Heavenly Father, thank you of the reminder, like in Isaiah, in the year that King Uzziah died Isaiah said he saw the Lord high and lifted up, seated on the throne, and the train of his robe filled the temple. And he got a perspective adjustment that no matter what happens on earth in the political scheme of things, he trusted in a God who was overruling even the rulers who were over those on the earth.
So that's what we look to now, Lord, your overruling sovereignty and providence in the lives of men. We thank you that we've been able to make a vote, make a statement, vote our values and our conscience; but Father we pray for the President, for the administration, for governors in this land, the House and Senate. We pray that you give them wisdom, restrain them from evil and from making mistakes. Help them, Lord, to stay on target, and bless this time together, in Jesus' name, amen.
Okay, we want to get right into it. Chapter 8 was the basis for the priesthood, which was blood sacrifice; that's the basis. Chapter 9 was the beginning of the priesthood, as they put on their robes, and they were anointed with oil, and sprinkled with blood. So we have the basis in chapter 8, we have the beginning in chapter 9, and we have the breakdown of the priesthood in chapter 10.
Now, you're going to read about two guys. They are the two boys, the two sons of Aaron. It's the first day on the job; they don't make it out alive. There is a problem right off the bat in the way they do their ministry, and you'll see God's response to it, and we'll make an application of that as we go through just the first few verses. So their names are Nadab and Abihu, verse 1—but here's what I like about the Bible.
See, if I were writing a biography about what I believe in and what values I hold, I would make sure that the people that I write about would always be written in a wonderful light, a wonderful way. I would take the heroes in my book and I would accentuate their goodness, and I would not really even talk about their faults. What I love about God is that all of the heroes in the Bible are shown in their true light. Their flaws are exposed. You see them warts and all, scars and all.
I love photography, and one of my favorite books on photography is by a photographer by the name of Yousuf Karsh. I like him because he photographed, a long time ago, with large format camera, an eight‑by‑ten sheet of film in a camera; it's a big piece of film. And a big piece of film with a good German lens can take the resolving power of that—the detail of that is unbelievable.
And with that large format camera he would position lights on famous people to accentuate moles, scars, cleft noses, and cleft chins. All of the things that we would love to hide he, on purpose, photographed them to bring them out. So when you notice the picture you might even go, "Ooh, man, that is, like, a big mole. That dude should, like, get that thing taken care of."
The reason he did it is he was portraying famous people and he wanted you to see them for who they really are. That even the most famous, even the stars, have imperfections. This is before the day when you could go in and get nipped and tucked and get plastic surgery done so readily, but interesting book.
God does that in his Word with people like Abraham, a man of faith;—he shows you how they failed in their faith—or Jacob, the deceiver; or David, King David, a man after God's own heart. But he was a womanizer, and he had problems in his walk with the Lord spiritually, and all of that is honestly portrayed.
So it says, "Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer," that little instrument that incense was put in, fire was put in. "Put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the Lord, which he had not commanded them. So fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord. And then Moses said to Aaron, 'This is what the Lord spoke, saying: "By those who come near me, I must be regarded as holy; And before all the people, I must be glorified.' "
The text doesn't tell us what this infraction was. We don't really know what it exactly means when it says, "they offered profane fire." Some translations like the King James call it "strange fire." That doesn't help us. Another translation calls it "unconsecrated fire." And yet another translation says, "a different kind of fire."
Okay, so here's what I think it was. The priest had to take the censer and go to that big brass altar in the outer courtyard where the sacrifices were made, that brass altar of sacrifice, because that is where God from heaven burned up (in chapter 9), and consumed the sacrifice. And God said, "Now, I consumed the sacrifice, I started the fire, I lit the fire, you have to keep that fire going." They kept the fire going and when the priest wanted to put incense in a censer so he could bring incense before that inner court, the Holy Place, the fire had to be from that altar of sacrifice in the outer court. That was the specification.
It's the holy fire that you keep going every day, the fire that God started, you put that in your censer, and you offer that before the Lord; those were the stipulations. Evidently, they took unconsecrated fire, or a different kind of fire. That is, they probably just put a coal in the censer and started it themselves instead of following the stipulation of going and getting a coal, a live burning coal, from the brass altar. They just thought, "You know, it's just a lot easier if we just make our own fire here."
