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2 For thou art an holy people [Am Kadosh] unto the Yahweh thy Elohim, and Yahweh hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people [Am Segullah (treasured people)] unto himself, above all the nations [kol haamim] that are upon the earth [ha'adamah].
Holy unto Yahweh -
To bring that momentous fact home to Israel was the fundamental purpose of the Law, and we have found all the topics which we have so far studied to have been merely different means to that one end. Each in its own peculiar and distinctive way served to quicken the nation's consciousness of its high rank and destiny; and each in pursuit of that aim made use of the same effective teaching technique, that of restating one simple basic lesson in a sequence of increasingly more emphatic forms.
All manner of ritual ordinances bore in upon them the stringency of their duty to keep these commandments. The regulation of their flesh eating reminded them that they, as God's people, were to the heathen what the clean animal was to the unclean, and taught them that they, being His, had to be holy like Him (Lev. 20 : 22-26; Deut. 14: 2-21).
So also with their clothing: it could not be of mixed cloth, part wool, part linen, thereby symbolizing that they had to be wholly His, not half like Him and half like heathendom around them.
Any form of hybrid spirituality was abhorrent to God and forbidden to them, as they were reminded symbolically in several ways. Ox and ass - clean and unclean - were not to be yoked together, either literally or figuratively (Lev. 19: 19; Deut 22: 9-11). The ribband and fringe on their garments (Num. 15: 37-40), and the inscriptions on their doorposts (Deut. 6: 9; 11 : 20) were to remind them of the tremendously significant fact,
"I am the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the Lord your God" (Num. 15: 41).
Law and Grace Ch 4
3 Thou shalt not eat any abominable thing [to'evah (detestable thing)].
That these distinctions were what might be called artificial is evident from Paul's remarks on meats, in Rom. 14: "I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him that esteemeth anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean", The words of Jesus were to the same effect. "Not that which goeth into a man, but that which cometh out of a man (evil thoughts, adulteries, etc.), that defileth the man."
Yet for the time being, while the law was in force, the distinctions between clean meats and defiling meats were real, and constituted part of the "righteousness which is of the law", touching which Paul was blameless.
The question which the mind is concerned to probe is--what spiritual principle was allegorically involved in the distinction made between clean and unclean beasts? We are aided somewhat in this quest by the vision which was thrice shown to Peter to prepare him for a divinely-purposed message apparently inconsistent with the previous commandment of the law to stand apart from the Gentiles. By this vision, we see the unclean beasts stood for persons... The features of the vision are familiar to all who are familiar with the Scriptures. Still, they seem to need repeating in this connection.
"A certain vessel descended unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth wherein were all manner of four-footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common."
Peter doubted at first what this vision should mean; but when afterwards, by the Spirit's direction, he stood in the presence of a company of Gentiles in the house of Cornelius, to whom he was sent to open the door of faith, he understood. He said, "God hath shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean" (Acts 10:28).
The beasts, then, stood for men, and the peculiarities constituting them clean and unclean respectively, were but typical of qualities in men that make them suitable or otherwise for divine use. That those peculiarities should be associated with and resultant on certain states of flesh rendering them fit or unfit for use as human food, is an added excellence to the type, but the type is the main thing for us to consider.
The physical qualities of the flesh rejected as food are very secondary. A good digestion can assimilate almost any edible substance to the requirements of nutrition. It was the divine law in the case that was the material element. Now that the objects of the law have been accomplished in Christ, the law has been taken away. It was nailed to his cross (Col. 2:14). It "stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed till the time of the reformation", and "could not make him that did the service perfect as pertaining to the conscience" (Heb. 9:10). But the lessons taught by the law remain.
And let it also be said, the discernments of wisdom, as bearing on natural things, remain. It does not follow because distinctions between clean and unclean beasts have been done away as a ground of acceptance to God, that therefore a wise man will eat anything or drink anything without regard to their physical effects. It still remains a command to abhor that which is evil, and to cleave to that which is good and lovely and of excellent report. There are some things that are of excellent report with all men: such as bread, water, the fruits of the field, the rain of heaven, and a thousand things besides.
