October 2021 | Service of Love

Strangers and Aliens

Strangers and Aliens

Dr. John K. Mathew

A foreigner is a member of a group of people whose birth place is other than the location in which they currently reside. 

Genesis records God's covenant relationship with Abraham and His promise to create a vast nation from his offspring. Genesis ends with the death of Abraham’s great-grandson, Joseph, at the age of 110 in a foreign land, Egypt. At the time of his death, he acquired his brother's assurance that when they leave Egypt to possess the land promised to their great-grandfather, they will carry his bones to Canaan.

Exodus, the second book in the Bible, deals with the Israelites’ life in Egypt and their miraculous deliverance. That’s why God reminds Israel of their sojourn in Egypt and gives specific laws for the fair treatment of foreigners in their midst. If done in accordance with Israelite law, foreigners in the land of Israel could partake of the Passover.

In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul uses this concept with respect to a person's relationship to the kingdom of God. In Ephesians, he refers to those without Christ as being excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, meaning that they exist outside of God's kingdom. Conversely, those believing in Christ have received "adoption" as children.

Foreigners are always looking for a country of their own. The writer of the book of Hebrew records Abraham's desire for his permanent settlement.  "By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the Promised Land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:8-10). 

The Apostle Paul reminds New Testament believers that their true citizenship is in heaven. Therefore, we must eagerly wait for our Savior to come and establish his kingdom of heaven on earth. We need to admit that on this earth, we are just strangers and aliens.  But like Joseph, exiled far away from home, we have also received our assignments from God to accomplish His purposes and save those in the depths of spiritual famine.

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