Tag Archives: Law & Covenant

On Fabrics, Donkeys, and Seeds

Ronald L Dart photo_172x172The November 2, 2021 edition of my Daily Verses came from Deuteronomy 22: 9-11 (below). Because the meaning and intent of these three verses from God’s Law (Torah: “instructions”) are often not immediately clear on first reading, I’m giving us all some help.

This post comprises two brief excerpts from Ronald L. Dart’s book Law & Covenant, in which he deals with this problem in his usual expert, intelligent, yet wonderfully down-to-earth style. I hope you are blessed and enlightened by his words.



Law & Covenant
by Ronald L. Dart


from Chapter 3: Law and Meaning

Law and Covenant cover             With typical wrongheadedness, we often make big issues out of things that aren’t very important while we give too little attention to more serious matters. It is tempting to ask, “Do I have to do this?” rather than ask, “What does this mean? What lies behind it? What is the underlying principle? How might it apply in real life?”
              Too few people ever get around to asking the immortal, “Why?” To me, that is the truly interesting question when it comes to the law. When I read the Old Testament and encounter an obscure law, I stop and ask, “Why did God say that?” I can’t see any way to apply the law in the here and now, but the natural question that follows is, “Why was this a law in the first place?” I have come up with some intriguing questions, though not quite so many answers.
              I spotted a bumper sticker once that proclaimed proudly, “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it for me.” That makes life much simpler, but the fellow driving the car might well be wearing wool and Dacron slacks. He probably has no idea that God handed down a law of mixed fabrics. Yes, God said it. Yes, he believes it. But so far, he hasn’t done it. He has likely overlooked the importance of understanding those things that God has said. Solomon wrote: “Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding” (Proverbs 4:7 NIV).
              Blind obedience may be better than no obedience at all. Sometimes you don’t know the reason behind a law until the consequences come home to roost. But still, obedience with understanding is better. Without it, you may cause actual harm in your attempts at righteousness.

from Chapter 4: Understanding Law

            It isn’t that easy to show the meaning of all the laws in the Old Testament, but that doesn’t mean the meaning isn’t there. It may mean nothing more than that we have not been paying attention.
              Consider this one, for example: “Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together” (Deuteronomy 22:10). Now I am no authority on agriculture, and I didn’t immediately see the problem. I did hear one fellow opine that the fertilizer which fell from the two animals differed in some important way, and it would be bad for the ground to mix them. I fear I was rather rude in my response to that theory. Another gentleman pointed out the obvious, the animals were of such disparate sizes that it simply wouldn’t work. No one would ever think of doing that. I could see that, but all that did was raise another question. Couldn’t man have figured that out for himself? If you simply can’t make that combination work, why would it be necessary to hand down a law? The answer to that came out of the blue.
              Years ago, when I was Dean of Students at a college in England, a fellow member of the faculty and I were discussing a young man who was, as young men are wont to do, pursuing one of the female students. I told my friend, “I know that relationship doesn’t look right, and I have a feeling it’s not going to work. Why do I feel that way?” My friend replied: “It’s simple — ‘you shall not plow with an ox and an ass together.” Since the young man’s behavior somewhat resembled one of the named animals, we were both vastly amused.
              As it happened, my friend had put his finger on what this law was really about. There can be such differences between two elements, be it the size or pulling power of two animals, the personalities of two individuals, the abilities of two business partners, or even the religions of two persons, that the relationship is unworkable. It is obvious that Paul draws on this law when he uses the word “yoke” as he did: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14).
              This raises an interesting distinction. I have heard people ask of this or that passage: “Is it a law, or is it a principle?” I decided to look it up. Here’s what I found:

Principle: A comprehensive and fundamental law, doctrine, or assumption, the laws or facts of nature underlying the working of an artificial device, a primary source, an underlying faculty or endowment.

              There’s more, but this will serve our needs. As the question was asked, a law was inflexible, while a principle was optional. But as we become more familiar with biblical law, the roles are reversed. It is the underlying principle that is inflexible. It is the principle that is the fundamental thing. The enforceable stuff is built on the principle. But these are just words. What can we take away from this that means anything in life?
              Laws like those I have cited create axioms, aphorisms that imply a universal, underlying truth. In this case, it is a law that there can be such great differences between two people that they should not attempt to be tied together in any way that does not give them the freedom to walk. That law makes as much sense today as it did when Moses wrote it down.
              So, what happens if you break it? A loss of salvation? A denial of your eternal reward? No, what breaking this law gives you is heartache, financial loss, and if you are plowing, some busted up harness. As it happens, that is what most of the law is about. It is about life, not salvation. It is optional only in the sense that you can decide to break it and bear the consequences. There will be consequences, and they may not go away just because you are sorry.
              As it happens, the verse about plowing immediately precedes the law I cited earlier about wearing a garment of mixed fabric. It suggests that both laws are saying the same thing in different words. What the law is about is recognizing diversity (a good, modern term), and realizing that there are some diversities that just cannot be bridged.
              We know that Christ spoke in parables. We know that the parables were not to be taken literally, but were intended to convey a deeper meaning. It was a meaning that was conveyed to some and hidden to others. It seems that God did much the same thing with the law.


