All quotations are taken from the New King James Version
Tragically, the war in Ukraine has, like previous conflicts, created many aliens. As a class of people there is one thing that characterizes them - typically, they are living a life of deprivation and suffering.
The Bible has something to say about people in this state. After suffering the loss of his property, children, and health, Job said, ‘Those who dwell in my house, and my maidservants, count me as a stranger; I am an alien in their sight’, Job 19. 15.
The Godhead, knowing that there would be many aliens in the Promised Land, issued instructions relating to the treatment of them. Deuteronomy chapter 23 verse 7 records this warning and reminder given by Moses to the Israelites as they were about to enter Canaan, ‘You shall not abhor an Edomite, for he is your brother. You shall not abhor an Egyptian, because you were an alien in his land’. In addition, Deuteronomy chapter 26 reminds the Israelites in the Promised Land that when they brought their offerings of firstfruits and tithes, they too were aliens whom God had specifically blessed. But that identity is given as the reason why they should take good care of the aliens from other places that are now in their midst.
1 Chronicles chapter 29 verse 15 records David’s words as he gathered the people together to point out which of his sons was his choice to succeed him - namely, Solomon - ‘for we are aliens and pilgrims before You, as were all our fathers; our days on earth are as a shadow, and without hope’. Later, as king, Solomon numbered all the aliens who were in the land of Israel, after the census in which David his father had numbered them, and there were found to be 153,600, 2 Chr. 2. 17.
A ‘Messianic psalm’ of King David records words that the Son of David would utter after He came to earth and lived as part of Joseph and Mary’s family, ‘I have become a stranger to my brothers, and an alien to my mother’s children’, Ps. 69. 8. This was the reality of the situation that our Lord faced during His years on earth.
Our Lord had at least six siblings, consisting of four brothers as well as at least two sisters, Mark 6. 3, but He was the eldest child in the house of Joseph and Mary. In a typical family, there is admiration and respect shown by younger siblings toward the eldest. However, at some point while growing up, there undoubtedly was recognition by the younger siblings that their older brother’s behaviour was distinctly different and better than theirs. Perhaps the eldest of our Lord’s siblings would recall His ‘strange’ behaviour at twelve years of age, when He did not remain with the company of those returning to Nazareth (including the rest of His family) after celebrating the Passover in Jerusalem.
By the time their eldest brother entered adulthood and was approaching thirty years of age, they despised Him for relinquishing His ‘normal’ life working as a carpenter and adopting (what seemed to them) a nomadic life as an itinerant preacher. At one juncture, His family attempted unsuccessfully to compel Him to abort His ministry and return home, Mark 3. 31. Luke chapter 14 verse 26 records a strong statement made by our Lord concerning a disciple’s relationship with his family, ‘If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple’. Our Lord demonstrated this.
Likewise, the townspeople of Nazareth reacted against Him. They are recorded as saying, ‘“Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?” So they were offended at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honour except in his own country and in his own house.” Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief’, Matt. 13. 54-58.1
Before a certain date in each of our lives, we (Gentiles) were ‘without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ’, Eph. 2. 12, 13. Colossians chapter 1 develops the thought, ‘And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight’, vv. 21, 22. We have been brought near and reconciled to God.
Like no other aid worker, our Lord, the Good Samaritan, considered an alien Himself, can relate to these Ukrainian refugees/aliens in their current plight. He is fully capable of ministering to body, soul, and spirit.
Note that after our Lord’s resurrection both James and Judas (or Jude) not only became believers but authored books which are part of the New Testament. James became a leader in the Jerusalem church.
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