“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” – Colossians 3:17
Walls and work – what are they good for? For the last few months there has been a “caravan” of thousands of immigrants from South America making their way to the border of the United States. There are many reasons immigrants come to our country. Almost all come with a mission of entering this country and seeking a better life. The problem arises based on how “a better life” is defined.
Some immigrants are genuinely fleeing life-threatening situations in their home country. Many if not most are fleeing poverty and looking toward the “amber waves of grain. . . above the fruited plain” in hopes of finding financial security and a better life for their family. Some immigrants come to this country to join its ranks of citizens and to contribute to the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave. They come as a blessing from God to enrich and build up this Land; to contribute as well as profit. But others might be coming to take advantage of our vast and generous social service system. That is their end goal. There’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of such gratuitous provisions if it is only a transitional use until they can get on their own two feet financially.
And still others amongst this caravan of immigrants are coming as enemy invaders. They are now making contact and are demanding entry. Political parties and other groups are accusing each other of using this caravan for their own political purposes. It’s hard to think there is not some political agenda being pushed by someone when a caravan of thousands is provided food, clothing, funds and transportation for their trek. It seems to be an orchestrated movement. This is not a movement that one day a mass of people all together woke up with the idea to act on. There’s organization. There’s funding. There’s an agenda being pushed. This is not your typical grass roots movement. There’s something deeper going on here.
It’s a little suspicious when you see mainstream media depicting scenes of women and children being tear gassed, and then you see other video of what appears to be the staging of such scenes. Other private citizen taken videos show men from the caravan causing mayhem and throwing rocks at Border Patrol Agents and Military assigned to protect our borders. But this is conspicuously unreported by the mainstream media. There is a lot of evidence of selective reporting. That’s dishonest. That’s agenda-driven reporting that isn’t based on the priority of simply reporting the truth and reality of events.
We don’t know why these immigrants are coming to our land. We don’t know their true motives. The Lord does make a distinction between those who are in a land within the boundaries of a nation and those who are outside those boundaries being foreigners. To the one contemplating adultery the Lord says to beware indulging your flesh in this way, “Lest aliens be filled with your wealth, and your labors go to the house of a foreigner” (Proverbs 5:10). In Lamentations, Jeremiah cries about the fall of Judah saying, “Our inheritance has been turned over to aliens, and our houses to foreigners” (Lamentations 5:2). Hosea spoke of judgment on Ephraim as, “Aliens have devoured his strength, but he does not know it” (Hosea 7:9a; cf. also 8:7). There are times when the circumstances of immigration associated with a nation can be a sign of judgment.
But the Bible also makes allowances for foreign peoples in the land. Foreigners living with Abraham were also to be circumcised along with Abraham’s family members (Genesis 17:12 and 27). Foreigners living in the land were treated similarly to those whose land it belonged to. But then again, there were distinctions made between those of the nation of Israel and those who were foreigners. For instance, the Passover meal was not to be partaken in by foreigners or those unaware of its mean ing (Exodus 12:43). Foreigners could not be king in Israel (Deuteronomy 17:15). Foreigners could be charged interest but a brother Jew could not be (Deuteronomy 23:20). Foreigners were given meat that Jews were prohibited from eating under the law (Deuteronomy 14:21). Foreigners were to be treated fairly and justly (Deuteronomy 15:3). But a distinction between a citizen of Israel and a foreigner was made in scripture.
A country is a country in part because its citizens pledge allegiance to that country. And such allegiance qualifies a person to vote and hold office in that country to which they have pledged allegiance. This makes sense doesn’t it? Otherwise an enemy could infiltrate a country and do it harm from within. Citizenship is at the heart of the immigration issue. Some, like Joe Biden, say that immigrants are already citizens of our country despite not having gone through any citizenship processes. But this seems to be nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to bolster democratic voting rolls rather than a genuine interest in immigrants. (That’s just my personal opinion of this politician’s statements.)
There’s no denying the issue of immigration is a front and center issue today. The safety and welfare of our nation is at risk. Immigrants are a potentially great resource and positive addition to our country. We are to a great extent a country of immigrants. But since 9/11 and the rise of such terror groups as MS-13 it’s clear that not all immigrants come to this land to be a productive part of this great nation but to attack and take from it. That’s not something true only for our day. Historically there has always been an immigration system and encouragement to foreign peoples coming to this land to become citizens.
