healthcare workers February 19-20 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Leviticus 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

Note: Today’s Bible study is long because of the uninterrupted theme. You may wish to read the Scripture on February 19 and read the study on February 20.

Healthcare and Holiness

In most places around the world there is great concern for good healthcare. We have sterile environments in our hospitals and laboratories. We have disinfecting soaps, sprays, and gels in our homes, schools and other institutions to keep us from getting colds and flues. And, we have special diets to promote good healthcare. This two day Bible study is about healthcare and holiness.

God is holy—there is nothing unclean or impure in him—he is perfect and righteous. The LORD wants his people to worship him in holiness. He wants us to be set apart from all sin and wickedness and totally dedicate ourselves to him, living righteously, not only on Sunday but every day of the week. We all make mistakes and sin, but “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1John 1:9). Let's honor him in our lives and our worship. If we do we will experience his joy and pleasure and blessings.

While the Israelites camped at Mt. Sinai, God gave them instructions for the tabernacle, priests, and offerings with specific requirements so they might honor him. Nadab and Abihu, two of Aaron’s sons, were careless and did not honor the LORD in their worship before the people. For this they were killed. After this incident, God told Moses, “You must distinguish between the holy and the common, between the unclean and the clean” (Leviticus 10:10, NIV). The natural question which follows this command is—what is clean and what is unclean?

In the desert there are wild animals, birds, insects and reptiles, and in water holes or rivers there are fish. God said some creatures are clean, i.e. they may be eaten; others are not, i.e., they may not be eaten. Why is this? There are two schools of thought about these limitations: First, the restrictions are for better dietary health (some people have written articles or books from the dietary guide given to the Israelites). There is no Biblical explanation, however, why each of these creatures can or cannot be eaten. Animals, which have completely divided hoofs and chew their cud (oxen, sheep, deer, antelope, and goats), are permitted to be eaten; others are not. Animals with paws are not allowed to be eaten. Crawling creatures are forbidden. We know certain insects like flies and mosquitoes carry diseases, and they are not to be eaten. Locust type creatures, however, are considered clean and can be eaten. The people of Israel are also forbidden from eating things with blood in it. Perhaps this is why birds of prey are not allowed to be eaten; blood carries disease. Sea creatures and fish without scales are also not permitted for food, although the reason is not given.

Even though these dietary restrictions are still observed by Jews in Jesus' day, they appear to be canceled by him. Jesus declares: “What goes into a man's mouth does not make him unclean, but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him unclean” (Matthew 15:11, NIV). It is not the kinds of food which are limited (although each of us should try to eat healthy food for a healthy body) but words which make a person unclean. Unrestricted words are very damaging. People at times need to be isolated, counseled, re-trained, or even fired from their jobs because of what they say. Negative (unclean) words can infect other people.

The other school of thought for the dietary restrictions upon the Israelites is that the unclean animals and other creatures may have been offered in sacrifice to the gods of the nations which surrounded them. God wants his people to worship him. Therefore, God wants his people to be holy even in their diets (Leviticus 11:44-45). Praise the LORD that it is now through the sacrifice of Christ that we are made holy and able to approach the very throne room of God! The writer of the book of Hebrews says, “And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10, NIV). He continues,

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith (Hebrews 10:19-22a, NIV).

Another kind of uncleanness is disease. If someone is suspected of having an infection, he is to go to the priest for an examination. If the priest is unsure, he quarantines the Israelite for a week and then re-examines him. If the infection is worse, he is isolated from the camp and not allowed to come to the tabernacle for worship until the infection disappears.

Mothers in today's world do similar things with their children. They take them to the doctor to be examined for some rash or other symptom, and if the doctor recommends it, the children stay home and do not expose others to their illness or disease. Doctors also do this with their other patients—quarantine the sick person. This allows the sick person to recover under good care and to reduce the chances of contamination and infection to others, who might otherwise be exposed. Quarantines and checkups make sense, although it is difficult to be separated from loved ones.

Once an Israelite is isolated from the camp, is he ever able to rejoin the assembly? Yes, if he no longer has the disease. Leviticus 14 details a process which an unclean (diseased) person has to go through to be accepted back into the congregation of Israel.

First, he is inspected thoroughly by the priest outside of the camp to make sure he no longer has a disease. If there is no evidence of a disease, then he is ceremonially cleansed in a strange way which resembles the scapegoat ceremony (Leviticus 16:7-10), only it is with birds. The sprinkling of a dead bird's blood with cedar wood, a red yarn and hyssop on the man (or woman) to be cleansed has no magical healing power—it is a sign of cleansing for the benefit of the community.

Afterwards, the one who is to be cleansed is completely shaved from head to toe, bathed, and his clothes are washed. Then he must wait a week and be re-examined. The process is then repeated before he is allowed to come back into the camp. Then, like the rest of the congregation he offers a burnt offering, sin offering, grain offering, and a guilt offering (for unintentional sins). Assumedly, this is done to make up for the time he could not offer them in the tabernacle, and to be holy (pure and separated to God).

Last, he goes through another ceremony which resembles the ordination ceremony of Aaron and his sons, with the addition of oil (Exodus 29:19-20a). The purpose for this is unclear, but perhaps it is a sign of his approval and acceptance into the congregation of Israel as being clean and re-dedicated to God.

Spiritually speaking for Christians today, we can praise God that we do not have to go through ceremonies to be accepted by him. “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26, NIV). It is through the blood of Jesus Christ that we are made clean and approved by God. Our changed lives show others that we are clean and have spiritual life. Still, it is helpful when others give testimony to our changed life so we are quickly accepted.

Other regulations are put on the Israelites for dealing with dead bodies, purification after childbirth, purification from bodily discharges, and ridding mildew from homes and clothing. These are partially for their health and partially for another reason. God says,

You must keep the Israelites separate from things that make them unclean, so they will not die in their uncleanness for defiling my dwelling place, which is among them. (Leviticus 15:31, NIV).

As Christians, although we live in the age of grace, there are also limitations put on us for our good. The Apostle Paul writes,

Everything is permissible for me-- but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for me-- but I will not be mastered by anything.

Food for the stomach and the stomach for food-- but God will destroy them both.

The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. (1Corinthians 6:12-13, 18-20, NIV)

“Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry” (1 Corinthians 10:14, NIV).

“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (Romans 13:14, NIV).

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator (Colossians 3:5-6,8, NIV).

“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” (2Corinthians 6:14, NIV)

These are forms of isolation—isolation from wicked practices or people which might cause us to make moral, legal, or even spiritual compromises. We would then be unclean before God. Holiness is the issue for being spiritually and morally clean. After Christ cleanses us from sin, we have personal responsibilities to try to keep clean and holy before God (1Peter 1:15-16).

Lessons to Live By

  • A good diet, cleanliness, and healthcare benefit us and the welfare of our community.
  • Negative (unclean) words can infect other people.
  • Holiness is the issue for being spiritually and morally clean.
  • Holiness can only be accomplished through Jesus Christ. We are accepted by God, not through ceremony but through our faith in Christ Jesus (more...)
  • After Christ cleanses us from sins, we have personal responsibilities to try to keep clean and holy before God in all that we say and do (1Peter 1:15-16).

Focus Verse

Leviticus 11:44a (NIV) “I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy.”

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A Look Ahead: We have talked about Healthcare and Holiness and now it is time to do something about it. It's Time for a Cleanup! Join us for our Next Lesson to find out what this involves.

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