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Friday, February 19, 2016

Weird Instructions or Manifest Wisdom?

Kids ask a lot of “Why?” questions. In Leviticus God gives a lot of instructions that naturally lead to asking “Why?” questions. Like:
  • Why is is permissible to eat only animals with divided hooves and that chew the cud?
  • Why must only sea creatures with fins and scales be eaten?
  • Why are certain birds approved for eating while others are not?
  • Why are certain insects on the approved eating list while others are left off?
  • Why is a woman unclean for eighty days when she has a girl child and only forty days when she has a boy child?
  • Why must a person be quarantined for seven days if he has a boil or skin infections?  

God gives such instructions to Israel for a number of reasons:
  1. God is wiser than man. God is all-knowing and man is limited to what he has experienced and what has been passed down to him from previous generations. Will His people acknowledge their limitations?
  2. To teach His people to trust Him. God is good and only does good. Will His people trust Him with what He doesn’t explain?
  3. To develop a culture of cleanness. Will His people live selfishly or lay down their lives for the good of the community? 
  4. To create a teaching/learning environment for parents/children. Will His people use the parameters that God establishes for them to teach their children about God, sin, separation, and covenant identity? 
  5. To distinguish His people from the peoples around them. Will His people allow God to leave His fingerprints all over their lives so that peoples around them may yearn to have such a God as their own?
  6. To establish a culture of God-awareness. Will His people allow the rules that He gives to remind them that they are not their own, that they’ve been bought with a price?
Rules build a culture where people feel safe and thrive personally and communally. 

Why do we do what we do? Because of whose we are. Because God is good. He only does good, therefore, any instruction given by Him is ultimately for my good and for the good of the community in which I live.

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"These are the regulations concerning animals, birds, every living thing that moves in the water and every creature that moves about on the ground. You must distinguish between the unclean and the clean, between living creatures that may be eaten and those that may not be eaten." (Leviticus 11:46-47)

Leviticus teaches us just how much faith is the foundation of our walk with God. Long before scientist were around to discover bacteria, germs, and the need for hygiene God made provision for the health of His people. His instructions forbade the eating of certain animals, the touching of dead animals, and even the guarding against impurities found in blood. Because the laws of the people around them did not contain these same prohibitions they must have seemed strange to the Israelites. God required that His people simply trust that He knew what was best. After all this is the heart of faith.

Truths mined from Leviticus 11-13:
  • A specific list of unclean animals is given to Israel from which they cannot eat reminding the people daily that they were a "people separated unto God".
  • Touching a dead animal makes a person unclean (except for those being offered in the tabernacle) until he has ceremonially washed and the day has come to a close demonstrating that one must be vigilant in his/her personal life to remain undefiled.
  • All household articles coming into contact with certain dead animals became unclean and had to be either destroyed or had to be cleansed. This regulation demonstrates that God requires that His people not be defiled like the nations around them.
  • The passing of so much blood/dead tissue after childbirth made a woman unclean. God's command gave her time to recuperate from the trauma that childbirth inflicts upon the human body. This instruction demonstrates God's care for women.
  • Contagious skin diseases (symbolic of sin) prohibited the bearer from living among others in the camp. This section on skin diseases demonstrates the separation that defilement requires.
Far from being an uninteresting code book of weird instructions Leviticus is actually years in advance of science. God protects His people from germs, bacteria, and disease through simple laws. God truly fulfills the promise that He made in the desert when He told the children of Israel that "If you obey my laws I will put none of these diseases on you that plague the Egyptians."

So, don't ignore or disobey God when He speaks. He speaks and guides because He KNOWS stuff!

Questions for today's Chronological reading:
Leviticus 11:1-13:46
  • List the three groups of animals listed in chapter 11.
  • How do the foods laws help the people to remember whose they are?
  • What is it about childbirth that makes the mother unclean?
  • Why is it that God is seemingly so hard on those with certain skin diseases?
  • What does "spending time outside of the camp" symbolize?
  • What were those with skin diseases responsible to do when around others?
  • What does this teach you about sin? The influence of others?
Turning truth into prayer
Ask the Lord to show you where you've allowed unholy habits to enter your life.