Do Not Muzzle The Ox

ce9ccb1ce618d4ac75238431756962e6“For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.” – 1 Timothy‬ ‭5:18‬ ‭

Do not muzzle the ox. This is such a simple verse, yet it is so packed with meaning that it alone warrants it’s own study. It is first mentioned in Deuteronomy 25:4 as a law to insure that an ox being made to work a field would be allowed to freely eat of that field that he might keep his strength up and be rewarded for his labor. In this practical and literal interpretation of the original text we see God’s great care, concern, love, and mercy for even the lowly oxen plowing a field, and likewise all animals. Therefore, we can have faith in His even greater concern for us as Jesus stated that if not one sparrow falls from the sky without our Father knowing how much more does He care for us, for we are worth more then many sparrows.

In Paul’s letter to Timothy, he uses this reality in a slightly different application by quoting this old law to express God’s desire for those who labor in the field of ministry to be supported financially by those they minister to. Hence the included phrase, “the laborer is worthy of his reward“. He was making the point that if God wants the lowly oxen to be supplied for, to maintain their ability to labor on and also as a reward for their labor, then how much more would He want the same for His faithful few laboring in the fields that are white for harvest?

However, I believe that there are even more applications then simply meeting the physical needs of a laborer to be gleaned from this compassionate and convicting verse. When looking at the ox as a type of laborer of God (or minister), and the corn as its source of strength and God ordained and supplied provision, I see God’s nature manifested in that He will not send His laborers out into the fields for harvest without providing them access to the power, strength, and provision to get the job done, which is the anointing, or favor and power of the Holy Spirit. It also implies that any who try to prevent them from using that provision and power to do the master’s work is in direct opposition to the word and will of God and is in danger of judgment and even a curse. In this, I see a “muzzled ox” as a type of silenced minister. One who had a job to do with the power, favor, and anointing of God to do it, yet they are not allowed to walk in the full strength and power of what the Lord has provided, usually for the greed of others trying to steal that glory (like the ox’s promised corn) for themselves.

I see this happen all to often. Someone whom the Lord has chosen, called, equipped, anointed, and sent being muzzled by family members, by society, by culture, by traditions of men, by doctrines, and by other greedy ministers, effectively robbing them of the reward of the souls ready for harvest that are falling to the ground uncollected for the masters store house. This is such a great sin because when the ox is muzzled, not only does the ox get neglected and begins to starve and weaken, but the field gets neglected also by proxy and the harvest is lost.

Believe me, this is not something you want to have on your hands when you stand before God on the day of Judgment. Do not muzzle the ox.

“Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;” – Matthew‬ ‭9:37‬ ‭

“Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn.” – Deuteronomy‬ ‭25:4‬ ‭

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