Why Such Segregation for Israel?

I’m sure you’ve noticed as you’ve been reading these opening books of the Bible that God’s people are set apart. They are set apart with their beliefs and with their calling, but this also has physical manifestations. Israel is to remain distinct from the pagan nations and tribes that surround them.

One implication is with marriage and how Israelites should not intermarry. But texts like these have been used throughout history to support beliefs that stand against the text and against God’s will. This quote from a sermon by John Piper gets to the point quite clearly, but go on to read the rest of this sermon for a longer explanation about what segregations can and absolutely cannot stand:

The point was not to protect racial purity. The point was to protect religious purity. For example, Deuteronomy 7:3-4:

You shall not intermarry with [the nations]; you shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor shall you take their daughters for your sons. For they will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods; then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you.

The issue is not color mixing, or customs mixing, or clan identity. The issue is: will there be one common allegiance to the true God in this marriage or will there be divided affections? The prohibition in God’s word is not against interracial marriage, but against marriage between the true Israel, the church (from every people, tribe, and nation) and those who are not part of the true Israel, the church. That is, the Bible prohibits marriage between those who believe in Christ (the Messiah) and those who don’t (see 2 Corinthians 6:14).

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