Sunday, 7 September 2014
Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope. 1 Corinthians 9:10
This verse refers to the previous verse. Taken together, they read –
“Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say the same also? 9 For it is written in the law of Moses, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.’ Is it oxen God is concerned about? Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope.”
Paul’s question concerning the words of Deuteronomy 25:4 is whether God intended to mean an ox, or was He rather making a spiritual picture of a fortiori argument. Is it “altogether for our sakes?” The answer immediately follows – “For our sakes, no doubt.” The context of the verse, which is in the middle of other passages dealing with human matters, indicates that it was actually referring to a human matter as well. However, this does not exclude a literal meaning also. The word translated as “altogether” is pantos. Albert Barnes, after reviewing the nine uses of pantos in the New Testament concludes –
“The word here, therefore, means that the ‘principle’ stated in the law about the oxen was so broad and humane, that it might “certainly, surely, particularly” be regarded as applicable to the case under consideration.”
And this is exactly what one should deduce when reading the law in Deuteronomy. The logical thought process should be something like: “God has said to not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain. The law is intended for us to understand and consider God’s heart for us. If God is concerned about a mere ox as it labors, then how much more is He concerned about us! If I have employees under me who labor for me, I should give greater care to them than the law requires me to give to my brute beast.”
The man “who plows should plow in hope.” The laborer shouldn’t come home hungry after his day of work if he has been laboring in the processing of food all day. That would be an abuse of the bounty given to the one who hired the laborer. Likewise, “he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope.” There are various ways to thresh grain depending on the type of grain. Isaiah explains this to us –
“For the black cummin is not threshed with a threshing sledge, Nor is a cartwheel rolled over the cummin; But the black cummin is beaten out with a stick, And the cummin with a rod. Bread flour must be ground; Therefore he does not thresh it forever, Break it with his cartwheel, Or crush it with his horsemen. This also comes from the Lord of hosts, Who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in guidance.” Isaiah 28:27-29
If an ox is not to be muzzled while it treads out the grain, then it logically follows that someone who beats out grain with a stick should also not be kept from partaking as he threshes. Therefore, the principle found in the law is God’s way of protecting His creatures and keeping the hearts of His people from hardening towards His laborers. It is an ingeniously placed passage in Deuteronomy which points to much more than it at first appears.
From this springboard, Paul will move from grains to the gospel.
Life application: The word given to us by God spans thousands of years of human existence and yet it coalesces into one whole, united, and understandable work of literature. The reason this is so is because God is the ultimate Author of its words. He carefully, methodically, and slowly revealed His heart to us through His word in order to show us our great need for Jesus. As you read the pages of the Bible, never stop looking for spiritual applications and pictures of Christ. You will be abundantly rewarded as you do.
O Lord, my heart often gets beating rather quickly as I read Your word. A sudden insight into something I’d never before considered will fill me with a sense of awe at how I missed that in the past. Reading a psalm will often elevate my soul to a higher place where my hope in You becomes surer than only a moment earlier. When I contemplate the words You spoke to and through your prophets, I see history itself unfold. I stand ever in awe of the beauty revealed in Your superior word. Thank You for this immeasurable gift! Amen.