God's response was pretty significant. They got the message, or at least everybody else got the message as God struck them dead with fire. Whether it was a spontaneous combustion or lightening from heaven, some sort of fiery event happened that killed them. Now, here's the deal. If you're going to serve the Lord, if you're going to be in the ministry, you can't be lazy. If you think, "Well, I'm a priest, you know, there's a better way to do this fire thing than going all the way out there to that courtyard and digging around for a live coal. I can just light this right now like at home and just bring it—."
Oh, yeah? No, you can't. If you think you can just put some together and throw it out there in the name of the Lord, God won't be pleased with it. I found an interesting quote. I quote him a lot, but I love his quotes a lot. Charles Haddon Spurgeon, to those in the ministry he said: "If you plan to be lazy, there are plenty of avocations in which you will not be wanted, but, above all, you are not wanted in the Christian ministry. The man who finds the ministry an easy life will also find that it will bring a hard death."
Nadab and Abihu found that out. They were killed before the Lord from fire that came from heaven. Why was it important? What is the big deal about getting the coal from the brass altar instead of any old coal and just lighting your own fire? Again, what is the message? If you're going to approach God, if you're going to worship God, it has to be based on what? Sacrifice. That was the altar of sacrifice where animals were sacrificed to God. The message is when you approach God—your approach, your worship—must be based upon sacrifice. That's the only approach God will accept.
And these two sons of Aaron didn't get that message until they did this, and then they got it. That's one possibility, and that's what I lean to. Not everybody agrees. Some believe that the sin of Nadab and Abihu is that they were drunk when they went into the tabernacle, and that is because if you keep reading, like in verse 9, it says, "Do not drink wine or intoxicating drink."
So because it's written right after that, and it just sort of seems to be out of context, it could be that God is referring to the sin of Nadab and Abihu who are sort of tipsy, trying to serve the Lord. But they weren't thinking clearly and they offered that fire in a profane manner. Not thinking clearly. Not discerning correctly. Not being able to distinguish right and wrong, clean and unclean, that that was their sin. I don't lean to that; I lean to that first explanation.
Now, here's the question: Does God still do things like that today? It's a tough question, and you have to be careful with it because if you start saying, "Oh, yes, because . . . ." Be careful because then you're starting to say, "Well that guy died probably because God was judging him," and you can get off base and think that—listen everybody dies. And you and I can't be the final arbiter of, "Well, God struck him dead."
Okay, so here's what I want to say. It seems that God doesn't do this regularly or normally, but did do it periodically through history during the beginning stages of new dispensations or new eras, new movements, new things going on. For instance, right here at the beginning of a theocracy, God is showing, "This is holiness, man, I don't want anybody messing with my stuff. If you're going to be in the ministry, you do it right. And if you don't, this is how I feel about it." And God would make a very demonstrative statement at the beginning of the theocracy.
Number two, at the beginning of the monarchy in Israel something like this also happened. When the ark was being transported and that one guy by the name of Uzzah struck out his hand because the ark was tipping, it was on that cart and he wanted to steady it, and God struck him dead. Why did God strike him dead? Because the Lord had already told the priest how to transport the ark. They were to carry it on their shoulders, not in a wheelbarrow, not in the back of a pickup truck with wheels.
So at the beginning of the theocracy, at the beginning of the monarchy, and also at the inauguration of Christianity it happened. Yes, even in the New Testament. Remember the story of Ananias and Sapphira? Acts, chapter 5, they pretended to give a lot to the Lord, but they held some back for themselves. God killed them. Not because they didn't give more money, but they pretended to give more, but really they were it holding it back.
So God was saying, "This is a movement of me. This is a brand new covenant I'm entering into. You're messing it up. You're spoiling it." And God's feeling about hypocrisy was shown demonstratively.
Now, I'll just add an addendum to this before we move on: You can thank God he doesn't act like this today. If he did, church services would be followed quickly by many funeral services. Am I right? Every time you and I would sing a hymn like, "I surrender all—" if you're not surrendering all when you sing that [Bomb dropping sound] Boom! Keel over dead. "Ushers, please get the body and call the morgue, another one down."
Oh, another one, in the book of Corinthians, Paul said that there were people in the church of Corinth who were not discerning the Lord's body in the taking of the elements, and that God was allowing them to get sick and even die because of that. But those were the beginning of these great phases that I talked about, but let's move on. It says God said that—and notice Aaron, that's the father watching his son's die. "Aaron held his peace." Man, he was flabbergasted. He was aghast. He was in shock. He had just seen his sons get killed. You can imagine the heartbreak.
