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Click here to read Exodus 34 on BibleGateway.com

“Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.” – Exodus 34:26

machete_jugglingFor the most part, the Bible is fairly reasonable with all the commandyness. Don’t murder, don’t steal, keep God first, etc. Most of it is pretty straightforward. But every once in a while, you’ll run across one like the one today that makes you wonder if perhaps Moses misheard what God said, or couldn’t read his own tablet-writing. “Don’t boil a goat in its mother’s milk.” Was this really a problem in those days? And such a problem that it had to be placed right next to rules about sacrifices and honoring the Sabbath?

There are actually several theories about what exactly this command is about. Perhaps it was a common practice for idol worshippers to do that sort of thing. Or perhaps there were health concerns. Or some interpreters argue that this sort of thing violates God’s plan for parenting. Or maybe there was a goat shortage. Who knows.

But let’s step back for a second. If we approach is logically, there is nothing in this command that is hard to understand. It’s pretty straightforward, the words are comprehensible, and keeping this command should not be all that burdensome. The real question is “Why?” Why would God command such a ridiculous thing? Want the humbling and somewhat embarrassing theory?

Maybe to show us a little about ourselves.


Admit, right now you’re thinking about how good it must taste to have a goat boiled in its mother’s milk. You may never had even thought about eating goat, certainly not boiling one, and using its own mother’s milk probably wasn’t even on your radar. But once God says, “hey, don’t do this,” you’re immediate reaction is to start pondering it.

Don’t feel too bad. After all, pretty much everybody in the history of ever has that drive, even the very first of us all. Adam and Eve had one – count them, one – rule to follow. Couldn’t do it. And don’t think it was just about how awesome the fruit was. If God had said, the only thing you can’t do is poop by the wall of the garden, Adam would have felt the undeniable bowel pressure to disobey sooner or later. It’s just who we are.


The real problem with this command is God leaves us hanging a little bit. We want to know what to do, why we have to do it, and exactly how long we have to do it before we can get back to doing whatever we want. But that’s not God’s plan. God’s desire is for us to trust him. Completely. The way a little child will throw themselves around with absolutely no doubt that Mom and Dad will catch them if they fall. That’s difficult for most of us.

Do we have to know why God tells us to do things? Do you trust God enough to not go there, be with them, or watch that, even if it makes no sense? Do you trust that God has a plan for your life, or your children’s lives, or the lives of others? Or do you get frustrated that God isn’t doing what you think he should in the way should as fast as he should? When you think about it, aren’t we demanding that God meet our expectations, rather than discipline ourselves to meet His? Maybe that’s why God is always talking about pride in the Bible – it’s the complete opposite of trust. That’s the struggle we all have.

Has God shown himself faithful enough in the past that you can trust him now?

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