Yes, Jesus was a refugee

"...the question is not: 'Which narrative best fits my political needs?' The question is: 'What does the Bible say?'" - Jerry Bowyer

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G. N. Barkman's picture

There seems to be no interest in exploring the distinction between a legal vs. an illegal refugee.  Obviously, there was no distinction in Christ's day, but should we ignore laws regarding immigration in our day?

G. N. Barkman

Jay's picture

The issue is because our immigration laws are the things that need to be examined before we talk about legal vs illegal immigrants in 2021/2022.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Mark_Smith's picture

If we are going this route... Jesus was a "government in exile" while in Egypt, not a refugee. His family fled because the false king was seeking to displace the true king.

G. N. Barkman's picture

I agree that our immigration laws need to be changed.  But until they are, the laws in place need to be respected, obeyed, and enforced.  Otherwise, we take one more step towards a lawless society.  It seems to me that deliberate refusal to change the laws coupled with incessant demands to receive every illegal immigrant who shows up is likely a calculated plan to encourage disrespect for law and order.

G. N. Barkman

RajeshG's picture

God specifically commanded Joseph through His angel to do what he did in taking Mary and Jesus into Egypt at that time. They were not "refugees" who on their own initiative were fleeing persecution, etc.

Matthew 2:13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. 14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: 15 And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.

BGT Matthew 2:13 Ἀναχωρησάντων δὲ αὐτῶν ἰδοὺ ἄγγελος κυρίου φαίνεται κατ᾽ ὄναρ τῷ Ἰωσὴφ λέγων· ἐγερθεὶς παράλαβε τὸ παιδίον καὶ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ καὶ φεῦγε εἰς Αἴγυπτον καὶ ἴσθι ἐκεῖ ἕως ἂν εἴπω σοι· μέλλει γὰρ Ἡρῴδης ζητεῖν τὸ παιδίον τοῦ ἀπολέσαι αὐτό. 14  ὁ δὲ ἐγερθεὶς παρέλαβεν τὸ παιδίον καὶ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ νυκτὸς καὶ ἀνεχώρησεν εἰς Αἴγυπτον, 15  καὶ ἦν ἐκεῖ ἕως τῆς τελευτῆς Ἡρῴδου· ἵνα πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν ὑπὸ κυρίου διὰ τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος· ἐξ Αἰγύπτου ἐκάλεσα τὸν υἱόν μου. [imperatives in bold]

Using this passage that was unique to what God supernaturally directed Joseph (and Mary and Jesus through him) to do as a basis to assert anything about ordinary people who are refugees is a misapplication of Scripture.

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

God specifically commanded Joseph through His angel to do what he did in taking Mary and Jesus into Egypt at that time. They were not "refugees" who on their own initiative were fleeing persecution, etc.

Matthew 2:13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. 14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: 15 And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.

BGT Matthew 2:13 Ἀναχωρησάντων δὲ αὐτῶν ἰδοὺ ἄγγελος κυρίου φαίνεται κατ᾽ ὄναρ τῷ Ἰωσὴφ λέγων· ἐγερθεὶς παράλαβε τὸ παιδίον καὶ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ καὶ φεῦγε εἰς Αἴγυπτον καὶ ἴσθι ἐκεῖ ἕως ἂν εἴπω σοι· μέλλει γὰρ Ἡρῴδης ζητεῖν τὸ παιδίον τοῦ ἀπολέσαι αὐτό. 14  ὁ δὲ ἐγερθεὶς παρέλαβεν τὸ παιδίον καὶ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ νυκτὸς καὶ ἀνεχώρησεν εἰς Αἴγυπτον, 15  καὶ ἦν ἐκεῖ ἕως τῆς τελευτῆς Ἡρῴδου· ἵνα πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν ὑπὸ κυρίου διὰ τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος· ἐξ Αἰγύπτου ἐκάλεσα τὸν υἱόν μου. [imperatives in bold]

Using this passage that was unique to what God supernaturally directed Joseph (and Mary and Jesus through him) to do as a basis to assert anything about ordinary people who are refugees is a misapplication of Scripture.

