Human beings have been on the move since the beginning of time. This is true of many “heroes of the faith” found in the Bible. In Acts 7:3–5, we are told that Abram was called by God “to leave his country and his people.” He was sent to the land of Canaan, where he was given “no inheritance, not even enough ground to set his foot on.” Later, in Genesis 12:10, we see that “there was a famine in the land, so Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there.”
Abraham’s great-grandson, Joseph, who was residing in Canaan, was sold into slavery by his own brothers. He was taken to Egypt, where through a series of God-inspired events, he ultimately became second in command. Due to widespread famine, Joseph’s brothers and their families eventually joined him in Egypt. Their descendants lived there for over 200 years, but in time found themselves enslaved.
One of those descendants, Moses, became an outlaw in Egypt and sought refuge in the land of Midian. There he met the great I AM who directed him to lead his people out of slavery and into the wilderness where they sojourned for 40 years. Here we see a biblical legacy of people on the move. People often displaced or oppressed by means beyond their control.
Soon after leaving Egypt, God gave the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai. In Exodus 22:21, it is written, “Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt.” This is the first of many instructions that God gives us concerning the treatment of those who sojourn amongst us.
In the New Testament, we see that there was a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and “they were scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria” (Acts 8:1). In fact, James writes to “the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad” and Peter, in his first epistle, writes to “those who reside as aliens.”
Persecution and migration are as old as time. Throughout history, believers have been called to point the way to a loving Savior who “does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right” (Acts 10:34-35).
In the next few devotionals, we will explore what the Bible has to say concerning refugees and our response to them.
Today we thank the Lord for His great understanding of the plight of those who are displaced.
We pray that we would be open to learning what God has to say about the foreigners in our midst.