Sunday, August 5, 2012
Today we look at a shirt or a pair of pants or even a dish and say that's not clean or it is clean. But back in Jesus' day clean and unclean meant something different. In the book of Leviticus, it spells out a lot of the laws and what is "ritually" clean and unclean. Back in Jesus' day, there two Jewish leaders that everybody followed and they helped form what is known as the "Oral Law". The first one was called Shammai (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shammai) and the other one was Hillel (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillel_the_Elder). This discussion is about what class of people are clean and unclean. The 2 men disagreed with each other as to the level of clean and unclean. One believed that only certain groups of Jews were clean and the other believed that all Jews were clean but not the Gentiles. So all Jews believed that Gentiles were unclean and would never enter a house of a Gentile. In the gospels we read where Jesus is having a discussion with somebody (current thought was Hillel) on who is your neighbor (same discussion) and Jesus tells him that "everybody" is your neighbor. Now, I have a confession to make. I do not like White Castle Hamburgers (for which I get teased by my pastor about) and I was once told by a former co-worker, that if I was starving and there was nothing else around, I would eat it. And so it is for Peter's dream in Acts 10, the Lord is telling Peter it is ok to go with the men and not to call unclean what is clean. All God is doing in this dream is that if HE tells Peter it is oik to eat something, it is ok. HE is NOT changing the dietary laws. Malachi 3:5 says "I am the Lord and I do not change" and so HE would not change the laws. Jesus was a Torah observant Jew and HE would not have disobeyed the laws otherwise HIS ministry would not have been successful.