Scripture Focus: Leviticus 11.47
47 You must distinguish between the unclean and the clean,
15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
Reflection: Separateness Not Superiority
By John Tillman
The Israelites were charged with making distinctions between holy things and unholy things. One of the ways this was carried out was in dietary laws.
To modern sensibilities the dietary laws seem strange and puzzling. (Pigs are unclean but crickets are on the menu?) These regulations may have been given, partly, for health reasons or may have had to do with the animals being used as sacrifices in the worship of other gods. The new nation needed defining cultural touchstones that would remind them of who, and whose, they were. The dietary laws were a part of building this culture.
God’s regulations often include practical concerns not just spiritual concerns. However, the practical “why” is always less important than the spiritual act of obedience. Obeying the command to “be holy” is what makes us able to be a light to the world. No holiness, no light. However, over time, the idea of being separate engendered a sense of superiority.
Throughout the Old Testament law we see the principle that uncleanness transfers by touch from one thing or person to another. In Jesus, the disciples saw a new thing. Jesus touched the unclean and made them clean. (Matthew 8.2-4) Jesus touched lepers, Samaritans, the demon possessed, and even the dead. The unholy became holy. The dead became alive. Rather than them making him unclean, he made them clean. Like the coal taken from the altar that cleansed Isaiah’s unclean lips, Jesus cleansed what was unclean. (Isaiah 6.7)
Today we, like the Israelites, are charged with keeping ourselves holy. (Matthew 5.48; 1 Peter 1.15) There are sensible and practical ways that we can separate ourselves from the cultural flow of unclean philosophies, practices, or theology. But we must not allow our separateness to breed superiority. Believing God about what is unclean, means believing him about what is clean and about what may be made clean.
The Spirit of Christ is within us and we are his body. We have Christ’s power to touch the unclean and make them clean. His power in us can redeem broken people, systems, or philosophies, with the touch of the gospel.
God shows no favoritism but instead accepts those who acknowledge him and do what is right. Like Peter, if we open our eyes, we may find many things and people around us that seem unclean that God desires us to touch and make clean.
Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Truly, his salvation is very near to those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land. — Psalm 85.9
– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle
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