Leviticus 11-13, Psalm 33
So many look at the laws handed down from God to the Israelites as arbitrary and irrelevant. It is so easy to puff up our level of intelligence when in reality we stand in ignorance. Though we follow the law of grace, God's law was indeed good. When the Bubonic Plague killed one out four Europeans, the Jewish community was remarkably immune. Because they followed the sanitary regulations of the Old Testament, not knowing the reason for them but simply being obedient to them, the Jews were protected to a remarkable degree. Though Moses and the physicians in Egypt knew nothing about parasites and bacteria, God knew. God knew of trichinosis in swine, the people didn't. In 1885, Dr. Noel de Mussy in a presentation at the Paris Academy of Medicine said, "The idea of parasitic and infectious maladies, which has conquered so great a position in modern pathology, appears to have greatly occupied the mind of Moses and to have dominated all his hygienic rules. He excluded from Hebrew dietary animals particularly liable to parasites; and as it is in the blood, that the germs and spores of infectious disease circulate, he orders that they must be drained of their blood before serving for food." `
In Leviticus 11:2 we read, "Speak to the children of Israel, saying, 'These are the animals which you may eat among all the animals that are on the earth:". In 11:4 we read, "Nevertheless these you shall not eat among those that chew the cud or those that have cloven hooves: the camel, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you;". We in ignorance could say that this seems arbitrary, but history records the intestinal diseases that afflicted the ethnic groups which ate the meat of camels. We read in Leviticus 12:2,4 that "If a woman has conceived, and borne a male child, then she shall be unclean for seven days;...She shall then continue in the blood of her purification thirty-three days...". In 12:5, we read, "But if she bears a female child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her customary impurity, and she shall continue in the blood of her purification sixty-six days." The majority of ancient cultures required women to return to their daily chores immediately after childbirth. The ritualistic rules surrounding childbirth enabled Jewish women a period of time to recuperate during this time of purification while they regained their strength and bonded with their baby.
Our children, once they reach a certain age, feel the necessity to ask us why before obeying. But we are often the same concerning the things of God. We should obey God's commands even when we don't understand because His commands are always for our good. His ways are so much higher than our ways. We read in Matthew 7:11, "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!" Though we do not need to follow the dietary and ritualistic rules passed on to the Jewish people they were both good and they served to consecrate or separate them from the surrounding pagan cultures. As we enter the time of grace, Jesus said in Matthew 15:11, "Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man." By the time Peter gets the series of visions in Acts 10:9-16, allowing him to eat food previously considered unclean it was to prepare him for the next chapter in God's plan or story. While the initial rules were to preserve and separate the Jewish people, it was now time to take the gospel message to the unsaved Gentile world. God's rules and ways are never arbitrary, but all are in place to accomplish His perfect will.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: