Leviticus 11 - The big points
1) The Law of clean versus unclean animals served to set the children of Israel apart. God required his people to act, eat and be different.
2) The dietary laws also served as health laws. They were restricted from eating that which caused diseases.
3) The practice of ceremonial uncleanness also served to protect them from diseases.
**Fun fact: in 1350, when 25% of Europe died from the Black Death aka bubonic plague the Jewish communities were largely untouched because they practiced the Levitical laws.
God has laid down his laws: this is what you’re allowed to eat. He doesn’t explain why certain animals should not be eaten, only that they are unclean and should not be eaten.
There were some he said that should not even be touched. Let’s see if we can find the grace in this chapter.
At first glance it may seem that God was arbitrary. He was God and he had the right to tell his people what to eat. While that is true, we need to also remember that he is God and he’s very good at being God.
We have to remember that he made us and so he knows our bodies intimately. He knows what foods we can digest easily and the impact that everything we consume has on the body.
He created every animal. He knows their habitats. He knew their diets and their behavior. Long after we are asleep God is awake and he sees everything.
See, he knew that pigs would eat pretty much anything, including plants, larvae and worms. Pigs are now considered an intermediate host for several parasitic organisms, some of which can result in tapeworm infestation.
One of these worms, the Taenia solium, grows to about 2.5 m in length, and is found in poorly cooked pork. He knew that when we eat the flesh, we ingested the worms and voila! We’re sick.
God knew that that shellfish such as clams, molluscs, oysters, shrimp and lobster would be particular helpful in keeping the oceans free from contaminants.
Obviously God also knew that at some point in the earth's history, the ocean would be filled with dangerous things. Things that if eaten would make us sick - very sick.
God knew that vultures (and most of the birds excluded) preferred a diet of carrion. Now that’s just a fancy word for saying “decaying flesh of dead animals”. Not just dead. Decayed. Eww!
Our God doesn’t make any mistakes. The Israelites didn’t have health inspectors (except the priests). They didn’t have sanitation guidelines or sterile environments and so he tried to protect his people from exposure.
As Jamaicans like to say, “To avoid the germs you boil the water.” That’s just our way of saying “prevention is better than cure”.
Now back to the grace – did you see it? What we eat affects our health. It has even been shown to affect our mood and mental alertness. Sick people are not happy people. Unhappy people are not good at worship, or fellowship.
God wanted his people to be happy and healthy. Isn’t that because of his graciousness?
Lord, thank you for caring about every aspect of life – even my diet. Help me to remove those things that are harmful to my health and to do those things that will keep me healthy and happy. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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