“You shall not eat anything that has died naturally. You may give it to the sojourner who is within your towns, that he may eat it, or you may sell it to a foreigner. For you are a people holy to the Lord your God.”
This was an interesting one today. As God gave commands about how Israel could live, we get the verse above. Israelites were not allowed to eat any meat that died of natural causes. I’m not totally sure what that would say about road-kill deer, but that is a good way in the future from when the verse was penned.
OK, here is what I found interesting. God did not forbid the Israelites from giving that meat to those who were living among them but who were not Israelites. And God explains that the Israelites are to be holy to the Lord.
This is a really helpful verse as we consider some of the laws of the Old Testament about being clean or unclean. God was not saying that it was morally wrong to eat the meat of an animal that had died naturally. Nor was God declaring it to be dangerous or harmful. If he were, it would be sinful for the people to give such meat to their sojourning neighbors, as it would be cruel to allow them to give others something that is actually sinful or harmful.
Instead, note what God says is his reasoning. He forbids this stuff from Israel because he wants them to be holy, which means set apart or different. This is not about right or wrong. It is about different. It is about doing what God says, not because there is a big moral mandate about everything, but simply because God says so.
The application is pretty simple. The Lord is God. He has the right to make commands. We do not have to justify those commands. He is God. He has the right to tell us what to do. No matter how logical an alternative position to God’s commands may seem, if God has made the commands, they are right and perfect. He has the right to command that those who follow him look and act differently from others.
Lord, I thank you for your word here, even in a passage that sounds strange to me from this age. You have shown that you want your people to be different. You have every right to make such a command. I also thank you that you have chosen to call believers to follow you, but you have also declared all foods to be clean. You have chosen a new way for us to look different. Help me, I pray, to be set apart for your glory as you wish. Forgive me for the times when I have looked like the rest of the world. I pray that you will be glorified in my life and the lives of my family.