But there are other things and other habits that are not of excellent report, because of bad effects on the best faculties of men--that weaken and lower and debase the best powers of men, and that are always found in association with evil. Such are opium, tobacco, spirits, and the alcoholic drinks in common use among the people. They are in high favour with the children of the devil everywhere. They are not to be found with those who follow after righteousness, temperance, chasteness, holiness, in preparation for eternal association with Him who is Holiness itself. While all extremes and crochets are to be avoided, there is a middle ground of wisdom and excellence that affords a natural meeting place for the sons of God.
There are extremes of liberty from the law of Moses that degenerate to hurtful license: and there are extremes of fastidiousness as to meats and drinks that are hurtful to the true aims of the Gospel. The good sense fostered by the apostolic epistles is not likely to be found at either end, but in the wholesome middle ground, where all things that may be lawful are not necessarily practised as expedient, because of dangers in various directions. While no man is to judge another with respect to "meat, or drink, or an holy day, or the new moon, or the sabbath days" (Col. 2:16), we are to judge ourselves very severely under the law of Christ, which enjoins that we "neither eat flesh nor drink wine" if a brother is thereby stumbled, made weak or drawn into danger (Rom. 14:21).
Law of Moses Ch 29
6 And every beast that parteth the hoof, and cleaveth the cleft into two claws, and cheweth the cud among the beasts, that ye shall eat.
What sort of men are they who correspond to the type of cud-chewing and hoof-parting animals? We are in the presence of at least the shadow of an answer when we hear the modern phrase "chewing the cud of reflection".
The literal act of chewing the cud is part of the process of preparing the food for assimilation by the animal tissues. Digestion in the grand requisite. For gross organizations, no great thoroughness is necessary in the process: a short alimentary canal is sufficient for the carnivorous races. The lion and the tiger bolt their food and it is converted quickly.
But in the higher races, where a finer result is aimed at, in producing food for man in the flesh of the ox and sheep, there is a greater elaborateness in the structure provided for the conversion of grass and turnips into beef and mutton. The chewing of the cud belongs to the greater elaborateness of structure: the thorough preparation of food for conversion into life is the essential idea of this act.
It is not difficult to go from the typical to the spiritual in this matter. There is spiritual food and there is spiritual life that results from the eating and assimilation of that food. "Thy words were found, and I did eat them", said Jeremiah. "The entrance of thy word giveth light", wrote the Psalmist. "He that eateth me shall live by me", said Christ; "the words that I speak unto you are spirit and life".
Men, then, who are given to turning over in their minds the divine knowledge conveyed in the words of truth are men who spiritually chew the cud. They are spiritually ruminant animals. They are the clean among men. As Jesus said, "Ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you."
There is nothing mystical about this. It is the obvious fact that a man with the word of God stored in his mind, is a clean man by comparison with the man in whom the mere mind of the flesh prevails. He is clean in thought, clean in action, clean in all his ways--in a word, holy. His holiness is not the result of natural organization, but of the presence in that organization of the truth which sanctifies. The truth is the sanctifying power, and this not merely as a thing once learnt, but a thing constantly read and thought about.
The sheep nibbles the grass all the day long. Men of God are in harmony with the command which says "Be thou in the fear of God all the day long", The sheep is constantly growing as a sheep. If it ceased its activities as a living animal, it would die. In the antitype, the process of spiritual life is constantly going on. There is no arrest or suspension. The word of God is read and pondered every day: God is thanked every day, "in sincerity and truth", both at meal tables, and at bedside night and morning.
God is before the mind every day, as a factor in all life's calculations. The truth is much more than a knowledge of the fact that man is mortal and that Christ is the Saviour and that the Kingdom is coming. It is a knowledge of God as the possessor of heaven and earth and the weigher of actions. This knowledge cannot be retained except by the constant reading and reflection typified by the chewing of the cud by the clean animals--reckoned clean because they did so.
Law of Moses Ch 29
7 Nevertheless these ye shall not eat of them that [only] chew the cud, or of them that [only]divide the cloven hoof; as the camel, and the hare, and the coney: for they chew the cud, but divide not the hoof; therefore they are unclean [tameh] unto you.
The hoof is a horny enclosure of the foot in hermetically sealed case, which, while contributory to the comfort of the animal, disqualifies it for walking on any but level ground. It cannot clamber among rocks or difficult places. It is liable to stumble on uneven ground: whereas, when the hoof is divided, and each half is parted into claws, the creature can easily walk on hill sides and even among rocky places ---as in the case of the goat or sheep. Surefootedness is the result of dividing the hoof and parting the clefts.
