"You shall not boil a young goat in its mother's milk." (Ex 23:19b)
"You shall not boil a young goat in its mother's milk." (Ex 34:26b)
"You shall not boil a young goat in its mother's milk." (Dt 14:21b)
Repetition is significant in the Scriptures. It is the prophetic equivalent of using bold typeface, or a highlighter pen.
So I have known that these verses were significant, even though I have been puzzled for a long time as to why!
However, as I have been meditating on the imagery we have been examining in the last few posts, a possible answer has emerged.
Like Paul, when he explains the significance of the ox treading out the grain, I am struck by the question: Is it for young goats that God is concerned? Does he not speak entirely for our sake?
If we see the young goat as an immature member of the flock, and its mother's milk as that which should have brought it through to maturity, then these verses strike me as an expression of what I have always considered to be the golden rule of preaching:
Never use the platform to have a go at a brother.
There is a time for rebuking, but even this should be done in love with a view to seeing our brother restored.
That brother may be immature. He may have made a massive doctrinal error. He may have totally wound us up the wrong way. But God never gives us his word to use as a weapon - not against flesh and blood anyway! Whatever measure of platform God gives us for our words, we must make sure that they always build our brother up and never boil him alive!