You shall keep my statutes. You shall not let your cattle engender with a diverse kind: you shall not sow your field with mingled seed…
In the verses before us we note the injunction -
I. THAT THE STATUTES OF THE LORD MUST BE KEPT. These require:
1. That there be no unnatural mixtures.
(1) For the examples furnished, sound economic and hygienic reasons may be given (verse 19).
(a) Cattle which God ordered "after their kind" (Genesis 1:25), are not to be let to gender with diverse kinds. Hybrids are degenerated creatures; they are monsters; and they are withal unfruitful.
(b) Mingled seed must not be sown in the field. The plants of both kinds in such a case are found to be inferior (Deuteronomy 22:9). The land also is impoverished.
(c) Garments of mingled flax and wool are not to be worn. The mixture would induce electrical disturbances impairing to health.
(2) But the spirit of the law is moral. The people of God are taught by it to avoid everything that would compromise their simplicity and sincerity (2 Corinthians 6:14). They must avoid marriages with the ungodly. In business they must be careful not to join in ungodly partnerships. In friendships they must choose those who are of the household of faith (James 4:4).
2. That atonement be made for sin.
(1) The case (verse 20) is that of a slave dishonoured and stilt held in bondage, who, through a subsequent offense, which, if she were free, would merit death (see Deuteronomy 22:24), is now punished with scourging. The degree of guilt is modified by circumstances; and punishment is moderated accordingly (Luke 12:47, 48).
(2) But before the man can be forgiven he must confess his sin over a guilt offering. He must bring a ram. This was a well-known type of Christ, without whose atonement, no matter what scourging our sin may have brought upon us, there can be no forgiveness.
3. That the fruit of a tree uncircumcised must not be eaten.
(1) For this law there are good economic reasons. It hurts a young tree to let the fruit ripen upon it; and therefore to circumcise it, or pinch off the blossoms of the first three years, will improve the quality of its fruit. In the fourth year, then, the fruit will be in perfection.
(2) But the spirit of this law also is moral.
(a) Trees are taken as emblems of men (Psalm 1:3; Matthew 3:10; Isaiah 61:3; Jude 1:12).
(b) First thoughts and forward desires are vanity, and must be rejected as coming from the flesh (see Genesis 2:11). To let them ripen is to injure the character.
(c) In the fourth year, when the fruit is in perfection, it is consecrated to God as the "firstfruit," which therefore is not always that which comes first in order of time, but the best. The service we render to God after the removal of inordinate desire by converting grace, is our firstfruit, or best service.
(d) As to the fourth year, Christ who is the "Firstfruit" and "Firstborn of every creature," or Anti-type of the firstborn of every kind of creature, appeared amongst us in the fourth millennium of the world. And when he comes again it will be to introduce the fourth dispensation, viz. the millennial. The three dispensations preceding we need scarcely specify to be the Patriarchal, Levitical, and Christian.
(e) In the fifth year and thenceforward, the fruit was sanctified to the use of the owner. The consummation of our felicity will be in that glorious state to succeed the millennium, the "new heavens and new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness." We note -
II. THAT THE CUSTOMS OF THE HEATHEN MUST NOT BE FOLLOWED.
1. Nothing must be eaten with the blood.
(1) At the time when animal food was granted to man the blood was reserved. The reservation corresponded to that of the tree of knowledge of good and evil when vegetable food was granted. In each instance the prohibition was given to common progenitors of the race, and therefore universally obligatory. Noah stood to the "world that now is" in a similar relation to that in which Adam stood to mankind at large.
(2) The Noachian precepts in general were violated by the heathen, and in particular this precept respecting blood. The psalmist refers to the custom amongst the Syrians when he says, "Their drink offerings of blood will I not offer" (Psalm 16:4). And in these words there is a prophetic abhorrence of antichrist, who not only sets aside the Law of God by authorizing the eating of blood, but professes to drink the very blood of Jesus in the cup of the Mass.
(3) The penalties of this abomination are tremendous. As in Eden the eating of the forbidden fruit became death, so in the Noachian precept God requires the blood of the lives of those who will eat flesh with the life thereof which is the blood (Genesis 9:4, 5). Babylon who is also "drunk with the blood of the saints and martyrs of Jesus," is therefore doomed to drink blood, for that she is worthy (Revelation 17:6; Revelation 16:3-6).
2. Superstition must be shunned.
(1) Thus augury is to be discouraged (verse 26). This (נחשׁ) nachash, or divining, may have been by fire or serpents. "Nor observe times," nor consult the clouds. The heavens were their gods, and the clouds they naturally regarded as their aspects toward men, as indicating their intentions. The revealed word of the true God is sufficient for all lawful purposes of sacred knowledge.
(2) Distractions for the dead are to be discouraged. The heathen customs of cutting the hair and the flesh evinced the insanity of idolatry. Where the faith of a true religion is we have no need to mourn for the dead as those who have no hope. - J.A.M.
Parallel VersesKJV: Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee.
WEB: "'You shall keep my statutes. "'You shall not crossbreed different kinds of animals. "'you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed; "'neither shall there come upon on you a garment made of two kinds of material.