For God to overrule our authority on Earth undermines his design.


Ki Teze
For the week of September 6, 2014 / 11 Elul 5774
Torah: Devarim/Deuteronomy 21:10 - 25:19
Haftarah: Isaiah 54:1-10

Ethical Responsibility

Ethical Responsibility

You shall not sow your vineyard with two kinds of seed, lest the whole yield be forfeited, the crop that you have sown and the yield of the vineyard. You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together. You shall not wear cloth of wool and linen mixed together. (Devarim/Deuteronomy 22:9-11)

It is difficult to know why God directed the people of Israel to avoid the combinations listed here. We can guess, though I am not a fan of guessing as an interpretive tool. Still, I don't know why one would yoke together an ox and a donkey for plowing, but I am not a farmer. The wool and linen cloth mixture sounds like a real challenge for cleaning, not to mention how over time the two materials would likely react differently, causing problems for long-term wear. But why is this forbidden? And the prohibition regarding sowing two kinds of seeds in one vineyard?-we are told that the result would be pretty bad. Is that true? God says it is. Then it must be true! But is it true only for Israel in ancient times, only for Israel for all time, true for all people everywhere forever? I don't know.

But I do know this: some things don't go together. Just because you can put them together doesn't mean we should. Just because you can, doesn't mean it's good. Something else I know: this runs against the philosophy of progress that dictates that every innovation is morally neutral. Industry's approach to innovation is, generally speaking, that unless we can prove that something is significantly destructive, then there's no reason not to pursue it. The problem in determining whether or not something is destructive is that it takes more time than industry is willing to wait. Moreover, determining what constitutes "destructive" is highly subjective. The media is full of controversy over the effects of all sorts of innovations having to do with human beings, animals, and the environment. But who's right? That doesn't seem to matter, however, because the hunger for uncontrolled innovation is fueled by the false god, Money, which appears to trump any concern for ethical responsibility.

But God's directives in our quoted verses should cause us to at least pause a moment before engaging in uncontrolled innovation in the three areas of food production, our responsibility towards animals, and manufacturing. Taking time to carefully think about God's directives and how they might apply to specific situations is the key to establishing healthy, godly, and constructive practices.

Many people who reject the Bible's concept of an all-powerful, good supreme being often do so because of the various things wrong with the world. "How could a good God allow evil in the world?" they say. But this is more of a misunderstanding as to the role of human beings than it is of God. God could take more control, but that is not how he has designed life or the role of people. From the beginning God gave human beings the responsibility to represent him and his interests within the creation. He didn't design us to live by instinct or mechanical control, but rather as a loving father to a child, he desires to instruct us in his ways. From day one (or more specifically day six), he has been speaking to people with the intention that we would learn how to live out our lives based on his wisdom and direction.

So the reason why the world isn't what it should be is because we ignore God's voice and insist on our own way. Human rebellion against God is why there's evil in the world. For God to completely overrule our authority on Earth would be to undermine his very design.

This takes us back to the practical question, how do these directives apply to today. To whom shall we go for answers? Maybe it's you. Could it be that God already has his people in these industries and wants to provide them with the wisdom needed? This applies to all sorts of other commercial and non-commercial areas of life.

You certainly will not get an answer if you don't think that God is concerned about such things. You will not hear his voice if you don't learn to be attentive to it. But if you take the time to study his Word, and have the courage to invite him into your work and personal life, asking him for wisdom in everything you do, he will instruct you in his ways.

Unless otherwise noted, scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Comments? E-mail:

Subscribe? To have TorahBytes e-mailed to
you weekly, enter your e-mail address and press Subscribe


[ More TorahBytes ]  [ TorahBytes Home ]