Caution: Do Not Boil!

"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!


SLW said...

I'm loving these insights. Totally fresh!

Anna Sacha said...

tht is so true!
btw..love the holiday snaps

Steve said...

Or it could just be an example of insanity in the bible. Is it really the 10th most important thing that a deity had to impart to his people?
Keep trying to square the circles of the old testament.
Perhaps you could explain what it meant when 'God' told us what joy could be found in bathing our feet in our enemies' blood, psalms 53

Chris HH said...

I think you mean Psalm 58... though Psalm 53 is pertinent too!

The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance; he will bathe his feet in the blood of the wicked. Mankind will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous; surely there is a God who judges on earth.” (Ps 58:10-11)

If you study the passage carefully you will see that it is not telling us to find joy in the bloodshed of the wicked. It is He (singular) who will bring vengeance (cf. Isa 63, Dt 32:35, Ro 12:19)

Our job is to acknowledge that there is indeed a God who judges the earth with justice and rewards those who seek him. And if we are wise to accept the free gift of grace he offers us in Jesus to avoid the judgement we deserve.

Teifion said...

Hmm... I agree on your principle of 'doing all things in love', and publicly 'having a go' at your brother from a stage/pulpit is a bit naughty since the guy can't defend himself and may only be humiliated. Love covers a multitude of sins - but sometimes exposure when it doesn't involve anyone else only stimulates gossip.

Anyway, with reagrds to your three verses on this topic, I disagree!
As with some of the previous discussions (on tithing for example) you were accused of grasping at straws, finding an underlying connotation in the scriptures that was not intended.

The jewish interpretation of this verse is that meat = death, and milk = life. That is why the two are not eaten together. It was a typological reference to the nature of God (In Him is life) and subsequently His chosen people (Israel). They were quite strict about keeping themselves 'set apart'.

At that time there was also a custom with the nations in caanan to boil a young goat in it's mothers milk (a symbol of life rising from death) and then sprinkling the 'magic' mixture on trees, fields and gardens. God wanted His people to be cleaved to Him alone.

BTW... two verses after Deut 14:21 shows what happened to the tithe - it was eaten by the people - also if it was turned into money it was to be used to buy food/drink to be eaten by the people (v26)

It isn't always possible to be accurate in expositing scripture, but we cannot have our 'hearts on fire and brains on ice' (Lenin).

We need to love the Lord our God with 'ALL OUR MIND'. This means asking questions and reasoning.

Chris HH said...

Thanks for your comments and insight into the historic background - very interesting.

I'm glad you agree with the principle I illustrate here, and with the importance of asking questions and reasoning with the Scriptures.

Sometimes that reasoning will involve asking these questions out loud and inviting others to join in the discussion. I'm glad you felt at liberty to do just that.

Teifion said...

Hi Chris,

If at anytime you feel that I have overstepped in commenting on your observations, I mean no dis-respect. We are all one body in Christ, and subsequently we love one another in the common faith. There is nothing personal intended - and if it causes any animosity I'll refrain.


Chris HH said...

None taken, nor any intended in my reposts.

Anonymous said...

Some friends and I had a long discussion on this and really got no where. I'm glad I stumbled across this where Teifion outlined the historic and symbolic background. We thought it to be silly but with this I've sorta stumbled across a problem with myself and friends; how much of the bible do we not understand because of the time-culture factor? Ie. the "Body of Death" concept. The concerning part of it is that probably a lot of the misunderstandings go unnoticed.

Anonymous said...

I mostly agree with everyone! :P God works on multiple levels, but you will notice that the Jewish symbolism is exactly the same as what Chris was talking about; a life-giving object involved with death. Jesus's combination of life and death is opposite to this, as he turns death into life instead.
So just as it may well be true that the Canaanites did things differently, remember that he kept Israel away until the sin in the land had reached it's full measure, so the contrast is the same: Sin vs the law, and warning to avoid making curses out of blessings.
Jesus completes the picture and makes blessing out of curses.
To me this is understandable just in itself, but the Jewish past adds depth to our understanding that makes it more graphic and memorable, I think the same is true for many other features where old knowledge is referred to.
And the insanity? The old testament without the revelation of(/in) Jesus is incomplete, and confusing. The blood drenched robe hem of the conquering Jesus in revelation? Reminds me of something.....