Thursday, May 24, 2012

120525 - Deuteronomy 22-23 - The Ox and the Donkey Yoked Unequally Together

Thursday SOAP: Is God really that concerned about oxen? Or does this Old Testament Law set forth an important principle for us today? Psalm 1's blessed man doesn't walk in the counsel of the ungodly, stand in the way of sinners or sit with the mockers. The differences between the world view of Christians and non-Christians may seem similar on the surface at times. But, like a donkey and an ox, they are profoundly different. Under a load, these differences will begin to cause problems for the relationship and the effectiveness the believer to walk in God's will.

S: You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together. (Deuteronomy 22:10)

O: This, then, is the "unequally yoked" pair to which Paul is referring in 2 Corinthians 6:14. Although it's possible to imagine circumstances in which a farmer might, in desperation, want to hook his donkey up alongside his ox, because of the basic nature of the two animals it would be a bad idea. My family owned both cows and horses during my childhood. As the horses aged, they were retired from the saddle and put out to pasture with the cattle. They lived with the cows, ate and drank with the cows... but they weren't really integrated with the cows. They stood respectfully apart from the cattle. They didn't want to be too close to them. A donkey's stubborn nature and an ox's strong nature, combined with their natural discomfort at being too close to each other, would become a disastrous combination before the job was complete.

A: Likewise, as Paul warns, the "unequal yoke" with unbelievers. This was a practical law for Old Testament Israel, but it carried a New Testament principle. (Like 1 Cor. 9:9-10) It would be better if we understood the reference better, because it is under the LOAD that problems become apparent. We imagine when circumstances are pleasant and we seem like-minded that it's unnecessarily restrictive to limit trusted partnerships (including but not limited to marriage) to other believers. But it's when detailed ethical decisions must be made in business... or when the complexities of child-rearing challenge the relationship... that the load, and the differences, divide the team. A nation without a constitution would quickly come under foreign control, dictatorship or anarchy. A marriage without a mutual commitment to submit to God's authority may survive, but it's hard enough to hold a marriage together without such a foundational difference in perspective.

P: Lord Jesus, I thank you that as we both walk more closely with you, we are closer to each other as well.


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