In a recent essay, “Hillary Clinton Is on the Wrong Side of History,” Pastor Chuck Baldwin criticized Senator Clinton for trying to justify massive illegal immigration to this country by misusing Scripture and completely mischaracterizing the story of the Good Samaritan.
Pastor Baldwin said: “Obviously, there is nothing unique about politicians misusing the Scriptures. What the average politician knows about the Word of God could fit into a thimble. And that goes for Republicans as well as Democrats!”
And, it is sad to say, the same could apply to some pastors and teachers of the Bible.
Senator Clinton defended her opposition to a bill being considered by the House which would subject illegal aliens and those who hire them to criminal penalties by saying that the law was “not in keeping with my understanding of the Scriptures, because this bill would literally criminalize the Good Samaritan and probably Jesus Himself.”
Pastor Baldwin explains that it is clear that there is nothing in the story of the Good Samaritan that is related to the issue of illegal immigration. The parable teaches compassion to people in need.
Then, Pastor Baldwin declares:
“However, if one wants to examine the Scriptures to find teachings relevant to the subject of illegal immigration, he can certainly do so. Let’s start with Nahum chapter three. The prophet Nahum warned Israel that their stubbornness and disobedience to God was evidenced by the fact that “the gates (borders, ports, entry ways) of thy land shall be set wide open unto thine enemies: the fire shall devour thy bars” (Nahum 3:13). In this passage, the prophet made it clear that open gates or borders, which allowed enemies easy access to a nation, constitute an imminent threat to any nation. How right he was!”
The only problem with Pastor Baldwin’s interpretation is that Nahum’s warning was not addressed to Israel. Nahum was not speaking about the stubbornness and disobedience of God’s people, nor on the issue of illegal immigration.
Nahum’s oracle is an ode celebrating the fall of the mighty Assyrian empire. Nahum is describing the dramatic events that led to the end of Assyrian domination of the Ancient Near East.
Nahum 3:11-13 describes Assyria’s inadequacy to defend Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian empire, against the Babylonian invasion. Nineveh, “the bloody city, full of lies and booty” (3:1), shall be like Thebes, the capital of Egypt’s Upper Kingdom: “Are you better than Thebes that sat by the Nile?” (3:8). The vulnerability of Nineveh is illustrated by the weakness of her protection: “Behold, your troops are women in your midst, The gates of your land are wide open to your foes, fire has devoured your bars” (Nahum 3:13).
What Nahum is proclaiming is that the fate of Nineveh is sealed: her brave warriors will be weak and unable to fight, the gates of the city will not be able to stop the invaders and the bars on the gates of the city will be burned with fire.
Nahum was right. What he said about Nineveh and the Assyrians came to pass just as he had prophesied. However, Nahum never warned Israel about their stubbornness and disobedience to God. He never proclaimed that Israel’s open borders would bring a flood of immigrants. In fact, Nahum 3:13 does not teach anything relevant to the subject of illegal immigration.
It is a fact that Senator Clinton misused Scripture and mischaracterized the story of the Good Samaritan to justify her views on illegal immigration to this country. However, there is no doubt that Pastor Baldwin also misused Scripture and mischaracterized the prophecies of Nahum to justify his own views on illegal immigration to this country.
Physician, heal thyself!
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary