"This is the law about beast and bird and every living creature that moves through the waters and every creature that swarms on the ground, to make a distinction between the unclean and the clean and between the living creature that may be eaten and the living creature that may not be eaten."
God gave Laws to the people of Israel regarding health and sanitation. They were told which animals they could eat and which ones they should avoid. There were given laws regarding skin diseases and laws dealing with how to handle mold and mildew getting into houses or appearing on garments.
I have read books and studies about the rationale behind these laws. Many of them conclude that these laws were intended to keep the people from certain diseases that were common in the meat of unclean animals, and so on. That may be true. But the reason God gives for these laws is that they were His people and as such they are to be holy, set apart, different from all other people. The food and sanitation laws that defined what is kosher and what is not were simply intended to set them apart, to mark them as different.
"For I am the Lord who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy."
When Jesus, the promised Savior, came He fulfilled all these ceremonial laws in Himself and removed the need to maintain the distinction between Jew and Gentile. He specifically told us that we would no longer be under these ceremonial laws.
"Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?" (Thus He declared all foods clean.)
What we need to watch out for isn’t food but the sinful thinking and living that characterize the world but have no place in the lives of God’s people. Like leprosy, they tend to take over a person’s whole life and then spread quickly from one person to another.
And He said, "What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person."
We live in the reality of which the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament were a foreshadow. We are called to be different, but not just in external, symbolic ways. We are called to live holy lives in matters of the heart.
Lord Jesus, You have called me to Yourself, forgiven my sin, declared me Your own, and given me a new life. By Your Holy Spirit that lives in me, give me the strength I need to live for You today. Keep me close. Amen.
Pastor Dan Giles