but they mingled with the nations and learned their practices, Psalm 106:35 NASB
Learned – David described Israel in the 10th Century BC. He might as well have penned this line 3000 years later. Haven’t we mingled with the nations and learned their practices? Aren’t we in the same place as Israel before Babylon?
What have we learned in 3000 years? The Hebrew verb is lamad. It means “to study, to teach, to learn, to be taught, to be learned.” God sternly warned His people not to learn, teach, study or practice the corrupt, pagan ways of the nations. Instead, God’s followers were to learn His ways. Then He told them exactly what those ways were. Let’s take a look at some of them to see if we have mingled. Here’s a quick checklist:
“Do not entertain the idea that there is any god but YHWH” (Exodus 20:3). How is our culture doing with that one? How are your children doing with this in our government schools and universities? How much mingling did it take to produce a generation that believes all spiritual paths lead to God?
“Learn Torah and teach it” (Deuteronomy 6:7). How is the Church doing with this? Who did the mingling here? When did God change His mind about this?
“Do not take away from the commandments of Torah” (Deuteronomy 13:1). Hmm? Our religious culture certainly followed this to the letter, didn’t it?
“Recite grace after meals” (Deuteronomy 8:10). What is the usual procedure in your house?
“Do not bear a grudge or take revenge or cherish hatred” (Leviticus 19:17-18). How’s that working in your life?
“Rebuke a sinner” (Leviticus 19:17). Are we ready to do this or are we hamstrung by the mingling of social and political correctness?
“Give charity according to one’s means” (Deuteronomy 15:11). Of course, now the government takes care of this, right? “I gave at the office.”
“Do not wrong a stranger in speech” (Exodus 22:20). But politicians are exempt, right?
“Do not withhold food, clothing or marriage rights from a woman” (Exodus 21:10). How does that align with an environment of spousal abuse or with the practices of cultures?
“Do not castrate the male of any species; neither man nor beast” (Leviticus 22:24). I wonder if horse owners, pet breeders and the SPCA ever read this one?
“Celebrate the festivals” (Exodus 23:14). By the way, that does not include Christmas or Easter.
“Rest on Yom Kippur” (Leviticus 23:35). But since we don’t even celebrate Yom Kippur, especially after Jesus made it “irrelevant,” why worry about this one?
“Do not eat the flesh of unclean animals” (Leviticus 11:4) Take a long look at the menus of your favorite restaurants. Business in the mingled world is booming.
“Do not make a loan with interest to one of the house of Israel” (Leviticus 25:37). As the gentleman said to me, “You must be kidding. How can I do business if I don’t charge interest?”
“Do not delay payment of a hired man’s wages” (Leviticus 19:13). Except, of course, when the government or the employer needs the money more.
“Do not appoint as a judge anyone who is not well-versed in Torah” (Deuteronomy 1:17). But apparently it’s OK to elect them.
We could go on, but I don’t think it’s necessary. There is absolutely no question that the culture and the Church are very well-mingled today. Shaken, not stirred. Maybe that’s why Peter Leithart calls Christianity “institutionalized worldliness.” The only real question is this: What about you? How much mixing is going on it your life?
Topical Index: lamad, learn, teach, practice, Torah, mingle, Psalm 106:35