What’s a “Chukim?”

The Bible is the authority for all matters of faith and practice because it reveals God’s will to God’s people.  In order to be faithful followers, we must learn what the Bible says and apply it to our daily living (see 2 Timothy 2:15).

However, the call to study does not imply that all can be understood.  The command to “hide” God’s word in our heart (see Psalm 119:11) does not promise that living in the word while in the world will be easy or make us respected.  Anyone who tells you they’ve got it all figured out is selling you a lie.

“Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material.”        (Leviticus 19:19c, NIV.)

Without getting into a single interpretational issue, let me tell you my purpose.  I offer this single statement of divine Law as an example of a chukim, a Jewish term for biblical laws that come to us unexplained.  We’re left to figure it out ourselves, to guess at why cloth with mixed fibers is in the same list of sins as stealing, lying, blasphemy, and sorcery.

Here’s how some people approach it.  They hire a Shatnez Tester to go through their wardrobe and determine what clothing is kosher and what is not.  “Shatnez” is the Hebrew word for “mixed fibers” and I do not have space enough to describe how meticulously these people do their work (hint: they use a microscope).

(QUICK CAVEAT: Let there be nothing in the preceding that seems to deprecate in any way people who are concerned enough about keeping God’s commands that they go to these lengths.  My purpose is to offer a contrast, but not at the expense of condemning someone else’s sincere service to God.  I plead with the reader to see no disrespect is intended.)

OR, we could take Jesus’ approach:

1) Simplify the Law to love (see Matthew 22:34-40).

2) The spirit of the Law trumps the letter, especially where human needs can be met (see Matthew 12:1-14).

3) Resist the urge to allow petty personal opinion masquerade as law (see Colossians 2:6-23).


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