Why are there people pushing to throw out any standards of citizenship? Why are those who value their citizenship and the welfare of this nation and its people called bigots and a host of other derogatory epithets? Why is there such a push to eliminate or minimize the importance of borders? Why are entities like the United Nations and the Pope and George Soros and others fighting against independent nation states? Understand that the reason behind such a globalist agenda is because of what the future holds. Prophetically, a time is coming in the future when there will be one world system of religion and one world system of government. The Bible speaks of a single Antichrist figure who will gain dominance over the world via a one world government. It also speaks of a single false prophet who will do the bidding of Antichrist by way of a one world religion (cf. Revelation 13). These two global systems will ultimately be judged by God (cf. Revelation 17 and 18). The only successful and holy and God-ordained world government and religious system will be established upon the return of Jesus Christ (Revelation 19 and 20). But the push to establish the globalist agenda is the birth pangs of the eventual birth of these globalist orders.
These globalist systems will no doubt come to be. But until they do, those who belong to Jesus are called to serve as a restrainer to evil as the Holy Spirit works in and through them (2 Thessalonians 2:7). We are to do everything in our power to restrain evil. That’s our job, for as long as Jesus tarries. And supporting a more effective, equitable, and efficient immigration system would go a long way in assuring the restraining of evil entering our nation. That’s why a better immigration system of vetting people coming to the land should be put in place.
Our immigration system seems broken. It’s certainly overwhelmed. And until we can get things under control, it seems prudent and protective to build a wall and put in place safeguards to our nation and its inhabitants. Walls in scripture are used to separate (Ezekiel 43:8 and Ephesians 2:14) and protect (1 Samuel 25:16; 2 Kings 18:26; Zechariah 2:5). Watchmen were assigned to stand on the walls and sound an alarm if an enemy was sighted (Isaiah 62:6). Such walls were dedicated to the LORD (Nehemiah 12:27). But they were also at times places where idol worship was performed (2 Kings 3:27). God spoke judgment to the pagan Babylonian king Belshazzar by writing with His finger on a wall (Daniel 5). Walls were a symbol of the salvation of God (Isaiah 26:1; 60:18). But fallen walls were representative of God’s judgment on the inhabitants of those within (Psalm 62:3; Isaiah 30:13).
There was a wall in the precincts of the Tabernacle and Temple. This wall separated Jew from Gentile, God’s people from foreigners who were not of God (Exodus 27; Leviticus 6). But Jesus is said to have broken down that separating wall in that both Jew and Gentile can be united in Christ (Ephesians 2:14-18). Interestingly, there is a beautifully ornamented wall around the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:12-21), but no Temple, “for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (Revelation 21:22). So those who are looking for scriptural evidence to contradict the idea of building a wall to protect our nation’s borders, will not find it.
It is interesting though, that in Ezekiel’s description of the war against Israel he describes the thoughts of the attacking forces as being, “I will go up against a land of unwalled villages; I will go to a peaceful people, who dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates; to take plunder and to take booty, . . ..” (Ezekiel 38:11). Perhaps this is evidence of the eventual success of the globalist agenda to remove the walls that demarcate nations. Perhaps the lack of walls around Israel is due to a sense of security that comes through a treaty with Antichrist (Daniel 9:27). It could also be due to a time of victory over her enemies (e.g. Psalm 83). Whatever the cause, a time will come when Israel will be “without walls.”
But I want to get back to the motivation of immigrants to come to America. There are no doubt some who come with right motives, eager to work and earn a living and be productive parts of this society. But there also might be some who come to simply take advantage of this nation’s welfare system. It’s to this latter group that I want to speak, and to anyone else who has settled or is looking to settle in and live off of government subsidies.
If we look at the creators of the welfare system and give them the benefit of the doubt, we see an effort to help the poor to get back on their feet. But what may have been originally intended for good, has turned out to be a very stifling counterproductive system. That’s because what many don’t realize is that once you are in that system of social service and government handouts, it can become enslaving. It can become a system that produces generation after generation of family’s dependent on the limited provisions of government. That system has a way of warping one’s perspective on life. It can lead from an initial attitude of industriousness to one of entitlement that actually keeps people down and dependent on a State. What’s wrong with that?
When you depend on government handouts as a normal condition of life, as an end and final destination and acceptable way of life, it robs you of a precious commodity. The commodity that State provisions rob a person of is the creativity and gratification that comes with work and achieving life goals. The Bible states in its wisdom literature, “Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before unknown men” (Proverbs 22:29). Depending on the State will keep a person down. Working and depending on God in the process, will help a person reach their full potential in God’s plan for their life. That’s because, “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). When we work, God works on us.
