The Spiritual Significance Of The Ox In Scripture – Part One

by Mike Vinson (


Pro 14:4  Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox.

“Much increase is by the strength of the ox.” An ox is another very powerful animal. In early ancient Israel, the ox was the single most valuable animal one could own. As we learned in studying the horse, God had forbidden Israel to go to Egypt to buy horses, so the ox was the animal used to plow and to turn a mill or to do much of the heavy work that had to be done. To steal a man’s ox was just like stealing his livelihood. It was his most valuable possession, next to his servants and his wife.

The Hebrew word for ‘ox’ is ‘shore,’ Strong’s number H7794. It is translated into the English words ‘bullock, bull, cow, ox, and oxen.’

While the horse is a great powerful, muscular animal associated with warfare, the ox is a great powerful, muscular animal associated with service and production, and increase of wealth. All of these are, of course to be understood in spiritual terms. If there are no horses within, then there are no spiritual battles taking place, and if there is no ox within, then there is no spiritual increase. Both of these mighty beasts represent spiritual zeal to serve our Lord, one in the capacity of spiritual warfare, and the other in the capacity of service, to both God and our fellow man.

We are all given different forms of horses and oxen, but we all have both within, if indeed we are zealous toserve with our Lord, and to do battle for our Lord.

What is the value of an ox

Exo 22:1  If a man shall steal an ox, or a sheep, and kill it, or sell it; he shall restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep.

Exo 22:9  For all manner of trespass, whether it be for ox, for ass, for sheep, for raiment, or forany manner of lost thing, which another challengeth to be his, the cause of both parties shall come before the judges; and whom the judges shall condemn, he shall pay double unto his neighbour.

Note the difference in the penalty for stealing to increase one’s own wealth and for simply finding and keeping that which was lost. Remember this typical story?

A Biblical Example of stealing our brother’s livestock.

King David is God’s Old Testament type of our theft of His lamb, our rebellion and our self righteousness.

2Sa 12:1  And the LORD sent Nathan unto David. And he came unto him, and said unto him,There were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor.
2Sa 12:2  The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds:
2Sa 12:3  But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter.
2Sa 12:4  And there came a traveller unto the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto him; but took the poor man’s lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him.
2Sa 12:5  And David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the LORD liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die: 
2Sa 12:6  And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.
2Sa 12:7  And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul;
2Sa 12:8  And I gave thee thy master’s house, and thy master’s wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if [that had been] too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things.
2Sa 12:9  Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife [to be] thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon.
2Sa 12:10  Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife.
2Sa 12:11  Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun.
2Sa 12:12  For thou didst [it] secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.
2Sa 12:13  And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.
2Sa 12:14  Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.

As with our Savior, the innocent died for the guilty, and the life of the guilty is spared. We have been made master over sin in our lives, we are blessed beyond measure and we still are not satisfied. We are the man who takes from Christ in order to please the people. If you read this story and all you see is Nathan pointing his finger at David, then “Thou art the man”  mean nothing to you and has no significance for you.

How do we kill our neighbor’s ox? How do we steal our neighbor’s ox or his “little ewe lamb?” We are all guilty of doing so when we subscribe to the doctrine of  ‘agreement in the essentials and tolerance in the nonessentials.’ We are thieves and murderers as long as we serve our own flesh, “fear the people,” and remain in Babylon retaining her doctrines. We are less so in direct proportion to our desire to be clean of all spiritual filthiness with no regard for the outward price we may have to pay.

Joh 10:10  The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

Luk 6:46  And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? 

Exo 23:4  If thou meet thine enemy’s ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again.

“Thine enemy’s” means your own flesh, enemy. This is not to be taken as a Gentile enemy. If you came across the livestock of your Gentile enemy, not only were you to take possession his livestock, but you were to destroy your Gentile enemy. Under certain circumstances you were to destroy him and “everything that breathes.”  We are not here, being encouraged to “agree on the essentials and tolerate the nonessentials.” Christ did not come to bring peace. He did come to bring a sword, and if we are not willing to use that sword, we are doing nothing less then stealing, killing and destroying our own fellow man to whom we think we are showing love by our tolerance of the filth of this world.

“Ox or sheep or…” The ox is almost always mentioned first. That is because it was the first and most important animal on the farm in ancient Israel. It was what sustained the family.

