Friday, October 06, 2023

2023.10.06 Hopewell @Home ▫ Leviticus 11

Read Leviticus 11

Questions from the Scripture text: To whom does YHWH now speak (Leviticus 11:1)? To whom are they to speak (Leviticus 11:2)? Regulating what? Which sort of animal may they eat in Leviticus 11:3? Which ones are excluded (Leviticus 11:4-7)? What else mayn’t they do (Leviticus 11:8)? Why not? What category of animal does He address next (Leviticus 11:9)? Which ones may they eat? Which ones mayn’t they (Leviticus 11:10)? What are these unclean called three times in Leviticus 11:10-12? How does this transition to the next category (Leviticus 11:13)? Which category is it? Which are prohibited (Leviticus 11:14-18)? What else is an abomination (Leviticus 11:20Leviticus 11:23)? What must a flying insect have to be permitted (Leviticus 11:21)? Which ones are these (Leviticus 11:22)? What else did the carcass of one of the forbidden animals do to an Israelite (Leviticus 11:24)? For how long will they be unclean? What must they do (Leviticus 11:25Leviticus 11:28)? Which animals’ carcasses do this to them (Leviticus 11:26-27Leviticus 11:29-31)? What else can be made unclean by them, in what way (Leviticus 11:32)? What must be done to it? How long is it unclean? What mayn’t be cleansed by washing (Leviticus 11:33)? What else becomes unclean (Leviticus 11:34)? What else becomes unclean in this way and must be broken down (Leviticus 11:35)? What can “survive” this contact (Leviticus 11:36)? What else can be defiled in this way (Leviticus 11:37-38)? What if a permitted animal dies of its own (Leviticus 11:39-40)? What else are an abomination (Leviticus 11:41-43)? What is the stated reason for these prohibitions in Leviticus 11:44? Why must they consecrate themselves? Why must they keep themselves clean? What has this God done (Leviticus 11:45)? In order to do/be what (Whom!)? Obligating them to what? Why? What does God call this law in Leviticus 11:46? What two ways is the distinction itself described (Leviticus 11:47)?

Why is it so dangerous to be near God? Leviticus 11 looks forward to the evening sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these forty-seven verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that there is great danger in belonging to and drawing near to the holy God because those who do so must be holy themselves

Regulations that were meant to expire. The main point of chapters11–15 is in Leviticus 11:44-45: “For I am YHWH your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy. Neither shall you defile yourselves with any creeping thing that creeps on the earth. For I am YHWH who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.” This is the great reason to “distinguish between the unclean and the clean” (Leviticus 11:47, cf. Leviticus 10:10). 

Jesus teaches us that what goes into the mouth doesn’t defile (cf. Matthew 15:11), because it goes into the stomach and is eliminated (cf. Matthew 15:17). This ought to have been obvious to Israel in Leviticus 11, even if many, even Christians, even today do not see it. Some point out how pork, or birds of prey, can pose health risks. Others come up with other explanations of the various selections of clean vs unclean in this chapter. But no explanation in the animals themselves can account for the Lord declaring all foods clean with the establishing of the pan-national church under Christ (cf. Acts 10:12–15). If they caused physical or spiritual harm, the Lord would not now open His people up to that harm in connection with the coming of His Son!

Regulations that point us not to themselves but to Christ. But we don’t need to go outside the text for the reason for these laws. The reason is not difficult to find. It is a lesson that is plain in Christ, but which God gave His people the ceremonial law to teach them until Christ came (cf. Galatians 3:19–24). They knew that the blood of bulls and goats could not cleanse sin (cf. Hebrews 10:1–10), but they offered them anyway. Why? Because the God Who had promised the Seed, the God Who was saving them through faith in Himself and that Seed, had given them the commandments for those sacrifices. 

So also here in Leviticus 11, what defiled an Israelite who violated these food laws, or who touched the wrong sort of carcass, was that it violated the cleanliness code that the Lord Himself had given them. The urgency of worshiping exactly according to YHWH’s instruction had just been pressed by the deaths of Nadab and Abihu. There was no mistaking how important it was that they not become unclean and abominable to the Lord! 

But Christ is the substance of both worship law and food law. Union with Him consecrates a believer unto God in that believer’s very being. And from that union with Christ comes also the holiness of character and conduct that are necessary in order to see the Lord (cf. Psalm 15; Psalm 24:3–4; Matthew 5:8; Hebrews 12:14; 1 John 3:2–3). Oh how absolutely necessary holiness is!

Continual, personal consecration (devotion!). And so the Lord made it a huge part of His people’s lives just to be careful about what they touched or what they ate. Every moment of every day was governed by this rule: “you shall be holy, for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:44Leviticus 11:45). He says to them “I am YHWH your God” (Leviticus 11:44) … “I am YHWH Who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God” (Leviticus 11:45). The Lord has saved us so that we would be His own covenant people, and He would be our own covenant God. Every moment of every day is about belonging to Him!

Now that Christ has come, there is no need for these laws. For, we live by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom our lives are inseparably united. We are continually accompanied by, indeed indwelt by, His Holy Spirit. We have something much stronger than food laws and cleanliness code to remind us constantly of the importance of being a consecrated people. 

For us, holiness includes (of course) obedience to all of God’s holy, moral law—the law that He inscribed with His finger, the law that is an expression of all of the applications to our character of the implications of His own character. But the food laws and cleanliness code in this chapter teach us that holiness is more than living according to rules. It is a consecration of each moment, a continual mindfulness of the fact that God has saved us to make Himself ours. Holiness is continually devoting oneself to the Lord in all that we do! A continual devotion of love to God, love to brother, and love to neighbor.

How does holiness help you to enjoy fellowship with God now? How does it help you enjoy Him forever?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we thank You for saving us in order to be our God. Grant, by Your Spirit, that we would continually delight to offer our lives unto You as Your people, through Jesus Christ, through Whom we ask it, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP51B “From My Sins, O Hide Your Face” or TPH274 “Jesus, My Great High Priest”

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