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Devotionals    H3'ed 10/31/18

Time for a Caravan of Truth -- Stop Building Walls Around Our Faith

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"When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong.You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. -- Leviticus 19: 33-34 (ESV)

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The parallels are often made between a believer in Jesus Christ once living in Egypt (sin) and needing God to deliver them from this land of bondage where we were enslaved to the ways of this world and the enemy who is in charge of it. We never seem to carry this analogy further in Scripture as in the key verses today. Beloved we were once the stranger. We were once the outsider fleeing for our lives to the altar. Every Sunday a caravan of souls bow down before the God they finally believe in and are welcomed in despite being the other. Even with these spiritual truths embedded in our souls, it saddens me to see so many Christians lining up on the other side of this picture when it comes to the stranger in this world. The second most discussed topic by God through His bible, after salvation, is taking care of the least in society. When a stranger sojourns with you in your land you shall treat him as a native, love him as yourself, and do him no wrong. We were once the stranger and God welcomed us even though we had done far worse to offend God than any refugee seeking asylum in the United States of America has done to us.

That is what they are beloved. They are not gang members and Middle Easterners. They are not an organized caravan paid for by political operatives. They are actual people and given the faith of many folks in Central America, they just might be brethren as well. They are not attacking our borders to bring crime and pestilence to our way of life. They are fellow human beings beloved. They are the people we will be judged by. It is easy to treat the person we know well. Jesus ate with sinners and spoke with Samaritans. Yet some many in the church hear a second hand account by a biased reporting source and cry for armed soldiers to line the southern border. For what? To kill these people after they have trekked thousands of miles? Seriously? Then you go to church and raise your hands on Sunday in worship to whom? I was not going to write about this because I try desperately to stay away from the divisiveness of politics but God made me realize today this discussion is biblical, not political. The above link is to a recent article on Charisma News by a known political operative who disguises himself as a Christian, Wayne Grudem. It highlights how people with political agendas leverage Scripture in order to leverage Christians to their political cause even when their cause is most unbiblical. Let us reason together once more:

"Is building a wall on our border a morally good action? As a professor who has taught biblical ethics for 41 years, I think it is--in fact, the Bible itself repeatedly views protective walls with favor. Walls gave peace and security. In the world of the Old Testament, people built walls around cities to protect themselves from thieves, murderers and other criminals, and from foreign invaders who would seek to destroy the city. People could still enter the city, but they had to do so by the gate so that city officials would have some control over who was coming in and going out. Today's debate is about a larger area--a national border, not a city--but the principles are the same." -- Wayne Grudem

No, the principles are not the same. They are completely different. The same Old Testament Wayne tries to use to prop up his argument also teaches us that no wall was built around the country. In fact, the bible teaches us that strangers were welcomed in Israel. In fact, farmers were not to harvest from the corners of their fields so that the poor and sojourner could glean from their crops. People did not need to enter Israel through any gate.

"A strong wall gave peace and security to the city, and one prayer of blessing for a city was, "Peace be within your walls and security within your towers!" (Ps. 122:7). There was also a spiritual component, for the Lord himself strengthened the gates in the walls so they would protect the children and the peace and prosperity of a city: "Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem! Praise your God, O Zion! For He has strengthened the bars of your gates; He has blessed your children within you. He makes peace in your borders, and fills you with the finest of the wheat (Ps. 147:12-14). After King David established his capital in Jerusalem, he prayed, "Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; build the walls of Jerusalem" (Ps. 51:18)--God's blessing would include strong walls! After David came King Solomon, who finished and strengthened the wall around Jerusalem (1 Kings 3:1)." -- Wayne Grudem

Let us not lose sight of the fact that Israel had enemies. Sworn enemies who they needed to be vigilant against. Does America have enemies? Sure but they are not trekking thousands of miles through hell to attack our southern border. Even when we consider 911 we must remember that the hijackers came from countries that we do business with. Countries we consider our allies. Countries with far greater resources than the poor of Honduras or Guatemala.

"But the people of Israel strayed from God, and he brought judgment in the form of Babylonian invaders who broke down and destroyed the city wall: "So they burned the house of God, tore down the wall of Jerusalem, burned down all the palaces with fire, and destroyed all the precious items" (2 Chron. 36:19; see also Jer. 52:14). God's judgment removed the walls! As long as the wall around Jerusalem was broken down, it was a mark of shame and derision: "The remnant that returned from captivity is there in the province enduring great affliction and reproach. Also, the wall of Jerusalem remains broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire" (Neh. 1:3). The pathetic shame of a city without walls is also evident in this proverb: "He who has no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down and without walls" (Prov. 25:28). The implication is that such a man and such a city are both headed for destruction." -- Wayne Grudem

Sigh, this is what happens when you proof text, that is, to use the bible to try and support your pre conceived bias. Grudem wants to build a wall and pretend it is what God would want so he Google searches for all bible verses with the word "wall" in it. Then he picks and chooses what he thinks he can sell. The point of the Babylonian exile was that Israel kept worshiping idols, like Grudem does with this country for example. Of course the invaders had to go through the walls! That was not the judgment beloved -- the captivity was. Proverbs 25 is not talking about walls but about self-control. Once again, Grudem missing the point of the scripture because he was looking for something else. He goes on to speak about how Nehemiah wanted to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem after God released the captives from bondage in Babylon. Grudem correctly points out that the wall was a source of national pride for the Jews and disgrace that it was torn down but misses the point again. The point God was making is not that "walls are good" but that their walls were torn down for disobedience and the rebuilding signified a return to God. Not to mention safety from the aforementioned enemies. His last abuse of scripture comes from Revelation where he wrongly concludes that because John's vision of heaven included a wall that it must convey safety and security and thus not only are walls good but they are actually moral! This is absurd. God provides visions in terms we would understand. So when God is conveyed to protect us with His wings it does not mean that He literally has wings. Maybe there is a great wall in heaven but is Grudem somehow inferring that God cannot sovereignly protect heaven without it? Of course not Wayne. The rest of his article is trying to debunk arguments surrounding this subject. Let us continue to reason:

