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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

October 24, 2018

Leviticus 11:1-8

  1. Today we will begin to look at the spiritual meaning for the separation of unclean food and clean food. Here are some great notes from “Living Room Theology” on these first few verses. The Hebrew word for hoof or divided hoof is parsah. It comes from the root word paras, which means to be divided; to break or divide. These two words are used 34 times in the Old Testament. But, 24 of the uses come from the instances of the dietary laws under consideration. So, to not eat anything abominable, we need to eat animals with divided hoofs. Oxen, animals with cloven or divided hoofs, were used to tread out the grain. When oxen treaded out, or threshed the grain, they separated the wheat from the stalk. So, cloven-hoofed animals were used in the first step of separating, or dividing the wheat from the chaff. These cloven-hoofed animals that were used to divide represent Jesus. See Luke 12:51-53. Division or separation is the process by which God creates. The first three days of creation are marked by separation. On day one, God separated light from darkness. Then, on day two, God separated the waters above from the waters below. Finally, on day three, God separated the seas from the land. Therefore, the animal with cloven or divided hooves represents Jesus as the one who divides spiritual from natural, or clean from unclean.

  2. The word cud is a relatively obscure Hebrew word and appears almost exclusively in these two sections of the dietary laws. Cud is food that has been swallowed into the stomach but is brought back into the mouth for further chewing. Therefore, cud is food that has been partially digested but is brought back up into the mouth to be chewed, or digested some more. The word chew only appears in the Old Testament in the two sections of the dietary law under consideration. However, the English word chew is translated from a very common Hebrew verb, alah. Alah means to ascend, to lead up, to lead out, to bring up, to cause to rise. It is the root word for sacrifice or offering. In a sense, that which has been partially digested, the cud, is brought back up for further chewing so that it can be raised up as an offering. Why do animals chew cud? A cow first chews it food just enough to get it moist so that it can be swallowed. Then, it enters the stomach to be softened. After the food is softened, the food is chewed on some more. Then the food goes back into the stomach for further digestion. How then is Jesus the animal that chews the cud? From at least the age of 12 on, Jesus could be found in dialogue with rabbis. He was studying the scriptures, learning from his Father. At the age of 30, Jesus was baptized and the Holy Spirit rested upon him. Mark 1:12 says, “The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.” While in the wilderness without food, Jesus had food that we do not know about. He had the cud, the food that he had partially digested, that he could continue to chew on for further nourishment. What is this chewing the cud that Jesus was doing? Psalm 1:2 speaks of the blessed man whose “delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” To chew the cud is to meditate on the law of God, the scriptures. Jesus did this for 40 days and 40 nights before he was tempted by Satan. Therefore, when he was tempted, Jesus was immediately able to quote the truth of scripture to refute the devil's temptations and lies. After chewing the cud, Jesus was able to separate truth from lie and so do the Father’s will.

  3. WE EAT JESUS. In John 6:47-51, Jesus says...”I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” To eat Jesus is to set our minds on him. This is what Jesus meant in to eat Jesus and fill our hearts with light is to set our minds on Christ and the things that are above. If we set our minds on the things of the earth, then we will be feeding on abominable things that will fill our hearts with darkness, which will eventually come out of our mouths and defile us. So, what are the things above we should think about? Philippians 4:8 says, ”Finally, brothers, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." All of those things are Jesus, and only Jesus. We must remember that Jesus is the Word of God, not the Bible. We need to eat Jesus. The Bible is important because it points us to him. But, we need to eat Jesus, not the Bible.

  4. EAT JESUS AS THE ANIMAL WITH CLOVEN HOOFS. So, what does it look like to eat Jesus, the word of God, the animal with cloven hoofs? Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” When we eat Jesus, the word of God, he is in us separating soul from spirit, earth from heaven, discerning our wicked intentions from the pure intentions of the will of the Father that we are to do. Jesus separates ideas, thoughts, motives, and intentions in our minds. This is not something that we do for others. Paul says the sword of the Spirit is the word of God, Jesus. Jesus is the sword that divides, just as he said he was bringing. But, note the sphere of this sword's activity. Ephesians 6:18 says the sword of the Spirit, the word of God, Jesus, is wielded by “praying at all times, with all prayer and supplication.”

  5. EAT JESUS AS THE ANIMAL THAT CHEWS THE CUD. When we are first saved, we are like newborn infants. See 1 Peter 2:2, Hebrews 5:12-14. When we are young in Christ, we feed on milk. We need to eat as much as we can quickly. We should read as much of the scripture as quickly as we can so that we can learn as much about Jesus as possible and grow quickly. But, later we need to eat solid food, which is harder to digest. We still need to eat a lot of the word of God, but we should chew him just enough that we can swallow him. Then, when we enter the wilderness, where we don't get fed, we can chew the cud. Now, we can meditate on the deeper things to grow in our powers of discernment and ability to separate good from evil.

  6. WE CAN'T EAT ONE OR THE OTHER THOUGH. Notice though that the dietary law says that we must eat an animal that has cloven hoofs and chews the cud. We should not eat an animal that has only one or the other. Why can we not eat an animal that just chews the cud? Eating an animal that just chews the cud is symbolic of us continually meditating on scripture over and over and over without allowing it to divide anything in us. We may read and think about scripture a lot, but we won't allow the living and active word, Jesus, to separate us from the things of this world. Therefore, we will be unclean. Why can we not eat an animal that just has cloven hoofs? If we eat an animal that only has cloven hoofs but does not chew the cud, then we become focused on division and separation only. We aren’t taking the time to understand the deeper things of God, to meditate what the separation and division of God is. In fact, we get so full of the idea that Christ divides that we apply the sword of the Spirit wrongly. We begin to apply the sword to people. We separate people by either casting them out of our presence, war, or any number of other ways. When we get focused on separation and division without meditating on the word of God to understand that the division and separation gets applied internally to our own thoughts and motivations, then we will be unclean.

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