Daily Radio Bible Podcast
The lesson of the ox. In the Bible we have these strange, obscure laws like don't muzzle an ox while it is threshing grain, from Deuteronomy 25. And yet within these strange and obscure sayings, there are layered implications. God is speaking to farmers about treating their animals with care. But he's also picturing for us something more, something deeper. He's including these things for us, not just for the farmer, he wants to teach us about something about the way we should treat those who serve, or care for us, who work on our behalf, who even work on behalf of our soul. So when we read through the Old Testament, and it seems unrelated to our everyday experience, and it often does, I mean, how does muzzling an ox have anything to do with me? or What does it matter whether I write out a report of the land that God is wanting to give to his people?
When we read these things, we shouldn't dismiss them. We need to see them for what they are, yes, he is speaking to a farmer. And yes, Joshua is speaking to the tribes of Israel. But God is speaking to us too. It was written not just for them. But for us. God is pointing us to a deeper reading. And sometimes that's an allegorical reading, or an analogous reading. In fact, many of the Church Fathers felt that a "spiritual reading" of Scripture was a higher form of engagement with the text. They welcome this creative allegorical interpretation of the text. Maybe God would have you chart out what he has in front of you. Maybe he would have you sit down and write out the boundaries of his blessings and gifts for you. Maybe you would find as the children of Israel did, that there is unoccupied land, and gifts yet to be realized in your life. Maybe God is wanting you to chart them, or to go out and seize them.
There's a lesson in the ox. This whole Bible that we are reading is written for us. It's not just about oxen, and writing reports. It's about what God has done for us. It's a revelation of him. It's about the God who gave us his life, and learning to seize and live in the reality of it. So maybe, we can all chart out what God has actually done for us. And when we do that, let's go out and occupy it. Let's seize it. Let's live in the reality of who we are in Christ.