21 INHERITANCE THROUGH SEPARATION
Ye shall therefore keep all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: that the land, whither I bring you to dwell therein, spue you not out. And ye shall not walk in the manners of the nation, which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them. But I have said unto you, Ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a land that floweth with milk and honey: I am the LORD your God, which have separated you from other people. Ye shall therefore put difference between clean beasts and unclean, and between unclean fowls and clean: and ye shall not make your souls abominable by beast, or by fowl, or by any manner of living thing that creepeth on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean. And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine (Lev. 20:22-26).
The theocentric foundation of this law was God's act of covenantal separation: "I am the LORD your God, which have separated you from other people" (v. 24b). The Creator God has separated His people from all other people. This separation is not only historical; it is eternal. It is above all covenantal. It has ethical and judicial implications. The fundamental issue is holiness: the set-apartness of God and also of His people. This law was one of these implications of holiness. Some of these implications are still in force judicially; others are not. It is the task of the expositor to sort out -- separate -- these implications in terms of the biblical principle of holiness.(1)
This law recapitulates the warning in Leviticus 18:28: if they commit the evil acts that the Canaanites committed in the land, the land will vomit them out. They were required to obey God's revealed law. I have argued that this threatened negative sanction was an aspect of the land laws of Israel, confined geographically to the Promised Land, and annulled in A.D. 70 with the final annulment of the Old Covenant.(2) The office of "covenantal vomiter" has been taken by the resurrected Christ (Rev. 3:16). The land no longer acts as a covenantal mediator between God and man, either in Palestine or elsewhere. It does not provide covenantally predictable sanctions in the New Covenant era. But the Promised Land did do this under the Mosaic Covenant.
A Separate Land for a Separate Nation
In this passage, we find four basic themes of the Book of Leviticus: obedience to God's revealed law, covenantal separation, national holiness, and the inheritance of the land. Actually, the third theme, national holiness, is another way of expressing the first two themes. God compares the religious boundary around the people of Israel with the geographical boundary around the land itself. The continuing covenantal separation of the nation of Israel could be secured only by obedience to God's law, not by a strictly military defense of the nation's geographical boundaries. Secure geographical boundaries for Israel would be the product of covenantal faithfulness, not military strength as such.
Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God (Ps. 20:7).
Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the LORD! (Isa. 31:1).
The Promised Land's geographical boundary had formerly surrounded the nation -- singular -- that had occupied the land. The Canaanite nations are spoken of here in the singular, as a single culture: "ye shall not walk in the manners of the nation." According to the definition in Strong's Concordance, the Hebrew word translated here as "nation," commonly transliterated as goy (more accurately, go'ee), is apparently derived from the same root as the Hebrew word for massing: "a foreign nation; hence a Gentile; also (fig.) a troop of animals, or a flight of locusts: Gentile, heathen, nation, people." It is the most commonly used Hebrew word for "nation" in the Old Testament.
Removing the Evil Stewards
For four generations, the Canaanites had been serving as stewards of the land in preparation for the conquest of the land by Israel. The land had been promised to the heirs of Abraham: "But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full" (Gen. 15:16). This inheritance was historically assured. Meanwhile, the Canaanites built houses, tilled fields, and planted orchards. This was useful labor for themselves and their heirs, but it was ultimately a process of building up an inheritance for the Israelites. "A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children's children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just" (Prov. 13:22). The great-grandchildren of the Canaanites of Abraham's day lost their inheritance to the Israelites. But in the meantime, the Canaanites had acted as God's dominion agents, subduing the beasts of the field. It was better that covenant-breakers maintain authority over the animals than that the animals of the land roam free. God had made this promise to the Israelites in the wilderness:
And I will send hornets before thee, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before thee. I will not drive them out from before thee in one year; lest the land become desolate, and the beast of the field multiply against thee. By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the land. And I will set thy bounds from the Red sea even unto the sea of the Philistines, and from the desert unto the river: for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand; and thou shalt drive them out before thee. Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor with their gods. They shall not dwell in thy land, lest they make thee sin against me: for if thou serve their gods, it will surely be a snare unto thee (Ex. 23:28-33; emphasis added).
In Leviticus 20:22-26, we find the same two themes: Israel's inheritance of the land and their absolute covenantal separation from the existing inhabitants of the land.
The Promised Land was already a land flowing with milk and honey when the Israelites arrived. This material wealth had been set aside by God in Abraham's day as His gift to Abraham's heirs. The land contained raw materials of great value: original capital. "For the LORD thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey; A land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass" (Deut. 8:7-9). Furthermore, it contained secondary capital: marketable wealth which was the product of other men's thrift and vision over several generations. "And it shall be, when the LORD thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not, And houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full" (Deut. 6:10-11). This combined capital value -- land plus labor -- could be maintained intact long-term only by obeying God:
Then beware lest thou forget the LORD, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name. Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you; (For the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the LORD thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth (Deut. 6:12-15).
So, the capitalized value of the land was part of God's promise to Abraham. It was therefore not earned by the Israelites. It was an unmerited gift: the biblical definition of grace.(3) But once delivered into the hands of Abraham's heirs, possession of the land could be maintained only by national covenantal faithfulness, as manifested by the Israelites' outward obedience to God's statutes. Public obedience to the Mosaic law was to remain the mandatory manifestation of their service to Him and fear of Him.
The familiar Christian hymn, "Trust and Obey," expresses the ethical nature of covenantal inheritance: "for there's no other way" to maintain this inheritance. (This hymn is sung enthusiastically by Protestants whose churches officially deny its theology of sanctification.) Abraham was told to trust God. This meant trusting God's promises. His heirs were also to trust these promises. The outward manifestation of this trust was circumcision. Without this outward act of obedience, the Israelite ceased to be an Israelite, and therefore he removed himself and his heirs from the promised inheritance. So, the inheritance of the land was a pure gift from God, but to remain the beneficiary of this unmerited legacy, the recipients of the promise had to obey the terms of the covenant. It was not that their obedience was the legal foundation of the promise. The promise of God was its own legal foundation. But obedience was the legal basis of their remaining in the will of God, in both senses: the moral will and the testamentary will. A refusal to place the mark of the covenant -- a symbolic boundary -- on the flesh of all one's male heirs was an act of self-disinheritance. Excommunication became mandatory: a cutting off from the people, i.e., a kind of judicial circumcision of the nation. Covenant-keepers who broke this commandment were to be treated as foreskins.(4)
The primacy of God's redemption does not nullify the mandatory nature of man's secondary response: obedience. After all, we do not sing, "Trust and Disobey," despite the fact that antinomian theologies implicitly affirm the theological legitimacy of such a view of the promises of God. God's promise initiates; man's obedience reciprocates. Both are equally aspects of grace. As Paul wrote: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:8-10).(5) The redeemed person's lifetime of positive ethical responses is as completely foreordained as his initial regeneration is, and therefore equally a gift from God. This was (and remains) true of national covenantal redemption and response. Redemption is primary; obedience is secondary; both are aspects of grace.
The Dietary Laws
The prohibition against eating certain foods was part of the land laws of Israel. This passage makes it clear that the reason why God imposed the food laws was to preserve the nation's separation. "Ye shall therefore put difference between clean beasts and unclean, and between unclean fowls and clean: and ye shall not make your souls abominable by beast, or by fowl, or by any manner of living thing that creepeth on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean" (v. 25). These animals had not been prohibited before God led them out of Egypt. The distinction between clean and unclean had been present in Noah's day (Gen. 7:2, 8), but no prohibition against eating unclean beasts was announced at that time. In this sense, the clean-unclean distinction was prophetic for Noah. The distinction was established so that Noah would take seven times as many pairs of clean beasts into the ark (Gen. 7:2). The distinction had significance for the future of Israel -- the increased likelihood of the survival of clean beasts -- but not for Noah's day. Otherwise, the detailed food laws of Leviticus would have been given to Noah. But they weren't. "Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things" (Gen. 9:3).(6) Abraham was under no dietary restrictions; God's promise of the land did not involve dietary separation. Joseph was under no dietary restrictions in Egypt. Clearly, the dietary laws were not cross-boundary laws.
