Archives for posts with tag: stranger

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve taken a screenshot of Deuteronomy 24.17-22 so that you can see how often the word “sojourner” suddenly appears in the text.  The word can also be translated “alien, stranger, foreigner, or resident alien.”  It refers to the people living in Israel who were not Hebrew.  These were immigrants or aliens residing in the land and they were very often poor.  Notice how God’s heart and concern were for the alien, and he wanted the people to be for them also because they had once been foreigners themselves in the land of Egypt.

Notice also that they were grouped together with the fatherless and the widow.  The reason for this is that orphans and widows, along with resident foreigners, were often the most financially vulnerable in the country.  This was the position of Naomi and Ruth when they returned from Moab after the great famine.  Indeed, Ruth herself went out and gleaned grain left over from those who had harvested the crop so that she and Naomi could survive.

The point of all this is that the most vulnerable in society should be the ones that the people were most concerned about.  We see this same concern in the New Testament as well.  One of the instructions that we see again and again there is to remember the poor.

How we remember the poor and how we serve them is a matter for our own wisdom and creativity to figure out in our particular culture.  Tim Keller has written an excellent book on that particular subject that is well worth reading.  That we remember and serve the poor, is not a subject for debate because this is one of the clear commands of Scripture, and something we see practiced throughout the Bible.

 

And you must not glean your vineyard, and you must not gather your vineyard’s fallen grapes; you must leave them behind for the needy and for the alien; I am Yahweh your God.” (Leviticus 19:10, LEB)

One of the recurring commands in the Scriptures–and this is not even controversial among Christians because it is so clear–is the necessity to be kind to the poor [needy] and the alien [sojourner/stranger/foreigner].  Here God calls the Israelites to leave something as they harvest, some grain that falls from their hands as they reap, and some grapes on the vines that they do not pluck, in order that the poor and the alien may have something to gather for themselves.

This isn’t a handout–the poor and the alien would have to do the work of gathering the leftovers, much as Ruth did [Ruth 2]–this is consideration for those who are less fortunate than us.  It is one of the clearest commands in all of the Scriptures.

If we are to be God’s people, then we are to have compassion for the poor and the alien/stranger/sojourner around us.  God leaves it up to our imagination as to what that will look like, but one of the sure signs of a true follower of Christ is that they take this command seriously.