Regular nibbles from the Bible. . .come for a bite, leave with an appetite

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight. (Psalm 19:14, MSG)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

RUNAWAY TRAIN (Deuteronomy 23)

Don't return a runaway slave to his master; he has come to you for refuge. Let him live wherever he wishes within the protective confines of your city. Don't take advantage of him. (Deuteronomy 23:15-16, MSG)

In the context of laws permitting slavery while protecting the well-being of the slave, this verse caught me by surprise.

Don't return a runaway to his master. 

The slave is not required to prove mistreatment. The wording suggests they need refuge for one reason or another. Perhaps they ran down one of the roads we talked about yesterday, to the nearest town. Once there, the former slave needed to stay put. His safety wasn't guaranteed if he left. But as long stayed within the town, he could live freely, make his own way, free from harrassment or fear.

I wonder if this principle should be expanded. What about political refugees, who flee seeking asylum? Should they be accepted, protected, without questioning? In ancient Israel, foreigners weren't accepted unilaterally. The inhabitants of the land were destined for death. Because of the deceit at Baal Peor, Moabites and Ammonites were banned from the congregation of God. Edomites and Egyptians could become part of the congregation in the third generation.

So it's not necessarily a call for open borders.

How about children who runaway? Should they be returned to parents, to potentially abusive situations?

That's a tougher one. The key, I think, is protection. Children must be in a situation where they are protected--from both abusive families, a faulty welfare system, the mean streets.

I don't know what the answer is.

Today, let's take a moment to pray for those people--slaves, children, refugees--who need to flee from trouble. Pray that they will find a safe place to live, for institutions of slavery and prostitution and oppression to end.

Pray for the peacemakers.

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