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Bible verses about Clean/ Unclean Distinction
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Unclean in Scripture means "to be defiled, polluted, unhealthy, or unfit," and refers to foods that are unfit, defilement of religious character, and moral or spiritual impurity. The word "defilement" describes a sinful and unfit condition (Isaiah 6:5). The Old Testament distinguishes between what is clean and helpful and what is unclean and unacceptable (Leviticus 10:10). The New Testament deals more with the spiritual application and lists uncleanness or moral defilement along with fornication and other sins as "works of the flesh" (Galatians 5:19-21).

In the gospels, "unclean" describes those who are possessed by demonic spirits through constant submission to evil. Uncleanness represents sin, and sin separates man from God. Because of sin, "we are all like an unclean thing" (Isaiah 64:6). Believers are not called to uncleanness but to live in holiness (I Thessalonians 4:7). We are not to yield our members to uncleanness but to righteousness and holiness (Romans 6:19).

The teaching about uncleanness springs from the concept of God's holiness (Leviticus 11:44-45). It is a miracle in itself that freedom from uncleanness and guilt is possible through God's grace. Holiness within, purity of heart, is possible through the exercise of faith in Christ's redemptive work and obedience to His truth.

Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Two-Demon Possessed Men Healed (Part Two)


 

Genesis 7:1-3

Since the law of clean and unclean was in force in Noah's time, and possibly in Abel's lifetime (Genesis 4:4), it was not made obsolete with the passing of the Old Covenant. This is a vital principle to remember regarding the Old and New Covenants: What did not originate with the Old Covenant did not die with it.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Clean and Unclean Meats


 

Genesis 7:2

The clean and unclean laws are specifically mentioned early in God's Word, in the account of the Noachian Flood, when Noah was commanded to take "seven each of every clean animal" (Genesis 7:2). When he and his family were back on dry land, Noah "took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar" (Genesis 8:20). This suggests that these laws were known and practiced before the Flood'even from the earliest days of mankind (compare Genesis 4:4, Abel's acceptable offering). Since there were no Jews or Israelites then-not even any Hebrews-these laws are obviously for all humankind.

John O. Reid (1930-2016)
Did God Change the Law of Clean and Unclean Meats?


 

Genesis 9:3

Genesis 9:3 contains a command that has proven difficult for some to understand: God says to Noah, "Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs." Some take this to mean that God gives man carte blanche authority to eat any kind of animal. But is this what God said?

The key to this verse is "even as the green herbs." In other words, God gives mankind the authority to eat flesh within the same parameters as He allows us to eat vegetation. Does God allow us to eat poisonous plants like poison ivy, hemlock, deadly nightshade, etc.? Of course not! Just as certain plants are harmful to us, so are certain meats. As Herbert Armstrong explained in "Is All Animal Flesh Good Food?":

God did not give poisonous herbs as food. He gave man the healthful herbs. Man can determine which herbs are healthful, but man cannot by himself determine which flesh foods are harmful. That is why God had to determine for us in His Word which meats are clean. Since the Flood every moving clean, healthful, nonpoisonous type of animal life is good for food'just as God gave us the healthful, nonpoisonous herbs.

This does not give us permission to do as we please!

John O. Reid (1930-2016)
Did God Change the Law of Clean and Unclean Meats?


 

Leviticus 11:1-47

Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 contain God's commandment to Israel concerning clean and unclean meats. In these passages, either He lists specific animals that are clean or unclean, or He provides us with instructions about how to determine if an animal is clean or unclean. For instance, He tells us specifically that the camel, the hyrax (rock badger), the hare, and the swine are unclean (Leviticus 11:4-8), but regarding fish He instructs us to determine if a species possesses both fins and scales (verse 9).

People have varying reactions to these scriptures. Some will take the position that unclean animals are harmful to the body. Many of us have had experience, either personally or by an acquaintance, with poisoning by trichinosis (a disease caused by parasitic worm larvae) in pork or becoming deadly sick from shellfish. Then others will bring up "Aunt Sarah," who ate pork and crawdads, drank a bottle of whiskey, smoked cigars every day, and lived to be 102 years old. Indeed, God makes some with amazingly strong constitutions.

God designed many of the unclean animals for the specific purpose of disposing of the earth's garbage. For instance, without feeling any ill effect, vultures can consume 59 times the amount of botulin, the neurotoxin that causes botulism, that it would take to kill a man. Pigs are scavengers that will eat anything, and if pork is not fully cooked to kill the Trichinella spiralis in it, it can destroy a person's health or even kill him.