"Objection: "We should be a nation that welcomes immigrants."I agree wholeheartedly--if they come legally. But it is no kindness to them if the lack of a wall tempts them to risk death by walking across miles of parched desert, at the mercy of violent gangs, and then come into the U.S. without legal documentation, only to live here as a permanent legal underclass, easily exploited, living in constant fear of discovery. In addition, it diminishes respect for the law and destabilizes the nation when millions of people exist in the shadows, living outside the legal recordkeeping functions of the nation. And there has to be some limit on the number we admit each year. I would like the number to be higher than it is, but a complete "open borders" policy would overwhelm the country. The U.S. population today is 328 million. The population of the world is 7.6 billion, or 23 times the US population. If we allowed in everyone who wanted to enter, as many as half the world's population might want to come--giving us over 10 times our current population. Even if only 10 percent of the world (a very low estimate) came in through open borders, the U.S. would suddenly confront the impossible task of trying to assimilate 760 million new immigrants into a nation of 328 million. "Open borders" is not a realistic solution or one that could ever get enough popular support to pass Congress and become law. Building a wall with well-regulated gates declares that while we welcome immigrants, we--not they--are going to decide which ones, and how many. The U.S. currently admits over 1,000,000 immigrants per year who come legally and stay permanently--far more than any other nation. If you think that number should be even higher (as I do), then suggest a higher number to your congressman and talk to your fellow citizens. Persuade people to agree with you and work for a change in the law. But don't oppose a border wall, for that is just promoting more lawlessness." -- Wayne Grudem

There are a lot of stale and untruthful political talking points here. First of all no one is arguing for "open borders. The argument on the other side is for compassion. Secondly, this does not encourage "lawlessness"; another ridiculous argument. This may come as a shock to Wayne but the immigrant has the right under our law to request asylum. He tries to make it sound so reasonable that people fleeing extreme poverty and violence should just submit their names for consideration to come in through the normal process while also admitting they probably would not be selected. So thus they die waiting and he considers this somehow a Christian decision. That is really what we are talking about beloved. If you want to support a border wall go for it. Just do not pretend there is an ounce of compassion in it. Do not pretend it is somehow Christian because it most certainly is not. The arrogance Grudem displays here to declare WE will decide not you when all he has done to deserve such power is to hit the genetic lottery and be born in America to begin with. Where is the humility? Where is the "but for the grace of God go I?" I thank God that I was born in this country and that I was not born into abject poverty and violence but I never forget some were and the last thing we should do as believers is pretend they had anything more to do with their unfortunate station in life than we have in our blessed position. There is a reason why the bible says the first will be last beloved.

"Objection: "The Bible tells us to care for the sojourner."I agree--but we still must have some means of regulating how many "sojourners" we allow into the country and who can qualify to enter--and a wall is the most effective way to do this. When the Bible says, "Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt" (Deut. 10:19, ESV), Old Testament professor James Hoffmeier has demonstrated that these "sojourners" (or "resident foreigners" in one translation; the Hebrew term is ger) were people who had entered another country legally, with the permission and knowledge of the country that admitted them. (The unmodified term "foreigner" in some translations is not specific enough to translate Hebrew ger.) A foreigner who had entered a country by stealth and did not have recognized standing as a resident alien was not considered a "sojourner" (Hebrew ger) but simply a "foreigner" (Hebrew nekaror zar)." -- Wayne Grudem

I Googled James Hoffmeier and guess what? He is a renowned conservative voice on immigration. He has his own entry in "Conservapedia"; which is the right wing version of Wikipedia. So paint me skeptical that he "discovered" that people living thousands of years ago entered into countries legally before crossing into Israel. These are the dubious lengths that people will go to for their politics. The larger point here is that no one is arguing for less than the laws that exist. Refugees seeking asylum must present themselves at a border crossing and be given a hearing. The vast majority of these are denied, especially under conservative administrations because we all know God only blessed America, wink wink. The message from Grudem is stay home, apply for citizenship you will never get, and then die at whatever time seems best for those who are trying to kill you. Sorry but I must have missed that teaching from Jesus.

"Objection: "These are good people who are just seeking a better life."Yes, many of them are, and we should welcome them--if they come legally. But we can't ignore the fact that many others will not become "good neighbors"--some are drug runners, gang members and even terrorists. A wall makes it possible to screen out the people who have previously been deported for felonies and others who are most likely to commit crimes or simply become a drain on the economy rather than getting a productive job. An effective border wall would also be the best way to keep children together with their parents. Under the present system, families 1) enter the U.S. illegally and 2) are caught, then 3) they plead for asylum and 4) they are incarcerated until their asylum petition can be evaluated. But if we had a completed wall, such requests for asylum would be decided at the border, before they ever entered the U.S. We would never have to detain either parents or children on U.S. soil in the first place." -- Wayne Grudem

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Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to (more...)
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