Question: Please explain the scripture, “Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, as of woollen and linen together.”
Answer: This scripture is found in Deuteronomy 22:11 along with some other mixtures which are forbidden, beginning with verse 9. I will insert all of verses 9-11 here because they all carry the same thought and teach the same thing. “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. Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together. Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, as of woollen and linen together.”
A parallel text to this is found in Leviticus 19:19 and reads thus: “Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee.”
This last text forbid their cattle to gender with a different kind. So let us look at a text now in regard to how God made things in the beginning. Genesis 1:24-25. “And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.”
We see here that cattle were distinct and separated from the beasts of the earth and also the creeping things. They were all in separate categories, so I do not get the idea from Leviticus 19:19 that God forbade the interbreeding of different breeds and strains of cattle such as Hereford white faces, black Angus, Holstein, etc., which all are in the cattle category; but He did forbid the gendering of any and all cattle with a horse, mule, bear or any other of the multiplicity of beasts of the earth all of which are in a different category and of a diverse kind. God saw that the way He had made it was good and He forbade men to dabble with it and change it.
All of the things mentioned in these texts may have had some special bearing on the Israelites at that time. Perhaps they did, though I am not knowledgeable enough to know what it was altogether. I think it safe to conclude that there is no moral evil contained in any of these things; else they would have been carried over into the New Testament, but none of them were. Murder, adultery, stealing, lying, coveting, etc. many other things which contain a moral evil which were first taught against and forbidden in the Old Testament, are carried over into the New Testament and taught against and forbidden there the same as in the old, but none of these things were.
However, though these things themselves were not carried over into the New Testament, yet the principle and teaching of them was; and it was a very important principle and constitutes a very important and a far reaching truth for the people of God, the spiritual Israel, in this age of time. That is what we want to look at now.
Hebrews 10:1 says that the law had a shadow of good things to come. Hebrews 8:5 says that the priests who offered gifts under the law (verse 4) served unto the example and shadow of heavenly things. Colossians 2:16-17 says that their meats and drinks, holy days, new moons and sabbaths were all a shadow of things to come of which Christ is the body of reality. In the first 10 verses of the 10th chapter of I Corinthians is related a number of things which befell the children of Israel as judgments of God upon them for their disobedience and apostasy. Then in verse 11 we read: “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples [types, margin]: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.”
Thus we see that the law and Old Testament contained many types, figures, and shadows. It is in this category that I think it most proper to cast the things mentioned in these texts. They set forth an illustration of God’s on-going doctrine of separateness and “no-mixture” for the people of God, which is set forth in different ways and numerous figures throughout the Holy Scriptures. These things are all presented literally but the main thrust of them all is spiritual in application. This is a great and very important doctrinal truth taught throughout the Holy Scriptures.
The very first thing God did in the creation in bringing order out of chaos was to create light and the very next step was to divide between the light and the darkness. (Genesis 1:1-5.) Ever since that time God has presented truth and righteousness as light and error and sin as darkness and maintained a strict distinction between them. God’s people are declared to be “children of light” (Ephesians 5:8; Luke 16:8; John 12:36; I Thessalonians 5:5, etc.). Those who live in sin and serve Satan are spoken of as “children of the devil” (I John 3:10; John 8:44; Matthew 13:38), and are said to be in darkness (I John 2:9,11; John 12:35, 11:10, 3:19-20). God has maintained a strict separateness throughout this light and darkness in the spiritual realm.
In II Corinthians 6:14 it says, “…What communion hath light with darkness?” Clearly NONE! Therefore, it says in II Corinthians 6:17, “…Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord,…” Throughout the teachings of the New Testament there is a strict separateness and distinction maintained between light and darkness, truth and error, sinners and righteous people, the people of God and the people of this world. In Colossians 1:13 it says, “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.” I Peter 2:9 says, “…who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” Ephesians 5:11 says, “…have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” Verse 7 says, “Be not ye therefore partakers with them.” All these scriptures and many more make it clear that God takes everyone that He saves out of darkness and puts them in the light. He forbids them to have any communion, fellowship or part with those works of darkness anymore.
In Deuteronomy 7:1-5, God commanded the children of Israel not to have any communion at all with the nations around them. They were commanded to utterly destroy them and destroy their altars and burn their graven images and have no part in their idolatrous worship. They were especially and specifically forbidden to intermarry with them.
Verse 6 said that they were holy unto the Lord their God. The context here makes it clear that “holy” in this text refers to them being “Separated” unto the Lord from among the nations, and not to a pure heart and sinless life in which connection the term “holy” is used in the New Testament. That is also the common use of the term “Peculiar” (peculiar people) in the scriptures a separate and distinct people unto God. Note its use in the following texts: Exodus 19:5-6; Deuteronomy 7:1-6, Deuteronomy 14:2, Deuteronomy 26:16-19, Deuteronomy 28:9, Deuteronomy 29:13; I Kings 8:53; Titus 2:14 (Purify UNTO Himself a PECULIAR people); II Corinthians 6:14-18 which spells out in plain, definite language the separateness and distinctiveness of saints in light unto their God.
All of the above texts refer to God’s people being PECULIAR unto Himself and separated from the idolatrous nations around them unto God. Psalm 4:3 says, “But know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself:…”
This doctrine of separation of God’s people from the nations around them throughout the Old Testament and then from the world, and sin, and formal and false religions and all the works of darkness in the New Testament, is set forth and taught in different figures throughout the Scriptures. Whatever direct bearing it may have had in the lives of the Israelites at that time, I consider the text in this question and its related texts to be a part of the on-going teaching of the Scriptures of separation and no-mixing for the people of God.