Day 8

Clean and Unclean

from the Leviticus reading plan

Leviticus 11:1-47, Leviticus 12:1-8, Leviticus 13:1-17, Mark 7:20-23, 1 John 1:7-9

BY Yana Conner

As a kid, I always needed to know the rationale as a prerequisite for obedience. I needed to know why I couldn’t chew gum in church or date boys before I was sixteen. “Because I said so” didn’t cut it for me. The same became true when I began my newfound relationship with Christ. I was always looking for a rationale for why I should wait until marriage to have sex or why I should forgive my absentee father. It just didn’t make sense. 

Over the years, I’ve learned that it doesn’t have to make sense. See, God is not a force or an idea. He’s not binoculars in the sky or a mannequin we can clothe into our image, swapping out one cultural mantra for another. No. He is an infinite Being who possesses personhood. In the pages of Scripture, He reveals what grieves Him, causes Him to burn with anger, and brings Him joy. And in today’s reading, we learn He has boundaries.

Leviticus is the story of how sinful people can be in a relationship with a holy God. Though it was a profound blessing for them to have God dwell among them, it was also dangerous. To resolve this issue, God provided Israel with instructions on how to live in His presence safely. These instructions aren’t an arbitrary list of preferences and pet peeves. They are connected to His holiness. Because God is holy, He has boundaries and requires His people to be holy, for He is holy. 

Now, I can’t speak to why animals that chew their cud but don’t part the hoof were unclean. The same is true for the cleansing laws following touching a dead carcass or giving birth. Commentators have a handful of theories. And no, none provided satisfactory answers for me  for why having a daughter extends a woman’s period of uncleanness. Since God does not offer a rationale for these laws, all we can do is speculate. 

But as I sat before the Lord with these chapters and tussled through commentaries looking for answers, I sensed the Lord ask, “Why do you need to know? Why do I need to provide you with a rationale for my commands?” Yeah. Ouch. 

Obedience isn’t about the rationale. Obedience is about the relationship. And these laws we read today were given to teach sinful people how to be in relationship with a holy God. And though Jesus makes every believer positionally holy through the cross, God still invites us to be practically holy to experience a deeper relationship with Him.

Post Comments (43)

43 thoughts on "Clean and Unclean"

  1. Michelle Avins says:

    Literally as I was reading this I kept having to talk to my 4yo son about how I was the parent and he had to listen to what I was saying, and while he could choose to disobey, that there would be consequences if he broke the rules.

  2. Casey Evans says:

    This is so good, my kids really struggle with wanting a rationale for everything we say – and most of the time I have one, but sometimes it’s tricky and hard to explain. Everything in me just wants them to trust me. And this is like us with God, it’s about a relationship of trust and faith in his nature. I love the way our relationships here reveal spiritual things and give us a real flesh example of the spiritual realm

  3. Brandy Deruso says:

    Lord I see you and I speak to you lord for you are good!

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