Moses begins going over the personal activities that God expects of the people. He touches on death rituals and dietary restrictions.
I find it interesting that these two topics are put in the same category in this chapter. The subtitle on this section doesn’t even hint at the first issue covered; death rituals. I was curious and went looking at death rituals to find out who did what but all I found dealt with the care of the dead body and their belief on the afterlife. I did read that Egyptians would shave their eyebrows as part of death practices. They also treated a pet’s burial the same as a person’s.
God didn’t want His children following the pagan rituals in any area of their lives. I’m wondering if His instructions regarding death practices has more to do with life after death. Was God essentially telling them not to engage in self-marring practices because the person was only “sleeping” until Jesus’ work was done? They were allowed to mourn and grieve but not do any temporary or permanent damage to their own bodies. God doesn’t address how to deal with the remains of the person here, only the behavior of those in mourning.
Moving onto God’s dietary restrictions, I have a feeling that they were both based on spiritual needs and physical needs. It is possible that the meats that God restricted were less reliably processed and free of diseases than those He allowed. I know that if you don’t fully cook pork you could come down with some NASTY diseases. Pigs eat anything and therefore can carry any number of diseases. The same could be said for many of the birds on God’s “Do Not Eat” list. Many of them are scavengers and eat the dead.
Moses told the people that they were not allowed to eat anything that died of natural causes. Most times something that has died of natural causes would have very tough and stringy meat because of its age or be diseased. I’m not sure if “natural causes” includes animals that were killed by another animal. Those ones would not necessarily fall into one of the two above categories. But Israel was permitted to allow the visitor to eat these meats as well as being allowed to sell the animal to a foreigner. My bible helps suggests this prohibition for Israel and not others may be due to the blood being still in the meat after its death and God’s regulations about NOT eating the blood of an animal. This sounds reasonable to me.
God’s regulations dealt with the physical bodies inside and out. If you can’t, or won’t, care for the physical body you can see how do you expect to be able to care for the spiritual body you can’t see?
We don’t have the same dietary restrictions now that were present in the Law. In Peter’s vision on the housetop God called everything clean. No longer were there barriers between Israel and Gentiles or strict rules regarding “clean” and “unclean” animals. I have a feeling that was also helped along by better food practices. I don’t know for sure on that though.
Father God, thank You for caring about all aspects of my life. I know there are foods that I shouldn’t eat. Not because they are “clean” or “unclean” but because they are unhealthy. I want to have all parts of my life line up with Your will. Help me resist the things that are harmful for me personally. I believe this is a personal list now instead of a global list. You know what I personally need to refrain from eating or indulging in. I have a feeling that some of these things are things I would LIKE to indulge in so I need Your help to remove those desires. Thank You for the desires that You have allowed me to tramp down. Help them STAY that way. Thank You for caring about this aspect of my life. NOTHING about me is beyond Your care. Thank You for that Father.
Interesting how You dealt with me yesterday about food issues. This is more the mechanics of keeping it from fueling my “idol” issue. Thank You for caring about that issue and addressing a basic building block of that sin.