Language, Law & Culture

INTERNATIONAL BORDERS: PART TWO

With the necessity and legitimacy of international borders now established by God (as we have seen in PART ONE), it is a logical next step to conclude that international borders are also a moral idea, as strange as it may seem to some.  Yet despite its seeming strangeness, this is not a hard or difficult thing to conclude, for since God is perfectly holy (Isaiah 6:3), anything He establishes has moral authority behind it.

Since the idea of international borders is a moral thing, it is therefore worth our time to take a look behind the idea of a border to know what should exist there.  A border is simply a barrier that separates two things that are different and distinct, and an international border is no exception to this, for it separates two distinct nations or peoples.  A look into what is to be distinctive about the nations thus separated is therefore in order, and once again the Scriptures shed their light upon the subject.

The first point of note regarding this issue is that God set a very definitive border around His people Israel (Numbers 34:3-12), which tells us that borders between nations should be clearly defined and maintained in order to fulfill the role God has ordained for them.  It is from this thought that we proceed to the heart of today’s discussion, which is to take note of what was different on the Israelite side of the border from that of its neighbors (beyond the obvious point of geography).

Were one to cross into ancient Israel from a neighboring land, it would immediately be noticed that there had been an abrupt change of language, for the Israelites spoke Hebrew – something that made them distinct in their region.  This should be not at all surprising, for in reality the first border was that of language (as we have already seen in our prior look into the incident at Babel in Genesis 11), and it had continued as a natural border ever since that time and even until today.

The second thing that would be noticed is that Israel had a distinct system of law, which for the Hebrews was the Law of Moses, and this law applied to everyone within their borders, whether native-born or otherwise (Exodus 12:49).  When you entered Israel, you were subject to her laws regardless of your nation of origin.

Finally, it would be noticed that Israel was distinct in its culture, and so some thoughts on the idea of culture are needed in order to properly understand the issue.  Culture has at its root cult, which signifies the idea of worship.  Culture, then, is the shared worship of a people; in Israel, this was the worship of Jehovah (Exodus 20:3).  In essence, therefore, the borders of Israel stood as a sentry behind which were protected the Israelite language of Hebrew, the Israelite Law of Moses, and the Israelite worship of Jehovah.

Whenever there is a difference, therefore, in the language, law or culture of a people or nation, an international border should exist between them, and that border should stare out against the world as the stern and ready sentinel of protection for the language, law and culture that lies behind it.  Anyone who does not respect those differences enters at their own peril.

Stay tuned, as the next installment will discuss the issue of cultural superiority and inferiority, and put to bed the ridiculous notion of multiculturalism that so pervades our modern thinking.

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