Jesus brings the foreigner into the family of God and accepts every person no matter where you are from and what you have done. Turns out this is central to God’s plan, for all peoples to be brought together into the family of God. Welcome one and all…
21 “You are to distribute this land among yourselves according to the tribes of Israel. 22 You are to allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the foreigners residing among you and who have children. You are to consider them as native-born Israelites; along with you they are to be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel. 23 In whatever tribe a foreigner resides, there you are to give them their inheritance,” declares the Sovereign Lord.
35 “And the name of the city from that time on will be: the Lord is there.”
Ezekiel 47:21-23, 48:35
48 “A foreigner residing among you who wants to celebrate the Lord’s Passover must have all the males in his household circumcised; then he may take part like one born in the land. No uncircumcised male may eat it. 49 The same law applies both to the native-born and to the foreigner residing among you.”
4 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. 6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.
When God separated the land for the tribes of Israel at the point of their restoration after the Babylonian exile, every tribe was granted land in which they would live. Foreigners among them were also granted rights. I don’t know about you, but that surprised me. I’m used to the idea that those who were not Hebrew being driven from the land or destroyed. That picture played out several times in Old Testament history.
We’re missing something important, though, if that’s our image of Israel. Here’s why: From the time of the Exodus, foreigners and strangers had a place in Israel. We see that even on the exodus journey across the wilderness, other people joined Israel in their journey (Exodus 12:38). These foreigners were accepted by Israel into their midst.
When we get to the first celebration of the Passover, there are special instructions relating to the foreigners among them. They participated like those ‘born in the land’ and the same laws applied to foreigners and the children of Israel equally. Whodathunk?
Turns out this is part of God’s plan, for all peoples to be brought together. One of the impacts of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ was that he broke down the barriers between peoples (Ephesians 2:14-16).
In fact, we see that as we are joined together in Christ, we become ‘heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.’
That’s God’s plan. That’s one nation under God. It’s all nations under God. Jesus brings the foreigner into the family of God and accepts every person no matter where you are from and what you have done. We see that in Ezekiel’s prophecy, there is a city in the restored land. The name of that city is, “the Lord is there.” This is a picture of a unified place where all God’s children can live together. It foreshadows the New Jerusalem of heaven we see in Revelation.
This should make us view foreigners differently. This should make us realize that we, too, are foreigners. And we are all welcomed into the family. If you were welcomed first, extend the hand of hospitality and blessing to the next foreigner until we are all part of the family…