Moses was a refugee! Abraham was a refugee, too, but for the purpose of this blog, I will focus on Moses. He fled from Egypt because the Pharaoh wanted to kill him because he had protected one of his own people. In our society, it would have been called “justifiable homicide,” but because Moses was not Egyptian, he was forced to flee for his life. When God sent Moses back to Egypt to deliver the people of Israel from their slavery, the entire nation became refugees. They had to run for their lives from the Egyptian army and faced attacks from multiple nations simply because they wanted to go to the land given to them by God. As they travelled, they asked for peaceful passage through the land, and often the requests were denied. Many times, God pronounced judgment on those nations that mistreated these refugees. And the truth of the matter is, none of those nations are in existence today – but Israel is.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not comparing the Syrians to God’s chosen people. Over 90% of these refugees are Muslim, and many of them hate Jews, Christians, and Americans. A small percentage of these refugees are terrorists who are planning to do horrible things in the countries that grant them asylum, and because of that, we are prepared to deny them safe passage and even a safe place to live. Now I promise you, I understand the politics as well as, if not better than, most. I am not boasting when I say the same is true about the religious conflict that is attached to this issue. And as I said in this blog last Friday, as a father and a grandfather, I do not want to see us bring these added dangers to American soil.
However, I was reminded by a young preacher yesterday morning that throughout the Bible, God’s people are commanded to give special consideration to three groups of people: orphans, widows, and sojourners. By definition, a sojourner is a stranger/foreigner that dwells alongside us, and as the laws of Moses were given, God took special care to let the Israelites know that they applied to those who had “requested asylum” from them. Having said that, I will also tell you that those who came to be sojourners and refugees in Israel were under strict requirements. They had to follow a procedure to become a part of the nation of Israel, and they were required to give up their former citizenship and pledge loyalty to God’s people. There were no Israeli-Midianites. There were no Israeli-Canaanites. It was all or nothing. And like the Jewish people, the sojourners were required to earn their own living. There was no welfare. For most of these people, all they wanted was a chance, and God commanded that they be given that chance.
And I’m glad He did. Do you want to know why? Because every Christian is a refugee in one sense. We have asked for and been granted asylum as part of God’s people. The apostle Paul even reminds us that we are “sojourners” in this world looking forward to the day when we find our perfect refuge in heaven. And among us are murderers, adulterers, liars, thieves, blasphemers, etc., but still, He has accepted us based on His grace and our repentance. Based on His mercy and our transformation. Based on His love and our surrender to do His will no matter how much that may go against our human nature. Yes, for many – even Christians –prejudice and racism is rooted deeply in the heart, but like every sin, it must be uprooted. It must be cast aside as part of our old way of life, and in its place, we must plant love for our God and for our neighbors. And who is our neighbor? Jesus answered that question for us. Our neighbor is anyone who has a need! Know anyone in need today? I do!