For I am the Lord who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy. (Leviticus 11:45)
Because He is holy, we are to be holy in emulation of His character and as proper representatives of His kingdom. Even standing alone, this declaration should resonate within all those who want to please our Creator. Yet, it is profoundly interesting that God makes this declaration, not once but twice, as He instructs Israel in what is considered clean and unclean in regards to food. If you think about it, though, it makes sense. I say that because very few things in life are more personal than food. Couple that observation with the fact that man’s fall came about because Adam ate something God had said to steer clear of. It seems clear, then, that we put into our bodies can sometimes have spiritual ramifications.
Consider the biblical prohibition against consuming blood (Leviticus 17:10-11, Acts 15:20); not only is blood the seat of life and, therefore, sacred but spores in blood can carry disease and germs. When blood is properly drained from animals meant for food, it is less likely that people will contract disease from tainted animals. To underscore the point, while tens of thousands were dying of the Plague during the Middle Ages, the Jews were far less affected because they adhered to the restrictions God had placed on their diet. They were spared because they heeded what God had instructed.
To be clear, what we eat or don’t eat has nothing to do with whether we can be born again and enter the kingdom because “The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking” (Romans 14:16). In fact, someone who follows the Bible’s dietary laws to the letter, but without a proper change of heart, is no more than a white-washed sepulcher. Yet, for those who have a changed heart, God’s dietary laws can teach us something and that is, if we can master our physical appetites, we can better discipline ourselves in spiritual matters. In short, like all of God’s instructions to His people, these inspire self-surrender as opposed to self-righteousness.
The point here is not to push dietary restrictions per se, but to alert us to the fact that God expects us to be able to discern holiness — that is, what is clean and what is not; what is acceptable to Him and what is not. This concept, by the way, goes well beyond the scope of food — it encompasses everything in life. Therefore, as His people, we must not allow our spiritual senses to be dulled to what He says is holy and what is not. To wink at something we perceive as insignificant but that God has deemed unclean opens the door to potential hazard — it is the little foxes that spoil the vine. So then, let us be sober and alert to those little foxes that might try and sneak into our lives. We have been called to be a holy people because our God is holy.
Blessings and Shalom,