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2 and when the LORD your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them, then you must devote them to complete destruction.   3 You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, 4 for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly. 5 But thus shall you deal with them: you shall break down their altars and dash in pieces their pillars and chop down their Asherim and burn their carved images with fire.

Culture surrounds everyone everywhere on Earth.  It influences our reactions, the foods we enjoy, how we greet others, and how timely we arrive to parties, just to name a few. The events we see on television and hear on the radio are filtered by our culture, and can even differ from one area of a city to another. When born into a culture, we don’t know anything different. We don’t realize our practices could be outside the norm until seen by other cultures.  When we visit other areas of the globe, cultural differences can sometimes readily apparent.

For example, when we made our first trip to the Czech Republic, we noticed some differences right away. Most people wouldn’t look us, as strangers, in the eye, but this carries all sorts of negative connotations to most Americans. We also noticed when Czech’s pass each other on the sidewalk, they blink both eyes at their Czech friends. Later, we discovered that the Soviet era prevented trust between strangers, the cause of Czech’s not looking us in the eyes. The blinking of both eyes is a greeting between friends, simply indicating “I see you. Hello!”

The same was true with the Israelites we study in the Old Testament. The world was comprised of a tribal culture, with the tribal leadership sometimes confiscating or stealing the neighboring gods depending on crop yields and battle victories. When God entered relationship with the Israelites, he met them right where they were. Far from the ideal, God wished for the people, it was their starting point.  By the time we get to Paul and his writings in Galatians 3:28, we find how exactly God views us as the Church. While the one tribe of followers of Jesus are from all regions and cultures of the world, we are all one tribe!  Keep in mind the beautiful mosaic of humanity in our One Tribe as you watch this series of videos from around the world, all worshiping God!

There is neither Jew nor Greek,
there is neither slave nor free,
there is no male and female,
for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
-Galatians 3:28

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By Rich Obrecht 

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