Today’s Reading: LEVITICUS 17-1-19-37
As an American living in a foreign country one thing you notice are the different rules and laws. There are two very different laws here in the Netherlands than in the USA. First off the drinking age for beer and wine here is 16 years old, while it is 21 in the USA. That is a huge difference, especially if you have teenagers like I do. Which law should I expect my kids to follow, 21 of where they are from or 16 where they live? An interesting situation could arise where my 16 year old son is legally able to walk into any cafe here and ask for a beer or wine. If we head back to the states and did the same thing he and the bartender serving him could be served lofty fines for giving the same boy the same drink. In the USA he must wait 5 more years.
Another age law that is different is that in the USA where we lived the driving age is 16, while in the Netherlands it is 18. Which one should we follow. Well of course, at the minimum in both of these cases we have to follow the law of where we live. The laws are a reflection of the values, culture and history of a land. Beer and wine are a very natural part of the European culture here. There is no real stigma to seeing a 16 year old having a beer. It is part of their culture.
Personally, we as a family have chosen to stick to the USA rules for now on the issue of alcohol. Truth is, we as parents have decided and hopefully our children have decided to honor that decision. But when one lives in many countries with many cultures with different history, values and laws, what is one to do?
The Israelites have this very problem. Culturally they are different that many around them. Historically, they have their most recent history as slaves of Egypt. During our reading they are passing through other cultures and nations to get to their promised land which happens to be occupied by another nation with a different history and different values. They are a lot like a large community of expatriates wandering about until they find a home. Well, thankfully for them and us, God has some directions on this very topic.
Leviticus 18:1 – 5 NLT
1 Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. I am the Lord your God. 3 So do not act like the people in Egypt, where you used to live, or like the people of Canaan, where I am taking you. You must not imitate their way of life. 4 You must obey all my regulations and be careful to obey my decrees, for I am the Lord your God. 5 If you obey my decrees and my regulations, you will find life through them. I am the Lord.
I could easily take verse two and change it slightly to apply immediately to my family and I.
So do not act like the people in the USA, where you used to live, or like the people of the Netherlands, where I am taking you. You must not imitate their way of life.
When you live with people who do not share your values, your history, your culture or even your God, then it is very easy to set your core values aside. You want to fit in and do as the locals do, hey when in Rome do as the Romans. But that is not what God is teaching us here.
It is not important whether we live here or there, north or south, east or west. What matters is that we must obey all the regulations of the Lord. We must be careful to obey His decrees. Why? Because he is the Lord my God. And in return for obey his decrees and regulations, we will find life through them. He is the Lord!