“YOU CAN’T EAT THAT!”
“Unclean, Unclean!” “Don’t eat that!!!
What do a pastor, bartender, and a barber have in common? People usually share their deep-seated secrets and sins with these men. But I had a very surreal experience the last time I visited my barber, he confessed his sins to me! What was it that he confessed? Nothing that would mar his character I assure you. His words, “I love to fish and eat all kinds of seafood, even though the Bible commands us not to, I can’t help it.”
Is that really the purpose Leviticus 11? What is the purpose of the clean and unclean descriptions? Did God command Moses to write this so my barber, and others like him, can be condemned to hell for enjoying a Lobster or some shrimp? I don’t think so. The general purpose of Leviticus is worship, but I think the specific reason for the description of the clean and unclean animals is to foreshadow Jesus.
God declares what is clean and unclean. His people will follow what He commands no matter how silly it may seem to those who reject Him. Those that follow Him will be holy for He is holy. His children will do what He commands and grow in holiness. As God’s people follow His commands, there will be an outward and obvious difference between the ‘clean’ and the ‘unclean.’ There would be a gulf between the clean – the Hebrews, and the unclean – the Gentiles. But there will come a day when God will declare some Gentiles as ‘clean.’ That gulf would be destroyed and the clean, both Jew and Gentile, will be declared clean in one new Man – Jesus the Christ. That day is finally here! God gave the apostle Peter a dream and told him, “What God made clean, do not call common” (Acts 11:9). This message was so important, that God gave him the dream three times (Acts 11:10). The apostle Paul also testifies that the day is here. He writes in Ephesians that Jesus is our peace and made both one and has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility… and created in Himself one new man in the place of one. The purpose for the list in Leviticus 11 was ultimately to point to Jesus.
So to those who love seafood, enjoy your lobster and shrimp and listen to the apostle Paul’s words: “The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God.” (Romans 14:6)
Brian L. Spivey
Most people I know who have tried to read the Bible from cover to cover started from the beginning. They get through Genesis, and enjoy most of the Exodus, but lose interest when they get to the book of Leviticus. What is the book all about anyway? It can be summed up in one word – worship.
In the 9th chapter of Leviticus, we read that Moses and Aaron kept the word that God commanded about how to worship Him. “Aaron lifted up his hands towards the people and blessed them… and the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people. And the fire came out… and consumed the burnt offering” (Verses 22, 24). In the next chapter, the fire of the Lord came from heaven again, but this time, instead of consuming the burnt offering, it consumed Nadab and Abihu – Aaron’s sons. Nadab and Abihu did not keep God’s Word. What can we conclude about the Lord from this passage?
If this was an isolated event in Scripture, than any conclusion drawn from Leviticus 9 could be dismissed as speculative at best. But we see throughout Scripture, that God is serious about how He is to be worshipped. Those who did not keep God’s word were dealt with harshly – King Saul, Uzzah, Ananias and Sapphira. And who had the last word about worship and keeping God’s Word? Jesus did.
The apostle John described Jesus as the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire. This Holy One told the individuals in the church at Philadelphia that because some have kept His Word, He intended to make them a pillar in the temple of God. Jesus ends the ultimate worship book with these words, “Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book” (Revelation 22:7).
Those of you who have tried to read the Bible from cover to cover, and were arrested by the content in the book of Leviticus, please go back and try again. Use this key to unlock the book: God determines what is holy and unholy. He determines what is acceptable and what is an abomination. And don’t forget, the major theme of Leviticus is worship.
Brian L. Spivey
I would like a reasoned explanation from someone who agrees with Peter Enns with regard to myth and metaphor in Scripture. Exactly how do we discern the concrete facts and historical events of the Bible from the ever-expanding list of merely theological points which have no basis in time and space (i.e. reality)?
Jerry Coyne, a militant atheist, appears to be more perceptive than some Christians, sadly. Consider his insights here and let me know what you think.