The Sanitary Laws emerged with Creation, being necessary to define the principles of hygiene for healthful living and to make people aware of practices that could cause disease and sickness. These laws spell out the doís and doníts of everyday living in a world of bugs, germs and conditions that if ignored could cause a nation to be a haven for unwholesome conditions and misery, but if followed would produce a thriving populace with a state of health that would be the envy of the rest of the world.
Some examples of early hygienic laws are warnings about handling diseased dead animals (Leviticus 5:2); keeping meat too long (Leviticus 7:15-18) (remember, there was no refrigeration then); and contamination of articles coming in contact with dead animals (Leviticus 11:32-33). Note that items of wood and materials that can be scrubbed were to be washed, but earthen vessels which could absorb the contamination were to be discarded. Even during the preparation of the meal, if the meat being prepared to eat, while raw, should be rested upon the clay oven or the stones where the cooking pots were set, the oven and stones were to be discarded (Leviticus 11:34-36). The clay and stone would absorb the blood and over time could cause disease. Even the water used to wash the meat and any vessel wetted by that water were considered unclean (verse 34). If a dead animal was found in a well or source of water where there was sufficient flow to flush it out, the water was clean, but the persons removing the animal had to wash and cleanse themselves (verse 36).
There were laws of Quarantine also (Leviticus 13:45-46). The science of bacterial transfer from person to person was unknown then, but appropriate action was prescribed and because of Godís instruction, they knew what to do. In all of these cases, without any of todayís knowledge of science and medicine, the Sanitary Laws of God instructed the people to follow those guidelines that would keep them healthy and disease free. Do we know everything today? Definitely not.
Modern man likes to think he has it all down pat, but the truth of the matter is that if he knew everything, there would be nothing else to learn, and we hear of new findings every day. Even those things we do know, many ignore and suffer for it. God had a reason for prohibiting us from eating certain meats (Leviticus 11:2), but the mainstream community insists that these laws no longer apply. Have the unclean meats changed since God gave this law? No. Did He have a reason for commanding us to refrain from eating them? Unless He is an impulsive reactionary and does things for no reason, the answer is YES! Is it possible that this reason is one of the things we havenít found out yet? Quite possibly. The awareness of trichinosis and using the correct cooking temperature is one of the popular examples for justifying the eating of pork, but that is not the whole story. Pork causes high blood pressure, too. According to statistics compiled by autopsy activity, it is estimated that 22 million Americans have trichinosis and donít know it. They have this worm living in their body because a normal cooking temperature of 160 degrees doesnít kill it! It can also be said that they have it because they violated Godís law (Leviticus 5:17). The phrase ďbear his iniquityĒ means to suffer the consequences for oneís own action.
Bottom-feeding scavengers are forbidden eating (Leviticus 11:9-12). No shellfish or shrimp has fins and catfish donít have scales. What they eat goes quickly into their flesh. This includes the droppings of all sea creatures that fall to the bottom. Would you want to eat that? Thatís why oysters give you hepatitis! The path to long life is revealed in Godís word (Psalm 16:11).
The next lesson will deal with the Sacrificial Laws.
FOR FURTHER STUDY:
Leviticus 11:1-31 Clean and unclean food defined.
Leviticus 11:37-47 Instruction for sanitary practice and forbidden food identified.
Acts 10:1-28 Peterís vision of unclean meat and his explanation of it.
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