So Joseph went in and told Pharaoh, “My father and my brothers, with their flocks and herds and all that they possess, have come from the land of Canaan. They are now in the land of Goshen.” And from among his brothers he took five men and presented them to Pharaoh. Pharaoh said to his brothers, “What is your occupation?” And they said to Pharaoh, “Your servants are shepherds, as our fathers were.” They said to Pharaoh, “We have come to sojourn in the land, for there is no pasture for your servants’ flocks, for the famine is severe in the land of Canaan. And now, please let your servants dwell in the land of Goshen.” Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Your father and your brothers have come to you. The land of Egypt is before you. Settle your father and your brothers in the best of the land. Let them settle in the land of Goshen, and if you know any able men among them, put them in charge of my livestock.” Genesis 47:1-6 ESV
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. Leviticus 19:33-34 ESV
Where was the Land of Goshen? What was it like? If you look at a map of Egypt, the Land of Goshen is in the northeastern area of the Nile Delta. It is a very rich and fertile land. There would have been good pasture for the flocks of the families of Israel, and they could have started farming when the famine was over. When God called on them to leave the promised land, he gave them a good place to live. Pharaoh treated them well and was kind to them.
Many years later, when the people of Israel returned to the promised land, God told them to treat the strangers who lived with them in the land with the same kindness. They were to remember that they had once been strangers in another land and how that felt. As time went on in Egypt, they were no longer treated well. They were made slaves. Israel knew both kindness and hardship in a country where they were strangers. God’s love was with them through it all, and it was that love they were to show strangers in their own land.
As God’s people, we are living away from the promised land of our heavenly home with God. Jesus won that home for us when he died for us on the cross. Sometimes in this world we are treated with kindness and have a good life, but sometimes as God’s people we have trouble and hardship because we are Christians. When this happens, we can remember that we are strangers on earth, and that we are looking forward to our home forever with God. Because we know we have God’s love all the time, his love shines through us to others who don’t feel welcome or at home. God helps us treat others who are strangers with kindness and love.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to win our home with you forever. Help us to show kindness to others who are left out and strangers. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.