How to Treat Foreigners

The Bible is the solution to all of man’s problems. Every issue can be resolved if we simply look to God for counsel. One area that we require much instruction on is how to relate with others who may not share our ethnicities. The menace of racism is quite rampant in the world today and we believe that the Bible is the answer. God’s Word teaches us how to treat those who don’t look like us, talk like us or are from where we are.


In this article, we would examine God’s counsel to the people of Israel on how to treat strangers. God’s Word to the Jews explains how foreigners are to be treated. Non-Jews were to be treated well.


Leviticus 19:33-34 (NKJV)

33 ‘And if a STRANGER (that is, a non Jew) dwells with you in your land, you SHALL NOT mistreat him. 34 The STRANGER who dwells AMONG YOU shall be to you as ONE BORN AMONG YOU, and you shall LOVE HIM AS YOURSELF; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. 


Deuteronomy 10:14-19 (NKJV)

14 Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the Lord your God, also the earth with all that is in it. 15 The Lord delighted only in your fathers, to love them; and He chose their descendants after them, you above all peoples, as it is this day. 16 Therefore circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer. 17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows NO PARTIALITY nor takes a bribe. 18 He ADMINISTERS JUSTICE for THE FATHERLESS and THE WIDOW, and LOVES THE STRANGER (non Jew, Gentile), GIVING HIM FOOD and clothing. 19 Therefore love the STRANGER, for you were STRANGERS in the land of Egypt.  


Exodus 22:21 (NKJV)

21 “You shall neither mistreat a STRANGER (non-Jew) nor oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. 


The non-Jew is even allowed to participate in the Passover (a Jewish holiday), “48 And when a STRANGER dwells with you and WANTS TO keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then LET HIM come NEAR and KEEP IT; and HE SHALL BE AS a NATIVE of the land. For no uncircumcised person shall eat it. 49 ONE LAW shall be for the NATIVE-BORN and for the STRANGER who dwells among you.” (Exo 12:48-49)


God wants EVERYONE  included in His worship. No ethnicity left out. Similarly, Number 9:14 says, “14 ‘And if a STRANGER dwells among you, and WOULD KEEP the Lord’s Passover, he must do so according to the rite of the Passover and according to its ceremony; you shall have one ordinance, both for the STRANGER and the NATIVE of the land.’” (Num 9:14)


So God’s plan is clear—He wants NO DIVISION amongst the men He created. He recognizes our individual identities and ethnicities. But He sees MEN first, before ethnicities! Humanity, before colour. Therefore, NO ONE is left out. He gives no preferential treatment to ANYONE. When He blessed Israel, it was so that the nations could see, come to Him and also be blessed!


The strangers in the Torah were not just passers-by in Israel. They actually intended to obtain domicile with them (immigrants). So God states clearly that immigrants must be treated THE SAME WAY as the citizen! This is beautiful and shows the justice of God. He treats ALL MEN the same. He considers the needs of the noncitizen, “22 ‘When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not WHOLLY (or completely) REAP the corners of your field when you reap, nor shall you gather ANY GLEANING from your harvest. You shall LEAVE THEM for THE POOR and for THE STRANGER: I am the Lord your God.’” (Lev 23:22)


The God of the Bible does not discriminate. He is therefore the answer to the cry for social justice today. Once we see men like He does, ALL LIVES would matter, irrespective of the color of their skin. The marginalized would be treated with honor.


Other portions of the Old Testament as well give non-Jews equal chance to serve Yahweh. The stranger was to enjoy the Sabbath day, “8 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor YOUR STRANGER who is WITHIN your gates.” (Exod 20:8-10). This rule was reiterated in Exo 23:12 and Deut 16:11, 14.


Exodus 23:12 (NKJV)

12 Six days you shall do your work, and on the seventh day you shall rest, that your ox and your donkey may rest, and the son of your female servant and the STRANGER MAY BE REFRESHED. 


Deuteronomy 16:11-14 (NKJV)

11 You shall rejoice before the Lord your God, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite who is within your gates, the STRANGER and the FATHERLESS and the widow who are among you, at the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide. 14 And you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant and the Levite, the STRANGER and the fatherless and the widow, who are within your gates.


The stranger was to rest on the day of Atonement as well, “29 “This shall be a statute forever for you: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and DO NO WORK AT ALL, whether a native of your own country or a STRANGER WHO DWELLS AMONG YOU. 30 For on that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the Lord.”  (Lev 16:29-30).