It does not seem difficult to see why this should be selected as a typical characteristic of acceptable men. "He that walketh wisely walketh surely." "Walk in wisdom towards them that are without." "Walk as becometh the gospel." This "walking" is the practical direction of our affairs.
A man who failed in this would be a very unsatisfactory kind of man, however much he might be given to ruminating on the word of God. A man all theory and no action--first class at describing what ought to be done, but with no gift at practising what he preached--would be the poor sort of creature signified by that which only chewed the cud but did not divide the hoof.
The other state of the case would be equally abortive--that is, where there might be excellent capacity for execution, but no understanding of what the will of God required. This case is also provided against in the type [next verse].
Law of Moses Ch 29
8 And the swine [chazir], because it divideth the hoof, yet cheweth not the cud, it is unclean [tameh] unto you: ye shall not eat of their flesh [basar], nor touch their dead carcase [nevelah].
9 These ye shall eat of all that are in the waters: all that have fins and scales shall ye eat:
Scales and fins appear to sustain the same analogy to chewing the cud and dividing the hoof: the scales rendering the creature more accessible to the watery element of life around it than when clad in an impervious skin; and the fins giving greater power of guidance in "the paths of the seas" than where motion has to be obtained by contortion of the body.
10 And whatsoever hath not fins and scales ye may not eat; it is unclean [tameh] unto you.
The fishes forbidden are also those from which human appetite would naturally shrink; all those approaching the reptilian type in lacking fins and scales, and having therefore a heavy, greasy texture of flesh.
Law of Moses Ch 29
11 Of all clean [tahorah] birds ye shall eat.
All that is odious and unwholesome among the creatures is forbidden; all that is beautiful, innocent, and good for food, is allowed. We have only to apply this in the amplest way to see with new force the spiritual comeliness that is required at the hands of those whom God will take into His eternal fellowship.
Law of Moses Ch 29
12 But these are they of which ye shall not eat: the eagle [nesher], and the ossifrage [vulture], and the ospray [bearded vulture],
The birds forbidden are all those that are birds of prey and feed on carrion, such as the eagle, the vulture, the raven, the owl, the swan, etc., which would naturally stand as the types of men of low tastes and predaceous instincts.
Law of Moses Ch 29
21 Ye shall not eat of any thing that dieth of itself: thou shalt give it unto the stranger [ger] that is in thy gates [she'arim], that he may eat it; or thou mayest sell it unto an alien: for thou art an holy people [Am Kadosh] unto the Yahweh thy Elohim. Thou shalt not seethe [boil] a kid in his mother's milk [cholov].
'..the law of Moses was not a hygienic system, though all its principles were in harmony with the best hygienic principles: it was a system of spiritual significances adapted to serve the double purpose of physical well being and spiritual education. Therefore, while forbidding the eating of the flesh of animals that had died a natural death or been slain by other animals, it could consistently allow the eating of flesh properly killed: because although the physical state of the flesh might be the same in both cases, the allegorical bearings were not the same.
Flesh dying of itself would be diseased, and flesh rent for the sustenance of beasts of prey would be flesh dying in animal wantonness or in accident--neither of which could prefigure the sinless Lamb of God laying down his life in obedience to the commandment of the Father.
So far as physical considerations were concerned, the meat in question was fit enough to be eaten. Hence, the Israelites were at liberty to "give it unto the stranger that is in thy gates, that he may eat it: or sell it unto an alien".
As for themselves, they were "an holy people unto the Lord thy God", and therefore bound by all that was involved in the law given to them.
Law of Moses Ch 29
27 And the Levite [Levi] that is within thy gates [she'arim]; thou shalt not forsake him; for he hath no part [chelek] nor inheritance [nachalah] with thee.
28 At the end of 3 years [shalosh shanim] thou shalt bring forth all the tithe [ma'aser] of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates [she'arim]:
29 And the Levite [Levi], (because he hath no part nor inheritance [chelek nor nachalah] with thee,) and the stranger [ger], and the fatherless [yatom (or orphan)], and the widow [almanah], which are within thy gates [she'arim], shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that Yahweh thy Elohim may bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest.
The nation's attitude to the Levite (and so, by natural association of thought, to all others in the same defenceless and precarious position) would thus reveal what was its attitude to God Himself - hence the law,
"Take heed to thyself that thou forsake not the Levite as long as thou livest upon the earth" (Deut. 12: 19).
Law and Grace Ch 11