Leviticus 11

Sunday Evening Bible Study

August 24, 1997


Our last study had us looking at the initial worship time when the tabernacle was set up.

Moses and Aaron had finished the first sacrifices, and God sent fire from heaven to consume the offerings.

Aaron's sons, Nadab and Abihu, came rushing into the holy place, thinking they should be doing something, and started burning incense that God had not asked for.

God sent fire again, and toasted Nadab and Abihu.

At that time, God spoke to Aaron:

(Lev 10:8-11 KJV) And the LORD spake unto Aaron, saying, {9} Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations: {10} And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean; {11} And that ye may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the LORD hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses.

It has been suggested that Nadab and Abihu may have been tipping the bottle a little, and were unable to discern what was appropriate and what wasn't.

No matter what had actually happened, it is apparent that Nadab and Abihu had not developed a very good sense of holiness, and they paid a high price for it.

I think it's because of this issue of abused holiness, that we get into the next chapter, dealing with clean and unclean practices.

Leviticus 11

:1-8 Earth bound creatures

Requirement for eating: The animal must split the hoof and chew the cud.

Those not qualified:

Camel, rock badger, rabbit, pig.

Certain animals were not to be eaten because they were "unclean"

This concept of being "unclean" is what we might call a "ceremonial" uncleanness.

The implications of being "unclean"

Being unclean wasn't quite like sinning, but very close.

There was a consequence to being unclean.

Le 7:21 Moreover the soul that shall touch any unclean [thing, as] the uncleanness of man, or [any] unclean beast, or any abominable unclean [thing], and eat of the flesh of the sacrifice of peace offerings, which [pertain] unto the LORD, even that soul shall be cut off from his people.

If you were involved in unclean things, you could not participate in worship, and you could not participate in fellowship with God (the peace offering).

We might call this a "ceremonial" uncleanness.

It's not just talking about germs and disease.

There was a distinction between clean and unclean all the way back to Noah, way before Moses' time:

Ge 7:1-2 And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation. 2 Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that [are] not clean by two, the male and his female.

God didn't tell Noah a lot about which animals were clean and which were unclean.

Apparently, this was something that Noah already understood.

Yet by Moses' day, things weren't so clear anymore.

I think it was because the Israelites had spent too much time in the worldly land of Egypt.

They no longer understood the differences between clean and unclean.


Be careful about being too much in the world.

You lose your ability to discern what is pleasing to the Lord and what isn't.

More about this later.

:9-12 Water creatures

Requirement for eating: The animal must have both fins and scales.

Examples of those which don't qualify: Shrimp, lobster, oysters, clams. Rats!

:13-19 Flying creatures

No qualifications given, just specific birds listed.

Note: The unclean birds listed are scavengers generally.

:20-23 Flying insects

Most are inedible with these exceptions...

You can eat locusts, crickets, and grasshopper!

:24-28 Carcasses of unclean animals

You can't eat them.

You become unclean just by touching their carcass.

:29-38 Swarming things

They are unclean

Examples: Moles, mice, lizards, crocodiles...

If their dead carcass falls on anything, that too becomes unclean.

If you find a dead mouse in your flour bin, you have to throw out the flour.

:39-40 Carcasses of clean animals

You can't eat steak if the cow dies before you slaughter it.

:41-47 Purpose of Dietary Laws

The specific dietary restrictions no longer apply to us.

MAR 7:15-23 there is nothing outside the man which going into him can defile him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man. 16 ["If any man has ears to hear, let him hear."] 17 And when leaving the multitude, He had entered the house, His disciples questioned Him about the parable. 18 And He *said to them, "Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him; 19 because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated? "({Thus He} declared all foods clean.) 20 And He was saying, "That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. 21 "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22 deeds of coveting {and} wickedness, {as well as} deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride {and} foolishness. 23 "All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man."

From the time of Jesus, it has become clear that it's not what goes into a person by way of food that makes them spiritually unclean.

But I see these dietary laws as being a way of showing the people that God has a different way of life for His people, different from the world.

We also see this in Acts 10; 1Ti 4:1-5; Col. 2:16-23

Paul wrote:

(Rom 14:17 KJV) For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

When you read through these dietary laws, don't get so caught up in the details that you miss the bigger picture, that God is teaching His people to follow Him.

Beyond this, there are a couple of reasons for these laws.

1. Health reasons

Most of the animals on the "unclean" list were scavengers, carriers of disease.

In the middle ages, during the "black plague", many people died from the bubonic plague, except the Jews.

Some believed this proved that it was a Jewish plot.

What it actually proved was the superiority of their way of life, demonstrated by these dietary laws.

God wanted His people healthier than the rest.

In a way, some of these dietary laws aren't all that bad for us!

2. Holiness

This is the reason that God specifically gives.

vs.43 - He doesn't want us rendering ourselves "detestable" by the things around us.

He wants His people to be Holy, because He is Holy.

He wants us to be different, set apart from the ways of the world, and learning to eat what God asks us to eat is a way of teaching us to learn to depend on God for knowing what is right.

Like Father, like son...

(1 Pet 1:13-16 KJV) Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; {14} As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: {15} But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; {16} Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

Being holy carries the idea of departing from sin, being separate from the world.

(2 Cor 6:14-7:1 KJV) Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? {15} And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? {16} And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. {17} Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, {18} And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. 7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

Some people want to know just how much they can do, and still call themselves Christians.

God's desire is that we learn to get as far away from sin as possible.

We have to be careful here, because this talk can border on legalism if we're not careful.

But God's desire is that we learn the sensitivity in the Spirit as to what is pleasing to Him and what isn't.

Examples of applying the lesson of uncleanness

To me, the most obvious lessons are what we feed our minds.

Have we learned discernment as to what is "clean" and what is "unclean" before God?

Or are we so used to the things of the world, that nothing bothers us anymore.

When we have the attitude that, "hey, at least I'm in church, and I'm singing, isn't that good enough?" I think it's kind of like offering strange fire. God wants our worship coming from a heart of love towards him, not because we're just following a crowd of musicians.

When a worship leader picks a list of songs because they "sound cool", rather than picking a list of songs because they express what the Spirit wishes to convey, it's like touching the unclean thing.

When I study for a message, you can spend lots of time talking about all sorts of issues, but God wants me to be listening to the message the HE has for the people, not the message I have in mind. When I talk about the things I want to talk about instead of what's on God's heart, I'm touching an unclean thing.

Are you getting a feel for this?

God wants us to develop a sensitivity to Him, a desire to be pleasing to Him.