“Such, then, is the law concerning animals, flying creatures, all living creatures that move about in the water, and all creatures that swarm on the ground. Its purpose is to distinguish between the unclean and the clean, and between the creatures that may be eaten and those that may not be eaten.”-Leviticus 11:46-47
Chapter 11 ends with the Lord making it clear to the Israelites that they are to DISTINGUISH between the CLEAN and UNCLEAN foods.
Or to say it in Hebrew, they are to distinguish between the TAHOR and the TAMEI.
At the very heart of this instruction is the fundamental Biblical principle of SEPARATION.
We can see that God is always in the process of dividing, electing, and separating.
And we can see this process from the very first chapter of the book of Genesis.
The Lord divided the dry land from the waters and SEPARATED them.
He divided light from darkness and SEPARATED them.
He divided daytime from nighttime and SEPARATED them.
He divided the water vapor in the air from the condensed water which formed the seas and SEPARATED them.
He established the minor lights in the heavens in order to SEPARATE the seasons.
He created man and then SEPARATED him from all other living creatures.
He elected the nation of Israel and SEPARATED it from all other nations on earth.
And now in the Book of Leviticus, the Lord is dividing, electing and SEPARATING those foods permitted for man to eat versus those foods forbidden to eat.
Although most Bible translations will use the word “distinguish” for the phrase “to distinguish between the unclean and the clean”, I feel this is a poor choice of words which more reflects a world that demands political correctness and a tolerance for all things rather than Biblical truth.
There is a world of difference in meaning between the word “distinguish” and “separate”.
“To distinguish” means just “to know” the difference.
It is a mere cerebral exercise.
It is the preliminary step BEFORE taking the action of dividing and separating.
However, in the Hebrew mindset, one is not to just KNOW the difference, but firmly ACT on that difference.
As believers, we’re not just to distinguish good from evil or right from wrong, we are to be fervently proactive in SEPARATING the two.
We are to stand unflinchingly on the side of truth, right and good and away from falsehood, wrong, and evil.
This is much harder to do and requires a much higher level of commitment than just engaging in the intellectual exercise of distinguishing.
If verse 47 were to more literally reflect the original Hebrew, it would be rendered as follows:
“…so that there is a SEPARATION between the clean and the unclean.”
CONNECTING THIS TEACHING TO THE NEW TESTAMENT
“Come out from them
and be separate,
says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing,
and I will receive you.”
-2 Corinthians 6:17
“Blessed are ye,
when men shall hate you,
and when they shall separate you
from their company,
and shall reproach you,
and cast out your name as evil,
for the Son of man’s sake.”
“They are not of the world,
even as I am not of it.”