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 (40)

40 thoughts on "Clean and Unclean"

  1. Chloe Andreanna says:

    Obedience is also about faith. See, we may not know where God is leading us or how He will. We simply may not know all the answers or “why” these are somehow His answers, but we have to trust and have faith that they are correct and just; That’s when you know it’s a true and loving relationship. That’s when you know you’re one with Christ Jesus, our Savior! ❤️

  2. Julia Brown says:

    Jennifer loves Jesus,I have been wrestling with these same questions and for me the holy spirit is showing me that to walk as Jesus walked means to keep the Sabbath, celebrate the biblical feasts (the greatest of which of coming this week, The feast of Tabernacles where we celebrate God dwelling in tents with the Israelites and how he will be coming back to dwell with us for eternity). I want to be like Jesus which means walk as he walked and those are things he did and commands us to do.

  3. Portia Strange says:

    I love when Yana shared that she ‘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.’

    We must come to terms with the fact that there are answers that God will not provide this side of Heaven. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts, His ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9).

    I also love when Yana shared ‘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.’

    I’ve never considered positional v. practical holiness. Praise Jesus for positional holiness! May we rely on the Holy Spirit to help us to be practically holy.

  4. Kimberly Z says:

    @Taylor glad to see you’re feeling a little better. I don’t know the situation but I also know how awful it feels to be consumed with anxiety. @Sarah D. Praying for you as well. Dealing with anxiety is truly awful. I hope you’re able to get the help you need from your doctor. Ladies I too would ask for prayers as I deal with anxiety. I feel very lost in this season of life and I really hope to pull out of it.

  5. Kimberly Z says:

    @Taylor glad to see you’re feeling a little better. I don’t know the situation but I also know how awful it feels to be consumed with anxiety. @Sarah D. Praying for you as well. Dealing with anxiety is truly

  6. Mercy says:

    Good day to all our lovely she’s. May your new week be filled with awe and thankfulness to our God. I found something in my KJV Bible study note that helped me to get through the “why’s” –which happens every now and then on our human walk with God who is so high in wisdom and levels of sophistication. It was quite interesting so I am sharing with hope that it may help to know that God is so detailed, and He is always always for our good! Here goes:” The reason for rules concerning clean/unclean flesh has been a topic of discussion for many centuries. Clean and unclean animals were distinguished even before the Flood of Noah (Genesis 7:2, Of every clean animal, take with you seven pairs, a male and its mate; and of the unclean animals, one pair, a male and its mate; Genesis 7:3, Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth, Genesis 7:1, Then the LORD said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation). Only in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 were various kinds specified.

    Four explanations have been offered: a/ the distinctions were arbitrary, and the rationale was known only to God who revealed to man as a test of obedience b/ the cultic explanation holds that the unclean animals were either those used in pagan worship or those associated with non-Israelite deities, so to be shunned. c/ the hygienic interpretation holds that the unclean creatures unfit to eat because they were carriers of disease, while the clean ones are relatively safe to eat. d/ the symbolic interpretation of the food laws views the behaviour and habits of clean animals as living illustrations of how the righteous Israelite was required to behave, while the unclean represented sinful men. It seems best to recognize that these restrictions were adapted to a people dwelling for 40 years in a wilderness and afterward located in a tropical climate. Thus, the health of the Israelites must be considered. And not just within food intake, God in the New Testament makes a distinction in every area of their life: “Whether you eat or drink, whatsoever you do, do all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

    Leviticus 12 involves purification after child birth, the ”separation for her infirmity” is a reference to her menstrual period. Why should a woman be unclean after childbirth? Reproduction is essential to the survival of the human race, yet intercourse made both Israelite man and wife ceremonially unclean (Leviticus 15:18)”. Hope this helps someone.

    Besides, I really would like to sincerely encourage anyone who finds it hard to understand certain difficult/confusing passages of the Bible to constantly seek knowledge through resources (human ones, we can raise questions here for instance, or seek scholar commentaries like Matthew Henry commentary, who is an incredible English bible scholar with a massive amount of research done, you can download a free app of his 6 volumes life-long work onto your phone). We should hold off our emotions when we don’t understand why God acts this way or that way. Certain things take times to permeate us and we need patience to understand. As long as we are obedient to Him, knowing who’s God and who’s not, with humility and reverence approaching Him in sincerity and truth, God doesn’t mind us asking why, He would gladly lead us to more understanding to the level and dimension we can grasp. In all our getting, get understanding (Proverbs 4:7). He wants us to know Him deeper, but sometimes we can’t handle it, so it has to be in stages.

    Lifting our sisters in prayers (so proud of you, may I say you are warriors for just trusting in God and acting out in faith, and believing in Him regardless of your current realities. God trusts you so much when allowing hardships knowing you would hold on to Him, when your faith is being tested to the point of being more precious than pure gold and you will be lacking nothing, James 1:2-4.) Be blessed dear sisters.

  7. Lexi B says:

    I am such a questioner. Like Yana said, “because I said so” is often hard for me to take as an answer. But I loved this sentiment: “we must also trust God when we don’t understand the “why” behind what He does.”
    Trust without fully knowing the outcome.

    Ladies thank you for praying for me for my business pitch. I ended up being one of the winners and got to take home 5k for my business! It was so needed and just a few days ago I was lamenting to God about lack of funds! The funny thing is, I almost did not go to this conference to do the pitch but God kept pushing for me to go. I am so glad I obeyed! Winning this allows me to pitch at another event to an angel investor at the end of October. God is so good and honestly takes care of everything. Thankful that He is my father.

  8. Jan says:

    Sometimes I think we have such a small grasp of how horrible sin is! Because of the time in which we have been born, we can so easily take for granted the plan of GOD/sacrifice of Jesus to make a way for us to be reconciled to Him. We can never fully understand who GOD is, this side of heaven. We are so small and the story of GOD, his creation and the work he has done/is doing is so big!! I pray the Lord’s blessing on each of us as we study and work to have that deep, abiding relationship with Him.

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