A story from the book of Ruth helps to frame the discussion of immigration from a biblical point of view.
[Darris McNeely] A recent decision by President Donald Trump in the United States has put a temporary ban – 90 days – on immigrants from certain countries in the Middle East where Islamic terrorists have been coming in. The whole issue of immigration has now come to the fore after several years of debate and the question of illegal immigration, legal immigration, and all, is now front and center in not only the United States debate, but also in other countries. Europe has seen in the last couple of years a great deal of migration of people out of the Middle East as well, because of war and other issues. And so it is a big world topic and it’s front and center in the United States.
What does the Bible say about immigration? Whether it’s legal immigration, or illegal immigration? The Bible talks about all of this in terms of our understanding of what we should know about this. Since 9/11, American security has been a very, very big issue. And that is part of what has led to the recent decision by President Trump. As we begin a series talking about immigration – what the Bible does say about immigration, both legal and illegal, in helping us to frame an understanding on this, we want to do it from a biblical point of view. That is our worldview on Beyond Today – not a particular ideology of a political party or nation. It is a biblical worldview. And I want to at this point go through a particular story from the Bible to help frame the entire discussion, and to give us a kind of a benchmark scripture. It’s from the book of Ruth, and it is a well-known story to Bible students of an immigrant from the land of Moab into Israel.
The story of Ruth is very simple. An Israelite couple from the land of Israel, Bethlehem – because of economic distress, they migrate to the land of Moab. Their two sons marry Moabite women, foreign women. And after a few years, all the men in the family die, leaving three widows. And Ruth, with her mother-in-law Naomi, decide to return to the land of Israel. Naomi tells Ruth, Look, I’m not going to have any more children, there’s no one for you, stay in your own land. Ruth says something to Naomi that is not only one of the most beautiful passages of Scripture, but does give us the ability to anchor a concept and an idea in this discussion about immigration. Here’s what Ruth says to her mother, Naomi, regarding her decision to go with Naomi back to Israel. She says, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you, for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the Lord do to me and worse if anything but death parts you and me” (Ruth 1:16-17). It’s a beautiful passage as Ruth says to Naomi that I will go back to your land, and I will assimilate. I will take on the religion, the customs, the laws of your land, and the resulting story shows exactly that – that she does abide by the laws in effect, becoming a citizen. She marries an Israelite. Ruth becomes a part of the lineage of Jesus Christ and King David himself.
It’s a beautiful story, but it gives us an anchor to this subject about immigration to understand that from many other aspects of the biblical teaching, when someone crosses the border of another nation and they assimilate, then, especially when it came to Israel and the people coming there, there were certain benefits and blessings that came with that decision to assimilate into that culture. And that’s critically important to understand here at the beginning.
In our next installment on this, we’re going to talk about how God has set the boundaries of nations. You’ll want to listen to that.
That’s BT Daily. Join us next time.