Ronald L. Dart: Law & Covenant. Wasteland Press, Shelbyville, KY. Copyright 2006, pp.28-29.


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Posted by on November 3, 2021 in Uncategorized


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Ronald L. Dart (1934-2016)

Ronald L. Dart

Ronald L. Dart

Ronald L. Dart — Christian apologist, educator, author, minister, broadcaster, college Dean, and founder of Christian Educational Ministries — has died at age 82. His wife Allie Dart told us in a message that he “died peacefully in his sleep early this Sabbath morning, January 23rd, from a prolonged battle with cutaneous T-cell lymphoma.”

He was truly “a gifted teacher of the Word of God. People around the world have come to appreciate Ron’s easy style, his non-combative approach to explaining the Bible, and the personal, almost one-on-one method of explaining what’s going on in the world in the light of the Bible. People say they get hooked on Ron’s depth of insight into the Bible and appreciate the unique gift for clarity and simplicity that enable him to hold an audience.”
Primarily and most personally, he was for Adrianne and me our friend, pastor, and teacher — as he was for so many others across the nation and throughout the world.

In the essay My Giants associated with this website, I listed Ron among those who have been “my personal giants, on whose shoulders I gratefully (if sometimes shakily) stand.” It remains as true today as when I wrote it that “I have learned more about the Bible from Ron Dart than any of my other pastors and professors — and quite possibly than all of them combined.”

My first reaction on hearing the news this morning was tearful grief at the loss of someone so special in our lives. And that emptiness remains as I write this. But we know, thanks in large part to Ron’s teaching, that he has fallen asleep and awaits Christ’s return and the Resurrection. We draw great solace and hope in that. And we give overwhelming praise and thanks to God our Father for Ron’s release from his physical infirmities and the trials of this world, as well as for the certainty of his eternal life to come.

In 1995, Ron retired from a career as a minister, administrator, and educator, to found Christian Educational Ministries. CEM is a service ministry with two major goals: first, to share the Gospel with the world, to evangelize, to make disciples for Jesus Christ; and second, to teach those who are disciples of Jesus all that He commanded His disciples to do. This Mission became the springboard for his daily 30-minute nationally syndicated radio program, titled Born to Win. Hundreds of his Born to Win programs and his sermons (in .MP3 format) are available for download on the CEM Born to Win website.

I have included here a video of one of Ron’s sermons, titled A Doctrine of Grace, which typifies what has been called his “remarkable gift of clarity and love and understanding of the Bible.” Below that are links to information about his three books, and finally a brief bio. Years ago, with his permission, I reproduced Ron’s Confession of Faith on my website, and I commend it to you.

In all of this, we cannot forget to express our deep admiration and love for Allie, Ron’s extraordinary wife and partner-in-ministry. Our hearts and spirits are with you, Allie.

We will all miss having Ron Dart with us, but we thank God for the gift of his teaching, his intellect, his humor, his leadership, his generosity, him as role model in our quest to become children of God, and — his grace.

******************** SERMON VIDEO ********************

A Doctrine of Grace — a sermon by Ronald L. Dart (October 19, 1997)


******************** BOOK TABLE ********************

Books by Ronald L. Dart

The Lonely God
The Lonely God

2005, 212 pages

Law & Covenant
Law & Covenant

2007, 240 pages
Christian Educational Ministries has a large and wide assortment of
Ron Dart’s writings, sermons, and radio programs available on its website.
******************** RON DART BIO ********************


A BRIEF BIOGRAPHY :   Ronald L. Dart was born to young parents on a farm just south of Harrison, Arkansas. His father worked for the railroad and also sang bass with the Melody Four Quartet. He started school in a one room schoolhouse in Gaither, Arkansas and finished high school in Houston, Texas where he met his wife to be, Allie Driver. He joined the Navy in September of 1952 and earned the rating of petty officer first class in four years. After the Navy, Ron attended Hardin Simmons University in Abilene, Texas for two years, and Ambassador College for two years, earning a bachelor’s degree. Ron served as a pastor of a church, returned to college to get his Master’s Degree, and then went to the University of Texas in Austin and did work towards his doctorate in Communications. It is through his continued studies in theology and communications that Ron’s gift for teaching the Word of God became evident. He has taught Old Testament Survey, Epistles of Paul, and public speaking. He has CDs of sermons he has given on virtually every book in the Bible. After retiring from teaching and church administration in 1995 he started Christian Educational Ministries and the Born to Win radio program.


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Posted by on January 23, 2016 in Ronald L. Dart


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