We believe that God’s ideal is a kingdom where all are welcomed. Countless times in the Bible God implores His people to protect and care for the foreigners/the strangers/the aliens.
In the first five books of the Bible (the Pentateuch/Torah) we see God choosing the Israelites, leading them and setting them apart as a people of His own whom other nations could see and be introduced to Him, the true God; Yahweh. The ‘Promised Land’ that God gave His people was a strategic and desirable location. It joined Africa to Europe and Asia and consequently hosted major trade routes - a great place for God’s people to have international influence. God’s intention was always for all to be reached and to have access to Him. One of the first covenants in the Bible, between God and Abram, shows that God sought for Abram’s descendants (the Israelites) to bless all the nations of the earth (Genesis 12:3).
God taught the Israelites how to live in a way that reflected His character and His holiness. In obeying His law the people of Israel would exemplify God’s character to others, relying on God for protection, sustenance and guidance. The law that we see in the Old Testament (that Jesus came and fulfilled) was never fully obeyed by the Israelites; we never see an example of it fully functioning. We do, however, see a blueprint of God’s ideal of society.
God intended for a society where the rich were kept from getting too rich and where the poor and needy were noticed and cared for. The law prevented farmers and business people from hoarding and instead had suggested periods of rest from harvest where those in need were welcomed to glean from other people’s excess. All were seen, all were thought of, all were welcomed, all were cared for.
Today, we live in a part of history that is distant from the Israelites and God’s giving of the law. We know that Jesus came to extend God’s kingdom for all, fulfilling the law so that all could receive grace and access God amidst His holiness. Thanks to Jesus, knowing God was no longer influenced or restricted by race.
Now, God is at work throughout the world through the Church. We believe that the Church is God’s execution of His invitation to others into His kingdom. Through believers living in a way that reflects God’s desire for justice and compassion, non-believers are authentically introduced not simply to religion or to Christianity, but moreover to God. We believe Church can be the place where all are seen, all are thought of, all are welcomed, all are cared for.
Below we’ve gathered verses and references that show God giving instructions to the Israelites for how to relate to foreigners, orphans and widows. Often these people were grouped together and were a representation of the marginalised and forgotten of society.
For a group Bible study we suggest handing out these 16 verse references for each person to take one/a few, reading the verse aloud to the group. This would be a great precursor to a discussion on the theme of these verses. Here are some specific discussion suggestions:
- What are some themes within these verses?
- What do these verses show about God’s character?
- What do these verses show about what was important to God?
- How does your society/nation line up to these commands?
- What would Church look like if these commands were perfectly obeyed?
- What changes can you make as a group in response to these verses?