to build the temple furnishings, the ark of the testimony, and the mercy-seat. God equipped Oholiab and Bezalel with ability, intelligence, and overarching knowledge in their craft.

God gave Noah the compassion, foresight, and strength to build an ark that would save humanity. God even gave him the exact specifications so that he could build the boat perfectly. God equipped Esther with beauty, femininity, and inner strength, and we also know that Job was equipped with the mesmerizing virtue of patience.

When God placed Adam in the garden, He equipped Adam with everything he needed to be effective in his work. Adam didn’t worry about whether or not he had the right gardening tools or the magic of a green thumb because God had already supplied everything for Adam in advance. God didn’t create Adam and Eve as casual observers, but active participants. Their role was to care for creation. It was their calling to keep the earth, and they were equipped.

However, God, who is omniscient, knew in his foreknowledge that Adam would fall and had already equipped Adam with everything that he needed to handle life outside of Eden. As children of Adam, we too are equipped with everything we need to handle life outside of Eden. Every soul is equipped. God has already equipped you with everything you need.

When People Make Peace Impossible…

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18 NIV)

Is there someone in your life who insists on poking you in the eye every time he sees you? The Bible doesn’t say you have to just let it keep happening. It does say that some people are toxic: “Their venom is like the venom of a snake …” (Psalm 58:4 NIV)

Having someone like that in your life can mess up your attitude. It can mess up your friendships. It can mess up your marriage.

People who are toxic are going to blame anyone but themselves — including you — for the problems in their lives. They may love to blame you for their pain, but you have to realize that it’s not about you. It’s about them.

When these chaotic people get around you, it starts to rub off, and you may start thinking, “Am I going crazy? I know they’re crazy, but am I crazy, too?”

No, you’re not crazy. Remember: It’s not about you.

The Bible says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18). Notice the two qualifiers in this verse. First, it says “if” it is possible, not “it is.” Second, it says “as far as it depends on you.”

I don’t know if you’ve learned this yet, but it’s not always possible to live at peace. There are some people who, no matter what you do, are still going to poke you in the eye. It doesn’t have anything to do with you. It has to do with their pain and their hurt.

You know what I love about the Bible? It always tells the truth about God, life, and human behavior. The Bible points out that it’s not always possible to live at peace with everybody. There are some people you just can’t get along with. There are some people who, no matter how nice you are to them, are still going to be mean to you.

God says you need to realize that it’s not about you. Then, you need to move on.

The above article can be found at Rick Warren’s site, Pastor Rick.

On the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24)

emmaus

Several weeks ago, I had a dream, and at the end of the dream, I heard one word.

It was the word Emmaus.

When I woke up, I immediately went to the Greek to discover the meaning. But the technical definition of the word didn’t resonate. I was missing something.

Just two weeks after searching fruitlessly for the meaning, I discovered what the dream meant. The word Emmaus is found in Luke 24. In the passage, Yeshua appears to two disciples who are talking about the crucifixion. The disciples aren’t quite sure how to piece everything together. They understand that Yeshua was supposed to be the Messiah, but His death on the cross was a point of sadness and confusion.

On the road to Emmaus, Yeshua opened the scriptures to them and showed them everything about Himself that was found in the scriptures and explained how all the scriptures and everything that took place was part of God’s plan.

The eyes of their heart and understanding were enlightened.

The journey on Emmaus concluded with them having a deeper understanding of the scriptures and deeper revelation of who God is. The trip also ended with them seeing the risen Christ with their own very eyes.

Emmaus is the journey of discarding your religious, theological and philosophical ideas of who you believe Christ is and then searching the scriptures for the Truth. Emmaus is the journey by which we allow Yeshua to reveal Himself to us.

This should be the prayer of every Christian: that God would reveal Himself to us as He did on the road to Emmaus.

Waking at 3AM – A Spiritual Phenomena

Waking in the middle of the night
Waking in the middle of the night

During a period when I was seeking God, something strange was beginning to happen to me. I was starting to wake up during the middle of the night – specifically at 3AM.

It was odd because I was waking up at exactly 3AM. Not a minute before or after. So, I googled to see if anyone else was experiencing this weird phenomenon. Of course, I learned that thousands of people were going through the same thing, and as I suspected there was often a spiritual reason that this was occurring.

There seemed to be scores of people who were experiencing the same 3AM awakening that was happening to me. One man admitted that as he was preparing to become a priest, the 3AM phenomena started to happen in his life. Among Christians, there seemed to be a consensus that waking up at 3AM was a nudge from God to be with Him and take the time to make it sacred – by prayer or worship – or lying still as Samuel did and saying “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.”

One thing I’ve learned in my spiritual walk is that if I wake in the middle of the night, I assume that it’s time to pray. I assume that it’s time for worship. I assume that there is a spiritual battle that has intensified around me, or that there is a unique anointing present in the atmosphere. And I take the time, even if it’s for a brief moment to pray because God has me up for a reason.

* If you have more interest in this subject, an article here or here on prayer watches may be helpful to you.