不潔淨

  • 利未記 11-15
  • 講道者: 郝柏昇
  • 2011年08月31日
我們動不動就不潔淨:世界、生育、疾病、和排泄都是污穢的,也是神的律法和我們的罪的路標,教導我們到耶穌那裡去得潔淨。

We are talking today about all the different ways an Israelite could become unclean

(Remember the four categories? Holy and common [聖的和俗的], clean and unclean)

This passage isn't really about moral law, but about ceremonial cleanness. Remember there is a difference between "unclean" and "sin". Sinning makes you unclean, but uncleanness is not necessarily sin.

"Unclean" means you cannot come into contact with the holy. If you do, then you profane the holy by treating it as common, and this is an offense to God's holiness!

Unclean is about whether we are able to approach God in worship or not.

These things are not sinful, but they are signposts to the law [律法的路標]

While eating pork, or having mildew in your house, or having some unpleasant bodily emissions [排泄] is not morally wrong [道德上的過犯], they still remind us of the law, and they remind us of our sin.

By teaching God's people to always be discerning what they can do and cannot do (cf. Lev 10:10-11), they are being taught to discern what is morally right and wrong as well.

These laws are reminders to Israel about God's holiness, and about the contamination [污穢] that surrounds us. We find there are many many possible ways to become unclean! [我們動不動就不潔淨]

They were to learn that we tend towards contamination and separation with God, and we need his cleansing and pardoning grace to maintain our relationship with him.

These are training wheels [扶助輪]

I'd like to say up front that these laws do not directly apply to NT believers. You should not walk away thinking before you come to church you need to stop eating pork, and make sure your house is clear of all mildew!!

These are like training wheels that teach you how to ride a bike. But once maturity comes, the training wheels go. These teach us God's holiness and our sinfulness. We see it much more clearly in Christ, the "true substance" [本體的真象] these "shadows" point to.

Christians no longer have the law as our tutor, but have the Spirit of God within. (Gal 3:23-26; 4:3-7)

Some sections of the Bible are better understood in overview

"If you read everything fast or everything slow, you've probably read nothing well"[1] [你如果每一段都讀得快或每一段都讀得慢,你大概沒有一段讀得好]

We'll hit the main themes but won't look at the details.

The world, childbirth, disease, and discharges are contaminated.

The world is contaminated 世界是污穢的 (11)

This is the one people probably wonder about the most, so we'll spend the majority of our time here. (Hopefully this more in depth analysis of food will help understand the following areas as well.)

Why?

The biggest question people ask here in Leviticus 11 is why

Why are certain animals "clean" and others "unclean"? How does God decide?

Most of the reasoning [邏輯] people come up with to explain these distinctions is incomplete, it doesn't explain every detail.

First of all note: Leviticus does not explain why. That should prevent us from spending too much time thinking about this. If it were important, God would have told us.

Lev 11:44-47 – The most important verses of the chapter, the part to read slowly. What we do know is that these laws are connected to holiness.

Main suggestions:

Health: Healthy animals are allowed, and filthy / unhealthy animals are not allowed. Yet, not all unclean animals are harmful, and some harmful ones are not prohibited.

Sacrifice: Unclean animals were associated with pagan gods. Yet again, this is only true for some, not for all.

Symbolic: The different animals chosen had symbolic / spiritual meaning behind them. For example, that the animals have to "chew the cud" [反芻] shows that we should be constantly meditating on [默想、反覆思考] God's law.

Arbitrary [武斷] (or: Separation): God just made distinctions to separate Israel apart from other nations, and to teach Israel they have to make distinctions.

[I would rather call it "various" [多元] than arbitrary; God knew what he was doing, even if we don't know the reason. The purpose, however, is for separation.]

I would choose this last view

Remember: these laws are ultimately about holiness, about being set apart.

God wanted to teach them to distinguish. He wanted them to know certain things are okay and certain things are not. By connecting it to food, he makes them learn to distinguish constantly. Holiness affects daily life [日常生活]!

Fundamentally: God is setting Israel apart as a unique nation!

The Egyptians did not eat beef, because they venerated [尊敬] cows. But the Israelites were allowed to eat beef. What effect [結果] does this have? It separates [分開] these two peoples! The Egyptians would loathe [討厭] the Israelites for eating beef!

The Canaanites ate pigs and pigs were important to them. However, the Israelites were not allowed to eat pigs. This would again set the Israelites apart.

