Refugees: A Biblical Perspective
Updated: Feb 28
Refugees are people who are powerless to return to their own country because of persecution or fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or a political entity. The Bible is very clear with respect to how we should respond to those who are unfortunate enough to be displaced or who are foreigners in our midst. They must be welcomed, given food, clothing, and cared for with love and compassion as stated in Deuteronomy 10:17-19,
17 For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, 18 who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. 19 You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
Israel was constantly reminded throughout the Old Testament that she must not forget God’s commands for she also had once been an exploited immigrant labour force in Egypt, and we must likewise recall that Jesus himself had been a refugee in Egypt, as a small child, after his political flight from Herod.
Certainly, God has established some basic rules regarding the fair and just treatment of refugees and immigrants. They are to: be treated with kindness (Lev. 19:33-34); benefit from the same rule of law (Lev. 24:22); be helped and supported if necessary (Lev. 25:35-36); and be allowed to join in with national and religious celebrations (Num. 9:14).
In responding to refugees and immigrants today, we must always bear in mind that they are people like ourselves who are loved by God and consequently we must care for them and treat them, as God desires that they are treated. That is with love and compassion instead of with harshness and distrust for this is at the heart of what it means to be the people of God.