One of the challenges that Christians face is how to live in this world without being influenced by the corruption in the world. Let’s consider Romans 12.
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
We are called to present our lives as a living sacrifice, not a dead sacrifice, demonstrating holiness which is acceptable to God. This is our reasonable or logical service. We can easily arrive at this conclusion based on Romans 8. Continuing in Romans 12.
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
We are not to conform (have the same form) as the world. What does this mean? We are not to have the same dress, habits, and behavior as the world. Our dress, speech, and actions should glorify God. This will require a strong backbone to avoid succumbing to peer pressure. When the world zigs we should zag. It takes strength to swim upstream.
Instead we are to be transformed (have a different form) as the world. This is accomplished by renewing our minds to the Word of God. Renewing our minds requires us to first read the Word of God to learn about the heart of God in knowledge and wisdom, then to practice applying the word of God in our daily lives.
There may be a need to separate from past friends and situations if you are struggling with old habits of conforming to the world. If you used to drink alcohol, have sexual relations, ingest drugs, or have a salty tongue then separation may be necessary as you strengthen your roots in this new pattern of thinking.
In the Old Testament there is a record of how a family lived in another culture without being tainted.
26 All the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt, which came out of his loins, besides Jacob’s sons’ wives, all the souls were threescore and six;
27 And the sons of Joseph, which were born him in Egypt, were two souls: all the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt, were threescore and ten.
28 And he sent Judah before him unto Joseph, to direct his face unto Goshen; and they came into the land of Goshen.
29 And Joseph made ready his chariot, and went up to meet Israel his father, to Goshen, and presented himself unto him; and he fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while.
30 And Israel said unto Joseph, Now let me die , since I have seen thy face, because thou art yet alive.
31 And Joseph said unto his brethren, and unto his father’s house, I will go up , and shew Pharaoh, and say unto him, My brethren, and my father’s house, which were in the land of Canaan, are come unto me;
32 And the men are shepherds ,for their trade hath been to feed cattle; and they have brought their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have.
33 And it shall come to pass, when Pharaoh shall call you, and shall say , What is your occupation?
34 That ye shall say , Thy servants’ trade hath been about cattle from our youth even until now, both we, and also our fathers: that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians.
1 Then Joseph came and told Pharaoh, and said, My father and my brethren, and their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have, are come out of the land of Canaan; and, behold, they are in the land of Goshen.
2 And he took some of his brethren, even five men, and presented them unto Pharaoh.
3 And Pharaoh said unto his brethren, What is your occupation? And they said unto Pharaoh, Thy servants are shepherds , both we, and also our fathers.
4 They said moreover unto Pharaoh, For to sojourn in the land are we come ; for thy servants have no pasture for their flocks; for the famine is sore in the land of Canaan: now therefore, we pray thee, let thy servants dwell in the land of Goshen.
5 And Pharaoh spake unto Joseph, saying , Thy father and thy brethren are come unto thee:
6 The land of Egypt is before thee; in the best of the land make thy father and brethren to dwell ; in the land of Goshen let them dwell : and if thou knowest any men of activity among them, then make them rulers over my cattle.
The phrase in Genesis 46:34 “…for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians.” arrested my attention when I read this section. I inquired from God why this phrase was included in this section. Joseph instructed Jacob and his brothers to clearly announce that they are shepherds from a long line of shepherds. This immediately would alert Pharoh of their place in the Egyptian culture.
I believe that God wanted them to live in this wealthy country but not to be influenced by the Egyptian culture. They established their community in the Land of Goshen in Northern Egypt on the Mediterranean for their homes so that they would prosper during a time of world famine. This allowed them to be separate in a foreign country both geographically and culturally. This allowed them to live as God instructed them without interference from the Egyptians.
Egyptians thought that ranching was dirty work and beneath their race which is why Pharaoh asked if they would care for his cattle.
Another Egyptian abomination is mentioned in Genesis 43. Joseph’s brother visited Egypt to purchase food during the regional famine. They did not recognize Joseph but he recognized them. He has a meal prepared for his family but eats in a separate location.
31 And he washed his face, and went out, and refrained himself, and said , Set on bread.
32 And they set on for him by himself, and for them by themselves, and for the Egyptians, which did eat with him, by themselves: because the Egyptians might not eat bread with the Hebrews; for that is an abomination unto the Egyptians.
Not only were shepherds an abomination to the Egyptians but also eating a meal with the Hebrews was also an abomination. This ensured that the Egyptians were not going to fellowship with the abominable Hebrew shepherds. The wisdom of God to maintain the Christ line through his attention to detail is fascinating.