Troublesome Topic: Respect Goats and Birds

Lesson 9 of 13

One had to perceive the value of other people and other created things, and show them proper respect.

If it were not for the fact that some of the regulations in the Former Covenant were intended to instruct in the area of respect, some of what we read in the Law would seem ridiculous, unnecessary and totally irrelevant to spirituality.  For instance, in Exodus 23:19, and Deuteronomy 14:21, we read: “Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.”  However, once we see it as a way to teach the value of all things, it becomes a treasured nugget of truth. Everything that God created has value. We are to come to an understanding of the proper value of that part of creation and show it the respect it deserves. A mama goat and her baby do not have the same value as a person with a soul that lives throughout eternity, but God ascribes value to the goats and so should we. Jesus spoke of how God cares for the sparrows—those common and plain little birds no one ever gives a second thought. If God values even the smallest and plainest parts of His creation, so should we. If these things are valuable to God, how much more valuable are we who were created in His image? Therefore, we can rest assured of His care and love.

Something similar was said in Deuteronomy 22:6b & 7 about a mother bird sitting on her nest. The Israelites were told, “Do not take the mother with the young. You must definitely let the mother go, but you can take the young for yourself, so you may prosper and live a long life.” Here we see the same principle—Show everything due respect. They were promised prosperity and long life if they followed God’s principles. If they did not follow the principles taught by the Law’s regulations, well, the unspoken implication should be obvious.

However, you may have noticed something common in these two regulations. That is: “Show compassion to mothers.” By implication they were being reminded they must treat their own mother with respect and compassion. That principle is true for us as well.

Today we live in a culture that, to a great degree, has lost that concept of respect. There are segments of our population that do not even know the word “respect,” and are therefore unable to teach their children how to practice it. I see people who do not respect themselves, God or any authority figure. The concept of ascribing proper value to a goat or a sparrow is like taking an exam in Respect 770 when one is bombing out in Respect 101. There is a huge need for believers to do their part in teaching first their children and then others with whom they have influence the lessons of respect.

If ascribing proper value and respect to the things of our world is what God wants, then the converse, must also be true, we should not place a greater value on them than God intended. Many things are over-rated in our society, like being famous, having a strong investment portfolio, driving a nice car, owning a big house, and having an attractive body. As believers we must learn to ascribe the proper value to each thing we interact with, not more, not less.

Some people today place just as much, if not more, value on animals than on human beings. God taught His people to understand the proper amount of respect due, and grant it. Animals are not more important than humans because they do not have ever-living souls. However, we should not fail to give animals the respect they deserve at the proper level according to principles from Scripture. If you see a child that abuses helpless little animals, watch out; bad things are likely to come from this child in the future. How we treat the weak, innocent, and helpless is in indicator of the condition of our hearts.

“Mother earth,” and environmental concerns in general, have become a powerful rallying point. Amidst all the propaganda there is some truth and there is much deceit as well. Whereas previously this planet God placed us on was thought to be for us and consequently it was used and abused without much thought given to it; now the situation is reversed, and the planet is basically worshiped. A believer should place the proper value on this earth as something God created and then loaned to man to administer. There should be proper concern for taking care of the environment, just as we should care for other things like our bodies and the use of our finances. The value of each should be discovered by being sensitive to God and His word as we go through life’s maze of confusing decisions.

We should not worship our planet by placing undue value on it. Therefore, we should not promote subjection to extreme regulations to protect against small dangers.

Proper respect goes far enough, but not too far.

The next lesson in the full series on Covenants is: The Year of Jubilee Taught Respect and Priorities