Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. [Deuteronomy 10:19*]
First, I need to clarify. I do not believe in providing amnesty to those who come into our country in a manner which circumvents and defies our laws concerning immigration. Those who enter this country in defiance of our laws should be prosecuted and deported. Those who are citizens of this country who give them aid and comfort should also be prosecuted.
I raise this issue because there are many so-called “Christians” who claim the immigration laws are wrong to prevent anyone from entering this country, and that believers have an obligation to violate those laws because obeying the law is not giving “fair” treatment [whatever that is supposed to mean objectively] to the strangers in our midst. They call for “open borders.”
And they cite the above passage from Deuteronomy as a Biblical basis for their beliefs.
But the question then becomes, is their use of this passage a valid application, or are they twisting Scripture? I believe it is another case of twisting Scripture and needs to be exposed as such.
These same people also insist that we should bend over backwards to accommodate those who come here contrary to our laws—by mandating that we learn their languages and customs instead of requiring them to assimilate into our culture and learn our language.
It is hypocritical, because the same liberals who cite passages like the one from Deuteronomy in support of open borders, are dismissive of passages such as Leviticus 18:22; 20:13 – claiming that such passages no longer reflect God’s will.
But does Deuteronomy 10:19 actually support the views of those who advocate open borders? In a word – no!
The Old Testament demanded that the nation of Israel welcome immigrants:
You shall neither mistreat a stranger [foreigner] nor oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. [Exodus 22:21]
Also you shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the heart of a stranger, because you were strangers in the land of Egypt. [Exodus 23:9]
And if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him.
The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. [Leviticus 19:33-34]
God had promised certain covenant blessings to the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, blessings which were conditioned on faithful obedience to the Law. He also recognized that others, seeing the blessings He bestowed, would seek to come to Israel to get a piece of that pie, so to speak.
Therefore, God set certain conditions on those who would seek to enjoy those covenant blessings with Israel:
One law shall be for the native-born and for the stranger who dwells among you. [Exodus 12:49]
You shall have the same law for the stranger and for one from your own country; for I am the Lord your God. [Leviticus 24:22]
And if a stranger dwells among you, and would keep the Lord’s Passover, he must do so according to the rite of the Passover and according to its ceremony; you shall have one ordinance, both for the stranger and the native of the land. [Numbers 9:14]
One ordinance shall be for you of the assembly [a native-born Israelite] and for the stranger who dwells with you, an ordinance forever throughout your generation; as you are, so shall the stranger be before the Lord.
One law and one custom shall be for you and for the stranger who dwells with you. [Numbers 15:15-16]
You shall have one law for him who sins unintentionally, for him who is native -born among the children of Israel and for the stranger who dwells among them. [Numbers 15:29]
It is clear from the text that there is one legal standard which applies to both the native-born Israelite and those who would seek to join themselves to Israel from the Gentiles. But that standard is not one of cultural accommodation to those who came into Israel from outside. It is just the opposite.
Those who came from outside of Israel to join themselves to Israel were required to assimilate into Israel. They were not allowed to retain their ethnic identity—especially since that identity would have included the worship of idols.
That assimilation would have required them to submit to the entire law of Moses—not just in part, but the entirety. They were expected to sever every tie with their previous culture.
So what is the application for today? The application is this—those who come to this country should be required to seek entrance according to our laws—not the whims of their desires. And as a sovereign nation according to the grace and authority given us by God [Romans 13:1-7], we have the right to determine what those laws shall say without interference from outside influences.
Immigrants should be required to obey our laws. That includes the process of applying to enter this country. If someone determines they will flout our laws by coming here uninvited and without submitting to the legal process, s/he has already proven themselves incapable of obedience to our laws. When someone determines that s/he will remain in this country after his/her visa has expired, the person has demonstrated disrespect for our laws and should no longer be welcome.
Immigrants should be required to learn our language. We should not be required to provide translation services or other amentities in their native languages. If someone wants to take up permanent residence in this country, learn English and expect to submit to the laws of this country. Significantly, only two ethnic groups in recent times seem to have trouble with this concept. And those two groups bring with them nothing by which this country will be benefited.
So should we welcome immigrants? By all means, if they come into this country according to the laws established by this nation and agree to follow those laws.
In the final analysis, those who claim some sort of mandate from on high for open borders are building on an exegetical foundation of sand, not a solid understanding of God’s word. In typical liberal fashion, they cherry pick and proof text only those verses which support their views, and preach disobedience to any text which disagrees with them.
*Unless otherwise noted, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.