On this Monday, July 8, 2019, perhaps you are at the beach, work, or home. Yet wherever you are, you have to eat. Are you contemplating your meal choices for today? Have you asked the Lord, “What’s for dinner? Personally, I don’t often invite the Lord into these specific choices. I may ask a blessing over the food, but not usually in the grocery or in the preparation. Yet in our reading today, the Lord is using the everydayness of the Israelites’ food choices to call them to holiness. How did food choices make the Israelites holy or clean? God was teaching them that to be His people they needed to be set apart in all things, big or small. Would they obey in the little things? Would they trust God that His way was best? As they did, as we do, God’s grand plan of redemption continues to unfold.
In Genesis 2, God told Adam, You can eat from any tree in the garden; but not the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, or they would die. In Genesis 3, after Adam and Eve disobeyed, God now says, “You will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food.” Fast forward to Genesis 8 and here, after God’s great rescue of Noah and his family, Noah sacrifices some of all the clean animals to the Lord. God then declares to Noah, “Everything that lives and moves will be food for you, Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.” The Passover in Exodus 12 continues the guidance on how God’s people were to eat and then remember at specific time in His story. As God’s people are brought out of Egypt, in Leviticus, they would have a prescribed pattern on what to eat, and how to eat it in order to have access to the Lord. This pattern we are reading and studying below was in place for a long time. So long that by the time we get to Peter in Acts 10, he is more than surprised that God is doing a new thing.
Just as God made one final sacrifice in Jesus, changing the sacrificial system forever, he would now change what was allowed for his people to eat. Imagine Peter’s surprise when he has this interaction with the Lord in 10:10. “10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. 13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”
14 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”
15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
God has a plan of redemption that is unfolding. He cares about the little things. He wants us to listen and obey; to be set apart for Him. Although, “What’s for dinner?” is no longer prescribed, our bodies and what we put in them matters to the Lord so we can be set apart for Him. He gives us freedom through His Son, Jesus. However does the everydayness of what we see, hear, touch, and taste, glorify the Lord? Kim
The following guide is a resource for your personal time of abiding with the Lord and for your Community Group when you meet. It can also be used for times with family or friends around the table. See below for a helpful commentary on today’s reading.
VISION + STORIES- Take time to connect (Highs and Lows) and be reminded of our shared vision- We are a people abiding in Christ, to join His vision of transformation in our homes, neighborhoods, work places and city.
_ What is one way you see the Lord working in the lives of those you are walking with to discover the gospel?
SING + PRAY- Take some time for song (guitar, hymn, acapella or read a Psalm) and extended prayer as an individual/community. A simple path of prayer is to pray through one of the Psalms as a group or use the acronym ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication).
DISCOVER (IN LARGE GROUP)
+ WHAT is this passage saying and what is a key truth or thought that I/we learn? (Use the questions interspersed through the passage to help make additional observations to clarify the main point)
[ Leviticus 11:1-47 ]
And the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying to them, 2 “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, These are the living things that you may eat among all the animals that are on the earth. 3 Whatever parts the hoof and is cloven-footed and chews the cud, among the animals, you may eat. 4 Nevertheless, among those that chew the cud or part the hoof, you shall not eat these: The camel, because it chews the cud but does not part the hoof, is unclean to you. 5 And the rock badger, because it chews the cud but does not part the hoof, is unclean to you. 6 And the hare, because it chews the cud but does not part the hoof, is unclean to you. 7 And the pig, because it parts the hoof and is cloven-footed but does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. 8 You shall not eat any of their flesh, and you shall not touch their carcasses; they are unclean to you.
_ Who does God address directly to educate the people about what He requires? Verse 1
9 “These you may eat, of all that are in the waters. Everything in the waters that has fins and scales, whether in the seas or in the rivers, you may eat. 10 But anything in the seas or the rivers that does not have fins and scales, of the swarming creatures in the waters and of the living creatures that are in the waters, is detestable to you. 11 You shall regard them as detestable; you shall not eat any of their flesh, and you shall detest their carcasses. 12 Everything in the waters that does not have fins and scales is detestable to you.
