The Bible and Illegal Immigration – “…those that you let remain of them be as pricks in your eyes, and as thorns in your sides, and they shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell… “
by Bill Lockwood
As illegal immigration assists dragging our culture downward into a more godless, violent and confused society, it is shocking that many preachers, who should be reflecting biblical values, have taken the position that somehow the liberal multicultural goal of open borders is beneficial for evangelism. People are becoming confused as to whether or not America should even have boundaries and borders and whether it is godly to protect those borders.
First, God Himself established borders of nations. In Acts 17:26 Paul, speaking to Greeks in Athens, stated that “God has made of one, every nation of men to dwell on the face of the earth; having determined their appointed seasons, and bounds of their habitation.”
Note the several elements of the passage. (1) God has made of every nation one—or He made from one every nation of mankind. This is in direct opposition to the then current Greek belief that their own origin was superior to other races. (2) God determined their appointed times, that is, their divinely appointed periods. Nations do not rise and fall without God. It is not a survival of the fittest. (3) Boundaries of nations are divinely fixed. However modern man wishes to understand the providence of God, Paul plainly states that God has a hand in national boundaries.
The classic Old Testament text on this subject is Deut. 32:8. “When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance; When he separated the children of men …” The last comment, about “separating” the children of men refers to God’s division between peoples at the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11:8).
Second, God demanded that Israel respect borders of other nations. As Israel came out of Egypt, the people were to by-pass some of the nations respecting their borders because God had given them that territory. One of those nations was Edom. “I have given Mt. Seir to Esau for a possession,” said the Lord, therefore, Israel was not to enter it (Deut. 2:5). He said the same regarding the country of Moab.
Later (Num. 20), when Israel, under the leadership of Moses, applied to Edom to pass through its territory on their way toward Canaan, Edom said no. After a second application and refusal Israel turned to go another way. A nation has the right to determine who comes into its territory and even God’s selected leader Moses could not violate that right.
On the other hand, God had prior appointed that the territory of the Amorite and Canaanite (Palestine) would be given to Israel (see Deut. 1). This was a divine judgment upon those Canaanite nations (see Gen. 15:15-16) because of their extreme wickedness including child sacrifice.
Consider also the fact that at one point in Genesis history Abraham, God’s chosen, immigrated to Egypt (Gen. 12). Abraham, however, lied about the status of his wife Sarah at one of the checkpoints. When his lie was discovered by the Egyptians he was deported! God did not step in and demand that Abraham and his family be protected at the expense of the Egyptian government.
Third, once settled in Canaan, the Israelites were sternly warned on multiple occasions to “drive the Canaanites out.” Even forty years previously, when Israel was still at Mt. Sinai, God had promised to drive out the inhabitants of the land (Exod. 33:2). Once Joshua took the leadership and conquered most of Canaan, he commanded the cooperation of the Israelites in “driving out” the Canaanites (e.g. Joshua 17:17-19).
The stated reason for driving out the nations that formerly inhabited Israel was to preserve the culture of Israel. The word “culture” itself refers to the religious presuppositions that lie beneath a society.
“When you pass over the Jordan into the land of Canaan, then ye shall drive out the inhabitants of the land before you, and destroy all their figured stones, and destroy all their molten images, and demolish all their high places [of idol worship], and ye shall take possession of the land …” (Num. 33:51,52)
Moses continued. “But if you will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then shall those that you let remain of them be as pricks in your eyes, and as thorns in your sides, and they shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell” (v. 55). That Israel did not drive out the Canaanite people from Israel is the theme of the book of Judges (see chapter 1). The rest of the book shows perfectly well what occurs when a culture is not preserved.
As one professor wisely told me, “marriage is not a reformatory school”—so also “open borders is not a missionary program.” It is a recipe for the disintegration and complete annihilation of what is left of America’s Christian culture.
After Israel’s settlement in Canaan each tribe had a sovereign boundary that was detailed in the sacred record (Joshua 15). Not only was tribal territory to be respected in Israel, but private property was considered sacred and one of the sins that was prosecuted was “moving boundary markers” of someone’s property—which is the same as stealing private land. In no text in Holy Writ does anyone find the concept that people are not to own private property or that there is no such thing as Israelite tribal territory or national boundaries.
Fourth, God forbade Israelites from making any personal and marital contracts with the pagan people that formerly inhabited the land. Deuteronomy 7:1-5 is emphatic. If individual Israelites mixed in marriage relationships with the idolaters and pagans known as the Canaanites, the pure religion of Israel would be eroded.
“You shall make no covenant with them, nor show mercy unto them; neither shalt thou make marriages with them; … for he will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods …” For this reason, God instructed, “You shall break down their altars and dash in pieces their pillars, and hew down their Asherim, and burn their graven images with fire.”
God strictly warned the Israelites again through Joshua, the next generation leader: “For if you ever go back and cling to the rest of these nations, these which remain among you, and intermarry with them, so that you associate with them and they with you, The Lord will not continue to drive them out, but they will become a share and a trap for you; a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes until you perish from the land” (Joshua 23:12,13).
The point here is not to recommend an induction program for those seeking citizenship in the United States, but to point out that biblically speaking, the concept of sovereign borders is paramount in Old Testament Israel. The idea therefore that America should have no borders, and thereby no border enforcement, is certainly not biblical. There is nothing ungodly about having borders or boundaries around a nation and having boundaries implies that those whose boundaries they are have the right to manage them. Less than this is confusion on the face of the deep.
John Locke pointed out that unless society can provide a code of fixed and enforceable laws, man might as well stayed in the jungle (Skousen, 5,000 Year Leap, 244).
To this end it is that men give up all their natural power to the society they enter into, and the community put the legislative power into such hands as they think fit, with this trust, that they shall be governed by declared laws, or else their peace, quiet, and property will still be at the same uncertainty as it was in the state of Nature.
Is America a sovereign nation? Many on the left apparently disdain that idea and are pushing for open borders. That may be their preference, but don’t come to the Bible with such an agenda.