Often during my devotions I am struck by a simple passage, seemingly out of context but dramatically revealing of the nature of God. This morning it was from Exodus 34:26b (NIV): “Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.”
Smack dab in the middle of a conversation between God and Moses, at least in the scribe’s narrative, God’s true nature is revealed; perhaps somewhat contrary to the language found in the surrounding text. Am I reading too much into the text? I don’t think so.
Just above this passage a record of God’s nature is more clearly outlined, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.” Then almost as if Moses cannot leave it at that, he closes with “Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.” Exodus 34: 6-7 NIV.
I find such a contrast even in this one passage, almost resembling the great mercy gap between the God of Israel and the Christ of God. Isaiah described this God who would become flesh and dwell among us, as a lamb, and though led to slaughter did not open His mouth… “pouring out his life unto death, bearing the sins of many and making intercession for the transgressors.”
While Moses is focused on laying down the laws of God for a second time, The Holy Spirit mysteriously slips into this early religious script a snapshot of the God that perhaps Moses is missing? “Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.” There are some things too precious for God to allow religion to cover over or violate.
Before you balk at my thoughts, consider the Babe of Bethlehem, how and when He came on the scene. Israel had everything figured out, the Temple, the sacrifices, the Levitical priesthood, it just was not working. The enemies of truth had developed an empire that threatened righteousness and even the religious destroyed the lives of those who might dare speak out to the contrary. That always seems to be the way of the religion.
Fortunately God is not religious and there are some things too important to be ignored or treated with disrespect, even when we are making our best attempts to explain God to men. That is what religion is you know: man’s attempt at explaining God! Relationship and sanctity however are the true essence of God. God is love, period.
When religion hardens itself to any possibilities beyond its own tradition, sovereign intervention occurs. Prophets speak out, nature cries out and the true hearts of leaders are revealed.