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?
Though God commands us not to eat certain animals, fish, and birds (Leviticus 11; Deuteronomy 14), the person who lives by sight rationalizes that these are merely ceremonial laws. At least part of the reason for God's command, however, seems to be that the bad effects of eating unclean meats are not immediately apparent. Problems resulting from a steady diet of forbidden flesh may not show up for 40 or 50 years or even until the next generation. If one chooses to ignore God's gracious command and persists in eating things He has not designed as food, sin eats away at his physical and spiritual vitality.
John W. Ritenbaugh
What Sin Is & What Sin Does
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Leviticus 11:4: