READ: Leviticus 11:24-47
Unclean and Clean People
We just read yesterday about the animals that were considered edible for the Hebrews and the animals that were an ‘abomination’. This passage reflects on more of those animals but also adds the extra dimension of the person being made unclean by the eating and touching of certain dead animals.
It is important to note that holiness and uncleanness were not always an issue of salvation; a person who was unclean because they touched a dead body did not need to offer sacrifices and receive atonement. Being holy as God was holy is simply a matter of being complete – living up to the purpose for which you had been designed. You don’t wear a shirt to work that has been stained with ink from the day before – it would be considered an ‘unclean’ shirt – it is not fitting its purpose.
The Israelites were called by God to be a sanctified (separated) people – they were to be different from those around them. By following these clean and unclean laws the people were reflecting their special distinctions (distinctions that were practical and symbolic in the nature of the animals that were considered unclean). If the separation wasn’t being fulfilled then they weren’t being the people that God had designed them to be.
But these distinctions went far beyond what could be seen on the outside by someone looking in. Jesus Himself said that it wasn’t the outward actions that defiled a person but it was the heart that ultimately determined the defilement of an individual (Matthew 15:17-20). In many ways, these ceremonial and ritual laws tested the hearts of the people. Would their faith motivate them to obey? Would their hearts follow God and show a concern for His calling; or would they disregard God and reveal their defilement? It was always an issue of the heart; even though man may be concerned with what is on the outside, God’s concern has always been the heart (I Sam 15:7).
God’s concern is still with our hearts!
Check out Hebrews 8:8-13, could this passage refer to the ‘new heart’ as talked of in Ezekiel 36:26?