1 Now it came about in the days when the judges governed, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the land of Moab with his wife and his two sons. 2 The name of the man [was] Elimelech, and the name of his wife, Naomi; and the names of his two sons [were] Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehem in Judah. Now they entered the land of Moab and remained there. 3 Then Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died; and she was left with her two sons. 4 They took for themselves Moabite women [as] wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. And they lived there about ten years. 5 Then both Mahlon and Chilion also died, and the woman was bereft of her two children and her husband. 6 Then she arose with her daughters-in-law that she might return from the land of Moab, for she had heard in the land of Moab that the LORD had visited His people in giving them food. 7 So she departed from the place where she was, and her two daughters-in-law with her; and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah. 8 And Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each of you to her mother’s house. May the LORD deal kindly with you as you have dealt with the dead and with me. … 15 Then she said, “Behold, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” 16 But Ruth said, “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. 17 “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.” 18 When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her. – Rth 1:1-8, 15-18 NASB
Ruth the Foreigner
In the midst of the current frenzy about immigrants and walls to keep out Mexicans, I wanted to point out the fact that at its heart, the gospel is a message in which sinners who are aliens and even enemies to God’s holiness are welcomed into heaven. Look at the story of Ruth! She is a Moabite, a people who worshiped the god Chemosh. Yet the amazing story of Ruth is that she chose to journey with her mother-in-law to Judah against all hope, where she was allowed to flourish:
8 Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Listen carefully, my daughter. Do not go to glean in another field; furthermore, do not go on from this one, but stay here with my maids. 9 “Let your eyes be on the field which they reap, and go after them. Indeed, I have commanded the servants not to touch you. When you are thirsty, go to the water jars and drink from what the servants draw.” 10 Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your sight that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” 11 Boaz replied to her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law after the death of your husband has been fully reported to me, and how you left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and came to a people that you did not previously know. 12 “May the LORD reward your work, and your wages be full from the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.” … 14 At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come here, that you may eat of the bread and dip your piece of bread in the vinegar.” So she sat beside the reapers; and he served her roasted grain, and she ate and was satisfied and had some left. 15 When she rose to glean, Boaz commanded his servants, saying, “Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not insult her. 16 “Also you shall purposely pull out for her [some grain] from the bundles and leave [it] that she may glean, and do not rebuke her.” – Rth 2:8-12, 14-16 NASB
What’s even more astonishing is that this self-proclaimed foreigner became Boaz’s wife, and became one of the named women in the line of Christ:
5 Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse. 6 Jesse was the father of David the king. David was the father of Solomon by Bathsheba who had been the wife of Uriah. – Mat 1:5-6 NASB
The Foreigner in the OT Law
This is far from an isolated example of God’s high esteem for the foreigner and alien. The law is full of injunctions to show kindness to the immigrant:
“So show your love for the alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.
‘The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God.
“The Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance among you, and the alien, the orphan and the widow who are in your town, shall come and eat and be satisfied, in order that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.
‘Nor shall you glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger. I am the LORD your God.
‘When you reap the harvest of your land, moreover, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field nor gather the gleaning of your harvest; you are to leave them for the needy and the alien. I am the LORD your God.'”
“When you reap your harvest in your field and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow, in order that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. “When you beat your olive tree, you shall not go over the boughs again; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow. “When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not go over it again; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow.
I would remind everyone in these charged times that the timeless law of God demands this kind of compassion and help – this welcoming demeanor to the foreigner passing into our midst. The nation of Israel itself was founded as a group of immigrant foreigners, and this observation is part of the law of God which is mentioned as a justification for such kindness (Deuteronomy 10:19).
United States – a Nation of Immigrants
Similarly, The United States of America is an entire nation of immigrants, and has always prided itself on its welcoming stance on the Statue of Liberty itself:
Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
We are a nation of the tired, the poor, the huddled masses in oppression seeking to escape to freedom! We are a light on the hill to the wretched! And this is in direct adherence to the law of God that we should do so. I think God has been very very pleased with this nation’s practice up to this very day. Against all hope the power of this call rings out to the world and calls men and women here against the vagaries of the current political turmoil.
Jesus the Alien
Jesus Himself was a refugee and an alien:
13 Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.” 14 So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt. 15 He remained there until the death of Herod. [This was] to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “OUT OF EGYPT I CALLED MY SON.” – Mat 2:13-15 NASB
I think is this a crucial part of the gospel story – that Jesus learned suffering in the sense that He knows from experience what it means to be a foreigner and an alien.
The Holy Gospel as a Welcome Mat for Aliens
All of this is a paltry setup for the main point of this post. The message inherent in the gospel itself, the most holy of all holy things in the ocean of God’s ultimate holiness, is a message of inclusiveness and welcome to the alien. Jesus died for sinners for all the nations:
6 And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. 7 And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. 8 When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood [men] from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. 10 “You have made them [to be] a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.” 11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” 13 And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, [be] blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.” 14 And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped. – Rev 5:6-14 NASB
The inclusiveness of God and the compassion of God for the people of every tongue and every nation is proclaimed from the holy throne of God at the very nexus of the history of eternal heaven. What’s more, the gospel proclaims that we ourselves are aliens and strangers to heaven, sinners who are the enemies of God who have been chosen and welcomed into the very throne room of God Himself and chosen as His bride!
9 But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR [God’s] OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY. – 1Pe 2:9-10 NASB
Choose Whom You Will Serve
God has by His very blood taken us as strangers and aliens and welcomed us in, not to merely subsist, but to become a royal priesthood and a holy nation. Now there is to be a division between the government and the church, but in the kingdom to come these will be united. We the sinners, we the dogs, we the foreigners, we the enemy, shall be crowned and clothed in the raiment of priests and given the highest honor in heaven. Shall we not follow God’s lead and restore the church’s love for all nations? God is not an isolationist by any means. I think the opposite case can easily be made: the spirit of evil, Satan, seeks to isolate and breed hatred between peoples, but God stands against him. Choose this day whom you will serve, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. – Jhn 3:16 NASB