13 “And these you shall detest among the birds; they shall not be eaten; they are detestable: the eagle, the bearded vulture, the black vulture, 14 the kite, the falcon of any kind, 15 every raven of any kind, 16 the ostrich, the nighthawk, the sea gull, the hawk of any kind, 17 the little owl, the cormorant, the short-eared owl, 18 the barn owl, the tawny owl, the carrion vulture, 19 the stork, the heron of any kind, the hoopoe, and the bat.
20 “All winged insects that go on all fours are detestable to you. 21 Yet among the winged insects that go on all fours you may eat those that have jointed legs above their feet, with which to hop on the ground. 22 Of them you may eat: the locust of any kind, the bald locust of any kind, the cricket of any kind, and the grasshopper of any kind. 23 But all other winged insects that have four feet are detestable to you.
24 “And by these you shall become unclean. Whoever touches their carcass shall be unclean until the evening, 25 and whoever carries any part of their carcass shall wash his clothes and be unclean until the evening. 26 Every animal that parts the hoof but is not cloven-footed or does not chew the cud is unclean to you. Everyone who touches them shall be unclean. 27 And all that walk on their paws, among the animals that go on all fours, are unclean to you. Whoever touches their carcass shall be unclean until the evening, 28 and he who carries their carcass shall wash his clothes and be unclean until the evening; they are unclean to you.
_ What were the people to avoid? Why? Verse 24, 26, and more!
_ What things cause “uncleanness” in 2019?
_ What are we to avoid in 2019? Why?
_ What can we do to make ourselves clean in 2019?
29 “And these are unclean to you among the swarming things that swarm on the ground: the mole rat, the mouse, the great lizard of any kind, 30 the gecko, the monitor lizard, the lizard, the sand lizard, and the chameleon. 31 These are unclean to you among all that swarm. Whoever touches them when they are dead shall be unclean until the evening. 32 And anything on which any of them falls when they are dead shall be unclean, whether it is an article of wood or a garment or a skin or a sack, any article that is used for any purpose. It must be put into water, and it shall be unclean until the evening; then it shall be clean. 33 And if any of them falls into any earthenware vessel, all that is in it shall be unclean, and you shall break it. 34 Any food in it that could be eaten, on which water comes, shall be unclean. And all drink that could be drunk from every such vessel shall be unclean. 35 And everything on which any part of their carcass falls shall be unclean. Whether oven or stove, it shall be broken in pieces. They are unclean and shall remain unclean for you. 36 Nevertheless, a spring or a cistern holding water shall be clean, but whoever touches a carcass in them shall be unclean. 37 And if any part of their carcass falls upon any seed grain that is to be sown, it is clean, 38 but if water is put on the seed and any part of their carcass falls on it, it is unclean to you.
39 “And if any animal which you may eat dies, whoever touches its carcass shall be unclean until the evening, 40 and whoever eats of its carcass shall wash his clothes and be unclean until the evening. And whoever carries the carcass shall wash his clothes and be unclean until the evening.
41 “Every swarming thing that swarms on the ground is detestable; it shall not be eaten. 42 Whatever goes on its belly, and whatever goes on all fours, or whatever has many feet, any swarming thing that swarms on the ground, you shall not eat, for they are detestable. 43 You shall not make yourselves detestable with any swarming thing that swarms, and you shall not defile yourselves with them, and become unclean through them. 44 For I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. You shall not defile yourselves with any swarming thing that crawls on the ground. 45 For I am the Lord who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.”
46 This is the law about beast and bird and every living creature that moves through the waters and every creature that swarms on the ground, 47 to make a distinction between the unclean and the clean and between the living creature that may be eaten and the living creature that may not be eaten.
_ Who is speaking in this entire passage?
_ Review the pattern of obedience God called his people to in the opening paragraphs.
Compare and contrast this account. Is it more thorough or less prescribed?
_ Look at how often the words clean and unclean are used in the passage. Count them.
_How do those words apply to us in 2019?
_What are synonyms we could use for these words today?
