Drinking Deeply

Sunday, June 04, 2006 at 4:29 PM

Goats and Milk

Discussing a few verses with a friend over an email list, we got the question "What about that verse that says not to cook a goat in it's mother's milk?"

My initial response, his words in italics, and my second response.

Exodus 23
; Exodus 34; Deuteronomy 14;

Well, our first answer is that we ought not to cook a goat in its mother's milk because God has commanded it that way. As God is righteous and just in all He does, the origin and our obedience of this law is righteous and just by definition, as we have no higher standard to appeal to.

So our first application is: we should obey that law because God said so. Don't cook a goat in it's mother's milk.

At the same time, it is appropriate to dig a little deeper and ask "does this have a general principle we can also apply?", much like Paul does in 1 Cor. 9 when he points out that the law's statement about not muzzling an ox while it is treading grain is not only directed toward those who own oxen, but also to establish a general principle about workers deserving his wages.

Now, the general principle I personally think also applies (and one that I am merely speculating upon. Not saying that "this is the Law"), is simply that we ought use things that were meant in a positive way (mother's milk should nourish the young goat) and not in a negative one (a mother's milk should not be used to cook the young goat). Yes, it is appropriate to cook a goat in something else, and to eat it in fact, and eat the mother while we're at it, but I think the statement serves as a caution not to take something that was meant for a positive thing and use it in it's unintended form. It may be more of an efficient use of materials, but I think it's clear that God isn't exactly concerned with "efficiency" as we might define it (Personally, it'd probably be really efficient to me if God gave me that sinless body right now. It would make interpersonal relations so much easier)

Unfortunately, I cannot really think of a good example for "today" (as I do not own any goats or mothers) that involve things that are morally neutral. All I could think of was using medicine to overdose and kill someone... but that's not really a morally neutral thing.

that's actually a very good speculation, my only doubt is that such a broad and important message would be summarized in how you cook goat. I'm surprised you say there's not many modern day examples of breaching that principle of not taking something meant to nourish for destruction. Maybe I'm just cursed to seeing the dark side of life, but it seems like that is ALL we do. The media, that's supposed to nourish our minds, used to condition us to a sick image of how the culture is supposed to be. Courtesy, supposely nourishing relationships, used as an excuse to stay apathetic to the people around us. I'm sure when God created fuel to provide warmth for us he didn't intend it to be used to destroy the earth (I should be talking, ethan I-drive-everywhere kung). growing up, the blessing of a chance to learn maturity, we end up learning to treat our friends with deceit. and when God gave us the ability to love, we use it to trash our lives and our relationship with Him. so what are you talking about Mickey, we take anything, anything, that is meant for good and turn it into something negative. we're creative like that.

maybe it's easier to just not cook goat in its mom's milk

Yes, we can take the "let's just do this" route. That was exactly the route that the Pharisees took. They looked at that verse and they said "there must be something wrong with eating meat and milk at the same time" and they laid down the kosher laws. But that's just as stupid. God doesn't demand just an outward conformity, He wants the heart.

Tears came to my eyes as I read what you wrote because your words cut so deeply into my own heart as well. While we can discuss whether or not that specific verse supports all those things you talk about, I think we can all agree that being a good steward of the gifts God has given, being thankful, loving our neighbor, and so on, are all things that are explicit all throughout Scripture. You're absolutely right, "we're creative like that" or maybe, put more appropriately, "we are stupid like that." How can we take what was given to us by the righteous and awesome God and trash it like that, spitting in the face of our holy judge?

God is holy and righteous, and we're called to be perfect just as He is. And He doesn't accept these imperfections. His eyes are too pure to look upon evil. And we know that on the last day every wrong will be set to right, every sin paid for and every punishment laid out by our Judge. Moses says to not murder, Jesus takes that verse (which we all obey perfectly well thank you very much) and says "when you are angry, you're guilty of murder." Who could stand before the Holy God?! No, not one.

But brother, the story thankfully doesn't end there with us being crappy people and deserving the wrath of God, thought that's part of it. We, even as Christians, can and must look repeatedly to the cross of Jesus Christ, upon which the sins of God's people are laid and paid. The wages of sin are death, but through faith in Christ and His work on the cross, those wages are paid out on Christ, and Christ's complete and perfect righteousness is laid upon us, so that now when God looks upon His people, He see's Christ. That is what allows us to stand. That is what allows us to live.

But not only are we set right with God right then and there upon the cross though faith, renouncing works, God has also given us His Spirit , by which we are continually convicted of our sins. This is where faith meets the road, we are conformed to His image, and life begins anew. This is our day to day struggle. Our fight with the sin within, where no one can hold us accountable but God and us. And this is the promise we have to hang onto, the promise that God is working, even today, even in us, and He will keep us. You know yourself. I know myself. If it were up to us to keep ourselves in God's good graces, we would fail miserably over and over again. But because of Christ's death, because it accomplishes all that God sets it to do (which is save God's people), it is God who will sustain you.

So look upon your life and see the darkness. Recognize it. Don't just brush it off and say "well, I'm not as bad as " don't brush it off and say "well, I'm obeying all these rules, it's fine." Recognize it and turn and see God's holiness. See how righteous God is, that He would demand the complete and utter destruction of the Caananites because they were impure. See His rightful wrath against the ungodly and realize that we are exactly the same. Flee to the cross where Jesus died. Cry out for mercy, renounce all works of your own to get to God and ask for forgiveness. And find the rest that is promised to all who believe. That we, who were once hostile to God, can now find peace with God through His Son, Jesus Christ. Trust that God is working in you, that He will finish what He has begun, and that if you are one of His, you will not be lost.

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