Non-Jews were also allowed to participate in the sacrifices of the Law, “8 “Also you shall say to them: ‘Whatever man of the house of Israel, or of the STRANGERS who DWELL AMONG YOU, who offers a burnt offering or sacrifice, 9 and does not bring it to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, to offer it to the Lord, that man shall be cut off from among his people.” (Lev 17:8-9)


The non-Jew could offer a burnt offering. The same rule that applies to the Jew applies to the immigrant in vs. 10 of the same chapter (Lev 17), “10 ‘And whatever man of the HOUSE OF ISRAEL, or of THE STRANGERS who DWELL AMONG YOU, who eats any blood, I will set My face against that person who eats blood, and will cut him off from among his people.” He would receive the same punishment the citizen received, no more, no less. This is repeated in vv. 12-13 of the same chapter, “12 Therefore I said to the children of Israel, ‘No one among you shall eat blood, nor shall ANY STRANGER who dwells among you eat blood.13 “Whatever man of the children of Israel, or of THE STRANGERS who DWELL AMONG YOU, who hunts and catches any animal or bird that may be eaten, he shall pour out its blood and cover it with dust.”


The same Law applies to the citizen and noncitizen in God’s eyes.

Leviticus 18:26 (NKJV)

26 You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations, either any of your own nation or ANY STRANGER who DWELLS AMONG YOU


Leviticus 22:18-19 (NKJV)

18 “Speak to Aaron and his sons, and to all the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘Whatever man of the house of Israel, or of THE STRANGERS IN ISRAEL, who offers his sacrifice for any of his vows or for any of his freewill offerings, which they offer to the Lord as a burnt offering— 19 you shall offer of your own free will a male without blemish from the cattle, from the sheep, or from the goats. 


So there were strangers who lived amongst the children of Israel and they were instructed to treat them well. They were not to exclude ANYONE. The non-Jew was even allowed to participate in the worship of God! This is quite instructive in our day and age. God’s counsel has not changed today—we must treat EVERYONE equally, even though they may not look like us.


This same thought continues in the Prophets. Jeremiah for example, speaks of doing no wrong to strangers, “Thus says the Lord: “Execute judgment and righteousness, and deliver the plundered out of the hand of the oppressor. Do NO WRONG and do NO VIOLENCE to the STRANGER, the fatherless, or the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place” (Jer 22:3). Israel is warned not to discriminate against non-Jews more than 36 times in the Old Testament! This shows that God is concerned for EVERY MAN, irrespective of his ethnicity or skin colour.


Thus, King Solomon’s Temple made room for people of other ethnicities, “41 “Moreover, concerning a FOREIGNER, who is NOT OF YOUR PEOPLE Israel, but has come from a FAR COUNTRY for Your name’s sake 42 (for THEY WILL HEAR of Your great name and Your strong hand and Your outstretched arm), when he comes and PRAYS toward THIS TEMPLE, 43 HEAR IN HEAVEN Your dwelling place, and DO ACCORDING to all for which the FOREIGNER calls to You, that all peoples of the earth may know Your name and fear You, as do Your people Israel, and that they may know that this temple which I have built is called by Your name” (1 Kings 8:41-43).


This reveals God’s heart — EVERYONE is welcome to the worship of Yahweh. He will hear EVERY MAN who cries out to Him. Therefore, WHATEVER places any ethnic group above another CANNOT be of God! The Bible can NEVER be used to justify ethnocentrism or racial segregation.


Racism is the lie of Babel.


Genesis 11:4 (NKJV)

4 And they said, “Come, let us BUILD OURSELVES a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name FOR OURSELVES, 


…lest we be SCATTERED ABROAD over the face of the WHOLE EARTH.


This would have hindered the knowledge of Yahweh from filling the Earth. Racism is a plan of the devil to hinder evangelism on the Earth. When a people begin to overestimate themselves, they’ve fallen out of the plan of God.


If we presume superiority over others, we would never associate with them. How then would God’s Gospel spread? Thus, the real reason for racism today is Satan trying to stop the spread of the Gospel. So he pits Whites against Blacks, when they are supposed to fellowship together in the knowledge of God’s Son. Racism will therefore hinder the spread of the Gospel.


We must realize that although there are several ethnicities, nations, languages, tribes, clans and people-groups, there is JUST ONE HUMAN RACE. We are ALL ONE in the eyes of God. This is why He wants THE WORLD. He is not more concerned for one nation above the other.


(For a thorough treatment of this subject, you may consult the sermon-series “God Wants The World PART 2” by Pastor Josh Banks, which deals with the concepts of RACE, SKIN COLOUR and RACISM from the Bible)


© Josh Banks Ministries. 2021.


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