Deuteronomy 14:4
These are the animals that you may eat: The ox, the sheep, the goat,
A Holy People Will Eat Sanctified ThingsR.M. Edgar Deuteronomy 14:3-11
Clean and UncleanJ. Orr Deuteronomy 14:3-21
Discrimination in MeatsD. Davies Deuteronomy 14:3-21
Food ProvidedHenry, MatthewDeuteronomy 14:4-20
Gilded SinH. Crosby, D. D.Deuteronomy 14:4-20
God's Provision for Man's TableHenry, MatthewDeuteronomy 14:4-20
The distinction of clean and unclean appears to have rested -

I. ON NATURAL GROUNDS. It is based to some extent on natural preferences and repugnances - an index, often, to deeper correlations. We instinctively recognize certain creatures to be unfit for food. The Law of Moses drew the line practically where men's unguided instincts have always drawn it. A lesson of respect for natural order. In diet, as in higher matters, we do well to follow Nature's guidance, avoiding violations of her laws, and refraining from obliterating her distinctions.

II. ON CEREMONIAL GROUNDS. The prohibition against eating of blood had consequences in the region of cleanness and uncleanness of food. All flesh-eating and blood-eating animals - all beasts and birds of prey - were of necessity excluded. Ceremonially unclean themselves, they could not be clean to those eating them.

III. ON SYMBOLIC GROUNDS. The symbolic traits observable in certain animals may have had to do with their rejection. We can see reason in the exclusion of creatures of cruel and rapacious habits, of those also in whose dispositions we trace a reflection of the human vices. It may be pushing the principle too far to seek recondite meanings in the chewing of the and (meditation) and the dividing of the hoof (separation of walk), or in the possession of fins and scales in fishes (organs of advance and resistance). But a Law impregnated with symbolism could scarcely reckon as clean a filthy and repulsive creature like the sow. The accursed serpent, the treacherous fox, the ravenous jackal, even had they been suitable for food in other respects, could scarcely on this principle have been admitted. The reptile tribes generally, and all tribes of vermin, were similarly unclean by a kind of natural brand. A lesson of seeing in the natural a symbol of the moral. Nature is a symbolic lesson-book, daily open to our inspection. The distinction once ordained, and invested with religious significance, observance of it became to the Jews a sign and test of holiness. The general lesson taught is that of sanctification in the use of food. Holiness, indeed, is to be carried into every sphere and act of life. Eating, however, is an act which, though on its animal side related to the grossest part of us, is yet, on its spiritual side, of serious religious import. It is the act by which we supply oil to the flame of life. It has to do with the maintenance of those vital functions by which we are enabled to glorify God in the body. There is thus a natural sacredness about food, and it is to be received and used in a sacred fashion. That it may be "clean" to us, it is to be "sanctified by the Word of God and prayer," being "received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth" (1 Timothy 4:3-5). It is to be remembered, too, that in the sphere of the higher life, if not in the lower, clean and unclean are distinctions of abiding validity. Intellect, heart, spirit, etc. - the books we read, the company we keep, the principles we imbibe. - J.O.

The beasts which ye shall eat.
I. PROVISION, DIVINE IN ITS SOURCE. Israel could not have procured it and would not have known without Divine teaching what was good for them. Recognise that power which can "furnish a table in the wilderness" (Psalm 78:19).

II. PROVISION GOOD IN QUALITY. Nothing unclean, nothing unwholesome, was specified. Not anything was to be eaten apt to stimulate sensual passions, or to foster coarse tastes and degrading habits.

III. PROVISIONS ABUNDANT IN QUALITY. There was no stint in beasts, birds, or fish. The articles of food were nutritious and abundant. God's legislation for our lower reminds us of His care for our higher nature. There is no lack anywhere. Let us remember our Benefactor, for we cannot put a morsel of food into our mouths till God puts it into our hands — discern kindness not only in prescribing, but in prohibiting, and be grateful to "the living God who giveth us richly all things to enjoy" (1 Timothy 6:17). For a man may be blessed with riches, wealth, and honour; want nothing; "yet God giveth him not power to eat thereof" (Ecclesiastes 6:2).

