SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- In this chapter God tells Moses and Aaron what types of foods he was permitting the Israelites to eat and what types he was prohibiting. Based on a variety of factors, God declared some animals "clean" to eat, and others as "unclean." The reason God gives is that he is holy, and his people need to be holy as well (verse 43-45).
- In the New Testament, these prohibitions against eating certain animals is lifted. Jesus declared all foods clean in Mark 7:18-19. In Acts 10:9-16, God tells Peter that all animals were now to be considered "clean" to eat. This is reiterated in Romans 14:14.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- The obvious question is: why? Why the prohibitions? And why were they reversed in the New Testament?
- So why the prohibitions? The honest answer is that we do't know for sure.
- Some believe, and there may be some evidence to suggest, that these rules were all based on health considerations. That the animals God prohibited were more likely at the time to carry diseases, and so God was protecting the health of his people.
- Another possibility is that as this new nation of God's people was being established, God wanted it to be clear to them that they were not to be like other people and their neighboring nations. Most other nations at this time were full of idolatry and evil practices (child sacrifices, etc.) and perhaps God was simply trying to keep his people as distinct as possible.
- Again, the reality is we don't know. But we do know that God said it. And that should have been enough for them, and for us. God said so.
- Having a relationship with God means there will be times when we just don't understand. God says to us, in Isaiah 55:8-9, "'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts.'" At times we won't understand things. And at those times we need to ask ourselves some important questions, like: Is God God? Does He have infinite wisdom? Is he trustworthy?
- If he's God, and we're not, we shouldn't expect to understand everything about him.
- If he is the source of infinite wisdom, and our wisdom is very limited, then we should expect that there will be things he says that we cannot fully grasp.
- But if he is trustworthy, and he is, then we should trust him, even when we find his ways confusing.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- Where in your life are you struggling to understand God? What is it that God has asked you to do (tithe? tell your friends about Jesus?) or not do (don't get drunk? don't have sex till you're married?) that confuses you? Whatever it is: Is God God? Does He have infinite wisdom? And is he trustworthy? Will you obey him because he's God, even if you don't understand? Will you trust him, because he loves you and is wise?