Missiology Through Scripture – Leviticus 19:33-34

“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” – Leviticus 19:33-34

This is a very broad mandate which carries the weight and authority of Yahweh. Foreigners, travelers, and strangers are not simply to be tolerated or ignored. God’s elect are to love the stranger with the same depth and commitment with which we are to love ourselves.

The world neglects and shuns outsiders. As Israel loved foreigners and strangers they were being set apart by the world as special. Treating visitors well is a way we are to bring light to God’s grace and mercy. R.K. Harrison said, “Aliens or visitors are not to be oppressed or exploited in any fashion by the Israelites, since such actions would not exemplify God’s holiness.”[1] When outsiders experience God’s justice and love from his people, they take with them tales of God’s glory.

Much of the world’s non-Christians attests to the fact that they have never met a Christian. When we treat outsiders with a similar love which God gave us, they become our surrogate evangelists. Refugees and immigrants will share with their culture how they were received in their travels. Glory comes to God when they communicate that it was the Christians who stood out in the areas of charity and justice.

As God brings the lost and the destitute to our doorsteps, do not let them associate inhospitable or oppressive behavior with disciples of Christ. Israel was called to stand out among the inhospitable and racist nations of the world. So too, are Christ’s elect called to be different from the world. The history of the world is riddled with tales of people and governments which oppressed outsiders. Followers of Jesus should provide a stark contrast with the world in the way we treat foreigners, travelers, and strangers. God has shown us grace beyond that which we have earned. In the name of God, show similar grace to newcomers in your land.

 

[1] R. K. Harrison, Leviticus: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 3, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1980), 205.