( Matthew Henry, D. D..)

In this provision of food we see —

1. A mark of Divine condescension. If kings legislated for the diet of their people, is it beneath the King of Israel to appoint the food for His chosen people? "All that we know of God," says Dr. Cumming, "in creation, in providence, in redemption, leads us to see that He takes as much care of what the world calls, in its ignorance, little things, as He does of what the world thinks, in equal ignorance, great and weighty things."

2. A proof of Divine benevolence. It is kind to provide at all. But what thought indicated, in the choice of animals which multiplied slowly, which were not difficult to obtain, found without leaving the camp, and without danger and contact with heathens around them! All this intended to reclaim and bless.

( Matthew Henry, D. D..)

Every creeping thing that flieth is unclean
1. There is a natural disgust in everyone to the idea of eating, or even handling, a creeping worm or caterpillar. However difficult this feeling may be to analyse, God has given it to the race for some purpose. All things that are abhorrent to our human instincts — things which we call repulsive — are so many indications of the great truth that we are to make distinctions between clean and unclean, good and evil, right and wrong.

2. Now God saw fit to incorporate this natural instinct of man, which He had implanted, in the law for His people. He forbade their eating these repulsive, crawling things. We know how the natural instinct is often overcome by wilful habits, and we find degraded men taking pleasure in those articles of food which the human palate originally and instinctively rejects. Hence the necessity of a law behind the instinct, when God would teach by it His great spiritual lesson.

3. He would teach us that we may in conscience shrink from gross sins, and yet gradually blunt conscience and indulge in sins we formerly abhorred; and that, therefore, a Divine law must be made the norm of our lives, and not simply the protests of natural conscience.

4. We desire to call your attention to a different class of dalliers with sin — not the gross and vulgar, but the refined and elegant. Their refinement is such that gross forms of sin repel them — not because they are sin, but because they are gross. The nauseous caterpillar has dressed itself up as a beautiful butterfly, and in this form they sport with the creature. But what does God's law say? "Every creeping thing that flieth is unclean unto you." The wings and pretty colours have not altered the nature of the vermin. The same uncleanness is there as before. How many there are who would shrink with dismay from overt sensuality, and yet will, in the privacy of the chamber, gloat over a licentious novel! It is the very same crawling thing — only now it has pretty wings.

5. One of the most successful cloaks for sin at the present day is so-called art. Art is something very lovely and refined. It is a grand thing for the young to know all about art. It shows high breeding to admire and criticise art. Now, there is a grain of wheat and a bushel of chaff in all this talk. To one genuine artist who only looks to the art, there are a thousand hypocrites, who know nothing about art, and only adopt the language of art to hide their sinful tendencies. In the name of art they go to see the public performances of a loose woman and watch the movements of a play that makes light of the marriage relation. In the name of art they fill their parlours with nudities, in voluptuous form and colour, by which the youth of the families are stimulated to sensuality and debauchery; and, in the name of art, the young artist sits before his nude model for her destruction and his.

6. In every way luxury can devise, passions are inflamed, and then modesty is called prudery. Indecent dressing, lascivious dances, immoral innuendo in conversation, form part of this refined system of destroying the soul, in which Christians engage because they must he in the fashion. The creeping thing down in a dance house in Water Street they would exclaim against; but the winged creeping thing that flies in the uptown parlour they delight in; yet it is the same venomous beast.

7. Is it right for those who are washed in the blood of Christ, and who seek the sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit, to enter wilfully into a social life where books and pictures and statuary and entertainments are most unblushingly promotive of sensuality and vicious thought? Is it right to become accustomed to such gilded filth, so that we lose our Christian delicacy and reserve, and at last make impurity a fashionable virtue? Satan is cunning in his temptations. He does not come to us in a vulgar form and so disgust us. He puts the many-coloured wings on the slimy crawler, and so fascinates us into his service. "Beware!"

(H. Crosby, D. D.)

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