Separation (3)

(DEUT 22:9) Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with divers seeds: lest the fruit of thy seed which thou hast sown, and the fruit of thy vineyard, be defiled.
(DEUT 22:10) Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together.
(DEUT 22:11) Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, as of woollen and linen together.

As noted in a previous meditation, while we earnestly contend for not separating what God has joined together (MAT 19:6), we should also be zealous to not join together what God has separated. The Jews tended to look upon such laws as being the least of the commandments but this was not a reason to dismiss them or teach others to dismiss them, as our Lord Jesus Christ taught in MAT 5:19. This same section of Deuteronomy had just issued another seemingly insignificant law concerning birds, their young and eggs with the exhortation, “...that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days” (DEUT 22:6-7), an exhortation and promise similar to the one that attended the first commandment with promise in the Decalogue:

(Exo 20:12) Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

Paying tithe of mint, anise and cummin were less important than judgment, mercy and faith but that didn’t mean that paying tithe of mint and anise and cummin was to be left undone (MAT 23:23). In short, let us not despise the day of small things (ZEC 4:10) and strive rather to be faithful in both that which is least and that which is much (LUK 16:10).

Though the Old Testament and many of its outward righteousnesses were abolished by the New Testament, the principle of keeping certain things separate is still valid.

The prohibition on “cross-dressing” (DEUT 22:5) should not be easily dismissed as a unique Old Testament curiosity since God still expects there to be distinctions maintained between the sexes. Paul orders long hair for women and short hair for men (1CO 11:1-15) and forbids effeminacy (unmanly weakness, softness or delicacy) immediately before forbidding “...abusers of themselves with mankind in 1CO 6:9, an unsurprising segue of thought. Our culture has degenerated so far that it’s anybody’s guess as to how a remake of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” might be cast and played.

The Holy Spirit still makes distinctions between male and female in many other areas: marriage (MAT 19:4-6), headship in marriage (EPH 5:22-33), and even in church assemblies:

(1Co 14:34) Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.
(1Co 14:35) And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

Some have tried to gainsay Paul’s order by saying that he was issuing “situation specific” rules for the Gentile Corinthians but 1) Paul taught the same doctrine to all the churches (1CO 4:17; 1CO 7:17; 1CO 11:16) and 2) “...as also saith the law” refers to what God had earlier told the Jews.

Further digging himself into a hole at the feet of millions of “liberated” women, Paul also forbids the offices of church ministry to women (1TI 2:11-15), but not only them. The office of bishop or of deacon is not for a man who is not blameless (not censured by a church for sin), is a novice in the faith, or deficient in a number of personal qualifications (1TI 3:1-13).

Something else that should always be kept separate is baptism and infants. Baptism is for instructed believers (MAT 28:19-20; MAR 16:15-16; ACT 8:35-38). An auxiliary to this is the separation of baptism from regeneration. Baptism requires works of righteousness but regeneration is not by works of righteousness (TIT 3:5 c/w JOH 1:12-13).

The Old Testament required the separation of the holy and the profane (EZE 44:23), a valid principle that was trodden upon by the Corinthian saints who turned the simple, solemn commemorative supper of Christ (the Lord’s table, communion) into a party (1CO 11:20-21). What is it about human nature that thinks it needs to exploit spiritual things for carnal indulgence, that, for example, changes the way Scripture says the birth of Christ should be honored (repentance, belief of the gospel and baptism) into an annual “fleshtival” that feeds the heathen as much as the heavenly?

There is one other aspect of separation from DEUT 22:9-11 that I would like to explore: the forbidding of a garment mixed of wool and linen. A Jew might wear a woollen OR a linen garment (LEV 13:47-52) but not a mixed one. Linen was particularly associated with the priesthood (EXO 39:27-29), and the priests were expressly told to have no wool on them when they came before the LORD:

(Eze 44:17) And it shall come to pass, that when they enter in at the gates of the inner court, they shall be clothed with linen garments; and no wool shall come upon them, whiles they minister in the gates of the inner court, and within.
(Eze 44:18) They shall have linen bonnets upon their heads, and shall have linen breeches upon their loins; they shall not gird themselves with any thing that causeth sweat.

Consider that the righteousness of the redeemed church is Jesus Christ (PHIL 3:8; 2CO 5:21), Who is her “...fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints” (REV 19:8). As the Levitical priests were not to appear before God in wool, “...with any thing that causeth sweat” (and since sweat is associated with work, GEN 3:19), so Christ arose from the dead to appear before God in righteousness, the curse of our sin which demanded His labor having been finished at Calvary. For us He was made unholy and defiled but now is “...holy, harmless, undefiled...” (HEB 7:26). God “...laid on him the iniquity of us all...” (ISA 53:6), and He “...finished the work...” (JOH 17:4; JOH 19:30). He rose to assume a seated position of rest at the right hand of God (HEB 1:3). He enjoys the true Sabbath, and believers in His finished work spiritually partake of the same (HEB 4:10-11). God forbid that we should mingle together our personal works with His perfect work to acquire His righteousness! Our works of righteousness are filthy rags to a holy God (ISA 64:6). Such a mixture to a Christian is a much greater error than a mixed garment of woollen and linen was to a Jew. Our “linen” is Christ, and our salvation is His righteousness according to the riches of His grace (EPH 2:4-10), no sweat on our part, and no further sweat on His.