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Author:Rev. Sjirk Bajema
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Congregation:The Reformed Church of Oamaru
 Oamaru, New Zealand
Title:Where The Light Gets To Shine
Text:Deuteronomy 14:21c (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Maintaining the Antithesis

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


(Readings: 1 Pet.2:4-12; Deut.14:1-21)


Where The Light Gets To Shine!



Congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ…


            If you have read through the five books of Moses you will often find when you get to Deuteronomy that you start to read things you have already read earlier. Many times you will be thinking, ‘Now where has this popped up before?’ You may even wonder why Moses has to repeat himself.

            But that is soon answered when you realise both the context and the time that the words of this book were delivered. After forty years of travelling through the wilderness God had finally brought the Israelites to where they could look over the river Jordan into the Promised Land.

            This book begins with the people all gathered together there - on the eastern side of the Jordan. Moses addresses them with three sermons. The first and third are shorter. The first in Deuteronomy chapters 1 till 4 has Moses reciting God’s historical acts, the consequences of God’s acts for Israel and the setting aside of cities of refuge. The third in Deuteronomy chapters 29 and 30 exhorts the people to obedience, issues a solemn charge to all generations, warns about idolatry, lays out the restoration that comes from repentance and the choice of life and death – the consequences of either serving God or turning from him.

            It is in Deuteronomy chapters 5 till 28 that we have the second and the largest sermon of them all.  The seriousness of this is made clear right at its beginning. There in chapter 5 Moses proclaims in verses 2 and 3, “The LORD our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. It was not with our fathers that the LORD made this covenant, but with us, with all of us who are alive here today.”

            This in itself might seem a strange thing to say. You see, there was no one - apart from Moses, Joshua and Caleb - still left alive from that earlier generation. They were the only ones who had been at Horeb. So what has it got to do with those who weren’t there? But Moses says this because it was with God’s people as a whole that God made the covenant at Horeb.

            So what is being reiterated on the plains of Moab, just as the Israelites are about to enter the Promised Land, is what has already been said. This time, though, it is to the next generation. Now it appears as a vital reminder just before their status changes from a people who had been constantly moving to those who would be settled in their own distinct locations. It could be some time before the people can be reminded altogether like this. So the Lord inspires Moses with the words which have become known as the Deuteronomic sermon.


            In this way we come to a first aspect to what can be a puzzling text. So it is we note of this last part of Deuteronomy 14 verse 21, WHERE THIS IS COMING FROM.

            I wonder if you thought exactly this when you were told this was the text. ‘Where’s this from?’ You see, it sort of pops up here. Even though it is in a section which is about clean and unclean food it doesn’t really fit in there.

            We can say the same for the earliest time these words appear in Exodus. In Exodus 23 verse 19 it turns up in a section which relates to the celebration of the three annual festivals.

            But the second time in Exodus it occurs it gives us a bit more of a clue as to where this is coming from. While there in Exodus 34 verse 26 it is found in a section with what seem to a number of disparate commands they yet have a common theme. That theme is about who the Israelites are to worship and how they are to worship.

            Dear believer, think about the text. It declares, “You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.” And what’s your initial reaction to the idea of cooking a young goat in its mother’s milk? I mean, what is our reaction to the very milk which nurtures and grows the young kid being used to cook it when it has been killed? Doesn’t this strike us as some kind of sick joke?

            Well, it certainly seems a twisted type of cruelty, doesn’t it? Why use milk, and especially why use its own mother’s milk?

            This is where we need to note where this is coming from. In fact, we can know that it is indeed coming from where it is coming from because of how awful this is. Ah, then we know this has to be from one of the pagan religions that so much infested the land the Israelites were about to conquer!

            It is no surprise, that, from what we can find out, this practice came either from one of the fertility rites of Baal-worship or it was copying one of the Ugaritic magic practices. So it has come from the same kind of devilishness as we find behind the sacrificing of the first-born sons which the Ammonites did in worshipping their god Molech.

            The book of Leviticus had explicitly and frequently spelt out the danger of the worship of Molech. Five times it had declared God’s anger against that terrible evil (Lev.18:21; 20:2,3,4,5).

            There is no doubt this action in our text demonstrates a low point in a nation’s moral compass. There is an explicit lack of respect for life. Actually, you would more accurately say that there has come a point where there is no love for life whatsoever! How totally unnatural that a mother participate in any way in the destruction of her own young!

            There is an extreme selfishness there. There has come about such a focus on self that all else becomes displaced. But is such a thing an unknown to us?

            You only need to reflect here on the abortion laws in our country. Nearly 13,000 of these abortions were performed in 2019, and the figure increased last year following the very liberal law change. Mothers are openly able to and do participate in the destruction of their young!

            Where does all this come from? It is actually quite clear, isn’t it? This is of the devil through and through! Who else would ferment the kind of power and abuse that comes with such a self-centred religion? For that’s indeed what secular humanism has turned the world into what it has become today.


            This is what we see next. You see, now we move from WHERE THIS IS COMING FROM to seeing, in the second place, WHAT THIS IS GOING TO.

            Three times this regulation pops up in the Law of Moses. In three different contexts the same instruction is made. Then you cannot help but think it is there as a sharp contrast. The Lord shocks them at those times by something which is obviously evil.

            But is that all it is here for? To say it once would make the point this way. But three times in three different subject areas means it must be more than say the prohibitions regarding unclean food here.            

            This is not to say that it doesn’t fit in here because in reference to food this was abominable. But a goat as such was not an unclean animal. And milk as such was not an unclean drink. Rather it is the way they are joined together in this way which is diabolical. This goes beyond the pale. And so we see that something, in relation to food, can be unclean, though in itself it is not.