A society's diet separates it from other societies almost as completely as its language does. It is very difficult for overweight people to lose weight permanently because of people's almost unbreakable eating habits. To change a society's eating habits takes generations, even assuming extensive contact with foreigners (which Israel did experience because of her open borders). Immigrants, or the children of immigrants, slowly adopt the foods of their host nation. The Mosaic dietary laws forced a major cultural break with the home nation for all those who became circumcised resident aliens in Israel.
Covenantal Separation or Biological Health?
Covenantal separation inside the Promised Land was the goal of these laws, not dietary health as such. What about outside the Promised Land? The young Israelites in the court of Nebuchadnezzar refused to eat any food prepared by the Babylonians except vegetables and water. These self-imposed restrictions had not been mandated by the dietary laws of Leviticus. It was the king's choice food and wine that they refused to eat, not unclean or abominable animals. Wine had not been prohibited to them by the Mosaic law, but they refused to drink the king's wine (Dan. 1:8). Despite their diet of vegetables and water -- no fat -- the four Israelite youths looked fatter at the end of 10 days than those Babylonian youths who had been eating from the king's menu (Dan. 1:15). This was nothing short of miraculous. That, of course, was the whole point: a visible demonstration of the sovereignty of God in the lives of the four youths. The prescribed food of the supposedly divine king of Babylon produced a less healthy appearance in his servants than the uncharacteristically restricted diet produced in the four judicial representatives of Israel.
There are vegetarian cultists today who point to this incident as proof of the superiority of vegetarianism. This is a misapplication of the text. What the Hebrew youths and their captors all knew was that the diet decreed by the king was superior fare by conventional Babylonian and Mosaic standards, yet it produced visibly inferior results. The fundamental issues in this unique case were separation (holiness) and the sovereignty of God, not the comparative caloric or nutritional content of the rival diets. The four youths demonstrated publicly that their God, not their diet, was the source of their physiological advantage.
The events of the next chapter in Daniel escalated the competition between rival covenants: the comparative ability of the representatives of each covenant to interpret dreams. In chapter three, the competition between covenants escalated again: the incident of the fiery furnace. Covenantal separation was the basis of their physical preservation: this was the lesson of both incidents involving the young men. The Babylonian king's ultimate negative sanction could not overcome God's deliverance of His representatives. For a while, at least, the king honored this covenantal reality. In chapter four, he relates his final confrontation with God -- a unique chapter in the Bible, written in Aramaic by an uncircumcised author.
Why didn't the four youths insist on a conventional Levitical diet? Had the issue been comparative nutrition, this would have been the public test of the two diets. But they did not request such a test. They simply wanted their rulers to see that a minimal diet -- not a uniquely Levitical diet -- would produce visibly superior results in the lives of covenant-keeping people. Insisting on a Levitical diet would have been an act of religious and political rebellion: the preservation of a defeated nation's diet. That was not their point. It was not that the Israelites possessed a uniquely healthy diet that had to be preserved outside the land; rather, it was the preservation of their covenantal commitment to the God of Israel, whose sovereignty extended beyond the land. While the young men did not request food that was prohibited by Leviticus, they also did not request the blessings -- "fat" -- of the Levitical diet: the best of the land. This should warn us: the Levitical dietary laws were laws furthering covenantal separation inside the Promised Land, not universal laws of health. To misunderstand this is to misunderstand covenant theology. To deny this is to deny covenant theology and replace it with "taste not-touch not" religion.