So if God authorizes the move, then the people moving are not refugees, no matter what the circumstances are surrounding the move? I'm thinking of Jacob's family during the famine.Wouldn't the famine be a reason for Jacob's family to need "refuge," which Joseph was willing to provide in Egypt? Sure, they were invited in, and God told Jacob not to be afraid to go there, but semantically speaking, the family would be "refugees" since they needed refuge. Wouldn't they be?

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

RajeshG wrote:

 

God specifically commanded Joseph through His angel to do what he did in taking Mary and Jesus into Egypt at that time. They were not "refugees" who on their own initiative were fleeing persecution, etc.

Matthew 2:13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. 14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: 15 And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.

BGT Matthew 2:13 Ἀναχωρησάντων δὲ αὐτῶν ἰδοὺ ἄγγελος κυρίου φαίνεται κατ᾽ ὄναρ τῷ Ἰωσὴφ λέγων· ἐγερθεὶς παράλαβε τὸ παιδίον καὶ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ καὶ φεῦγε εἰς Αἴγυπτον καὶ ἴσθι ἐκεῖ ἕως ἂν εἴπω σοι· μέλλει γὰρ Ἡρῴδης ζητεῖν τὸ παιδίον τοῦ ἀπολέσαι αὐτό. 14  ὁ δὲ ἐγερθεὶς παρέλαβεν τὸ παιδίον καὶ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ νυκτὸς καὶ ἀνεχώρησεν εἰς Αἴγυπτον, 15  καὶ ἦν ἐκεῖ ἕως τῆς τελευτῆς Ἡρῴδου· ἵνα πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν ὑπὸ κυρίου διὰ τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος· ἐξ Αἰγύπτου ἐκάλεσα τὸν υἱόν μου. [imperatives in bold]

Using this passage that was unique to what God supernaturally directed Joseph (and Mary and Jesus through him) to do as a basis to assert anything about ordinary people who are refugees is a misapplication of Scripture.

 

So if God authorizes the move, then the people moving are not refugees, no matter what the circumstances are surrounding the move? I'm thinking of Jacob's family during the famine.Wouldn't the famine be a reason for Jacob's family to need "refuge," which Joseph was willing to provide in Egypt? Sure, they were invited in, and God told Jacob not to be afraid to go there, but semantically speaking, the family would be "refugees" since they needed refuge. Wouldn't they be?

My comments were specific to the misuse of the passage about Jesus in connection to the concept of being refugees in our day, etc. I was not commenting on anything else.

I have not studied this subject so I am not prepared to comment further.

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

 

Kevin Miller wrote:

So if God authorizes the move, then the people moving are not refugees, no matter what the circumstances are surrounding the move? I'm thinking of Jacob's family during the famine.Wouldn't the famine be a reason for Jacob's family to need "refuge," which Joseph was willing to provide in Egypt? Sure, they were invited in, and God told Jacob not to be afraid to go there, but semantically speaking, the family would be "refugees" since they needed refuge. Wouldn't they be?

 

My comments were specific to the misuse of the passage about Jesus in connection to the concept of being refugees in our day, etc. I was not commenting on anything else.

I have not studied this subject so I am not prepared to comment further.

That's okay, you don't have to comment further. I just don't think you made your point that a person God directs is not a refugee. If they have a need for refuge, they would be a refugee. The rub for our day is that we as a country do not have the resources to meet the needs of everyone who has a need, so we draw some legal lines in regards to qualifications for entry into our country as a refugee. We simply can't help every single refugee that needs refuge.

Jay's picture

If the angel of the Lord appears to a couple and tells them to get up and flee immediately because their lives are in peril, I am going to be pretty hard pressed to say that they are not refugees.  Doubly so when they are fleeing from a murderous tyrant and his psychotic governmental policies.

Y'all can argue the definition of "refugee" if you want but I think this is pretty clear. Wink

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

dgszweda's picture

Since this is focused around US challenges, the definition in the US is, "Under U.S. law, a “refugee” is a person who is unable or unwilling to return to his or her home country because of a “well-founded fear of persecution” due to race, membership in a particular social group, political opinion, religion, or national origin."

