One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Thursday, February 21, 2013: Leviticus 11:1-12:8
These also shall be unclean to you among the creeping things that creep on the earth: the mole, the mouse, and the large lizard after its kind; the gecko, the monitor lizard, and the chameleon." Leviticus 11:29-30 (NKJV)
The above verses are but two in a long list of various animals that were NOT TO BE EATEN in ancient Israel -- lizards, mice, moles, etc. The real question should be, "Who wants to eat them anyway?!"
The larger question concerns all these dietary laws in the book of Leviticus. Why are they there, and what was their purpose? Are they to be followed legalistically or do they have a broader meaning and context?
Here's the quick answer: All laws in the Old Testament fall into four categories -- the moral law, the spiritual law, the practical law, and the ceremonial law. Without getting too technical, the first two of these must still be followed in terms of a godly life (sanctification). Example: don't steal, don't commit adultery, don't worship idols.
The second two have varying degrees of application today. The ceremonial law is still in effect, but it is FULFILLED IN JESUS. He is our Passover Lamb! We do not need to go through various ceremonial procedures to come into relationship to God! Jesus paid the price and we enter by faith. All those ceremonies were shadows pointing toward Jesus. The ceremonial law is only still in effect IN JESUS.
The practical law is another story. It is wonderful that our God reached down into history and cared deeply about the daily condition of His people. He knew that the fallen world was full of diseases and dangers. Therefore, He made provision because of the development at that time of the ability to care for human needs (example: leprosy, sanitation, etc.). This is the case for many of the practical laws of the Old Testament. They are simply good advice given concerning sanitary practices and eating certain animals.
For example: the most common dietary prohibition in the Old Testament is concerning pork. The reason is that there was serious concern about the spread of disease through pork. It is a historic fact. Such things as trichinosis and other diseases have been real health hazards. Today, advances in food care have practically eliminated such concerns.
The real issue is this: were dietary and sanitary prohibitions in the Old Testament ceremonial or practical. The answer is clear: They were practical and in no way made a person more acceptable to God. Jesus was crystal clear about this. Such passages as Matthew 15:1-11 directly address ceremonial washing of hands and concludes with a powerful declaration that what you EAT does not defile you (affect your spiritual holiness). In the New Testament only one thing makes us acceptable: THE BLOOD OF JESUS.
Dietary considerations today are a matter of health concern, not holiness before God. With that in mind, what do you think you should do about your diet today?