If the captive Israelites were required to honor the Mosaic dietary laws outside the Promised Land, how did Esther conceal her identity from her husband and Haman? Or was she in rebellion? Did God deliver His people from their enemies by means of a woman who openly defied God's law? Or is there a theologically simpler answer, namely, that the Israelites lawfully ignored the dietary law's requirements when they were in captivity outside the land, i.e., under the God-ordained authority of a rival civilization?
A Temporarily Marked-Off Nation
The dietary laws were imposed by God before the nation came into the Promised Land but after the Israelites had left Egypt. These laws were given early in the wilderness experience. Throughout the 40 years, the people ate mostly manna. They were forced to refrain from newly prohibited foods, whatever their dietary tastes had been in Egypt. Therefore, these food laws were preparatory for the invasion. Manna, coupled with the food laws, forced the younger generation to grow up completely unfamiliar with the taste of covenantally prohibited animals. The manna ceased when the entered the land. After they conquered the land, they would have no eating habits to overcome, and therefore no gastronomical temptation to mix with any of the remaining tribes of Canaan.
These laws marked off the Israelites gastronomically, just as circumcision marked them off physiologically. The Levitical dietary laws were no more permanent than the Passover law -- and no less permanent. In captivity, they could not journey to Jerusalem to celebrate the mandatory feasts. Abraham had been instructed to circumcise those males under his household authority, but he received no instruction regarding his diet. Why not? Because he did not dwell in the land of Canaan as a permanent owner. He was still a stranger in a strange land. He was a pilgrim. A pilgrim has no geographical headquarters, no geographical home. Abraham's earthly home was eschatological. God told him that his family's inheritance of the land would not take place until the fourth generation after him (Gen. 15:16). So, he did have to honor the law of circumcision, for circumcision identified who his heirs were: a law of covenantal separation. The Israelites in Joshua's day crossed the Jordan, camped and Gilgal, were circumcised, and celebrated the Passover in the land (Josh. 5:2-10). Then they ate the corn of the land: the spoils of conquest (v. 11). They thereby also claimed their inheritance. They thereby claimed their national headquarters. "And the manna ceased on the morrow after they had eaten of the old corn of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna any more; but they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year" (v. 12). At that point, they had the option of violating the dietary laws that Moses had announced four decades earlier. Their testing began at Gilgal.
The laws governing Passover had been given in Egypt before they crossed the boundary out of Egypt to enter the wilderness (Ex. 12). Passover's laws were primary in Mosaic Israel. They established the rite that would henceforth celebrate their deliverance from Egypt. Passover was celebrated inside Egypt. Passover announced symbolically points one and two of the biblical covenant: the sovereignty of God and His authority over the gods of Egypt. The dietary laws were secondary to the Passover laws, for they were given in the wilderness after the Israelites had crossed over Egypt's boundary. Like the laws of clean and unclean beasts for Noah, these laws were prophetic: tied to the fulfillment of Abraham's promise. These dietary laws had little immediate relevance in the wilderness; the nation survived on manna. Only when the Israelites crossed over the Promised Land's boundary, and were circumcised, did the manna cease. At that point, the dietary laws became relevant. This is why I argue that the dietary laws were tied to the land and the Levitical laws of inheritance. The dietary laws lost all covenantal relevance once the land of Canaan ceased to be an aspect of the Abrahamic promise: in A.D. 70.
The dietary laws reinforced point three of the covenant: covenantal boundaries. For as long as the boundaries of the Promised Land remained intact covenantally, Israelites were required to honor the dietary laws. The Levitical dietary laws were expressly historical: honoring the fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham regarding the land. They were laws that reinforced the Levitical laws governing landed inheritance. When the Levitical inheritance laws ceased, meaning when the Jubilee land laws definitively ceased, the dietary laws also ceased. This is why Jesus laid down a challenge to the Pharisees, who were the defenders of the dietary laws: "Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch" (Matt. 15:11-14). There would soon be a rooting up of the nation of Israel.(7) The old nation of priests (Ex. 19:6) was about to be replaced by a new nation of priests (I Pet. 2:5, 9). A change in covenantal law is accompanied by a change in the priesthood (Heb. 7:12). This is why Peter was told repeatedly by God in a vision to eat unclean foods (Acts 10:15). The covenantal separation between Jews and gentiles had ended forever (Eph. 2). A new covenantal separation had arrived: Christian vs. non-Christian. A new dietary law accompanied this new form of covenantal separation: the Lord's Supper -- a new dietary boundary.