So if we look at the first part, it would seem to match the description that they were unwilling to return.  The challenge become "home country".  Galilee and Egypt were not two separate countries as we view them today.  They were provinces that were ruled directly by Roman.  It was not a traditional idea of countries, or more like movement throughout a land area ruled by the same government.  Maybe something akin to moving from Chicago to San Juan.  With that said, I think they were unwilling to return to their "home" because of well-founded fear of persecution due to a social group (young children).  So I would lean toward being a refuge, but consider there is a bit of a gray perspective here.

Don Johnson's picture

dgszweda wrote:

So if we look at the first part, it would seem to match the description that they were unwilling to return.  The challenge become "home country".  Galilee and Egypt were not two separate countries as we view them today.  They were provinces that were ruled directly by Roman.  It was not a traditional idea of countries, or more like movement throughout a land area ruled by the same government.  Maybe something akin to moving from Chicago to San Juan.  

This is not exactly right. Yes, Egypt and Galilee were in the Roman Empire, but territories were under the control of those authorized by the Empire. Herod the Great controlled all of Judea and Galilee (as well as more territory) as a king. He was subordinate to the emperor, but had great authority in the territory he controlled. Egypt was outside his jurisdiction.

Later, under Herod Archaelaus, Judea was under Archaelaus as ethnarch, but Galilee was not. Just as Joseph and Mary were returning to Israel, Archaelaus engineered the massacre of 3,000 Jews. Consequently, Joseph was concerned about returning to Bethlehem (just a few miles from Jerusalem), and the Lord directed him to Galilee, out of Archaelaus' jurisdiction (which would last about 10 years before he fell afoul of Augustus). 

I suppose you could call Jesus a refugee, in a sense, but I don't get the point. His situation wasn't parallel to any of our modern political situations so the idea strikes me as misusing Scripture to buttress a current political argument.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Andrew K's picture

G. N. Barkman wrote:

I agree that our immigration laws need to be changed.  But until they are, the laws in place need to be respected, obeyed, and enforced.  Otherwise, we take one more step towards a lawless society.  It seems to me that deliberate refusal to change the laws coupled with incessant demands to receive every illegal immigrant who shows up is likely a calculated plan to encourage disrespect for law and order.

Would go one step further and say the problem isn't ultimately the law at all for most immigrants. The problem is a bungling, byzantine bureaucracy run at the lower levels by people who aren't overly competent but have no reliable means by which to be held accountable.

Just talk to an immigration lawyer if you doubt me here. I can promise they'll give a hearty Amen.

Incidentally I'm coming to suspect this holds true for many of our US institutions. And if you think changing the President will change that, you're part of the problem.

G. N. Barkman's picture

Yup.  No doubt in my mind that much of the problem is bungling government bureaucracy.  I see it in many areas of government.  The more government grows, the more bureaucracy creates problems.  However, I would also favor changes in immigration laws to allow more legal immigration, along with the understanding that we will get serious about enforcing whatever laws are current to control illegal immigration.

G. N. Barkman

Andrew K's picture

G. N. Barkman wrote:

Yup.  No doubt in my mind that much of the problem is bungling government bureaucracy.  I see it in many areas of government.  The more government grows, the more bureaucracy creates problems.  However, I would also favor changes in immigration laws to allow more legal immigration, along with the understanding that we will get serious about enforcing whatever laws are current to control illegal immigration.

Yes, very true as well. I wish we could have taken more Christian immigrants from the Middle East more easily during the ISIS crisis.

Jay's picture

The problem is a bungling, byzantine bureaucracy run at the lower levels by people who aren't overly competent but have no reliable means by which to be held accountable.

Another issue is that there is sometimes an incentive for families to not report or deport criminal behavior, because deporting the criminal also removes the primary revenue that the family needs to survive here in the states.  Deport the drunken husband, for example, and now there's not enough funds for rent and food for the remaining family members.

Samantha Power, I think, wrote a book called "A Problem From Hell" and the description fits here as well.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Rob Fall's picture

Yes, in the same sense the folks from New Orleans relocated to Texas during Katrina.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..