Troublesome Topic: Do Not Mix Things That Are Different

Lesson 4 of 9

Like many other things found in the Law, this concept of not mixing things that are different was communicated to the Israelites in a great variety of covenantal conditions. As an example look at Lev 19:19: 

Leviticus 19:19


You must keep my statutes. You shall not cause your livestock to breed with something different,

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nor sow a mixture in your field, nor shall something made of two things together, made of mixed stuff

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come upon you.


You must live within the limits I have set. You must not cause your livestock to mate with animals that are different from them; you must not plant different types of seeds together in your field, you must not wear garments that are made of two different types of threads, different stuff mixed together, such as possibly linen and wool.

Didn’t God know that there are some beans that someone can plant among his other crops that will actually help the other plant grow better? Did God not realize that by making clothes out of a mixture of threads they would be more comfortable and more durable at the same time? Was God not willing to let a poor farmer get his plowing done in whatever way he could find to do it before planting season passed?

God has never been concerned about our physical comfort. Furthermore, He would rather we learn the lessons needed for our spiritual life than assure things go well in our physical life only to have us ignore Him or rebel against Him. His intention was that His people have constant reminders of the truth that some things are of a totally different nature than others. They had to continually be asking themselves the question, “are these two things compatible, or do they belong to different categories?” This practice in the physical world would prepare them for the same questions in the realm of moral decisions, personal conduct and proper relationships.

Wool comes from an animal; linen comes from a plant. Thus they are of totally different origin. Thus keeping them separate taught a spiritual lesson.

It is interesting to note that the word “adultery” means to put together two things that do not belong together. It is a noun form of the verb “adulterate” which is often used in metal working and means to mix into one metal, a substance that is totally different. Thus, adultery is not just about sexual relations; the word can be applied to other sinful acts as well. In the Bible, idol worship is often described as adultery, and by definition it is adultery, because it was inserting the worship of other gods where it did not belong.

So it did not matter if a garment would be more comfortable with mixed threads; the spiritual lesson was more important. It did not matter if some plants are beneficial to each other; the spiritual lesson about not mixing things that are vastly different was more important.

Being the people of God means following a standard, representing Him before the world, and adopting His purpose as our purpose. We, like they, should constantly be asking ourselves if what we are about to do is compatible with God’s standard. If that action or attitude is of a different category than that which God wants from us, we should not mix it into the stew pot of our lives (it will ruin the stew). Just as there are influences that are from diametrically opposed categories, so there are people of different categories. For this reason, (and others) God commanded that they never marry someone that was not already part of the people of God. On a human level the relationship could seem to click, but God said it was forbidden because it would mix two things that are different in their essence, meaning spiritual differences, not skin color differences, for the people of that region had similar skin color.

Although it is often thought of as solely an Old Testament concept, the New Testament also teaches this concept of not mixing. In Paul’s prayer for the Philippians he mentions this idea.

Philippians 1:10


So that you may be unmixed

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and not cause anyone to stumble

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until the day of CHRIST.

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So that you may be free from any impurities, and not cause anyone to stumble morally until the day THE ANOINTED MESSIAH assigns you punishment or reward.

Just like a pure block of gold cannot have clay, bits of gravel or pieces of straw, or even some other metal like copper, mixed in it, so our lives must not be mixed with the things of this world. That is what being pure means. And this was being taught through the Old Testament regulations about not mixing things that are different.

The next lesson in the medium and full length series on covenants is: Why Were Semen and Blood Unclean?

The next lesson in Why Is That in the Bible? is: God Alone Determines What Is Normal for His Kingdom



The word used here means “two, both, two things, two kinds, two different things, a mixture, separate, diverse.” This word is used in each phrase of this verse.


What I have rendered as “mixed stuff” means just that, “mixed stuff.” However, it was often used in reference to wool and linen together, so much so that it came to imply those two things, even if they were not mentioned specifically.


The word I have rendered as “unmixed” is usually translated pure, but its basic meaning is actually unmixed. If something like gold is pure, it is called that because it is not mixed with other things, it has no impurities in it. To translate it “pure” is accurate, but I prefer “unmixed” because it is intended as a word picture, and it is that mental picture that gives the word its power.


The Greek word I have rendered as “not cause anyone to stumble” is often translated “without offense, or blameless.” It has two emphases, 1) is a life that is so free from wrongdoing that no one can make an honest accusation against the person. That is the idea behind “without offense,” however today that terminology has been made almost meaningless because people become offended at so many inconsequential things. But it is God who judges, and it is God who point out our shortcomings of character and action. This meaning seems to point to not causing an offense to God’s holiness, but at the same time living completely pure and blameless in the sight of those around us. 2) it also meant to “not cause others to stumble morally.” In fact this Greek word is taken from another Greek work that actually means “to stumble.” That makes me think that the meaning of this word should revolve primarily about our witness to others.


The phrase “day of” was used of someone with power and authority and referred to the occasion on which this person would be able to effect his will unhindered by outside influences, or (more likely) not held back by any personal decisions of timing or methodology. This person’s day had come, and he would fulfill his plan. Regarding God it usually refers to the time when He will execute judgement or deliver a reward, depending on which one was warranted. This action does not have to be at the end of all time for God is seen numerous times in Scripture coming to give people the consequence they have “earned.”