Even though people throughout the world eat unclean food and live, and even though we could probably do the same'and many of us once did'for Christians, it is more than a health matter. In the Bible, God never directly connects keeping the laws of Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 with health. In reality, it is a test commandment to see if we will obey God.

John O. Reid (1930-2016)
Did God Change the Law of Clean and Unclean Meats?


 

Leviticus 13:47-59

The clear implication of Leviticus 13:47-59 is that some, though not all, leprous garments became clean. Peter's vision of "all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air" (Acts 10:12) speaks to this point. God made it clear that He was capable of cleansing the Gentiles, but never said He had cleansed all of them at this time. Notice His admonition to Peter: "What God has cleansed you must not call common" (verse 15). Peter got the picture when he met Cornelius shortly after, telling the Roman centurion: "In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him" (verses 34, 35). While God calls from "every nation," only some, those who fear and obey, are acceptable to Him.

In verse 36, Peter interjects a vital idea: Christ "is Lord of all." Verse 45 records that the "Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also." The "apostles and brethren who were in Judea" (Acts 11:1) came to understand that "God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life" (verse 18).

Charles Whitaker
The Mixed Multitude


 

Deuteronomy 7:6

That Israel was a holy nation is far more important than is generally realized, and it affects our understanding of wavesheaf requirements. As a prelude to better understanding and properly appreciating many aspects of waving the sheaf, it is helpful to know that God specifically designated Israel a sanctified people. He set the entire nation apart as distinctive from the rest of the world's nations. As such, He gave them responsibilities to perform before the rest of the world as a testimony of their obedient service to God.

God's declaration of certain things as "clean" and others as "unclean" helped to define this holiness to them. Some things declared unclean could not even be touched without making a person ceremonially defiled until he performed the prescribed rituals. Among the things declared polluted or unclean were the Gentiles, whose uncleanness was not inherent but lay in their idolatry: They did not worship the God of Creation who set the Israelites apart. As such, even a marriage between an Israelite and a Gentile was forbidden except within very narrow parameters.

The ceremonial aspects of the Israelites' responsibilities are quite detailed, and God expected them to be followed exactly as instructed because each detail fits precisely within His purposes for His relationship with His sanctified people. Are we wiser than He is? God is not the author of meaningless regulations. Waving the sheaf of grain is one of these ceremonial duties, containing explicit instructions with spiritual ramifications.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pentecost Revisited (Part Two): Joshua 5


 

Deuteronomy 8:11-14

What is written in this chapter is one of the things that led to the break-up the Worldwide Church of God, and why its members are scattered all over. Its members forgot a great deal about God's requirements of obedience. This theme of not forgetting runs through the book of Deuteronomy.

Virtually every family of people on earth considers themselves to be the recipients of God's favor. They usually designate themselves by a title to indicate this, especially to themselves. The Germans call themselves Herrenvolk. The Japanese call themselves "sons of heaven." China calls itself "the good earth," and Americans, "God's country."

The Israelites were the recipients of the knowledge of God's purpose, then they were given a land in which to prosper and to use that knowledge. However, whatever Israel received, it was miniscule by comparison to what the church was given. Yet, Israel forgot what God had so graciously bestowed, and what happened to the Israelites? They were scattered to the four corners of the earth. Is it possible, then, that the church forgot what God had given it? It became less and less aware that it, too, had been given the knowledge of God and of His purpose being worked out in its members lives. What did we call ourselves? "God's church"!

However, there is a common byproduct of prosperity: "Lest when you have eaten and are full, and have built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; then your heart be lifted up, and you forget. . . ."

Yes, a common byproduct of prosperity—one that could destroy the gift of knowledge of God's purpose for mankind—is forgetfulness! Pride in one's prosperity can gradually persuade a person that he gained it himself, but the fact is that the real reason for the prosperity is what he was given.

There are a number of reasons for the Old Covenant rituals, but undoubtedly, one of them is to remind the sanctified ones who they are and what they are to do with their lives. They are a separated people, called to make right use of their gifts and to glorify God in the use of them.

Being aware of our separation is supremely important to us because it is one of the few ways that gives sense to why God requires certain things. The laws of clean and unclean meats should be a constant reminder of this separation. So should the removing of leaven from our homes before Unleavened Bread. It is clear from the Old Testament rituals that cleanliness—spiritual, moral, and physical cleanliness—and purity are the realities that differentiate us from the world, making us distinctive from others.

This is something, though, that is so easy to forget or to overlook, which is why God gives this warning in Deuteronomy 8. Being spiritually undefiled or uncontaminated is a responsibility because it is in maintaining the cleanliness that a visible witness is made—one that can be seen and evaluated by the world. If we allow ourselves to run amok with the rest of the world, then we share the world's contamination through sin, and no witness is made. Who can see the difference? There is no difference, or so little difference that it is unrecognizable.