            Notice what the overall effect of this is, however. And here our text especially comes to bear. Because it is through these regulations that the Hebrews maintained a distinct and separate existence from other people. This set them apart from the other nations. This ensured they avoided socialisation and intermarriage with non-Jews, thus preventing Jewish identity from being diluted.

            You only need to go into the Jewish part of Melbourne to see the effect the dietary laws are having still today. Their bakeries are closed several days before Passover to ensure that every little bit of leaven is removed from them!

            And don’t think either that somehow this was all so that they would have the healthiest diet. There have been studies done that show it was no more beneficial than the other diets of the time. The key to what they drank and ate and what they didn’t drink and eat lay simply with the Lord God calling them apart from all other peoples.

            It was this calling apart which meant that in their avoiding assimilation with the pagans there had to be a growing sanctification. This was shown in what the Lord said to Moses in Exodus 34. There in the verses 12 till 14 he declared, “Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land where you are going, or they will be a snare among you. Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their Asherah poles. Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.”

            In our text this was especially so by naming one of those specific practices of the pagan nations. And yet we know from the other two appearances of these words that there is more. So what we also have here is a reflection of a much bigger picture – the picture of what Israel was to be as a witness to who the Lord God is.

            Here we are flung right into the identical New Testament imagery. The apostle Peter in his first letter, chapter 2, details the same. In the verses 9 and 10 there he declares of the New Testament Church, “…you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

            And then comes the application through the apostle. In the verses 11 and 12 of 1st Peter 2 he goes on, “Beloved, I urge you, as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honourable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.”


            It is here that we come to a third consideration in our text. From seeing WHAT THIS IS GOING TO we now note, WHO THIS IS POINTING TO.

            We have noted that this is a most disgusting practice. But how did we come to see that?

            Think about if you had been brought up in one of those pagan nations around Israel. The religious practices tied up with your country were what you were used to. You didn’t think of them as cruel. You had always been told that that was just the way your god or gods had decreed it to be. So when you did what he told you to do through his priests you would expect to be blessed. And that’s however much someone in a so-called Christian country might think otherwise.

            We only need to think of Islam in this regard. Much as Al-Qaeda, ISIS, the Taliban, and their affiliates, have been condemned as barbaric and uncivilised they yet are being faithful to the tenets in the Koran and the Haddiths. Their founder was a ruthless and immoral man. They don’t think what they are doing against Christians and other religions, and even other sects of Islam, is unnatural and cruel at all. In fact, they believe they have been divinely called to fight to the death against all of them!

            Imagine, though, if the Lord had a word for Muslims today about Islam like he has in our text for that pagan practice. Think about how it would be if he told them, “You are not to kill unbelievers.” What if he wanted them to show a completely different character to what the world around us has? So he says instead to them, “You are to love your enemy.”

            Do you see it? This is indeed what he actually does in our text. He takes what is at the heart of the pagan belief and turns it on its head! With what could be regarded as the least of all – a young goat – he shows who is the greatest of all. The Lord God declares his love!

            You see, he restores the pattern of life to what it ought to be. And you will find throughout the Law the same happening for all of God’s creatures and creation. If you know the darkness that was all around Israel you will see the glorious light that his grace is. The people who loved God’s Law were the most blessed of all!

            How much don’t we see that when Israel was faithful? Then you couldn’t but see the Lord’s mercy shine out. It’s no wonder that it was spoken everywhere of the clemency found at the hands of Israel’s kings when they defeated their enemies. Not for God’s people the ruthless annihilation of those who fell in their way. Not for God’s people the destruction of livelihoods and the barbaric slavery of the conquered. 

            Now, you look at any of the world’s religions apart from Christianity today. When they are in the majority, when they have the power, are they kind in victory? You look at Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Marxism, Secular Humanism – none of them leave any survivors! Once they have won the day there is no mercy. You must completely convert or be subjected to the harshest terms and conditions.

            And then what they do makes a young goat being cooked in its mother’s milk seem like nothing that bad at all. In fact, it was a natural expression of having turned God’s order upside down. You wouldn’t even think of anything else you could do!

            So, however can any be saved from all this? There is only one way. This is the way through the One who is not one of us and yet is one of us. He is the One who turns us from the fear of the man-made gods to faith in the divine God through believing in him.

            He is the One the Old Testament looked expectantly for – the Messiah. Throughout the Law and the Prophets there is this foreshadowing of what God would do in him. He is the Lord Jesus Christ.

            And so it is that in the sacrifices his sacrifice is prophesied. In the Law’s provisions his love is envisioned. And thus it is John 3 verse 16 sums up the whole biblical picture as there Jesus declares, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

            Dear friend, the mercy shown in sparing a young goat from being cooked in its mother’s milk points us to when the Heavenly Father abandoned his only begotten Son on the cursed cross for those he had chosen to love. In the words of Charles Wesley, “He left his Father’s throne above, so free, so infinite his grace, humbled himself - so great his love – and bled for Adam’s helpless race! Tis mercy all, immense and free; for, O my God, it found out me!”

            Dear friend, is this your song? Have you received this mercy – immense and free? Do you know the One so full of love for you he crossed himself right out?

            Then you too know it is not about you! The Holy Spirit has turned you away from man-made religion. You are now found in God alone. Amen.




Let’s pray…

            O Great and Gracious God, how blessed we truly are. We are those who have your Word and Spirit in us to keep and guide us. We are those who live by faith in your Son, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

            Help us so to shine out in this dark world. May the antithesis become more and more vivid in your dearly beloved ones.

            Through the name of Jesus, we plead, Amen.

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
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(c) Copyright 2019, Rev. Sjirk Bajema

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