If you cannot have a meal together, then you cannot establish a strong relationship! Especially in that culture, eating together was a sign of acceptance. But if all the food you eat is different, then how can you accept each other?

This is a tool to protect Israel and a lesson for Israel

It is to teach them God's holiness, and their holiness in belonging to God.

It also has the effect of identifying the other nations with the unclean animals.

In Acts 10, God shows Peter a vision of unclean animals and tells him to eat. Peter refuses. God says, "What God has made clean, do not call common" [神所潔淨的,你不可當作俗物] (10:15).

Immediately after this, Gentile men arrive from Cornelius [哥尼流] to bring Peter to preach the gospel to them. Peter there realizes the meaning of the vision: "God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean" [神已經指示了我,不可把任何當作凡俗或不潔的] (10:28).

There is a connection between the food and the people. The unclean food represented the Gentile nations surrounding Israel, and it was to teach them to be separate, holy, clean, not like their pagan / idolatrous neighbors. He's saying: "I am the Lord your God!"

Application

So, what about us?

Mark 7:14-20 – Jesus declared all foods clean [表示各樣食物都是潔淨的].

Jesus makes clear [表明] what the godly Israelite would most likely have known from the start: there is nothing inherently [本質上] immoral [不道德] about eating certain foods.

The main problem, he says, is not with what goes in, but with what comes out! They reveal the corruption and uncleanness of our hearts, the real problem.

The food laws were just a signpost, an indicator of the contamination of the world.

[Col 2:16-17, 21 – These are shadows, the substance is Christ!]

So enjoy your 排骨, bacon, and ham sandwich!  God made it to be enjoyed, so receive it with thankfulness to God! (1Ti 4:4)

So what then shall we learn from Leviticus 11?

God wants us to be distinct from the world.

In the words of Jesus, we are to be "salt and light" of the world, so that when others see our works, they will glorify God and believe!  (Mat 5:16)

In the words of Paul, 2Co 6:16-7:1 –let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement!

The point is not to run away from the world, but to walk wisely in it

This means that we should not join a monastery [修道院] and become monks [和尚] and nuns [修女] and live with no connection to the world. This is a call to holiness in the world.

Jesus' great commission to the church was to make disciples of all nations! That means we must be in all nations!

Israel was "come and see" [來注視]; Christianity is "go and tell" [到處傳].

We must be holy. This is much more difficult than not eating certain foods. Yet, it will much more truly reveal the character of God.

Childbirth is contaminated 生育是污穢的 (12)

The first thing to repeat here is that childbirth is unclean, not sinful

(If birth is not sin, why offer a burnt / sin offering then? It is not for a specific sin, but for our sinful state that these events remind us of. This is true for the whole section, whenever it mentions "atonement" or a "sin offering".)

(The unclean period is 40 days for a male child, 80 days for a female child. The difference might be related to the circumcision of the male. Or it might be prefiguring [預示] the future uncleanness the baby girl will experience in her future.)

The birth of children is a wonderful thing to be celebrated. They are a gift from the Lord. But at the same time, they also bring uncleanness.  Why?

We see protection for the mother

This might be something like the Hebrew's 坐月子! This is in some part a provision for them to rest and recuperate.

We see the uncleanness of the birthing event

It is simply an unpleasant [不愉快] event. The result is wonderful, but the process is not.

Perhaps there is a reminder here of God's curse in Gen 3:16 – "I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children" [我要大大增加你懷胎的痛苦,你必在痛苦中生產兒女]. Birth does not have the same blessing it had originally!

The pain and uncleanness and unpleasantness of this event remind us of original sin!

I think God did this to remind his people that they are born dead in sin. From our very birth we are corrupt [墮落]; and not just corrupt, but guilty—Adam's guilt imputed to us.

Ps 51:5 – "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me." [看哪,我是在罪孽裡生的;我母親在罪中懷了我]

Jesus was the only one born "holy" [出生的聖者] (Lk 1:35). His mother offered this sacrifice in obedience to God's law, and due to God's curse on the childbearing process.

So, the family is taught to make distinctions, and to learn the holiness of God.

Disease is contaminated 疾病是污穢的 (13-14)

In these two chapters, you will find everything you ever wanted to know about skin diseases and mold: details important for the priests; main theme important for us.