Covenant-keeping man's defilement by unclean or abominable meats ceased as soon as the Lord's Supper replaced Passover. Gentiles outside the land were never under its restrictions. There was nothing intrinsically evil or unclean in any food; there was only temporary uncleanness -- as temporary as the covenantal status of the boundaries of the Promised Land. When Jesus announced that there has never been anything intrinsically unclean or defiling about any food, He was also announcing that there was nothing intrinsically sacrosanct about the boundaries of geographic Israel.
The Jews of Jesus' day thought that Israel's dietary laws, like Israel's geographical boundaries, would last forever. Today, Jews and Anglo-Israelites suppose that the Mosaic dietary laws are still binding. But the covenantal significance of Israel's geographical boundaries and the dietary laws ended together: the demise in A.D. 70 of national Israel and the temple sacrifices. As Paul wrote to a gentile church, "Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh" (Col. 2:20-23). Apart from national Israel under the Mosaic law, such commandments regarding unclean food have always been "the commandments and doctrines of men." When the temple's veil was torn immediately after Christ's death (Matt. 27:51), de-sanctifying the holy of holies, the Mosaic Covenant's dietary laws became the commandments and doctrines of men. Honoring the dietary laws today is only "a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body." This is false wisdom and false humility.
When the promised Seed arrived (Gal. 2:16), instituting His new covenant, the circumcision law was annulled, replaced by the rite of baptism. Similarly, when the Holy Spirit arrived, the Lord's Supper replaced Passover and its ancillary dietary laws. Covenantal separation was not annulled; its Abrahamic Covenant ritual marks were annulled. Then God announced to Peter the annulment of the dietary laws (Acts 10:15). This marked the end of the Mosaic land laws and the end of Israel as national headquarters. Henceforth, there would be no national headquarters for God's covenant people. The church replaced Israel as headquarters. Henceforth, the pursuit of the Great Commission would no longer be restricted by national headquarters or dietary restrictions.
Rushdoony on the Dietary Laws
Because of a theological division within the Christian Reconstruction movement, I need to devote a little space to Acts 10. In a vision, God announced to Peter His definitive annulment of the Mosaic dietary laws:
On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven (Acts 10:0-16).
Rushdoony's comment on Acts 10 asserts, but does not prove, his opinion that the dietary laws are still in force in New Testament times. He writes: "Acts 10 is commonly cited as abolishing the old dietary restrictions. There is no reason for this opinion. . . . There is no evidence in the chapter that the vision had anything to do with diet; . . ."(8) Notice his rhetorical flourishes: "no reason," "no evidence" and "anything to do with diet." Rhetoric is not a valid substitute for theology and exegesis. I wrote a detailed essay challenging his theory in 1970; I reprinted it in 1984; Rushdoony has never responded to it.(9) If his position were theologically defendable, he should have replied.
Rushdoony insists that the Mosaic dietary laws are still mandatory as health laws. "The various dietary laws, laws of separation, and other laws no longer mandatory as covenantal signs, are still valid and mandatory as health requirements in terms of Deuteronomy 7:12-16."(10) Mandatory means required by God. That is, obedience to the dietary laws are tests of a Christian's covenantal faithfulness to God, whether or not Rushdoony is willing to include the food laws explicitly under the category of covenantal laws. They must be obeyed if they are mandatory.
