“For I am Adonai your God; therefore, consecrate yourselves and be holy, for I am holy; and do not defile yourselves with any kind of swarming creature that moves along the ground. For I am Adonai, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. Therefore you are to be holy, because I am holy.“-Leviticus 11:44-45
I know this is far from a complete answer, but if I had to answer in one word the reason “why” God handed down the Kosher food laws, my one word answer would be HOLINESS.
The Lord makes it clear Himself that that’s the reason in Leviticus 11:44 when He says “Be Holy for I am Holy and do not defile yourselves with any kind of swarming creature…”.
There is nothing in these verses that says if one eats unclean foods, he or she will get sick nor is there anything in these verses that says the food laws are symbolic and thus we are to extract some sort of allegorical meaning from them.
There is absolutely NOTHING in the kosher food laws even hinting that unclean animals are inherently unhealthy or evil.
We have to throw away our Greek rational/logical thinking patterns and adopt a Hebrew analogical mindset if we’re going to properly comprehend these Kosher eating requirements.
So this means what I’ve been hammering at over the past week.
We have to search for “WHICH” God-established PATTERN will fit like a glove to the Kosher food laws.
Let’s start with the first pattern.
PATTERN ONE: ONLY CLEAN ANIMALS ARE ALLOWED INSIDE THE CAMP OF ISRAEL
Only those animals that God has permitted for food, the clean animals, can be inside the Camp of Israel.
However, those unclean animals that the Lord forbids us from eating must remain outside the camp of Israel.
Going a little deeper, not only are clean animals allowed to enter the camp of Israel, they are also eligible to be sanctified as sacrifices for atonement.
They are eligible to be made HOLY!
In other words, a clean animal that meets all the requirements for use as a sacrifice is allowed to be brought inside not just the Camp of Israel, but is also allowed entrance into the Holy Zones of the Tabernacle we discussed before.
There is also a kind of sub-pattern we can notice that is connected to God’s command to “be holy for I am holy”.
The animals allowed to be sacrificed on the altar for atonement COME FROM EXACTLY THE SAME GROUP OF CLEAN ANIMALS THE LORD GAVE ISRAEL PERMISSION TO EAT.
So the same food that YHVH partakes of spiritually so to speak comes from the same animals the Israelites partake of for their physical nourishment.
PATTERN TWO: GOD HAS FORMED A COVENANT WITH CLEAN ANIMALS
This pattern needs a bit of explanation because it requires an understanding of Hebrew that few if any folks are ever taught in the churches.
Let’s take a look Exodus 20:10.
“but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates.”
So this 4th Word (what the church would call the “4th commandment”) of God extends the relationship of holiness between mankind and the sacrificial animals even further.
Isn’t it interesting that the Sabbath command doesn’t just cover man but also his animals as well?
Take a look at the word “animals” that I enlarged, bolded and underlined.
The common translation of the word “animals” is far off the mark.
Some Bibles may render it as “cattle” which is closer to the true intent of the original Hebrew but that’s also still off the mark.
The original Hebrew here is BEHEMAH.
Do you recall what that word means?
It means ONLY domesticated land animals.
In other words, BEHEMAH is only referring to those clean land animals okay to eat and suitable for sacrifice like cows, sheep and goats etcetera.
If you find it surprising that God would enter into a covenant relationship with animals, recall what He told Noah back in Genesis.
God spoke to Noach and his sons with him; he said, “As for me — I am herewith establishing my covenant with you, with your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you — the birds, the livestock and every wild animal with you, all going out of the ark, every animal on earth. I will establish my covenant with you that never again will all living beings be destroyed by the waters of a flood, and there will never again be a flood to destroy the earth.”-Genesis 9:8-11
God greatly values ALL His creation.
In the case of Noah, God made a covenant with ALL living creatures.
In the 4th Word or 4th Commandment, God made a covenant with ONLY the clean domesticated land animals (those suitable for food and sacrifice) that they too would also receive a Sabbath rest.
Now how does God define BEHEMAH or domesticated land animals?
Domestic land animals are those that chew the cud AND have a cloven hoof.
Again, I’m talking about the Bible’s definition, God’s definition of what domesticated land animals are here.
I could care less that there are un-kosher pig farm all over the world.
Anything outside of God’s definition of those animals that “chew the cud and have a cloven hoof” are by process of elimination to be considered WILD land animals.
Just in case you may be wondering, the fact that there is a parallel pattern between man and animals, each both having a covenant relationship with the Lord, this in no way implies that MAN and ANIMALS are equal.
Man is above and in the Lord’s eyes of higher value than animals.
That is why man was placed in dominion over all other living creatures.
PATTERN THREE: JUST AS IT IS ONLY THOSE MEN WHO SUBMIT TO GOD WHO CAN BECOME HIS PEOPLE, ONLY THOSE ANIMALS THAT SUBMIT TO MAN (those that can be successfully domesticated) ARE FIT TO BECOME HOLY!
God has dominion over mankind.
In the same way, mankind has dominion over all living creatures.
God has separated from mankind a group of people called Israel to be a holy nation unto Himself.
In the same way, God has separated from among all the animals a group of creatures He has declared clean.
Only those men who submit to God’s Will and allow Him to care for them are eligible for holiness.
In the same way, only those animals that submit to man (those that can be domesticated) are suitable for food and can become holy sacrifices.
Those men who will not submit to God remain OUTSIDE the Camp of Israel (gentiles) and remain COMMON (they are NOT holy).
In the same way, those animals that refuse to come under the submission of man (unable to be domesticated) are unclean wild animals and must remain OUTSIDE the Camp of Israel.
PATTERN FOUR: JUST AS GOD PROTECTS HIS OWN, BELIEVERS ARE TO PROTECT THOSE ANIMALS THE LORD HAS ENTRUSTED TO THEIR CARE
YHVH is our Lord, ruler, and protector over our lives (if we submit to Him).
In the same way, the Israelites were to be shepherds over the flock of clean animals the Lord put under their care.
To conclude, the purity of the Tabernacle and God’s Holiness are protected by only allowing sanctified MEN and sanctified ANIMALS into His presence.
So what’s the answer to the question “WHY did God establish the kosher food laws?”
The first answer is because those laws conform to the clean and unclean rules the Lord has established for mankind.
And the second and final answer is because THEY CONFORM TO THE PATTERN OF HOLINESS GOD ESTABLISHED IN THE HEAVENS BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD.