Making sense of Leviticus 11-15
Making sense of Leviticus 11-15
This past week our Bible reading was Leviticus 11-15.
Some of you might have found these chapters 'boring' and wondered about the relevancy of such things;
others might have thought some parts to be sexist in nature; some of you might have been grossed out by
the topics, a few of you might even have forgotten to read Leviticus 11-15 :)
FACT: We owe a great debt to Leviticus 11-15
a. The roots of modern medicine springs from Leviticus 11-15.
Until 100 years ago, the quarantine and sanitary procedures of these chapters represented the best
practices available. What is now standard quarantine and sanitary procedures was the standard 3500 years
ago in Israel.
b. Science and it's classification of animals springs from Leviticus 11-15
In Chapter 11 wherein God outlines what the Israelites may eat and not eat, the first classification of
animals is given. While the classification grouping is different than today (for the bat is lumped in with
birds) the point is, classification was going on; i.e birds, insects, fish, reptiles, animals
c. The field of nutrition and healthy eating springs from Leviticus 11-15
In distinguishing between clean and unclean animals and what the Israelites were allowed to eat and not
to eat, God established dietary guidelines for his people that would have resulted in them living healthier
lives. In North America, it wasn't until the 1980's that most of today's dietary guidelines were introduced.
Interesting about clean/unclean foods: The animals, fish and other marine life, insects, birds, reptiles that
the Israelites were forbidden to eat were typically garbage eaters or given to eating the flesh of a dead
animal. The wisdom of not eating such a creature-- especially before the day of temperature probes for
cooking is obvious.
Contrary to the view of some, the regulations of Leviticus are not sexist
Take a look with me at Leviticus 12 (READ text)
A skeptic will look at this text and get all bent out of shape over the instructions that a woman was
unable to go to the Tabernacle - where God presenced Himself in a special way- for 33 days for the birth of
a boy and for 66 days for the birth of a baby girl.
On a practical level-- giving a woman time after the birth of her child to recover, bond with the child, and
stay at home is a very important thing.
Further: As it regards staying home longer after the birth of a girl, there is a difference when it comes to
carrying a male versus a female. Apparently - on average- in the third trimester of a woman's pregnancy,
more HCG hormone is released/used when it comes to girls. It has been proposed that recovery times are
longer for the woman when it comes to baby girls-- getting ones hormone levels back in order takes time.
(check out Oxford Journals 17 no 2 October 2001 pages 485-489. Article entitled "Maternal Serum HCG is
higher in the presence of a fetus....)
The point: The Bible is not "sexist" or "anti woman". The Bible distinguishes between and honours both
men and women and tells us that there are differences between us. The Bible makes accommodation for
differences in gender and boldly tells us that there are roles that come with gender.
For further study: Look up the practice of "churching" dating back several hundred years and relating to
Leviticus 12. At these ceremonies new mothers were welcomed back to church at the end of 40 days of
home time. The ceremony was for women and at their request. It was not forced on them.
"In Christian tradition the Churching of Women is the ceremony wherein a blessing is given to mothers
after recovery from childbirth. (40 days after birth) The ceremony includes thanksgiving for the woman's
survival of childbirth, and is performed even when the child is stillborn, or has died unbaptized. Although
the ceremony itself contains no elements of ritual purification, it was related to Jewish practice as noted in
Leviticus 12:2-8, where women were purified after giving birth"
3. The regulations of Leviticus 11-15 and the distinction between "clean" and "unclean" had to to
with properly relating to and approaching God
As groundbreaking, advanced, and beneficial as the instructions, regulations, and commands of Leviticus
11-15 are, the reason of first importance for God giving them to the Israelites had to do with their properly
relating to and approaching Him- WHO DWELT IN THEIR MIDST AT THE TABERNACLE
"clean" 31 times "unclean" 74 times in Leviticus 11-15
In view is ceremonial cleanness. To be ceremonial unclean did not mean that one had sinned. It just
meant that one was not qualified to go to where God was and approach Him.
