In Genesis 11:1, “the whole earth had one language and one speech.” In their unity, people traveled to the land of Shinar and set out to build a massive tower to “make a name for ourselves” (Genesis 11:4). It was mankind’s first attempt at a one-world government devoid of God, which would have unleashed unmeasurable tyranny.
But God, in His wisdom, caused everyone to speak different languages, dividing them and prohibiting construction. In their confusion, people grouped together according to their new languages and scattered throughout the earth.
While worldwide unity was God’s original intent, the national separateness we experience today is a God-ordained protection against one of the worst effects of the fall—mankind’s prideful craving for power.
In Acts 17:26-27 Paul wrote, “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.”
In other words, God scattered man and set “the boundaries of their dwellings” so that they would seek after Him.
God loves our nation. But we don’t have favored status as Americans. God loves every nation, and He sets boundaries between them to draw people to Himself.
In the Old Testament, God calls immigrants “strangers” and “sojourners,” and He gives His people clear instruction on how they should treat strangers in their land.
First, they should assist the stranger. In Jeremiah 7:6, God promises Israel that she would dwell long in her land, “if you do not oppress the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, or walk after other gods to your hurt.”
Second, we should accept them as God does. Peter summed up God’s attitude toward all people in Acts chapter 10:34-35: “Then Peter opened his mouth and said: ‘In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.’”
God does not want His people, whether Old Testament Jews or twenty-first century Americans, to be unkind to the strangers or immigrants among us. Regardless of whether they are here legally or illegally, we are supposed to accept them and assist them.
In the Bible, God gave His people explicit limits to their acceptance of strangers. The overarching principle was that strangers who desired to live in Israel were to be subject to the same laws as the native Israelites.
For example, in Leviticus 18:26 God says, “You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations, either any of your own nation or any stranger who dwells among you” (italics added).
Again, in Leviticus 24:16, He says: “And whoever blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall certainly stone him, the stranger as well as him who is born in the land.”
The message of the Bible concerning strangers in the land is clear: If they accept the national culture, and work as participants in the national economy, they are welcome and allowed full participation in the life of the nation. If they refuse to assimilate and cling to their old laws, their beliefs, their customs, and their activities, they have to be restricted for the good of the nation.