Thou Shalt Not Seethe a Kid in his Mother’s Milk
Exodus 23:19 The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of the LORD thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk.
I touched on this topic in my last sermon on Haggai. Haggai mentions God restoring blessing to His people under the new covenant in Christ. We should expect the blessing of God.
I want to make a little broader application of this passage this week and look at it in a little more detail.
I brought this passage up looking at the tithe. In this verse it says to bring in the first fruits of the land and thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk. So, it certainly is connected to the tithe. But I want to make both a more general application of this principle and to make a couple of specific applications in our lives together.
It is a horror when the means of grace are turned into a means of death. God has given us a host of graces, means of grace, so that we learn to honor Him rightly and so that we can do our duty on earth towards our earthly callings. Of course, this includes many things, roles as spouses, parents, children, workers, siblings, hobbies, and any other aspect of God’s calling on your life.
It is a maxim that whatever God has called you to do, He enables you to do. Thus, we have all the grace that we need to accomplish anything that the Lord has called us to do.
Sunday worship and your lives in your homes are meant to impart life and joy not sorrow and death. Furthermore, God’s commands are meant for good.
Exodus 23:19 is a very strange verse to throw in in the middle of the chapter.
In that chapter God gives them several positive commands.
1. Several rules about dealing honestly with neighbors. vv. 1-9. Tell the truth. Don’t lie under oath to your neighbor’s hurt. Return lost goods. Help your enemy when he is in real need. The gist of all of this is to ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’ Or, treat others as you would have them treat you.
2. He reminds them to honor the Sabbath and in to keep right worship. vv.10-13
3. Keep the feasts three times in the year. vv.14-18
4. Tithe, bring in the firstfruits. v. 19
He gives them four relatively simple commands and then says, “Do not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk.”
What is going on here?
There is much for us to contemplate here as we make our way through God’s commands to us as spouses and parents, as well as Christians in the household of God.
Israel failed time and again to simply do the simple things that God commanded them. We tend to think of their system as a labyrinthine religious system that no one could understand much less do. However, that is not the case.
If we look at this section of Exodus, we see what is going on more clearly. In Exodus 20, God gives Israel the Ten Commandments.
1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
2. Thou shalt make no graven image.
3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord Thy God in vain.
4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
5. Honor thy father and thy mother.
6. Thou shalt not kill.
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
8.Thou shalt not steal.
9.Thou shalt not bear false witness.
10. Thou shalt not covet.
Then in the following chapters, God gives them a bunch of particular cases that relate to the Ten Commandments. He is showing them how these commandments apply. There is justice, mixed with mercy, in the land against those who do evil. But there is blessing in the land for those who love the Lord and do right.
There is quite a list of rules here but they fit into the broad headings of the Ten Commandments. Furthermore, they are rules that are not a burden that Israel can never actually fulfill. They are a list of items that clearly mark right and wrong based upon God’s revealed will.
I might say that the 10th Commandment is one that catches us all. The other commands of the second table are objective. We can observe the sin and prove it. The 10th commandment can be an internal sin, a thought sin that we must confess before God. In this sense, the 10th Commandment catches everybody. We have all coveted to some degree. But even here, the point is not to condemn the covetous but to teach the sinfulness of coveting so that we avail ourselves of the means of grace and forgiveness.
These commands are given that we might have life. Now, I fully understand that no man perfectly keeps the law. We all fall short and are therefore in need of a Savior to grant us full forgiveness. That is why we seek Christ regularly for the forgiveness of sins.
Furthermore, Jesus teaches us starkly about the nature of our sinful minds. Not only is adultery a sin but looking upon a woman to lust after her is a sin. So, there are other ways to sin against God besides actively committing a theft, fornication, or murder. If you hate your brother, and despise him in your heart, you have committed the sin of murder. So, we see that heart sins can separate us from God in such a way that we need to seek the Savior for forgiveness.
So, I am speaking to Christians, forgiven in Christ, about the nature of the law for godly living. If you live according to God’s laws, they are meant for life and not for death.
The items listed in Exodus 23 are the core things and they are fairly simple.
1. Love your neighbor as yourself.
2. Keep the Sabbath.
3. Keep the great memorial feasts.
Essentially, these are four marks that these people belong to God. Furthermore, they are a blessing from God given with grace. It is in this context that God reminds them not to seethe a kid in his mother’s milk.
These rules can be looked at as unbearable burdens or they can be looked at as tremendous graces. You can use God’s gifts to suckle and nurture God’s children unto life. Or, you can use them so to suck the life out of God’s children. The same graces can be used to impart life or destroy life.
Ex. 20-22- Ten Commandments and application.
Ex. 23:1 Thou shalt not raise a false report: put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness.
False report has to do with lying to spread rumors to harm someone’s character.
Thou shalt not bear false witness.
2 Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment: 3 Neither shalt thou countenance a poor man in his cause. 4 If thou meet thine enemy’s ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again. 5 If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, and wouldest forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him. 6 Thou shalt not wrest the judgment of thy poor in his cause.
7 Keep thee far from a false matter; and the innocent and righteous slay thou not: for I will not justify the wicked.
The innocent will be justified but a those who seek the harm of the innocent will not be justified.
8 And thou shalt take no gift: for the gift blindeth the wise, and perverteth the words of the righteous.
Bribery distorts justice.
