Could it be?
It all started with this tweet about immigration policy from Rev. Al Sharpton: “Before you head to church today, remember to thank God for his son Jesus, a refugee who fled to Egypt.”
This set off a huge firestorm of critics furious with Sharpton, including Fox News which said: “There’s one problem though: Sharpton’s tweet is not exactly accurate, at least according to the Bible.” Here is a sample of other critics: “After all these years, Al Sharpton still doesn’t know his Bible!”
Here is what the Bible actually says in Matthew 2:13-14: “When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. ‘Get up,’ he said, ‘take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.’ So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt…” (Boldface mine)
Here is the dictionary definition of refugee: “A person who has been forced to leave their country in order to avoid war, persecution or natural disaster.” (Boldface again mine)
It certainly seems to me that what Joseph, Mary and Jesus did exactly fits the definition of refugee. Could it be that Sharpton actually read the Bible correctly? Could it be that his critics freaked out because they just couldn’t stand that Sharpton may be right on an interpretation?
The larger issue is different though. Could it be that the story of Jesus fleeing to Egypt was never intended to teach us the “correct” position on 21st century refugee issues? Can there be a difference between what the Bible says and what the Bible teaches? When we move away from explicit instructions/commands (i.e. “You shall have no other gods before me”) into shaping our principles on Bible examples we are doing something laudable but can we can’t claim we are inerrant as we do.