TODAY’S READING: Leviticus 11–12
As God transitioned and prepared His people to be a light to all nations, they would travel through territory where some foods would be advantageous and some abominable (Lev. 11:9–10). There is speculation on what made some food unclean, but no definitive answers. One suggestion is that the unclean foods were identified by improper or irregular locomotion. A more likely scenario is that a large group of travelers needed to eat what would keep the travelers healthy. The real point is linked to the key missionary skill of distinguishing between principle and application. The principle is that we stay pure, holy, and healthy so that we might vigorously pursue the mission aims of God. The application may vary (i.e., our diet or external forms and approaches, such as Peter eating what used to be unclean as a sign he should missionally go to Cornelius’ house), but God gets to call what is holy, holy. And God calls missions holy, so we do what we must to stay wholly on point.
Lest we fall off the horse on the other side, God reminds us that He is holy and thus we should be holy (v. 44). God did not bring us out of bondage so that we defile ourselves in new contexts. God brought His people out of a double bondage: physical slavery and spiritual idolatry. To be taken out of Egypt is to be taken out of the influence of false religion. We are brought up out of Egypt; when we come to Christ, we leave all former, vile religions. We can’t stay in old religions and be loyal to Jehovah; we can’t remain a part of what defiles us.
Historically, circumcision reinforced the necessity of physically and noticeably identifying with Jehovah (12:3). Yes, the indicator was discreet, but it was permanent and even initially costly. The modesty of location in circumcision was never intended to imply that Jehovah could be followed secretly or in isolation. Just the opposite. To follow Jesus must be done in company. It must be done publicly and at cost. It must be done by abandoning all false and former religion.
The great God of glory who allowed His Son to shamefully writhe in naked pain on the cross does not allow secret believers. One can’t be a secret believer and be a proclaimer, witness, soul winner, or missionary. Secret faith is selfish faith; it is corrupted faith. Public faith is refined, corrected, and enhanced by solidarity with others. Yes, discretion is called for, and modesty and humility only adorn our beliefs, but we are to be public witnesses, heralds, announcers, and representatives of the King. We are to be marked by Him, noticeably different than the false religions we were saved out of, standing with others of like precious faith despite the storms and trouble that will inevitably follow.
Jehovah is neither capricious nor purposeless in His boundaries. He wants us near enough to the lost that He can use us to save lives and far enough from evil to avoid being sullied or poisoned. Think of the lost from all peoples of the world, sinking in the toxic swamp of false religion. In that swamp is every kind of filth and predator. The mission heart of God wants us close enough to that swamp to reach in and grab a beloved friend or family member and far enough away to be on solid ground, safe from slipping into that evil again ourselves. God’s Leviticus boundaries are missionary in this very sense.
 The Chronological Study Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008. 125.