Leviticus 11.1-7 – The bringing of a chosen people to God
Posted: 10 October 2012 in Leviticus

And the Lord spake unto Moses and to Aaron, saying unto them, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, These are the beasts which ye shall eat among all the beasts that are on the earth. Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat. Nevertheless these shall ye not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the hoof: as the camel, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. And the coney, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. And the hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you.

One of the things I notice about the very detailed dietary regulations to be found in the Old Testament is that nowhere is any explanation given for the stipulations. We may feel tempted to come up with rationalisations of our own, but if the Bible offers none, it is not really legitimate for us to go beyond that which God reveals. The Lord clearly thought the fact that he commanded something should have be a sufficient motivation for obedience on the part of the ancient Hebrews, and so it should be for us. A rationalisation which is often heard is that the regulations were motivated by considerations of hygiene, but that does not seem to me to be very easy to reconcile with the oft repeated (and, more importantly, biblical) assertion that Christ has fulfilled the law. If that is true, something more profound must be at stake than the deleterious effects of eating rotten meat.

Although the reasons for particular regulations is not given, and they must remain hidden within the inner counsels of God, the overall motive for them is clear enough; which is that the Jews were to be marked out as a people specially set apart as the chosen people of God, and who would live under his governance. We now live in the time of the New Covenant, and Christians understand the people of God to be marked out not by aherence to dietry and other regulations, but through their submission to Christ, and through their conscious dependence upon his sacrifice. It is in this sense, of bringing a chosen people to God, that Christ has fulfilled the function which the Law was originally meant to fulfill.

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