I’m reading the Old Testament again and I’ve gotten to one of my favorite verses. You know the one telling you not to boil a goat in it’s mother’s milk? Yeah, I love that one. Mostly because it reminds me it’s okay to ask why.
The first time I read the Bible through, I was reading it like a manual. Especially when it came to the laws in the first five books. I started to feel overwhelmed about the number of thou shalt/thou shalt nots I was going to have to remember. I had spent most of my life parked in the New Testament so now I was having a hard time understanding how to reconcile the two.
I asked a lot of questions but I couldn’t always get a straight answer from anyone:
Do we still have to follow the Old Testament laws?
Do we only have to follow the Ten Commandments?
Why do we still follow some but others don’t apply?
Is everything under grace now?
There’s a big difference in doing something because you have to and doing something because you want to. Obedience of the will is not the same as obedience of the heart. That’s why when I read Exodus this time around, something jumped out at me. Four times in chapter 35 it talks about having a willing heart to fulfill the commandments of God:
“whoever is of a willing heart…” v. 5
“everyone came whose heart was stirred and everyone whose spirit was willing” v. 21
“they came, both men and women, as many as had a willing heart” v. 22
“all the men and women whose hearts were willing to bring material for all kinds of work which the LORD, by the hand of Moses, had commanded to be done” v. 29
The people in the Old Testament had no grid for holiness. The law came not to make people holy per se, but to show the holiness of God. By giving the people His law, they understood how much different and set apart their God was compared to others.
While the Canaanites were off boiling goats in the milk of their mothers as a sacrifice to their gods, the God of Israel differentiated Himself from these false idols. God’s law was the standard of holiness as compared to the pagan cultures of their time.
God never gave the law for the sake of managing our behavior. The Scriptures were never meant to be an instruction manual. God has always been after our heart. Even before we had the gift of the Holy Spirit, God was looking for those whose hearts were willing. He didn’t just want people with discipline to fulfill the law without understanding why.
I needed to ask why goats shouldn’t be boiled in their mother’s milk. When I understood the context, it helped me frame the scripture correctly. By asking a question, I was able to get to the heart of the issue.
Rather than one more mark on a checklist, God wants us to be known by us. He’s not afraid of our whys or our tough questions. He welcomes them because when we know His heart, we know His goodness. Only then can we move from obedience of the will to obedience of the heart.
What other weird scriptures have you come across?