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. GramsieSue says:

    The Jews had to learn to despise the foods that God said were unclean and to enjoy the foods God said were clean. It was a choice between pleasing themselves and being unclean or pleasing God and being clean. There was NO MIDDLE GROUND.

    We need to get our direction from God and not other people. We have to be willing to be different from the world. Our greatest desire should be to please the Lord joyfully, not grudgingly, and not to see how close we can get to sin and still not get into trouble.

    The first step toward disobedience is often “reclassifying” sin and making it look acceptable instead of abominable. Today, we live in a society that rejects moral absolutes and promotes a “fluid” morality that isn’t morality at all. Just like the people described in the book of Judges, everybody is doing what seems right in their own eyes. But society’s reclassifying of sin hasn’t changed anything: God still calls sin an abomination and still judges it.

    Sin comes from within, from fallen human nature; unless the heart is changed, there can be no solving the sin problem. (Excerpts from Warren Wiersbe)

  2. Dorothy says:

    “Obedience isn’t about the rationale. Obedience is about the relationship.” What powerful words these two sentences are. I never thought about my obedience to God and Christ in this way but I will now. Yana’s devotional really hit home today. I’d also like to share a quote from my devotional/journaling Bible — “Looking back on God’s faithfulness increases your faith.”

    Sisters, be blessed and keep increasing your faith.

  3. Allison Bentley says:

    20 He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. 21 For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” – Mark 7:20-23 this is me- Lord thank you for your forgiveness every day!! My sin is real- intentionally and unintentionally help me to focus on you with obedience and repentance!!

  4. Diania Abernathy says:

    Excellent! The podcast today was so so good!

  5. Traci Gendron says:

    I have been playing catch up. We were traveling back to Illinois this past weekend to see my family. What came to mind from reading the last couple lessons was how I wish I would have known Jesus sooner. I was raised catholic. I visited a church with a friend in 6th grade. It was a group called pioneer girls. I loved it!! My mom told me it was a bad church and I couldn’t go again. I often think how my life would have been different if I was allowed to go. Would I have fallen in love with Jesus sooner? Would my behavior been different? My whole life could have gone in a different direction. It grieves me sometimes because I didn’t have great behavior. I was the party girl. Promiscuous. Pushing limits. I now see how God’s parameters give us a much better life. His boundaries are good. I wish I would have prayed like Job over my son every morning. I think I may only have 20-30 years left to know my God. I agree with JENNIFER LOVES JESUS. I want to know what He requires from me in this life. To turn my face to Him every morning and ask what His will is for my day.

  6. Cindy Hanna says:

    Yesterday my husband and I traveled 3 hours to worship and witness the confession of faith and baptism of one of our granddaughters. We openly wept even though she isn’t our first grandchild to commit her life to Jesus as Lord. The joy of the occasion never gets old for us. We also helped at the wedding of a nephew on Friday (rehearsal dinner) and Saturday. A momentous weekend. I couldn’t help noticing the contrast & correlation between the events. Though one was opulent and the other quiet and humbling, God was openly honored and acknowledged at both. I was reminded that the humble act of submission at baptism will ultimately lead to a wedding feast at Christ’s return. I love seeing glimpses of the Kingdom. I pray each of you catch meaningful sight of God’s presence in the coming week.

  7. Churchmouse says:

    Father God, when You issue a command I pray my first response would be “Yes, Lord” and not “why?” Help me to submit my will to Yours as evidence of my complete trust in You.

  8. Yana Jenay Conner says:

    @Susan Lincks – Friend, I’m right there with you. I cannot describe to you how agonizing it was to study and write about this passage. I really wish I had more words to describe the process, the musing, and the frustration. It was tough. Please know you are not alone in “trying to understand and not be upset.” I pray you would stay right there with God, tussling it out…I know I still am. Praying for more clarity, wisdom, and understanding that sometimes doesn’t come before the deadline.

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