Remember the Gibeonites

There are a couple of articles posted to the web concerning the American Christian response to the caravan headed to the border of the United States. One is by Daniel Darling, vice president of communication for The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention entitled “Christians should see in the migrant caravan the Bible’s call to honor the dignity of all humanity” and the other is by Scott Hildreth, the Director, Center for Great Commission Studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Both articles make points for fellow believers to respect each other, especially those who disagree with us on the issue of the group of foreigners headed to our border. The caravan is an issue that has believers on different sides of the aisle on how to view and approach the issue of foreigners wanting to cross the border of the United States by bypassing the normal, diplomatic means. We do need to love, respect, and treat each other (and the non-believers) with dignity in this issue. And so too, as they remind us, we need to keep in mind that those headed this direction are created by God and worthy of respectful consideration. Providing others, those close to us and those far away, with respect, dignity, and love is not only a commandment but a vital part of our own identity as children of God.

At the same time, we need to remember some vital things. Jesus told us, “Look, I’m sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore, be as shrewd as serpents and as harmless as doves” (Matt 10.16 CSB). We are to treat everyone with dignity, but we don’t have to trust everyone. In that regard we need to remember the Gibeonites of Joshua chapter 9. The Gibeonites were a people who had heard of how Joshua and the children of Israel had defeated Jericho and Ai and were afraid enough to seek to make a treaty with them. But, in doing so, they deceived the Israelites but implying, through various means, that they were actually from far off when in fact they were in the territory that Israel was conquering and thus not able to make a covenant with them. The Israelites heard their (sob) story, but, as the text notes (vs. 14) they “did not ask for the counsel of the LORD.”

Not everyone who is headed in your direction is coming with the greatest of intentions. Many are headed our way as a matter of seeking their own good at another’s expense. Scripture, both TNK and NT, are clear of our treating with dignity the stranger that we find within our borders, but the Bible also notes that we are to be wise and not foolish in how we deal with others. The caravan headed this direction may indeed contain folks who are genuine in seeking refuge from oppression by seeking our citizenship. But, we have had in place legal means of entrance in each country that they are both exiting and passing through. To legitimately seek residency here there are legitimate, humane (dare I say Judaeo-Christian) means of so doing. American history is replete with the stories of immigrants making their way to Ellis Island to then walk on American soil. (It must be noted, landing on Ellis did not always ensure citizenship-many were turned back). At the same time, there appear to be some Gibeonites progressing this way. While claiming poverty and oppression, it is very expensive to carry out what they are doing with that number of folks going that distance. Something just does not feel right; my God given serpent sense tells me.

A good solution, I would think, for those who find themselves called by their Biblical sense to render aid, both physical and spiritual, would be to head in their direction with what resources that they may possess in the way of food and comfort, and, face to face, provide to the caravan the aid they think the LORD would have them provide; you don’t have to wait for them to cross the border before you help them.

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