READ: Leviticus 11:1-23
Clean and Unclean Animals
We’ve just finished reading about the role that the priests had to distinguish between the unclean and the clean (10:10). Now we launch into a number of chapters that expound on what is considered clean and unclean. Today I want to share a thought on the practical nature of this chapter, tomorrow I want to share a thought from a spiritual nature.
We’ve noted already that a number of practices played a pracical roll in Jewish life (eg. the eating of food and the giving of food to priests). It has long been thought that this list of animals that were kosher for the Jews played an important role of health regulation. Many of the animals that are considred unclean did themselves have a higher risk of being unclean – literally and religously. The pig is one well known literal example; many of the birds are carnivours – they would feed on the carcasses of other dead animals; other animals were forigers and had an unclean way about life – flies for instance. It is also important to note that if one of these animals had touched another dead animal then they too would most likely have been unclean (we read later about a dead rat that falls on a pot makes the pot unclean). So there was a very practical aspect to stop the spread of germs, bacteria and disease. The ‘Creator’ God knew what was and was not healthy for His special people.
So why do we eat these animals today? The truth is, no one is making you eat them – you don’t have to if you don’t want to. The more important point to make is that no one is stopping you from eating them. This system of clean and unclean animals is no longer a matter of sin and unholiness. You may remember the vision given by God to the Apostle Peter. Have a quick read in Acts 11:1-18.
Also, compare the whole subject to this passage from Romans 7:1-8 (NET)
‘Or do you not know, brothers and sisters (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law is lord over a person as long as he lives?
For a married woman is bound by law to her husband as long as he lives, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of the marriage. So then, if she is joined to another man while her husband is alive, she will be called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she is joined to another man, she is not an adulteress.
So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you could be joined to another, to the one who was raised from the dead, to bear fruit to God. For when we were in the flesh, the sinful desires, aroused by the law, were active in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. But now we have been released from the law, because we have died to what controlled us, so that we may serve in the new life of the Spirit and not under the old written code.’
So, I’m not about to go chow down on a rock badger, nor am I going to munch on any locusts (even though they are clean and have been very numerous around here), but neither am I going to stop enjoying pork!