The subject of this chapter is “Israel’s DIET.” As we know, the nation of Israel was “under the Law” and as such God commanded them as to every detail of their life, including “the FOODS they could or could not eat.” They were labeled as either CLEAN or UNCLEAN and if someone ate a food that was labeled “unclean” he would be looked upon as “unclean” (ceremonially). The one who was “unclean” had to go through a “cleansing process” before he could participate in the ceremonies and rituals of Judaism. I am sure God had very practical reasons for this diet, including eating “foods that were good for their health.” But the main reason would be to “test their obedience to God and to teach them what it means to be holy (separated to God).” This chapter is much too long to quote so we will give a very simple outline along with some of the “typical teachings” that are illustrated in the various foods that are listed.

In VERSES 1-8 we have the ANIMALS that Israel could eat. The main criteria laid down here was that the animals had to “divide the hoof and chew the cud” (verse 3). Chewing the cud reminds or teaches the believer that we should “meditate upon God’s Word” (see Psalm 1;2; Joshua 1:8 and Colossians 3:16a). Dividing the hoof speaks of a “separated walk from the world” (see Ephesians 4:1, 17; 5:2, 8, 15).

In VERSES 9-12 we have the FISH Israel could eat. They could eat “whatever in the water has FINS and SCALES” (verse 9). The “fins” enabled fish to swim through running water (currents) and they typify the “Holy Spirit” who empowers the believer to move victoriously through a world that is contrary to God (see Galatians 5:16-25). The “scales” enable a fish to resist the action of the water, which typifies a believer under the control of “God’s Word” which allow him to resist the influences of the world and the devil (see Ephesians 6:10-18).

In VERSES 13-23 we have the BIRDS and FLYING INSECTS that Israel could eat. They could eat “any bird that did NOT FEED ON THE FLESH OF THE DEAD” and “any insect that did NOT CREEP ON THE GROUND.” These again illustrate how God’s people today, who are a “heavenly people,” should lead “holy lives and not feed on or associate with the filth of this world” (see 1st Peter 2:1-2; Ephesians 5:1-21; and Colossians 3:1-17).

In VERSES 24-43 we learn that Israel could be CONTAMINATED (defiled) by “TOUCHING DEAD ANIMALS.” Again, God was going to great lengths to teach His people that to be “holy” they must be “separated” from anything that He calls “unclean.” As believers today we need to learn, by reading the Word of God, everything that God wants us to be separated from (for examples see 2nd Corinthians 6:14-18 and 2nd Timothy 2:19-22).

In VERSES 44-47 God sums up His reasons for these commandments. We read in verse 44, “For I am the LORD your God. You shall therefore CONSECRATE YOURSELVES, and YOU SHALL BE HOLY; FOR I AM HOLY.” The Lord declares the same truth to us in 1st Peter 1:14-16, “As obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’”

In closing, if we do find ourselves “feeding on the things of the world” or “associating with people who would defile us,” we need to quickly confess it and depart from it as soon as we are convicted of it. Just as the children of Israel had to be “cleansed” (when they became defiled) in order to have fellowship with God, so we too need to be “cleansed.” Thankfully our blessed God and Father has given us His Word as to how to be cleansed in 1st John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to CLEANSE US FROM ALL UNRIGHTEOUSNESS.”  (453.5)  (DO)