Thus, it is in the efforts to be made clean and to maintain cleanliness that many of the sacrificial aspects of priesthood are most clearly seen.

John W. Ritenbaugh
New Covenant Priesthood (Part 2)


 

Deuteronomy 14:3-21

In verses 3-21, He gives instructions about what should be taken internally, what kinds of meats are suitable for intake from God's perspective. The eating habits of the Egyptians were certainly not up to God's standards, and He thus illuminated Israel on what was good as food for human consumption and what was not. In essence, God is concerned about what goes inside our bodies. Junk foods, of course, are not addressed, but God's intent is the same: Do not misuse the inside of the body.

Staff
Whatever Your Heart Desires


 

Joshua 5:10-11

It is a well-known historical fact that, despite many differences among their various sects over when the sheaf was to be waved, no Jewish group throughout history ever resorted to observing Wavesheaf Day on any Sabbath. They always kept it on a common workday because the labor of harvesting began immediately after the sheaf was waved.

Consider yet another factor drawn from the wavesheaf symbolism: Does not the sheaf above all else represent the true First of the Firstfruits—Jesus Christ? Our Savior was an Israelite, from the tribe of Judah. The Most Holy of all men was born into the holy people (John 1:11). Can grain from a Gentile source—an unclean source in the symbolism—represent this greatest and purest of all Israelites, especially so since it typifies Him as just resurrected?

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pentecost Revisited (Part Two): Joshua 5


 

Ezekiel 44:23

In the Millennium, when God's Kingdom is reigning on earth, the priesthood will teach the difference between clean and unclean! And after the thousand years, no abominable thing, nothing that defiles will mar the New Jerusalem! All of its citizens will be holy. This is the wonderful destiny that we are preparing for, and part of making ourselves ready is following the law of clean and unclean meats.

Staff
Clean and Unclean Meats


 

Acts 10:9-16

Three times Peter refused to eat the unclean animals shown to him within the great sheet, and God did not rebuke him. The meaning of the vision is clearly defined in verse 28: "But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean." Nowhere in the ensuing dispute (Acts 11:1-18) is any mention made of clean or unclean foods.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Clean and Unclean Meats


 

2 Corinthians 6:16-18

As the spiritual temple of God, as God's sons and daughters, we have a duty to make ourselves as "clean," "pure," or "holy" as possible. This "perfecting holiness" includes all areas of life, not just the spiritual. Paul makes an unmistakable distinction between flesh and spirit (II Corinthians 7:1) only two verses after he paraphrases Isaiah 52:11: "Do not touch what is unclean."

Staff
Clean and Unclean Meats


 

Galatians 2:11-14

Paul cites an example of the kind of conduct that was either directly part of halakha or what it produced. It connects to Peter's experience in Acts 10:28:

And [Peter] said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.

The first part of verse 28 has a direct tie to halakha. God had given Peter a vision, recorded earlier in the chapter, in order to instruct him that his perception, his interpretation, was wrong. He was not supposed to call any man common or unclean simply because he had been born to some other racial group or ethnic family other than Jewish.

God's law commanded Israelites to do no such thing as refuse to eat with the Gentiles or even keep company with them. This is a practice derived from Judaism. Even though Peter knew this, he still became carried away into gross hypocrisy when the conditions were right, thus giving us an opportunity to learn that, when Paul is condemning law in the book of Galatians, he is not condemning God's law, but laws men added, thinking they were doing God service.

Here is what happened. Peter came to Antioch for some unstated reason. The church in the town of Antioch was predominately a Gentile church, and while he was there, he circulated freely with the Gentiles. A bit later, though, some Jews arrived, claiming they were from James. Their presence, and possibly their arguments, influenced Peter to withdraw from the Gentiles. So strong was this influence that even Barnabas, Paul's traveling companion on so many of his journeys, was affected so that he withdrew too.

What these Jews—and the apostles caught in it—were doing was effectively driving the church apart! Their teachings and actions were erecting a wall between Jew and Gentile. They were influencing Jews to think they were better than Gentiles, and the Gentiles, that they were inferior unless they submitted to the Jews' standard. The Gentiles wanted to do the right thing, and in their childish ignorance, they began to be led astray. All this was dividing the church.

The standard these Jews taught came neither from God's law nor from the gospel, and the fruit it was producing was class distinction and respect of persons. It came from halakha, part of the Oral Law that frequently had nothing in harmony with God's law.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 25)


 

 




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