Clean vs. Unclean

In the Old Testament we find what God calls clean and unclean. Sometimes this refers to animals. The earliest we find this is in Genesis 7. Noah is told by God “Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the make and his female: and of beast that are not clean by two, the male and his female.” At this time we are not told what constitutes clean and unclean but just that there are two different kinds of animals; clean and unclean.

Later, we are told in Leviticus 11 what animals are clean and unclean. Why were these animals clean or unclean we are not told. Why is a pig unclean? Why is a catfish or shrimp unclean? We are not told. I am glad that the Old Law was taken out of the way because these animals sure do taste good.

Sometimes this would refer to clothes (Leviticus 14), houses (Leviticus 14) and even man (Leviticus 15). Nowhere in the Bible is this distinction of clean or unclean dealing with hygiene. Rather, it is the way God designated the difference between what He could receive into His presence and what must remain apart from Him. Only people, animals and objects designated as clean could enter the tabernacles, and later the temple, as part of the worship of God. God told man ways of making himself clean so that he could enter into the worship of God. It was also true of the objects that were used in the tabernacle or later the temple. The priest had to do certain things by the direction of God to make all these things clean so that they could be used in worship to God or so they could worship God as in the case of man.

Man could become unclean for several different reasons. It is not the scope of this article to deal with all the reasons. It must be noted that Aaron or the High Priest could not contaminant and make himself unclean. The High Priest could not touch a dead body. When Aaron’s two sons died, he was told “not to uncover your heads, neither rend your clothes; lest ye die, and lest wrath come upon all the people …” (Leviticus 10:6). This was so because Aaron was performing the task of the High Priest and could not let anything get in his way of this service to the people and to God.

God said, “For I am the Lord your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping things that creepeth upon the earth” (Leviticus 11:44).  Peter quotes part of this verse in 1 Peter 1:15-16, “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” Thus today we are to be holy and not unclean.

There has been a change in dietary laws under the New Testament. Peter was dealing with some of these issues in Acts 10. He saw, “all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him attain the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common” (Acts 10:12-15). What is the difference between the Old Testament times when these things were commanded not to be eaten and now when Peter is commanded to eat them? It is the blood of Jesus!

We are all sinners before God (Romans 3:23) and are thus unclean. In the Old Testament the High Priest and the objects of the tabernacle or temple had to be dedicated by blood. Under the New Testament it is the blood of Christ that make us clean or holy so that we can stand before God to worship Him acceptably.

The blood of Christ must be applied to our lives but how is this done? First, let us notice the time when Christ shed His blood. “The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath day, (for that Sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: but one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water” (John 19:31-34). We find in Revelation 1:5c “Unto him that loved us and washed us from our sins in his won blood.” This is why Romans 6:3-4 is so important “Know ye not, that so many of us were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” We then are holy because we have contacted the blood of Christ. This then make us acceptable to approach God in worship. “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:5, 9). Peter wrote to those who were “elect” and unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:2). Therefore these people had contacted the blood of Christ and were able to approach Him in acceptable worship.

This shows the importance of the blood of Christ. We also know that Christ sacrifice was a once for all time sacrifice (Hebrews 9-10). We must then continue to be in contact with the blood of Christ (1 John 1:7). This is done by our daily walk (Romans 12:1-2). Then when our earthly walk on earth is done, He will say unto us, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of my Lord” (Matthew 25:23).

Love Keith

Scroll to top
Skip to content