Richard Agee

Leviticus 11: More lessons from food of ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’

Richard AgeeLeviticus 11-16 are about how to discern “cleanliness” vs. “uncleanliness.” God is giving us these instructions because He is holy — literally, set apart or distinct — and wants us to be holy, i.e., set apart for God’s purpose. God does not say that we will never be in a situation where we will be exposed to “uncleanliness.” Exposure to “uncleanliness” is a part of being in this world. God is giving us a simple object lesson about how to go from unclean to clean, from unholy to holy. 

The focus of Leviticus 11 is the issue of clean vs. unclean food. We don’t have to sacrifice an animal if we accidentally transgress the food laws. We have to be careful about bringing in traditions that go beyond what is written (Rom. 14:1–2).

Uncleanness is not a sin in and of itself. It’s a temporary state, not a permanent state. God shows in Leviticus 11 how to go from unclean to clean, not only of ourselves but of household items, clothing, etc. 

God is showing us how clean He is and how we are to become like him. This isn’t about “dos and don’ts” but because He wants us to be holy and to be His people. 

An abomination is something that is detestable. There are certain animals that are to be detestable to us to eat. These “detestable” animals serve a purpose — a purpose God gave them — but they are not food. 

We will go through the list of animals and discern clean vs. unclean animals. We can use God’s advice about these animals to figure out whether other animals, which are not mentioned in this chapter by name, are clean or unclean:

  • Animals that “chew the cud” and have an undivided hoof are clean. If they have one or the other but not both, they are unclean for food. 
  • Fish that have fins and scales are clean. If they have one or the other but not both, they are unclean. 

God is giving us these instructions because He is holy and wants us to be holy. If we break this rule and eat one of these animals, it is not an eternal curse. You are simply unclean until evening. If we have to touch a dead animal, it doesn’t say we are unclean until morning or for seven days, but only until that evening after cleaning ourselves and our clothes. 

Sunset is the beginning of a new day in the Bible. That is why one is only unclean until evening when dealing with dead bodies. God gives us a new beginning. 

It is not a sin to bury dead animals or people. God is making a point about life and death. God is about life, not death. Death does not bring God any joy at all. 

God does not say that we will never be in a situation where we will be exposed to uncleanliness. Exposure to uncleanliness is a part of being in this world. God is just giving us a simple object lesson about how to go from unclean to clean, from unholy to holy. 

It is more difficult to clean your mind, spirit than your hands. We can clean your hearts and spirits in one day to renew ourselves but we have to make sure we are clean and remain clean. We can only do that with the tools God gave us. We can’t become holy in our own way, only in God’s way.

We are not holy because we don’t eat pigs and turtles. It’s not abut the animals, it’s all about God. 

“‘For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. And you shall not make yourselves unclean with any of the swarming things that swarm on the earth. For I am the LORD who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God; thus you shall be holy, for I am holy.'” (Lev. 11:44–45)

Apostle Paul said in Rom. 14:10-15 tells us that animals are not in and of themselves unclean. God originally made everything “very good” in Genesis 1. Don’t look down on the person who eats pork or keeps Sunday holy. Don’t judge them. You also once ate pork and keep Sunday or could have easily done so if raised that way. What did God do for you? He showed you the truth and brought you to it. He taught you how to be clean and holy. You did not become clean and holy because of yourself but because of Him. 

We can obey God’s Torah. It’s not that hard. The children of Israel were brought out of the land of Egypt, which represents sin and bondage. He elevated them to freedom, and made them higher than Egypt. He wants Israel to become a kingdom of priests. If we don’t think we can be this it’s because our faith in God is lacking. 

Speaker: Richard Agee. Reader: Jeff. Summary: Tammy. 


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