9 Also thou shalt not oppress a stranger: for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.
Don’t mistreat a stranger. You certainly can take advantage of a stranger but you should not do so. For you, yourselves, know what it means to be a stranger.
Ex. 23:10 And six years thou shalt sow thy land, and shalt gather in the fruits thereof: 11 But the seventh year thou shalt let it rest and lie still; that the poor of thy people may eat: and what they leave the beasts of the field shall eat. In like manner thou shalt deal with thy vineyard, and with thy oliveyard.
Practice the year of Sabbath. This is both for the ground and for the poor who have been enslaved. There should be a year of debt relief when slaves are set free. Just as the land requires a reprieve from its toil, so do those who are under the yoke.
12 Six days thou shalt do thy work, and on the seventh day thou shalt rest: that thine ox and thine ass may rest, and the son of thy handmaid, and the stranger, may be refreshed.
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
13 And in all things that I have said unto you be circumspect: and make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth.
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord Thy God in vain.
14 Three times thou shalt keep a feast unto me in the year. 15 Thou shalt keep the feast of unleavened bread: (thou shalt eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded thee, in the time appointed of the month Abib; for in it thou camest out from Egypt: and none shall appear before me empty:) 16 And the feast of harvest, the firstfruits of thy labours, which thou hast sown in the field: and the feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field. 17 Three times in the year all thy males shall appear before the Lord GOD. 18 Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread; neither shall the fat of my sacrifice remain until the morning.
Keep the appointed feasts and do so in the appointed manner. Only worship the Lord Thy God and worship Him only according the manner proscribed.
19 The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of the LORD thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk.
In the context of Exodus 23, he is talking about four specific applications that are relevant to us.
1. Love Your Neighbor- Who is your closest neighbor? Your wife, your husband, your children, your brothers and sisters, your fellow churchmen and women. If we are to love our enemies, how much more those who are close to us?
2. Keep the Sabbath- This has not changed. God has a huge interest in how you spend your time and your money. Why? Because these two items are right at the heart of your heart. Sabbath keeping in our context means Regular Covenant Renewal Worship. This is fundamental to who we are.
3. Keep the Feasts- I am making a bit of a stretch here and think this one could be grouped with Sabbath keeping. But it makes sense to me that our great memorial feasts, if you will, are the sacraments, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. It is in our honest keeping of these sacraments, that we reveal who we are. Do we remember our baptism? Do we keep the Lord’s Supper? If we continually do these, honestly, how can we not grow in grace and receive the Lord’s blessing?
4. Tithing- The Lord has a great concern about our time and money. But we are New Testament saints and the tithe does not apply. Okay, great, then give 15% of your increase, instead.
These are four marks that represent what a Christian is. In this conference I am assuming that I am talking to Christians. Christians go to church and honor the Sabbath. Christians are faithful to their baptisms remembering what God has done. They commune with Him in honest fellowship regularly at the Lord’s Table. They tithe 10% of their increase.
Why are these things essential? Because I am speaking to you about receiving God’s promised blessings for you and for your children. But we should not expect God to bless us if we are not willing to live in basic obedience to Him. Sure, you might end up with decent kids if you don’t commit to church, don’t tithe and are not faithful in the little every day things. God is more gracious than our sinfulness. But you shouldn’t expect blessing to flow from disobedience.
Toward’s Joy- God’s Means for God’s Results
Three Main Places of General Application
Church- Are you cultivating a view that exhibits the joy that you ‘get’ to go to church? Do your kids view church this way? Or, do they have to go? How is your attitude about attending church, church events and church people? How is this attitude conveyed in your home?
What about Covenant Renewal Worship? Do you understand what that is? Do your kids? Are you actually renewing covenant with God weekly at worship? Or just going through the motions? Is this something discussed in your home? Are you kids learning the need to regularly confess sins, receive forgiveness and sit under the authority of the Word? Namely, do they know what Covenant Renewal Worship is all about and are they doing it?
Do your children see you embrace Christ freely offered in the gospel? Do they see this because you display the graces confession of your own sins to God and to them? And furthermore, do they experience, quick, full and free forgiveness from you in your home life together?
Home- Is your home a place where covenantal renewal is practiced? That is, do you and your spouse regularly forgive one another whenever there is a breach of relationship? Does this happen daily, even multiple times in a day? Do your children see and hear you confess your sins to your spouse and to them? How else can they learn how to do it?
What is your table fellowship like at home? Is it a place of gratitude? Is the table free of retained sins and grievances? Is the table a place of joy as well as savory food? Do you laugh at the table? Does everyone contribute at the table? Does everyone work together to get food on and off the table?
Education and Work- Do you and your children embrace hard work as a blessing from God. Are you cultivating and teaching this sort of attitude towards work? Is it working? Do you show your children the right attitude about work? Are they embracing the goodness of this discipline? Or, are they kicking against the goads?
The answers to many of these questions might leave you feeling small, maybe even a failure. Take courage. No one is perfect. No one measures up completely. We all need repentance and a reminder to get back on track. Again, Covenant Renewal!
So, get back. Turn around. Start afresh. The Lord covers our weaknesses. If we have failed in large ways, then we need both repentance and restitution. Confess to God, spouse, children and parents. But don't get stuck there. Stand up in the joy of forgiveness and get about doing God's business God's way and trusting Him for the blessed, happy and life giving fruit.
May your Church life, home life and work and educational life be graceful means of life and health.