Bible Commentary: Leviticus 11-12

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Leviticus 11-12

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Laws of Clean and Unclean Meat 

These dietary laws, repeated in Deuteronomy 14, were around long before the institution of the Levitical priesthood—indeed, long before Israel even existed. For even before the Flood of Noah's day, almost 1,000 years earlier, we see the distinction between clean and unclean animals. At that time, God commanded Noah to take two of every unclean animal onto the ark and seven (or seven pairs) of every clean animal (Genesis 7:2-9 Genesis 7:2-9 [2] Of every clean beast you shall take to you by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female. [3] Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female; to keep seed alive on the face of all the earth. [4] For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain on the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth. [5] And Noah did according to all that the LORD commanded him. [6] And Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was on the earth. [7] And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him, into the ark, because of the waters of the flood. [8] Of clean beasts, and of beasts that are not clean, and of fowls, and of every thing that creeps on the earth, [9] There went in two and two to Noah into the ark, the male and the female, as God had commanded Noah.
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). Regrettably, many today argue that the dietary laws were done away in the New Testament. However, there are no scriptures that support this view, even though some have misused certain verses to try to make the point. To counter one popular argument, the dietary laws were not done away by the ending of the Old Covenant initiated at Sinai, because, again, they were in force long before that covenant came into being. Nowhere does the New Testament abrogate God's laws regarding clean and unclean animals. Indeed, frogs are still viewed as "unclean" at the very end of the Bible, along with certain birds (compare Revelation 16:13 Revelation 16:13And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.
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; Revelation 18:2 Revelation 18:2And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.
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While the Jewish people have preserved the dietary laws—along with some dietary traditions not enjoined by Scripture—the people of the "lost 10 tribes" of Israel, influenced by their gentile neighbors, gradually stopped observing them. And God remains very displeased about this fact. In Isaiah 65, speaking of the end time, He says: "I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, according to their own thoughts; a people who provoke Me to anger continually to My face... who eat swine's flesh, and the broth of abominable things is in their vessels" (verses 2-4).

In fact, the next chapter of Isaiah prophesies that Christ, at His return, is going to punish such people for eating unclean meat as part of their willful ignorance of and disobedience to God's instruction, even though they may not view it as such. Notice what God says: "For behold, the Lord will come with fire and with His chariots, like a whirlwind, to render His anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by His sword the Lord will judge all flesh; and the slain of the Lord shall be many. 'Those who sanctify themselves and purify themselves, to go to the gardens after an idol in the midst, eating swine's flesh and the abomination and the mouse,shall be consumed together,' says the Lord. For I know their works and their thoughts. It shall be that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and see My glory" (66:15-18). Ultimately all nations will come to know God's truth—including His laws regarding clean and unclean meats.

We will see more about clean and unclean meats as pertaining to holiness (see Leviticus 11:44-47 Leviticus 11:44-47 [44] For I am the LORD your God: you shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall you defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creeps on the earth. [45] For I am the LORD that brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: you shall therefore be holy, for I am holy. [46] This is the law of the beasts, and of the fowl, and of every living creature that moves in the waters, and of every creature that creeps on the earth: [47] To make a difference between the unclean and the clean, and between the beast that may be eaten and the beast that may not be eaten.
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) in the highlights for Leviticus 20:25-26 Leviticus 20:25-26 [25] You shall therefore put difference between clean beasts and unclean, and between unclean fowls and clean: and you shall not make your souls abominable by beast, or by fowl, or by any manner of living thing that creeps on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean. [26] And you shall be holy to me: for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that you should be mine.
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. To learn more about our responsibility in this matter, and to read what several medical professionals have to say on the subject and its impact on human health, see our free booklet, What Does the Bible Teach About Clean and Unclean Meats?