As the discussions and threats go on about building a wall on our Southern border, Christians may find themselves torn between what some have characterized as racist and xenophobic and others have characterized as national defense. However, let’s step away from the secular political posturing and examine what the Bible has to say about the subject. If we are to espouse a biblical worldview, we must first know what the bible says.
So where does the bible talk about building a wall? The book of Nehemiah, or in the Jewish cannon Ezra-Nehemiah. Believed to be written by the scribe Ezra, the text of Nehemiah tells the story of the person of the same name. The story takes place after the Babylonians, who carried the Jews into exile, are defeated by the Persians. The Persian King, Cyrus, reverses the public policy of the Babylonians of exiling their conquered peoples to repatriation of the people and restoration of the local worship. Thus, after about fifty years of exile Israelites are allowed to return to their homeland.
The story of Nehemiah begins with the date and his location in Susa (under the rule of Artaxerxes). He then hears from one of his brothers who has returned from Jerusalem with a report. The troubling news from his brother is found in verse three and reads, “…the remnant there is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.” (Nehemiah 1:3 ESV)
These few words are the impetus for the entire book. The rebuilding of the walls becomes Nehemiah’s purpose in life. In the next few verses, he cries and mourns for days, fasting and praying to God for favor to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the walls. Nehemiah understands that the Holy City of Jerusalem, without its walls, is vulnerable to attack, looting, and pilfering. Jerusalem will never be the city it once was without a way to defend itself. Without a defining boundary that identifies a great city, it will continue to depict Israel’s defeat, and the people of the city will have no defense against any further aggression.
Without recounting the whole story here, Nehemiah will rebuild the walls of Jerusalem amid threats from her neighbors with attempts to delay or derail the entire project. So much so that Nehemiah and his workers will have to arm themselves for potential physical combat as they build the wall.
Now I know there are some who want to focus on the treatment of illegal aliens in the bible. Let’s be clear that God is continually telling the people of Judah and Israel to treat the alien or sojourner with kindness and love because they were strangers, aliens or sojourners in Egypt.
“You shall not oppress a sojourner. You know the heart of a sojourner, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. (Exodus 23:9 ESV) Or “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. (Lev. 19:33-34)
However, we also find that the alien, stranger, or sojourner isn’t free to do whatever they want to do. They must obey the law of the land. “If a stranger shall sojourn with you and would keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised. Then he may come near and keep it; he shall be as a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it. There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you.” (Exodus 12:48-49 ESV) They are also to obey the Sabbath laws. In fact, Israel is in exile because her people didn’t follow their own laws.
The New Testament directly speaks to God establishing the boundaries of nations. Paul addressed the Greeks in Athens in the midst of the Areopagus, and said, “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us…” (Acts 17:24-27 ESV). The emphasis is mine but the argument is that there is one God who created everything. He is the one who gives life and breath. He created from one man every nation and He determines their time periods and boundaries. The establishment of countries with boundaries, borders was God’s idea.
Thus, it only makes sense from a biblical worldview to require those who do enter our country to obey our laws, especially with regards to legal entry. Scripture is clear that whoever comes must abide by the law. The building of the wall was to ensure the protection the wall brings to the natural residents and to control who has access.
Thus, the building of a wall on the Southern border is not xenophobic but an attempt to protect those who live along our porous border controlling who has access to not only our country but to everything we provide for those who are citizens. The wall is a defense against those who wish us harm and choose not to obey our laws. We need
Build the Wall Mr. President, or a fence!