Of Oxen and Men
By Frank Chesser
The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib; but Israel cloth not know, my people cloth not consider" (Isa. 1:3). As Isaiah preached, Judah reveled in sin. Though only for a season, they were enjoying the pleasures of wickedness.
Even a dumb animal knows his owner, but Judah knew not God. With Abraham, Egypt, smoking Sinai and a mountain of miracles as a spiritual heritage, Israel was yet a "sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity" (Isa. 1:4).
An ox acknowledges his master and submits to his yoke, but Israel had no desire for the knowledge of God, nor intention of submitting to his yoke of righteousness. An ox listens to the voice of his master and plods ever onward to the sound thereof, but Judah "despised the word of the Holy One of Israel" (Isa. 5:24). The nation was sick in heart and head (Isa. 1:5).
Though clothed in iniquity the heirs of Sinai felt good amidst the sweet odor of their incense, the smoke of their sacrifices, the joy of their feasts and the sound of their prayers (Isa. 1:1115). They viewed such external acts as sufficient to appease God, ward off wrath and assure fertility in business, the field and the womb.
They were wrong. God loathed the smell of their incense, refused their sacrifices, hated their feasts and turned a deaf ear to their prayers (Isa. 1:11l5). God wanted penitence, righteousness and mercy (Isa. 1:1617).
One may fill a pew, word a prayer, and make music in song and yet not know God. When genuine love and gratitude have vacated the heart, no amount of externals can replenish the gap. God requires the right act, but only from the right heart.
The submissive loving of oxen under the master's yoke is as much a rebuke to man's propensity for rebellion as was Balaam's rebuke by his donkey on his road to ruin (Num. 22:2130).
(Editor's note: The point brother Chesser makes so well does not need to be rubbed in, but we cannot keep from wondering how many who were "once enlightened" now despise the Word of the Lord God. "Forsaking the right way, they went astray, having followed the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the hire of wrongdoing; but he was rebuked for his own transgression: a dumb ass spake with man's voice and stayed the madness of the prophet (2 Pet 2:1516). Notice, not to follow fully the instructions of Jehovah is madness:
For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they arc again entangled therein and overcome, the last state is become worse with them than the first .
Let us fear to be among that number - H. A. (Buster) Dobbs .)