Priesthood: 14. Law of Land Beasts

Leviticus 11:1‑8  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 8
The preceding chapter announced that the priests were to differentiate between the holy and the unholy, and between unclean and clean. Here we have details pointed out among the living creatures of every sort, and first among the beasts on the earth. Those who drew near to God as their standing privilege were to decide according to the divine word.
“And Jehovah spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying to them, Speak to the children of Israel, saying, These [are] the animals which ye shall eat among all the beasts that [are] on the earth. Whatsoever hath cloven hoofs, and feet split open, bringing up the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat. Only these shall ye not eat of those that bring up the cud, or of those with cloven hoofs; the camel, for it bringeth up the cud but hath not cloven hoofs, it [is] unclean to you; and the rock-badger, for it bringeth up the cud but hath not cloven hoofs, it [is] unclean to you: and the hare, for it bringeth up the cud but hath not cloven hoofs, it [is] unclean to you; and the swine, for it hath cloven hoofs and feet split open, but it bringeth not up the cud, it [is] unclean to you. Of their flesh ye shall not eat, and their carcasses ye shall not touch, they [are] unclean to you” (vers. 1-8).
Eating here as elsewhere is emblematic of communion. One appropriates what is thus taken in. But, sin having entered with all the disorders which ensue, it is given to God's people to have His gracious and wise direction, instead of being left to themselves and the varying caprices of independent judgment. As a general principle the difference of clean and unclean was known in early days. So we find Jehovah directing Noah to take to him of all clean animals by sevens, but of those not clean two, a male and its female, to enter the ark. And on this Noah acted when he built an altar after the deluge as his first recorded act, and offered up holocausts of every clean beast and of all clean birds. For the tenure of the post-diluvian earth hung on sacrifice.
But now that the priests were consecrated, particulars follow. Israel must have no fellowship where the outward walk was not firm, and this, associated with the inward work of full digestion. The two requisites among the land animals are here marked respectively, by the cloven hoofs, not in part, but feet quite split open, and by chewing or bringing up the cud. One only is insufficient. Both must co-exist to meet His mind for His people. Hence the cases are explained of animals familiarly known to them.
On the one hand, the camel must be unclean to them, because it had not cloven hoofs, though a ruminating animal. The rock-badger, in the Authorized Version called the coney, was in the same predicament; and similarly, as a fact, the hare. On the other hand stood the swine, which did not chew the cud but swallowed its food voraciously, though it had cloven hoofs and feet quite split open; it should be unclean to them. They must neither eat their flesh nor touch their carcass.
Scripture is explicit on these qualities. A walk not according to flesh but according to Spirit, is indispensable in those whom the law of the Spirit of life in Christ emancipates from the law of sin and death (Rom. 8). That the Spirit of God dwells in the Christian is a great and sure truth; but it is the very ground on which he is to glorify God in his body. We are exhorted to cleanse ourselves from every pollution of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in God's fear; and this as having the promise of His dwelling in us, and of receiving us as a Father, on our coming out from those not of Him, separate to Him, and touching nothing unclean (2 Cor. 6). Thus the inward reception and effect of the truth must go along with outward activity in order to form and manifest what God sanctions.
They then that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts. But is this all that is requisite? Surely not. “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” “Be not deceived: God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man shall sow, this also shall he reap. For he that soweth unto his own flesh from the flesh shall reap corruption; but he that soweth unto the Spirit from the Spirit shall reap life eternal. And let us not lose heart in doing well, for in due season we shall reap if we faint not.” Here again we see the absolute necessity of combining a clean walk with the inward principle of a life nourished by the word of truth, by which we were begotten by God's will unto Himself. New creation alone has value in His eyes; for the old is fallen through sin, out of which is no way save that cross of Christ which proclaims the love and light of God in Him Whom the world hung there, as loudly as it does to the end its own fatal evil and ruin in so treating Him.
Hence it is as vain to rest on inward meditation only as on outward mortification alone. For either thus is but self, a vain boast in the flesh, in total ignorance of both God and man. But His grace meets man unclean, willful and proud, in and by His Own Son, yet man without sin, to die for him and suffer for his sins, in resurrection entering a new condition, wherein He gives those who believe to live of His life and receive the Spirit of God, that we may walk accordingly, as we await His coming to take us to His own abode, the Father's house.
Such love in God is the source, not only of faith, but of life in those that believe. So the apostle prayed that love might abound more and more in full knowledge and all intelligence (or, discernment), and approve the things that are excellent, in order that we might be pure and without a stumble unto Christ's day, being filled with the fruit of righteousness that is through Jesus Christ unto God's glory and praise. Nothing less than this could satisfy the heart's desire that knows Christ. It is therefore clean opposed to nature's walk in those whose God is the belly, and glory in their shame, who mind earthly things. It is to win Christ in heaven—this one thing, forgetting all behind, and pressing on goal ward toward the prize, to apprehend that for which also one was apprehended by Christ (Phil. 3).
So the apostle did not cease to pray for the Colossians, though they had not seen his face in flesh, that they might be filled with the knowledge of God's will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. But was it to end in that inward enjoyment? Not so. It was “to walk worthily of the Lord unto all pleasing in every good work, bearing fruit and growing by the full knowledge of God.” Thus is the believer to unite making the truth his own by inward digestion, and walking with firm and vigilant steps the path of Christ in a world of slippery places and defilements manifold.