The Bible also states, “Prepare your outside work, make it fit for yourself in the field; and afterward build your house” (Proverbs 24:27). When you work and achieve on your own, the sky can pretty much be the limit for what you achieve. The United States is far and away a country like few others in providing an environment of reward for work. And I believe this reward-for-work environment has been a big part of facilitating the bounty and blessing that has come from God to this nation and from God to others through this nation. The Psalmist expressed this point well when he was inspired to write, “And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands; yes, establish the work of our hands” (Psalm 90:17). When we work, it provides a setting to see how God blesses. When we don’t work, God may still bless, but we aren’t as aware of it. And that is a precious sense of God’s blessing that is lost.
There is a process, an order to life, a reaping and sowing type of wisdom learned when people work. When people rely on a government to provide for their needs and wants, that learning process that yields wisdom from above is lost on them. I’m not denying that God can work on people, and does work on people in any life situation. What I am saying is that God works best in us when we are at work. There’s a big difference between working, doing your best and trusting the Lord for the rest, as opposed to relying on the government to provide for your needs. If all you do is rest and rely on government to provide for you, you’ll soon find that their best is far less than the rest. Therefore, that difference is expressed as simply as relying on God versus relying on Government. And that’s a BIG difference.
Why is this distinction important? It’s important because what you receive from the Lord is freely provided by His grace, no strings attached. What you receive from government, may seem free on the surface, but there is a hidden cost. There are always strings attached to government subsidies. When you depend on government for your needs, you become inclined to support (e.g. by way of voting, etc.) the administration and leadership of that government so that they will continue to supply your needs. Government expects those they provide for to support them. That may sound acceptable on the surface, but what happens when that government support means condoning or supporting unbiblical and sinful practices such as abortion, same-sex marriage, eliminating the age of consent (i.e. pedophilia), persecution of Christians? Depending on government may not only limit your potential, it can subtly coerce you to support unbiblical and sinful practices of that government. The old adage that “There’s no such thing as a free lunch,” is true when it comes to depending on government.
When you depend on government there is a subtle appeal to a person’s flesh because the flesh doesn’t want to work. The flesh is like water, it will flow to the lowest point. Your flesh will flow to the path of least resistance in life. Your flesh doesn’t want to work. Government handouts pander to the flesh. They are popular, they do provide for people, but at what cost? The flesh nature in all of us is diametrically opposed to the Spirit filled life the Lord calls us to.
The Apostle Paul lived a life example of industry. He walked his talk. He was one conformed to the likeness of Jesus (e.g. Romans 8:29). And as such, he was able to testify, “For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, not because we do not have authority but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us” (2 Thessalonians 3:7-9). Paul could have relied on the Thessalonians to provide for his needs, but he chose not to. It was more important to him to set the proper example to those he ministered to. Living this industrious lifestyle gave Paul credibility to go on to teach, “For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies” (2 Thessalonians 3:10-11). The Biblical standard of life is industry. It’s Biblical to work.
What did Paul instruct for those who weren’t working? He went on to say, “Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread” (2 Thessalonians 3:12). Paul commands and exhorts. And he does that “through our Lord Jesus Christ.” This is not a teaching that should be easily overlooked or set aside. This is a call to work!
And to those who were working, Paul encouraged, “But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good” (2 Thessalonians 3:13). It’s harder to work than to rely on government or others for what you need. It can be discouraging to work hard and then hear of others who play the system to earn more than what you can earn with hard work. But it is “good” to work. And as I’ve already mentioned, working puts a person in the right and best position to grow in their relationship with the Lord.
God isn’t only interested in getting us from point “A” to point “B.” God works in total efficiency. The ends don’t justify the means with the Lord. For the Lord, the means are just as important as the ends. That’s because He uses the means to an end to prepare us for our end. He’s preparing us to be in a position for Him to say to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21, 23). He says, “Well done.” He has work for us to do. It’s in and through our work that He is able to work in us. “For it is God who works in you to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). What is the Lord doing in you? What is the Lord doing through you? Unless you’re working, you’ll never know.
Paul concluded with a warning, “And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother” (2 Thessalonians 3:14-15). It’s shameful when people are not industrious. Our culture has grown to accept those who don’t work or won’t work. There are indeed, some who can’t work. Those who can’t work should be cared for (e.g. James 1:27). But those who refuse to work need to be “admonished” and instructed in the better way of work.
To those who read this Biblical instruction and feel it too harsh or uncaring toward those on government assistance, I would only point them to the word of God. James, the half-brother of Jesus, opened his epistle with the words, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” Trials are often the means by which God disciplines us or stretches us into a Christlike shape. Discipline and spiritual growth are often hard. The Lord disciplines those He loves (Hebrews 12:6). God’s discipline is evidence of belonging to the family of God (Hebrews 12:7-9). Discipline may be painful because it stretches our spiritual muscles and that can hurt (Hebrews 12:11a). But if you want to be strong in the Lord, submit to His discipline; work!
