sanitary healthcare workers February 19-20 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: 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 American and 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. 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. God wants his people to worship him in holiness. While the Israelites camped at Mt. Sinai, he gave the tabernacle, priests, and offerings to them with specific requirements so that they might honor him. Nadab and Abihu, two of Aaron’s sons, were careless and did not honor him in their worship before the people. For this they were killed. After this unfortunate 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 that follows this instruction is what is clean and what is unclean?

Why do conscientious mothers and health care experts recommend eating from four major food groups - meats or vegetables, dairy, grains or cereal, and fruit? They do it because they believe these foods will lead to better health. The Israelites also had certain dietary restrictions. Some foods were considered clean and some were considered unclean and forbidden. Why? There are two schools of thought about these limitations: First, the restrictions were for better dietary health (some people have written dietary books from the dietary guide given to the Israelites). There is no Biblical explanation, however, why each of these creatures could or could not be eaten. Animals, which were completely cloven-footed and chewed their cud (oxen, sheep, deer, antelope, and goats), were permitted to be eaten; others were not. Animals with paws were not allowed to be eaten. Crawling creatures were forbidden. We know certain insects like flies and mosquitoes carry diseases, and they were not to be eaten. Locust creatures, however, were considered clean and could be eaten. The people of Israel were also forbidden from eating things with blood in it. Perhaps this was why birds of prey were not allowed to be eaten; blood carries disease. Sea creatures and fish without scales were also not permitted for food, though the reason is not given.

Although these restrictions were still observed by Jews in Jesus Day, these regulations on diet appear to be canceled by him. In Matthew 15:11 Jesus declared: “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,” (NIV). It is not the food that is limited now, although each of us should try to eat healthy foods for healthy bodies, but words that 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 their words. Negative (unclean) words can infect other people.

The other school of thought for the dietary limitations of the Israelites is that the unclean animals and other creatures may have been offered in sacrifice to the gods of the nations that surrounded them. God wants his people to worship Him. God wants his worshippers to be holy (separated from sin and separated unto him, 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! Hebrews 10:10 says, “And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Hebrews 10:19-22a says,

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 (NIV).

Another kind of uncleanness was disease. If someone was suspected of having an infection, he was to go to the priest to be inspected. If the priest was unsure, he would quarantine the Israelite for a week and then re-examine him. If the infection were worse, he was quarantined from the camp and not allowed to come to the tabernacle for worship until the infection was gone. Mothers do something similar with their children, and doctors do this with their patients. We quarantine the sick person to allow her time to get better under good care and to reduce the chances of contamination and infection to others, who might otherwise be exposed to her sickness. Even in our age of computers potentially harmful files are quarantined by anti virus programs. Quarantines make sense, although for people it is difficult being separated from loved ones or not being able to have full access to computer programs.

Once a person was quarantined, was he ever able to rejoin the assembly? Yes, if he no longer had the disease. Leviticus 14 details a process by which an unclean (diseased) person would have to go through to be accepted back into the congregation of Israel. First, he was inspected thoroughly by the priest outside of the camp to make sure he no longer had a disease. Then he was ceremonially cleansed in a strange way that resembles the scapegoat ceremony (Leviticus 16:7-10), only it was with birds. The sprinkling of a dead bird's blood with cedar wood, a red yarn and hyssop on the man (or woman) had no magical healing power - it was probably a sign for the benefit of the community. Afterwards, the one who had been diseased was to be completely shaved from head to toe, wash his clothes and bathe, wait a week and then be re-examined. The process was then repeated before he was allowed to come back into the camp. Then, like the rest of the congregation he had to offer a burnt offering, sin offering, grain offering, and a guilt offering (for unintentional sins), assumedly to make up for the time he could not offer them in the tabernacle and to be holy. Last, he went through another ceremony that resembled 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. Spiritually speaking, it is so nice that we do not have to go through ceremonies to be accepted by God. “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 that we are quickly accepted.

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

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, though we live in the age of grace, there are also limitations put on us for our good. 1Corinthians 6:12-13, 18-20 says,

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. (NIV)

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

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

Colossians 3:5-6,8 says,

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. (NIV)

2Corinthians 6:14 says, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” (NIV) These are forms of isolation - isolation from wicked practices or wicked people which or who might cause you to make moral, legal, or even spiritual compromises.

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 our health and welfare and that 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 (1Peter 1:15-16).

Today’s Bible memory verse:

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

praying girl Write a private prayer response to today’s Bible study:

Please send your comments to

Previous Lesson  |  Next Lesson

Back to top of page
Return to Chronological Bible Studies main page
Go to Scriptures main page
Go to Topics main page
Go to Home page

Contact Us