READ Leviticus 11:41-47
41"'Every creature that moves along the ground is to be regarded as unclean; it is not to be eaten. 42 You
are not to eat any creature that moves along the ground, whether it moves on its belly or walks on all
fours or on many feet; it is unclean. 43 Do not defile yourselves by any of these creatures. Do not make
yourselves unclean by means of them or be made unclean by them. 44 I am the Lord your God; consecrate
yourselves and be holy, because I am holy. Do not make yourselves unclean by any creature that moves
along the ground. 45 I am the Lord, who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy,
because I am holy. 46 "'These are the regulations concerning animals, birds, every living thing that moves
about in the water and every creature that moves along the ground. 47 You must distinguish between the
unclean and the clean, between living creatures that may be eaten and those that may not be eaten.'"
Another very fascinating verse: Leviticus 15:31 "You must keep the Israelites separate from things that
make them unclean, so they will not die in their uncleanness for defiling my dwelling place, which among
Ultimately all the instructions were about being HOLY
A BIG OBSERVATION:
For an Israelite to truly be in the right 'place' to go to the Tabernacle to worship and meet with God, they
had to be really careful. Add to that: it was really hard to be right and qualified to go and meet with Him
i.e eat the right food
i.e no sex before hand
i.e no communicable diseases
i.e no running sores
i.e not having touched a dead body (animal or otherwise)
i.e not having touched someone or something classified as ceremoniously unclean (the list is long)
Add to all this: You couldn't show up at the Tabernacle emptied handed! A gift, a sacrifice required (by
God's grace, geared to income)
Point: Such highlights the amazing work of Christ - who reconciles those who put their faith in Him, to God
and grants us constant access to the Father
RELATING LEVITICUS 11-15 TO JESUS
1. JESUS MAKES UNCLEAN PEOPLE CLEAN
Jesus cleanses us of all our sins. He washes away our sins. He qualifies us to stand before the Father
In Christ our sins are washed away
1 John 1:9 says; "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us
from all unrighteousness."
Isaiah 1:18 says; ""Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.
1 Corinthians 6:11 says; "And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified,
you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."
2. BECAUSE OF JESUS WE HAVE UNHINDERED ACCESS TO GOD THE FATHER
We no longer kept at a distance-- such is because of the sacrificial work of Christ and his work as our
Great High Priest (Hebrews 7)
Matthew 27:51 tells us that when Jesus gave up his spirit that the curtain of the temple was torn in two
from top to bottom. Such indicates that a new and better way of coming to the Father. No longer were
daily sacrifices for sin needed. Jesus was the once for all perfect sacrifice for sins.
Now, in Christ, we can boldly approach the throne of God-- in prayer, worship, for fellowship, with all of our
James 4:8 God's invitation: "Draw near to me and I will draw near to you"
3. BECAUSE OF JESUS, WE CAN EAT-- OR NOT EAT-- ANY ANIMAL/FISH/INSECT/REPTILE WE
No longer is their clean or unclean food
Acts 10 details this truth for us -- Peter has a vision from God about eating unclean animals. He protests
but God tells him to eat. Such coincided with a Gentile named Cornelius coming to his door-- whom Peter
welcomed and ate with.
4. IN CHRIST WE ARE MADE HOLY
In 1 Peter 1:15-16 it says; "But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is
written: "Be holy, because I am holy."
We are also called to be Holy. Such is God's enduring command
Romans 5 teaches us that the righteousness of Christ has been imputed to us who have put our faith in
Christ as Savior. Hence we can stand before and approach God. Hence we will not be consumed.
We our to live up to our calling and place in Christ by responding from our hearts and pursuing holiness in
our lives. Hence our memory verse from last month "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be
transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-his
good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2
God's enduring call: Be holy
5. Our response: LET'S GIVE THANKS FOR THE FREEDOM AND GRACE THAT ARE OURS IN CHRIST
We are no longer under law but under grace. Let us then not give in to sin-- for we are no longer slaves to
it; rather let us pursue our relationship with God and holiness. See Romans 6