A Biblical Perspective on Refugees (2/3)

A Biblical Perspective on Refugees (2/3)

Part 2: Appropriate Biblical Responses to Refugees

After considering the scope of Old Testament law protections applied to foreigners, some principles can be gathered which may have application to the church’s current response to refugees.  There is evidence that refugees should not be mistreated or oppressed (Exod. 22:21, Lev. 19:33), there should be fair administration of justice to refugees (Deut. 1:16-17, 24:17), refugees should be included under the protection of employment regulations including the timely payment of wages (Deut. 5:14, 24:14-15), and they should be integrated into the life of the community which includes social welfare protection (Exod. 12:48-49, Lev. 16:29, 19:9-10, Deut. 14:28-29, 24:19-22, 26:12-13, 29:10-11, 31:12).[1] 

There are three sources of motivation for Old Testament Israel’s implementation of these laws in protection of foreigners.  These motivations continue to extend to the modern church as they apply these biblical principles of compassion and justice for refugees.  First, Israel was motivated by their own experience as a foreign immigrant community and the desire that others not experience the same exploitation they suffered in Egypt.  Many in the church today may not share a previous experience that helps them identify with refugees, but it is important to remember that a similar experience is always a potential future scenario no matter how secure the present feels.  A second motivation for refugee care is rooted in the unchanging character of God himself.  Loving concern for foreigners was a priority for God during the time of ancient Israel so it must be assumed that he still holds this value.  Third is the desire for blessing among God’s people: “this will happen if they respond to his prior grace and redemptive blessing by showing comparable compassion and justice to the poor in their own midst”.[2]


[1] George and Adeney, Refugee Diaspora, Location 2778.

[2] George and Adeney, Refugee Diaspora, Location 2830.

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