_ How were the people to make themselves clean? See verses 25, 28, 31, 33, 35, 40
_ How are we actually made clean? Reflect on how God already had a plan for RE-ACCESS as we see in Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be aswhiteassnow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”
PROCESS (IN BREAKOUTS OF 2-3’S, GUYS/GIRLS)
+ HOW is the Lord calling me to action/obedience? Is there sin to confess, a next step to take, how has it gone since last time
_ Through this story, we see God's utter holiness, a just cleansing of sin, instruction to keep holy things holy, contrition of those serving, and mercy when it was due. Take account of yourself now, in the perfect and penetrating light of God. What sin does He show you needs to be blotted out of your life? How can you show your contrition to His will? To whom can you show mercy, just as God has shown you mercy?
+ WHO am I walking with and praying for to discover Jesus, what is my next step? (e.g., Build trust by spending time with them, set-up an intentional time to share your story, begin a discovery study on the teachings of Jesus with them)
_ Just like the priests, as part of the Great Commission [Matthew 28:18-20] God has commanded us to teach others to obey His commandments. What steps will you take to follow through on obeying this command this week?
STUDY GUIDE ( ESV Study Bible - www.esv.org )
_ Lev. 11:1–15:33 The Laws on Cleanness and Uncleanness. Chapter 11 deals with foods that are clean and may be eaten, and foods that are unclean and may not be eaten. Chapter 12 addresses cleanliness and purification after childbirth. Chapters 13–14 provide regulations concerning cleanliness in matters of fungi, skin diseases, and infections. Chapter 15 considers bodily discharges that may make a person unclean. These five chapters define what is clean and unclean for Israel in God’s sight.
_ Lev. 11:1–47 The reason a particular creature is called either clean or unclean has puzzled commentators throughout the ages. Yet the purpose of these laws is clear: to help Israel, as God’s holy people, see the difference between ritual cleanness and ritual uncleanness (vv. 46–47). Seeing these differences in the ritual realm would constantly remind the people that they need to make such distinctions in the moral realm as well. Further, obeying these food laws expresses Israel’s devotion to the Lord: just as God separated the Israelites from the other nations, so they must separate clean from unclean foods (20:24–26). This is why the restrictions can be removed in Acts 10:9–28, when the Jew vs. Gentile distinction is no longer relevant in defining the people of God (see also Mark 7:18–19; Col. 2:16–23). A “clean” animal is one “permitted” as food (Lev. 11:2). See the parallel list in Deut. 14:3–21.
_ Lev. 11:1–8 The laws regarding clean vs. unclean animals permit Israel to eat hoofed mammals with two functional toes, including domestic beasts such as sheep, goats, and cattle, and wild ones such as antelopes (compare Deut. 14:4–5). On the other hand a horse is not clean, because it has only one toe. What these animals eat is apparently not the basis of their cleanness or uncleanness. The camel, rock badger (hyrax), and hare are exclusively vegetarian, but they are considered unclean. The pig is the only animal in this list that is not strictly vegetarian. Many of the clean aquatic creatures (Lev. 11:9–12) are carnivorous.
_ Lev. 11:9–12 The requirement of fins and scales limits the clean aquatic animals to what modern zoologists would call fish.
_ Lev. 11:13–19 Almost all the unclean birds are predators and carrion-eaters (that is, they touch dead creatures and consume blood). The term translated “bird” covers a variety of creatures that fly, and can include the bat.
_ Lev. 11:20–23 If the winged insects have an ability to leave the ground, they are clean. For the locust and grasshopper as allowable food, compare the diet of John the Baptist (Matt. 3:4).
_ Lev. 11:24–28 The law gradually introduces the theme of death as a defiling force (see “carcasses” in vv. 8, 11).
_ Lev. 11:29–35 Not only are these creatures unclean for food, but touching them when they are dead will also defile a person.
_ Lev. 11:36–38 The water in a spring or a cistern was not contaminated by an unclean creature that fell into it. This may have been because the water in them was flowing and continuously refreshed. Or, the law may have allowed this concession because water was in such short supply in Palestine.
_ Lev. 11:39–40 Even the clean animals cause defilement after they have died.
_ Lev. 11:44–45 For I am the LORD. This is the first occurrence of this phrase in Leviticus, but it occurs frequently from ch. 18 on. for I am holy. Compare 19:2; 20:26; 21:8. The Lord, who is holy, calls his people to consecrate themselves and to be holy. Compare 20:7–8 and note. who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. God’s people should pursue holiness in response to his gracious actions on their behalf.