Avoiding Defilement: Leviticus 11:20-12:5

Leviticus 11:20‑12:5  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 8
Leviticus 11:20-12:520All fowls that creep, going upon all four, shall be an abomination unto you. 21Yet these may ye eat of every flying creeping thing that goeth upon all four, which have legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth; 22Even these of them ye may eat; the locust after his kind, and the bald locust after his kind, and the beetle after his kind, and the grasshopper after his kind. 23But all other flying creeping things, which have four feet, shall be an abomination unto you. 24And for these ye shall be unclean: whosoever toucheth the carcase of them shall be unclean until the even. 25And whosoever beareth ought of the carcase of them shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even. 26The carcases of every beast which divideth the hoof, and is not clovenfooted, nor cheweth the cud, are unclean unto you: every one that toucheth them shall be unclean. 27And whatsoever goeth upon his paws, among all manner of beasts that go on all four, those are unclean unto you: whoso toucheth their carcase shall be unclean until the even. 28And he that beareth the carcase of them shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even: they are unclean unto you. 29These also shall be unclean unto you among the creeping things that creep upon the earth; the weasel, and the mouse, and the tortoise after his kind, 30And the ferret, and the chameleon, and the lizard, and the snail, and the mole. 31These are unclean to you among all that creep: whosoever doth touch them, when they be dead, shall be unclean until the even. 32And upon whatsoever any of them, when they are dead, doth fall, it shall be unclean; whether it be any vessel of wood, or raiment, or skin, or sack, whatsoever vessel it be, wherein any work is done, it must be put into water, and it shall be unclean until the even; so it shall be cleansed. 33And every earthen vessel, whereinto any of them falleth, whatsoever is in it shall be unclean; and ye shall break it. 34Of all meat which may be eaten, that on which such water cometh shall be unclean: and all drink that may be drunk in every such vessel shall be unclean. 35And every thing whereupon any part of their carcase falleth shall be unclean; whether it be oven, or ranges for pots, they shall be broken down: for they are unclean, and shall be unclean unto you. 36Nevertheless a fountain or pit, wherein there is plenty of water, shall be clean: but that which toucheth their carcase shall be unclean. 37And if any part of their carcase fall upon any sowing seed which is to be sown, it shall be clean. 38But if any water be put upon the seed, and any part of their carcase fall thereon, it shall be unclean unto you. 39And if any beast, of which ye may eat, die; he that toucheth the carcase thereof shall be unclean until the even. 40And he that eateth of the carcase of it shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even: he also that beareth the carcase of it shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even. 41And every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth shall be an abomination; it shall not be eaten. 42Whatsoever goeth upon the belly, and whatsoever goeth upon all four, or whatsoever hath more feet among all creeping things that creep upon the earth, them ye shall not eat; for they are an abomination. 43Ye shall not make yourselves abominable with any creeping thing that creepeth, neither shall ye make yourselves unclean with them, that ye should be defiled thereby. 44For I am the Lord your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 45For I am the Lord that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy. 46This is the law of the beasts, and of the fowl, and of every living creature that moveth in the waters, and of every creature that creepeth upon the earth: 47To 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. 1And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 2Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days; according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean. 3And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. 4And she shall then continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying be fulfilled. 5But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her separation: and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying threescore and six days. (Leviticus 11:20‑12:5)
In a general way, we notice from our chapter that all flying things which were adaptable to both the earth and the sky were unclean, but there were some, such as the grasshopper, whose legs lifted them above the earth which were clean. God wants His people for Himself, and although we all have to live in the world and mingle with it to a certain extent, we need spiritual “legs” to lift us above it, so that we do not allow ourselves to get into too close contact with this defiling scene. Let us rather, like the grasshopper, be ready to leap or fly above it when free. This we see in the disciples, of whom we read in Acts 4:2323And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them. (Acts 4:23), “Being let go, they went to their own company.”
Creeping Things
Next we come to the instructions about creeping things. Any creeping things which crept upon the earth or crawled upon it were unclean. They lived in close contact with the earth and had no means of rising above it. Then, too, many of them, such as the mouse and the ferret, are sly things living very largely in the dark. They are like men who “loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:1919And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (John 3:19)). May we, who belong to the family of God, learn in all these instructions that, while we are in the world, we are not of it (John 17:15-1615I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. 16They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. (John 17:15‑16)), and seek grace to walk here as heavenly men.
Faithfulness to God
We notice in all this that nothing was left to the wisdom or personal opinion of the Israelite. He was to obey because God had spoken a principle of all importance in the things of God. Then, too, not only was an Israelite made unclean by eating of these things but even by touching their carcasses. In this we learn that not only do our own personal sins defile, but even contact with evil defiles us. In some cases it was necessary for the offender to wash his clothes, for if one cannot remain where he is and be faithful to God, then he must change his associations of life. This is what is typified in washing the clothes. It is applying the Word of God to what is nearest and, perhaps, dearest to us in life. Then, too, any vessels which could not be cleansed had to be broken, when defiled, and this would show us that no matter what it costs us to be faithful to the Lord we should not draw back. Faithfulness to the Lord comes first — personal considerations should always be secondary. Since the Lord is holy, those who are called into association with Him must be holy too.
Shapen in Iniquity
After telling us what meats were clean and what were unclean, we now learn that even the birth of a child made the mother unclean. Even that which is right in its place, and which would have caused great joy apart from the fall, is now mingled with that which reminds us of sin. If it was the birth of a son, the mother was unclean for seven days; if a daughter, for fourteen days. Eve was deceived in the garden, and therefore, “the woman being deceived was in the transgression” (1 Timothy 2: 14), (though Adam was of course guilty too). Therefore the birth of a daughter caused uncleanness for a longer period, for “God requireth that which is past” (Ecclesiastes 3:1515That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past. (Ecclesiastes 3:15)). Surely we are reminded here that everything which is the result of the activity of man in his natural state is unclean, for like David of old, we were “shapen in iniquity” (Psalm 51:55Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. (Psalm 51:5)). There is nothing for us to boast about as we read this chapter. There is only one who was born holy, the blessed Son of God (Luke 1:3535And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. (Luke 1:35)).
For Further Meditation
1. Why were grasshoppers considered clean insects?
2. It’s pretty difficult to say “no” to a loved one that wants us to do something such as “gossip” that is contrary to God’s Word. We know the importance of faithfulness to God but fear the rejection of others. How does the Lord strengthen His own to be lovingly faithful in these circumstances?
3. J. G. Bellett often seemed to meditate on the Lord as one who was always faithful in standing apart from anything that would have defiled Him. One of his short books that is a real help in this area is Living Wholly for God. You’ll no doubt find it a real challenge and help to your soul.