Anyone who’s ever gone back to the gym or to running after a long layoff will tell you just how painful getting those muscles back in shape can be. But God’s objective for His people is “holiness” (Hebrews 12:10). The end product of His work on us is His promise to produce in us, “the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained” (Hebrews 12:11b). We are exhorted to, “Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather healed” (Hebrews 12:12-13). James would say, “let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:4). We aren’t doing people any favors by giving them the things they could receive through work. Work serves a useful purpose in life as far as God is concerned.
There are lot of other lessons to be learned through work. Work and even competition provide an environment for people to choose to envy or choose to emulate people for their efforts. Work is a setting for us to trust in God or trust in self. This is why farming and agriculture provide the hard work setting for so many of Jesus’ parables (Matthew 13; Mark 4; Luke 8). It is in the process and activity of working that we learn so much about the reality of God and relating to Him. It is in the work setting that we learn about what is important, purposeful, and meaningful in life (e.g. Ecclesiastes 8:9-17; 9:10; 12:13-14; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17 and 23-24). It is in the work of life that we learn to, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). It is by working in life that one discovers, “in whatever state I am, to be content” (Philippians 4:11). It is while we work that we learn to trust God and that we can “do all things through Christ who strengthens” us (Philippians 4:13). And it is in work and relying by faith on God to provide that we discover the blessed truth that “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
There is one more reason why we should work. There is only one thing which work cannot do for us. Work cannot save us. That’s because no effort to pay off our debt of sin will ever be or could ever be enough to satisfy God’s glorious required just standard and cost. “All fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). That’s because, “all have sinned.” Our salvation is beyond our pay grade to attain. We aren’t qualified to work our way to heaven. We are all fallen sinful people. We lack the ability and the credentials for such a task. While God works in us when we work, His salvation, the forgiveness for our sins, eternal life, that is something that we could only experience as a gift of His grace received by faith.
Jesus alone is qualified to work out our salvation (1 Peter 1:18-19). All we can do is “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). All we can do is work in reverential awe of our Savior Jesus (Philippians 2:1-11). Jesus is superior to the angels (Hebrews 1). He is the Creator of all things and all things are held together by Him (Colossians 1:16-18). Jesus is the fullness of God (Colossians 1:19). God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself (2 Corinthians 5:19). Jesus is greater than Moses (Hebrews 3). He is our High Priest (Hebrews 4 and 5). He interceded for us on the cross and He continues to intercede on our behalf before the Father (Hebrews 7:24-25). “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). The blood of Jesus shed on the cross washes away all of our sins (1 John 1:7). Jesus is the only One qualified to redeem us on the cross.
We cannot work our way to heaven. We cannot work off our sins. “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:4-7). As we remember God’s gift of salvation, we should be moved to have our own attitude of mercy and provision for those around us who truly are unable to work or provide for themselves.
We forgive others because He forgave us in Christ (Ephesians 4:32). And when needy people come to our attention, it’s time to “be kind and tenderhearted,” it’s time to, “love your neighbor as yourself,” to provide for them, to treat them like you would want others to treat you in such circumstances. Treat them like family. Love them (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 5:43-44; 22:38-39). Indeed, we are instructed in scripture to, “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law” (cf. Romans 13:8-10; and Galatians 5:14).
There’s one last perspective on work that maybe you haven’t thought of. God wants us to work because when we do work, it leaves the redemptive work of Jesus on the cross as the only truly free gift of eternal life. When we work, it sanctifies and sets apart the cross of Christ; it makes it holy and distinct. When we don’t work, it reduces the free gift of salvation in Christ to just one of many other “free” things around it. When we work, and when more and more of us work, it puts the cost and cross of our redemption on a higher pedestal. That’s because no matter how good, how efficient, how powerful and effective is our work, it will never match the supreme redemptive work of God in Christ on the cross. Work therefore, can be a form of worship. There is no greater work than the cross work and resurrection work of God in Christ. So great is the work and so precious and costly is it, that there’s nothing anyone can do to work to gain it. It can only be received as a free gift of God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. When we work, it exalts and makes even more meaningful the work God accomplished through Jesus on the cross. “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. . .. Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:17. 23-24).
We need to build a wall. We need to get to work. Let our work be a form of worship and exaltation of the greatest work ever done, our Savior Jesus dying on the cross and rising from the dead. Let’s get to work!