Main point: disease and decay [腐朽、敗壞] reveal contamination

Disease is an indication [指示] that this world is not right, it is not as God designed it.

Disease and decay are a sign of the Fall, of God's curse upon this world. (God originally designed the world without any disease or decay or death! It was Adam's sin that brought God's curse upon this world.)

Thus, disease is unclean. It is not to be associated with the worship of God. But more…

Lepers were also segregated from society [與社會隔離]

With this uncleanness, you were not only separated from the Lord's worship, but also from normal society, because it was contagious.

Lev. 13:45-46 – The diagnosed leper must cry out, "Unclean! Unclean!"

This easily reminds us of our sin and separation from God

We are unclean, contagious, despicable [卑污], abnormal. There is distance and separation from God, and from one another.

Jesus came to not just pronounce [宣布] a recovered leper "clean" (all that the priest could do); Jesus came to actually heal the lepers!

Jesus does not just give us a clean bill of health [健康證明書]; he actually cures all that is abnormal and broken in us. He removes the cause of uncleanness and brings us to God.

But look around, and see evidence of the Fall everywhere

Every time someone coughs or sneezes or blows their nose [流鼻涕], we are reminded this world is abnormal and decaying and defiled.

We long for redemption and glorification when Jesus returns!

Discharges are contaminated 排泄是污穢的 (15)

God lays claim to every single aspect of our lives [生命沒有任何方面是神沒有主權].

One pastor preached on this chapter and titled it, "Things My Dad Taught Me Never to Talk About in Public"[2] [一些我爸爸教我不要在公開地方提到的事].

We see in Leviticus, he doesn't only command what to do at the tabernacle or on Sunday, but in every area of life—even secret [私人] things that nobody else knows about.

Bodily discharges [異常排泄] are contaminated

Whereas chapter 12 talked more about childbirth, the contamination we see here is from discharges from reproductive organs [生殖器官]. Even if unintentional, it is still unclean.

We find this uncleanness is very contagious. It lists out all the things that you can make unclean just by contact.

This teaches us the importance of sexual purity [性方面的純潔]

All of these discharges are related to our reproductive organs. It is very easy to sin in this regard, and special care must be taken.

This teaches us even secret things are important

We might think that since nobody else knows or sees, it can easily be forgotten (e.g. our thoughts / dreams, etc.).  But we must realize God is the living God! He sees all things!

We are to have a genuineness and integrity [誠實] to our approach to God.

If they were to so guard the worship of God, how much more should we?

We see God so much more clearly through Jesus Christ than they did! The grace we have is much greater! How much then, should we fear God, and approach in fear and trembling?

Conclusion

We live in a contaminated world

All around us is uncleanness. These are signposts that teach us the world is fallen and sinful, and we are so so far from God's holiness.

Lev 15:31 – The main point of all of these laws: see that our uncleanness makes us unfit to worship God. Our uncleanness cannot come into contact with God's holiness, or we will die.

We must have a sense of helplessness. God does not grade on a curve [調整分數]! We must see we are hopeless. Because then we will cry out to the Lord for mercy!

Jesus has made us clean so that we can forever be in the presence of God

Please don't avoid coming to church because you accidentally drank a fly in your soup!

Through Christ, we are cleansed from all defilement and made perfect in his eyes, so that we can enter into his holy presence [面前]!

We are like the leper in Luke 5 that came to Jesus to be cleansed and he said, "I am willing, be cleansed". We are like the woman with a discharge of blood [血漏病] in Luke 8 that reached out to touch [] Jesus and should have made him unclean, but were cleansed.

Jesus took on our sin; instead of becoming unclean, he paid its price and made us clean!

We have the hope of being with God forever, and we start to experience that now by God's presence in our lives through the Holy Spirit.

That's the gospel. Now here comes its implication:

So, be holy! Be distinct! Treasure the worship of God!

Do not be like the world! God forbid that the church be mistaken for the world!

Whether in speech, movies, music, drinks, internet, thoughts, actions—avoid defilement!

This is made possible by the cleansing of Christ, and the freedom [釋放] of the Spirit of God. Let us use our freedom in Christ (i.e. freedom from Satan, from sin) to love one another, to pursue holiness. (Gal 5:13)

"Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."
[所以,你們或吃喝,或作甚麼,一切都要為 神的榮耀而行] (1Co 10:31 )



[1] Paraphrase of a point in How to Read a Book