Ritual purity. Cleanliness and uncleanliness. I don’t think this was explained to me very well when I was growing up. I’m not sure it was explained to me very well when I was attending Bible college.
My husband listens to Bible podcasts and does a lot more reading than I do. He’s also smarter than I am, and that’s very useful. He’s explained it to me and reminded me a couple times, and the Faithlife Study Bible Dictionary explains it pretty well.
God is perfect. God is life. Things that are holy needs to be as close to perfection as we can get in this world. The unblemished lamb, just reaching physical maturity before it begins to age and decline. Spotless white linen. Things that are clean are full of life and health.
So, death and decay, anything touched by death and decay, is unclean. Illness. Bleeding: losing blood, that stuff that carries life. Birds and animals that feed off of death.
Holiness and cleanliness practices that keep the people away from death and decay and infection will inherently lead to healthier people, and the explanation of clean/life vs unclean/death fits more absolutely than the more simplistic ‘it was to keep them healthy’ explanation, but some stipulations have to be intentionally for their protection as well.
Take pork. I’m not sure I understand how pigs and hares are associated with death, except that they are particularly attractive to dangerous bacteria when not prepared safely.
Anyway, my primary point today is that we don’t spend enough time even trying to understand the law. I realize that Christ came to fulfill the law, that we are now under him rather than the law, but the law is still an extremely relevant part of the picture. How can we understand what Christ achieved if we don’t understand that which he fulfilled?
I know, thanks to my husband and a particularly good pastor I once had, that resources are out there to help ordinary people like me understand these apparently more complex but rather important theological concepts. Again, I highly recommend the Faithlife Study Bible and theBibleProject.com.