Boiling a Kid in its Mother's Milk
Boiling a Kid in its Mother’s Milk
“Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk.” Ex. 23:19
Sometimes we are prone to skim over such passages as this in the Old Testament – or even in the New. These commands seem archaic - belonging to another time – and arbitrary. They don’t make sense to us, and so we regard them mainly as a curiosity. Why does he instruct Israel about procedures to cook a goat – dropped in seemingly out of the blue?
But our Father does not speak idle words. The Holy Spirit chose these expressions for a purpose. I have to admit that sometimes in the OT I am perplexed as to why certain stories or commands are included. But here is a good example of how, if we dig a little deeper, see the context, and try to put ourselves in the mindset of the ancient writer, we can see beautiful truths that are just as meaningful to us today – maybe even more so.
Each time in the context of this command, which is given twice in Exodus, and once in Deuteronomy, Moses is telling the people about the necessity of bringing their firstfruits – their tithes - before Jehovah. God had blessed them with bountiful harvests, and they were to pay careful attention to bringing the first portion to the tabernacle as an offering to Him. Each time, he follows – or precedes – the instruction about tithing with this command about boiling the kid.
When you think about it in this way, it seems likely that this was a proverb – a short saying that taught them an important lesson. He is instructing them NOT to take the blessings of harvest from God’s hands and then turn around and be covetous or selfish – holding back, robbing God – to their own destruction. That, says Moses, would be like taking the mother’s milk, intended to nourish and bless the kid, and using it to kill him!
Can you think how often we make this mistake – taking the material blessings from God’s hands and then using them to our own destruction? Or using them to the harm of our fellow man?
In the spiritual realm, can you see how it is possible for us to take spiritual blessings from God and use them to our own hurt, or another’s? What about when we use the Bible as a tool for our own self-righteousness, rather than to bless and edify others? What about when we treat the grace of God in forgiving our sins? What about when we take a verse out of context and make it meet our need to win an argument? What about when we, like the Corinthians, use the Lord’s supper as an occasion for bad attitudes, division and strife, rather than as a blessing for our congregation? What about when I get up in the morning, forget to pray to God, and go on my way, using my day for my own selfish ends?
Larry Walker, Sep 2009