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A Kosher Soul


“Read the Bible through”, they say. “It will be fun,” they say. Then you get to all these dull parts in Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy about sacrifices that haven’t been offered in two millennia that seem meaningless and the begats—the dreaded begats—which seem to be an endless list of meaningless names and what is clean and what is unclean to eat. What is that all about?

Jesus said,

Matthew 13:13-15 NKJV

Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.  And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:

‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,

And seeing you will see and not perceive;

For the hearts of this people have grown dull.

Their ears are hard of hearing,

And their eyes they have closed,

Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,

Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,

So that I should heal them.’

Scripture is not meant to be easily understood. Jesus repeatedly says that He did nothing except He saw His Father in Heaven doing it. So Jesus saw God hiding His treasures from those who are only casual in seeking Him. This is why Jesus taught in parables.

But all Scripture has meaning and purpose.  There are patterns in the way God thinks and operates. You can learn to hear the voice of God—that still, small voice—for God most often whispers His words to our hearts.

The casual reader stumbles across descriptions of kosher and never understands the deeper meaning. Far too few pay the price that they may have its treasure. Yet there are three principles here that we must all pursue if we are to know God and be acceptable to Him. We can have a kosher soul and be made clean before God if we will do three things.

Leviticus 11:1-3 NKJV

Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying to them, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying, ‘These are the animals which you may eat among all the animals that are on the earth: Among the animals, whatever divides the hoof, having cloven hooves and chewing the cud — that you may eat.

Cloven Hooves

The first thing that makes an animal clean—and we are animals in our flesh (see Eccl 3:18-19 (“animal” is also one of the meanings of the word ‘carnal’ in 1 Cor 3:3))—is that the animal has split hooves.

On the issue of split hooves I defer to Rabbi Avraham Arieh Trugman who wrote this:

Split hooves represent the idea of choice and free will. Animals do not possess free will, whereas man does. Split hooves symbolize the constant choices before us, the proverbial crossroads which split before us again and again during life.

Whatever your theology on the will of God, God commands again and again that we choose—we must choose God; we must choose His Word; we must choose His Ways (and not those that seem right in our own eyes); we must choose to not just listen but do what He says.

When God created us in His image, He gave to each human being a measure of His own sovereignty—His freedom of choice. This never interferes with His own sovereignty and this is what the nation’s founders meant when they said, “[We] are endowed by [our] Creator with certain inalienable rights…”

Chewing the Cud

The second thing that makes an animal clean is “Chewing the Cud.”

A cow in a field will graze until its belly is full and then lay down in the shade and chew its cud. The reason they do this is because cows are ruminants and must chew their food twice in order to digest it properly. Cows spend nearly eight hours out of every day chewing their cud.

Joshua 1:8 says,

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. NKJV

Two of the three principles are found in this passage. The word for “meditate” in this passage means ruminate—chew the cud. Biblical meditation means that we are to go over the Scriptures more than once so we can understand the meaning and application.

Grazing our way through the Scriptures is not enough. We have to meditate in them throughout the day and night if we are to digest what God says and means and choose to do what we hear Him saying.

I have learned to read the Scriptures each morning. I give the most important thing my highest priority when I do so. I may do a SOAP Study as a method of meditation or I may write an article on what I have seen and heard.

The scripture is emphatic that I have to not only chew the cud but must also have split hooves—I must not only meditate in the Scripture to do it, I must also make the choice to apply His Word to my life.

Self-Denial

The third thing that we see in this passage is the principle of self-denial. The Jews are commanded to not eat most animals, to not wear certain kinds of clothing, to not work on certain days and to not shave their beards and so on.

My teacher explained to me once that fasting is valuable, but it is more important to live a fasted life.

Kosher laws and all of the other laws that set the Jewish people apart from the rest of the nations of the world point to this principle in the Word of God. As believers in God, we must learn to say ‘no’ to ourselves.

In fact, God Himself denies Himself.

Christians often do not understand why we do not follow the Old Testament commandments concerning kosher. Most do not understand the place of the Law in the life of the believer.

The Law reveals God’s standards for Himself.

What? Really?

Yes. Let me illustrate: The Jews have a law allowing divorce, but it is only for the man to divorce the woman. There is no law that permits a woman to divorce the man. Why? Is the Law sexist? No. Is God sexist? No. Did Moses never encounter a man who mistreated his wife? I’m sure he did. Surely Moses cared for his daughters and granddaughters. The reason there is no option for the woman to divorce the man in the Law is that the Law was not made for man. The Law was made for God.

God is permitted to divorce Israel. Israel is not permitted to divorce God. God will never do anything wrong for Israel to have a basis to divorce Him. But Israel sold herself repeatedly like a prostitute, and while God waited patiently for her to repent, He eventually divorced her. It does not end there though; He bought her back after she was sold into slavery. This is the story and prophecy of Hosea and the basis for the commands of Christ concerning divorce in Matthew 19.

Why then are the Jews commanded to obey these laws? God calls Israel His wife. The people of Israel are then His children. A son should imitate his father. Therefore, a Jew (particularly a Jewish man) should look and act like God.

Conclusion

A wonderful promise of the Almighty is given in Joshua 1:8.

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. NKJV

If we will chew the cud each morning and evening and choose to do all that we see and understand, we will make our way prosperous and have good success.

True prosperity begins within us and works its way out. When we pursue wealth or any other thing other than God Himself, we become like what we pursue. We are commanded to “seek His face” and this seems odd because no one can see God. But seeking God’s face means to see who God is—and imitate Him.

Let’s sum it all up: What produces a kosher soul and makes us acceptable to God? Three things…

  1. Meditation in the Word
  2. Choosing and Applying the Word to our lives
  3. Living a pattern of self-denial

Sanctify your soul by doing these things and you too will have a kosher soul.

 


Ken Van Horn is pastor of My Father’s House Family Church at 501 Broad Street in Cusseta, Georgia and author of the book: “A Greater Reward,” which is available from Amazon on Kindle. Questions for him should be asked in the form below. You may also contact him through Facebook or follow him on Twitter.

 

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