He asserts that God's command to Peter to eat unclean foods (Acts 10:15) had nothing to do with food, but rather with the Great Commission.(11) This misses -- i.e., evades -- the covenantal point: the Mosaic food laws had never been health laws but had always been laws of national covenantal separation: part of the Levitical land laws. The dietary laws had been imposed by God in order to restrict the Israelites' intimate contacts with foreigners at meals. This restriction only applied during the period in which the Promised Land was God's holy sanctuary and covenantal agent; it had not been imposed on Noah or Abraham. The Great Commission of the New Covenant accompanied the negation of this temporary judicial position of the land; hence, God commanded Peter to eat foods formerly banned. That is, God commanded Peter to break the Mosaic food laws. The text is quite clear: "And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common" (Acts 10:15). All food at that point in time became clean for all covenant-keepers. This vision was God's graphic revelation of His definitive annulment of Mosaic Israel's land laws: the end of its position as God's sanctuary. The final annulment came in A.D. 70.
It is worth noting that Rushdoony broke sharply with Calvin on this crucial covenantal point. Calvin stated emphatically in his comments on Acts 10 that anyone who today establishes distinctions among foods based on the Mosaic law has adopted a position of "sacrilegious boldness. Of this stamp were the old heretics, Montanus, Priscillianus, the Donatists, the Tatians, and all the Encratites. . . . We must always ask the mouth of the Lord, that we may thereby be assured what we may lawfully do; forasmuch as it was not lawful even for Peter to make that profane which was lawful by the Word of God."(12)
Finally, it is worth mentioning that Rushdoony ceased taking the Lord's Supper in any local church around 1970. He only began taking it again in 1992, when he announced that Chalcedon, a non-profit educational institution chartered by the U.S. government, had somehow become a church and he was its pastor. Thus, his theory of the dietary laws -- something he did not honor in his own household prior to the late 1960's -- paralleled his departure from membership in a local church.(13)
The inheritance of the land by the Israelites was part of God's promise to Abraham. To maintain this inheritance, the Israelites were required to obey God's laws. This was the basis of their inheritance. The covenantal mark of such obedience was circumcision. They also had to honor Passover and the dietary laws. These were laws of separation. A separate land required a separated people. But this Mosaic separation was temporary.
God is holy -- set apart -- from all other gods (Ex. 20:2-3). The people of Israel were therefore set apart by God from all other nations on earth. Israel's national boundaries were sacred. That is, they were tied to the sacrificial system. A series of boundaries surrounded (marked off) the temple in which God's authorized sacraments were performed by His authorized agents. God established three separate covenantal jurisdictions -- ecclesiastical, civil, familial -- to be maintained within these national boundaries. The Israelites were given a sanctuary from the rest of the world: a place where God's judicial sanctions would be applied in terms of His law.
Their ethical, judicial, and geographical holiness was to be manifested by what they ate and did not eat: primarily at the Passover meal and secondarily by the dietary laws. This holiness or separation was ritually reinforced by the Passover meal and the special dietary restrictions. The Passover laws were both positive and negative. At the Passover, Israelites were required to eat certain foods and forbidden to eat leavened bread. The dietary laws were exclusively negative. Neither of these food laws was a civil requirement. The Passover laws and the dietary laws were to be enforced only by family and ecclesiastical governments.
With the abrogation of the Old Covenant order came the abrogation of the Mosaic food laws: Passover and the "pork" laws.(14) This abrogation ended with the abrogation of the Promised Land's historically unique position as an agent of God's sanctions. That is to say, the positive and negative sanctions associated with the Abrahamic promise regarding the land ceased to be relevant in history. Prior to the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, the Promised Land was said to spew out evil-doers: symbolically, disgorging something that should not have been eaten. This meant that the land was an arena of covenantal confrontation: sanctions that were primarily military in nature. The Israelites would drive out the Canaanites; if they subsequently rebelled, other nations would drive them out.
After A.D. 70, the land of Israel lost its special covenantal status. The Mosaic sacrificial system was cut off.(15) In no sense -- militarily or environmentally -- is land to be regarded today as a covenantal agent. Under the New Covenant, common grace and common curses have completely replaced special grace and special curses with respect to the climate: sunshine and rain, drought and flooding. God the Father "maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matt. 5:45). Only to the extent that climate is directly influenced by man's science and practices does it manifest covenantally predictable sanctions: blessings and cursings.
