February 10 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“Among those who approach me I will be proved holy;
in the sight of all the people I will be honored.” ~God, Leviticus 10:3

It’s probably best to approach the next several passages of Leviticus as if you are visitor to a culture far removed you by language, time and geography. (Shouldn’t be too hard, right?) These are among the most foreign passages of the entire Bible, but even these words have modern application.

Perhaps the most important lesson in today’s reading (and in this section) is that all of life is devoted to a holy God. At the heart of this passage is the famous biblical dictum: “[B]e holy, because I am holy” (Lev. 11:45). As such, God gave Israel instructions that applied to the everyday aspects of life in their culture. For example, certain foods were declared unfit for eating. Also, God set forth best practices for personal hygiene in an ancient, rural setting. Theologians have long wrangled over God’s intent and meaning for categorizing food as “unclean” and “clean.” One view holds that the restrictions were a practical consideration since some animals are healthier for human consumption than others. There may have been religious considerations since some animals were more closely associated with pagan culture. More than likely, however, God gave Israel what anthropologists refer to as “cultural norms.”[1] It appears that these were common sense habits that separated the Israelites from the uncouth practices of the surrounding cultures. These rituals were daily reminders that they were a special people devoted to God and that all of life is to be devoted to Him, even eating and drinking (1 Cor. 10:31).

Even the unusual detail given on personal hygiene in this section was a reminder of their devotion to a holy God (Lev. 12). Care of the body was, of course, a practical consideration, but keeping clean also had religious connotations. In the ordinary practices of everyday life, as well as in special situations like childbirth, the routine of cleaning their bodies brought home the holiness of God, He who knew no sin carried no stain. Thus the old adage, which has its roots in Hebrew literature, “Cleanliness is next to godliness.”

So how do we apply such passages to our lives today? Given that the context for these restrictions and rules is “daily life in the worshipping community, “ I think there is at least one vivid application. Our everyday lives and practices should remind us of the holy God we worship. When we eat and drink, we can give glory to God for His goodness (He created good food), His provision (He gives our daily bread), and His holiness. Even cleaning up for the day can remind us of God’s holiness (He is pure and without sin) and God’s forgiveness (He cleanses me daily)! It was in the ordinary, in the everyday, that God wanted His worshippers to think about Him. Isn’t it interesting that in the ordinary act of sitting down and having a meal together, Jesus gave His disciples (and us) the sacred ceremony of Communion (Matt. 25:17-19)? Let us remember the God we worship in the everyday sacredness of life.

[1] For a non-technical discussion, see G. J. Wenham, J.A. Motyer, D. A. Carson, R. T. France, eds., The New Bible Commentary:   21st Century Edition (Leicester, England:   Intervarsity Press, 2003), 136-144.

Lectio Divina  is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of  Calvary Church  in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of  A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.