How we are to view our brother’s ox

Considering how much we depend on our own ox for our own welfare, how are we to treat our brother’s ox? We saw this earlier in Exodus 23, regarding our enemies ox.

Deu 22:1  Thou shalt not see thy brother’s ox or his sheep go astray, and hide thyself from them:thou shalt in any case bring them again unto thy brother. 
Deu 22:2  And if thy brother be not nigh unto thee, or if thou know him not, then thou shalt bring it unto thine own house, and it shall be with thee until thy brother seek after it, and thou shalt restore it to him again.
Deu 22:3  In like manner shalt thou do with his ass; and so shalt thou do with his raiment; and with all lost thing of thy brother’s, which he hath lost, and thou hast found, shalt thou do likewise: thou mayest not hide thyself.
Deu 22:4  Thou shalt not see thy brother’s ass or his ox fall down by the way, and hide thyself from them: thou shalt surely help him to lift them up again.

Here is the spiritual application of restoring your brother’s ox or his sheep:

1Pe 3:15  But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.

Our oxen, like our horses, and all of our livestock, are actually God’s.

Exo 34:19  All that openeth the matrix is mine; and every firstling among thy cattle, whether ox or sheep, that is male.Psa 50:10  For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.

When we offer our ox or any offering, it must be offered upon the cross

The altar is the cross of Christ. ‘The cross’ is the death of pride and vanity. Any offering which is not on the cross of Christ, amounts to an offering offered to another god, the god of pride and rebellion.

Lev 17:1  And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Lev 17:2  Speak unto Aaron, and unto his sons, and unto all the children of Israel, and say unto them; This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded, saying,
Lev 17:3  What man soever there be of the house of Israel, that killeth an ox, or lamb, or goat, in the camp, or that killeth it out of the camp, 
Lev 17:4  And bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer an offering unto the LORD before the tabernacle of the LORD; blood shall be imputed unto that man; he hath shed blood; and that man shall be cut off from among his people: 
Lev 17:5  To the end that the children of Israel may bring their sacrifices, which they offer in the open field, even that they may bring them unto the LORD, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest, and offer them for peace offerings unto the LORD.
Lev 17:6  And the priest shall sprinkle the blood upon the altar of the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and burn the fat for a sweet savour unto the LORD.
Lev 17:7  And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils, after whom they have gone a whoring. This shall be a statute for ever unto them throughout their generations.

“Devils” are spirits. And when a spirit is tried and found to be a false spirit, it is found to be a lie. It may be “in the camp” or it may be “out of the camp,” both are still in rebellion to the commandment of the Lord. Believing a lie is spiritually “offering a sacrifice to a devil.”

1Jn 4:1  Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of Godbecause many false prophets are gone out into the world.

1Jn 4:3  And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world
1Jn 4:4  Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
1Jn 4:5  They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.


We have seen that where no spiritul oxen are, the spiritual crib is clean: but much spiritual increase is by thestrength of the spiritual ox.We have seen that this makes the ox the most valuable animal on the farm, and critical for the welfare of all on the farm.
We have seen that the strength of the ox is demonstrated by the strong zeal we have to place obedience to our heavenly Father above the concerns of the things of this temporal world.

Joh 2:16  And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.
Joh 2:17  And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.

We have seen  the scriptures reveal that we all steal our brother’s ox, along with his other livestock when we place our desire to please men above our fear of God and our desire to please Him. Nathan tells us that serving our guests at the expense of our poor neighbor’s livestock instead of our own, is “despising the commandment of the Lord.”

This is especially egregious when we stop to realize that all our livestock is really the Lord’s and not ours at all.

Finally we also saw that we cannot come to our Lord with any pretense of bringing something to the table. We come only with a full realization that our righteousnesses are but filthy rags.

Isa 64:6  But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

We saw that if we come before the Lord with our concerns for what others might think, and with the accompanying self righteousness which always comes with a people pleasing spirit, that we are guilty of killing and offering our ox anywhere but upon the cross of Christ. The cross is God’s altar, upon which the beast of ‘self’ must be sacrificed.

Lev 17:7  And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils, after whom they have gone a whoring. This shall be a statute for ever unto them throughout their generations.

Next week we will see a Biblical example of both stealing our brother’s ox and an example of offering our offering anywhere besides “on the altar, the door of the tabernacle.” We will see how doing so amounts to “offering to devils.”
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