God separates His people covenantally from all other people: in time and eternity.
The issue is holiness: separation.
Warning: the land would vomit out an evil-doing nation.
This passage repeats the four themes of Leviticus: obedience, separation, national holiness, inheritance.
Covenantal faithfulness produces secure boundaries.
The Canaanites had served as stewards of the land.
Their inheritance would be given to Israel.
The land contained raw materials and capital.
This was an unmerited gift from God.
Covenantal faithfulness would maintain this inheritance.
God's promise initiates; man's obedience reciprocates.
Redemption is primary; obedience is secondary.
Implementing the clean-unclean distinction was Mosaic.
Noah did not have to refrain from eating unclean animals.
The distinction in Noah's day was eschatological: Mosaic.
Diet separates societies.
The Mosaic dietary laws had nothing to do with biological health, everything to do with covenantal separation.
The young men in Nebuchadnezzar's court did not adopt the Levitical dietary laws to announce this covenantal separation.
The Levitical dietary laws were an aspect of the Levitical land laws: laws of separation.
These laws were announced only after the Israelites' departure from Egypt.
These laws were no more permanent than the Passover law.
The dietary laws were part of the Levitical land laws and inheritance laws.
After Jesus announced the fulfillment of the Jubilee (Luke 4:18-21), He announced a new theology of food (Matt. 15:11-14).
The Lord's Supper is the New Covenant's dietary boundary between covenant-keepers and covenant-breakers.
The clean-unclean status of animals ceased as a dietary restriction when Israel's borders ceased to be covenantal boundaries.
The land of Israel is no longer the headquarters for God's covenant people.
Rushdoony's assertion that the dietary laws are still mandatory as health laws is incorrect.
The dietary laws were never health laws; they were laws of cultural separation which accompanied the Mosaic land laws.
1. Rival principles of interpretation have divided me from Rushdoony at this point: the interpretation of the dietary laws.
2. See above, Chapter 10: "The Promised Land as a Covenantal Agent."
3. Gary North, Dominion and Common Grace: The Biblical Basis of Progress (Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics, 1987), p. 4. By unmerited, I mean unmerited by the recipient. It was merited by Jesus Christ.
4. Saul's demand that David provide a bride price for Michal of a hundred Philistines' foreskins points to this judicial meaning of the foreskin (I Sam. 18:25).
5. It is worth noting that twentieth-century American fundamentalists have committed Ephesians 2:8-9 to memory, but rarely if ever mention verse 10.
6. Given his insistence of the authority of the Mosaic food laws in the New Testament, Rushdoony should have commented on Genesis 9:3 in The Institutes of Biblical Law (Nutley, New Jersey: Craig Press, 1973). There is only one reference to this verse, in the middle of a block quotation from another author (p. 36). The verse is not even cited in the Scripture Texts index in volume 2, Law and Society (Vallecito, California: Ross House, 1982).
7. David Chilton, The Days of Vengeance: An Exposition of the Book of Revelation (Ft. Worth, Texas: Dominion Press, 1987).
8. Rushdoony, Institutes, p. 301.
9. Gary North, "The Annulment of the Dietary Laws," ICE Position Paper No. 2 (Nov. 1984), a reprint of a 1970 paper, privately distributed.
10. Rushdoony, Law and Society, p. 702.
11. Rushdoony, Institutes, p. 301.
12. John Calvin, Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles, 2 vols. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker,  1979), I, pp. 422-23.
13. Gary North, Tithing and the Church (Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics, 1994), ch. 10.
14. James B. Jordan, Pig Out? 25 Reasons Why Christians May Eat Pork (Niceville, Florida: Transfiguration Press, 1992).
15. One result of this was the appearance of a new religion, Judaism.
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