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AM Bible Study Archives
"Clean and Unclean"
Wednesday AM Bible Study
August 30, 2006
Theme: God calls His people to distinguish between clean and unclean, even with respect to food.
In this chapter, the focus shifts, from the consecration of the priesthood and the offerings that they make for the people, to the people themselves. Here, and all the way to chapter 15, God begins to set forth standards for holiness in everyday life.
God demands that His holy people distinguish between what is holy and what is unholy—between what is clean and what is unclean—in all areas of life. Here, we see that this is true even in what they eat. “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Everyday life requires that we make distinctions and choose to walk in holiness before our God. The dietary laws that are in this chapter not only impacted the holiness of God's people, but also their health. But the primary concern was not the sanitation and health of the people. It was primarily their holiness that was in view; and that they live as a distinct people in this fallen world.
The key to understanding this chapter is found in verses 43-45. God had redeemed them from bondage in Egypt; where many of the unclean creaters God mentions in this chapter were worshiped. And what's more, or centuries, the Israelites had lived on a slave's diet—eating whatever they could lay their hands on without discrimination. Now, as God's redeemed people, they were to live in accord with the holiness of their new condition; and keep themselves from that which is detestable to God. And so are we!
The people were to distinguish between “clean and unclean” . . .
I. WITH RESPECT TO WHAT MAY BE EATEN (vv. 1-23).
A. With respect to land creatures (vv. 1-8). Just as they may eat that which is cloven of hoove and that chews the cud, the people of God are to be discerning in their steps and meditative on God's word. This forbade the people from eating that which is carniverous or that ate as scavengers.
B. With respect to sea creatures (vv. 9-12). They may eat what has scales and fins. This forbade them from eating bottom-feeding creatures. God's people are not to be scronging around in this world's muck.
C. With respect to bird-life (vv. 13-19). The birds that are forbidden to them are primarily carrion-eating birds. God's people are not to be partakers of the dead works of this world.
D. With respect to insect life (vv. 20-23). They may eat grasshopper-like insects that eat vegetation; but not the flying insects that creep about on filth.
E. This teaches us that everywhere the man or woman of God looks—whether on land or on sea; whether up in the sky or down to the ground—they are to discern between what is holy and what is unholy.
II. WITH RESPECT TO WHAT MAY BE HANDLED (vv. 24-31).
When something dies, the people of God were to discern uncleaness and keep themselves separate from it. As Haggai 2:12-14 teaches us, holiness is not transferrable; but unholiness is. The people of God are not to touch that which is unclean and thus make themselves unclean in God's sight.
III. WITH RESPECT TO WHAT MAY BE USED (vv. 32-38).
Even the pots and pans of the people of God must be holy (Zech. 14:21). If it is metal, it must be scowered if uncleanness touches it. If it is pourous, it must be destroyed. There must be no trace of unholiness in God's people. Even seeds—which if dry do not retain impurity, but if wet and cracked open in shell receive unholiness—must be discerned.
IV. WITH RESPECT TO WHAT IS ORDINARLY DECLARED CLEAN (vv. 39-40).
The people of God may not live like vultures—eating whatever dies of itself, and thus taking into themselves disease and putrification.
V. WITH RESPECT TO WHAT CREEPS ON THE GROUND (vv. 41-45).
These were the sorts of creatures that the Egyptians worshipped. The people of God were to have no casual contact with them. They were not to make themselves abominable before God by them.
SUMMARY STATEMENT (vv. 46-47).