Making A Different People: Food, Leprosy, And Caring for our Bodies

Leviticus 11-13

Leviticus 11 45 NIV

So far in the book of Leviticus, we have been reading laws that are about sacrifices and how to remove guilt, show thanksgiving, or just sacrifice to sacrifice. These laws and the story of forgiveness have been weird but good. (You were thinking the Bible was weird, I’m giving you permission to say it. Still, God’s word is good.)
In chapters 11-13, we move into different kinds of laws. As John said in his recent posts, Christ has covered these laws. We don’t have to think about sacrifices or food laws or laws of uncleanness. Why worry about them? I will always remember what Bob Jones shared with me at the Bible College: the Old Testament shows us what God likes. By giving these law, God was making a different people, a people who would do what he liked. We are not required to keep the laws, but something in them, in principle or practice, is a thing God wanted his people to know at the time. When we read these texts, the principles and practices we see should effect our own walk today. So let’s see if a principle can lead us to a practice today.
The Principle : Our bodies are important and we MUST CARE for them.
In Leviticus 11, we see what constitutes clean versus unclean food. There are many theories as to why God labelled some food clean or unclean. Many point to the potential serious food borne illnesses that could be found in uncooked pork, or how vultures and lobsters (both prohibited animals) are scavengers and may become infected through infected food they eat. But I think more importantly, God wanted to make a population of people who understood that their bodies were important and not everything should go in it. They don’t eat just any kind of food, they don’t drink just any kind of drink, they don’t allow just anything to enter their bodies. Connect this to the discussion to disease in Leviticus 13, and we begin to see the principle emerge: we are given one body, and it is serious enough that to protect the most bodies, some may have to be put outside the camp. Though we could talk about the heartbreaking situation it is to have a serious skin disease and to become unclean, it is also true that the bodies we are given are not replaceable. These bodies are IMPORTANT and we MUST care for them. We must make sure our diseases are treated. We must make sure what goes in them is thoughtfully considered. Anything less is missing the fact that we are only given one body.
The Practice : Take Care of yourself in food and health
Though today you can eat shrimp, crab, and lobster (and boy are they good), the question we must ask is, “Is this going into my body to help me?” We are allowed to eat shrimp scampi; is it wise to consume a diet rich in fatty foods? We are allowed to drink soda; is sugar water the best way to care for our own body? This is not a condemnation of any, and far be it from me to fat shame. In America, we are over-blessed, and that means we have TOO much food, TOO many good things. In our diets we need to ask, “Is this food caring for my body?” Beyond food, this is true of alcohol. Whether you believe any alcohol is acceptable or not (and there are good arguments for and against consumption), over consumption is always wrong. Illicit drugs are always detrimental to our health. Ignoring the signs of illness and avoiding the doctor based on some misplaced pride also avoids caring for the body in which you have been placed.
God was and is teaching his people that our bodies are important and we must care for them. In doing so, God was and is creating a different kind of people; a people who stand out in the world.
Jake Ballard
Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Leviticus+11-13&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s Bible reading will be Leviticus 14-15 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

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