"And Moses called Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Uzziel the uncle of Aaron," so his cousins, "and he said to them, 'Come near, carry your brethren from before the sanctuary out of the camp.' So they went near and carried them by their tunics out of the camp, as Moses had said. And Moses said to Aaron, and to Eleazar and Ithamar, his sons, 'Do not uncover your heads nor tear your robes,' " which would be a sign of mourning.
You would rip the robe if somebody that you loved died. He says, "Don't do that. Don't show any outward signs of mourning. Don't uncover your head. Don't tear your clothes." " 'Lest you die, and wrath come upon all of the people. But let your brethren, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning which the Lord has kindled.' " If they're going to cry, they need to cry over what the Lord has done in judging people who didn't serve him correctly. That's the message he's getting.
" 'You shall not go out from the door of the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die, for the anointing oil of the Lord is upon you.' And they did according to the word of Moses." This would be a very hard commandment to fulfill. If my brothers had just died, and I wasn't allowed to show mourning for them, that'd be very difficult to do.
Why is it that God gave this command? For two reasons, number one: He said, "The anointing oil is upon you. You're a priest. You're acting as the mediator of the covenant. You're acting as a representative of the people before me, the Lord. They need a mediator. If you get killed, if you get struck dead, they will have no mediatorial process. The whole reason I'm instituting a priesthood is that the people have a representative, so the anointing oil is upon you."
Still, I'll just say this, just because I am in the ministry; it's still hard. You know, people come to church every week on Sunday, and they see the pastor, or they hear the message, and sometimes they don't realize that pastors and pastors' families have the same kind of issues and diseases and accidents and heartaches and stuff that everybody else has. But the pastor still has to be in that pulpit and still has to bring the message, and in many ways disconnect from what's going on personally to be able to bless people publically.
It's not an easy gig to follow, and these young priests who were, just that day, inaugurated into this position because their brothers have died are feeling what that is like in an intense way. So that's number one: the anointing oil is upon them.
Reason number two is because if they were to act in a mournful way, "Oh, this is horrible, my brothers have died," which it was; they would be sending a message to the people of Israel. They would be sending a message that just contradicted the message God's trying to get through, which is judgment.
"So you know what? I'm sorry, but you have to just buck up and take it, and you have to go through this. You can mourn later, but right now you can't show signs of mourning because the people are looking, and if they see you mourning, they could start resenting the Lord, and it sends the wrong message." A contradictory message to what God was trying to say.
"Then the Lord spoke to Aaron, saying: 'Do not drink wine or intoxicating drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die.' " Wow! " 'It shall be a statute forever throughout all your generations, that you may distinguish between holy and unholy, between clean and unclean, that you may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the Lord has spoken to them by the hand of Moses.' "
So those in the ministry, don't touch the alcohol, don't drink. They could show up at the tabernacle a little bit, like, "Hey, man, what's happening?" They would be PWI: preaching while intoxicated, or in this case, priesting while intoxicated.
And do you hear the logic of the Lord? The logic is this: "Look, you need to think clearly. I need you with a sharp mind of discernment. I can't have anybody cloudy who's serving me. They have to be able to think clearly and methodically. And this is going to skew your ability to distinguish and discern clean from unclean, holy from unholy. So lay off the juice. Just get rid of it. You and your sons forever. It's a statute."
Alcohol gives people a false sense of security, a false sense of well‑being, a false sense of joy, and if they drink too much of it, they just get plain goofy. They just start talking weird and saying weird and getting emotional. It's, "I love you, man."—"You don't love me." Now, here's the thing, the Lord himself would love to give you a real sense of joy, a real sense of security, a real Holy Spirit experience so that don't need that.
Paul writes in Ephesians 5, "Do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; [or excess] but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns, and spiritual songs, making melody in your hearts unto the Lord." He contrasts the filling of the Holy Spirit and the false feeling of well‑being that comes from drinking. So don't get drunk with wine, be filled with the Spirit. Don't go for a false high, get a real high. That comes with walking with the Lord and being obedient to him.
A lot of times people will mistake physical excitement for a spiritual movement. Whether it's with the substance or not. They just—if it's a physical excitement, "Wow! The Lord was moving." So after reading about Nadab and Abihu, and this thing of not drinking, let me just ask you this question: Who lights your fire? Where do you get your fire lit from? What do you depend on for your fire to really get going, to be on fire for the Lord? Who lights your fire?
Are you waiting for a worship leader to come and stoke the fire? "Because you know what man, you just better be good tonight, and you better, like, get me moving and singing because if there's not excitement—if there's no excitement here it's your fault, worship leader." Really? You're waiting for a worship leader to come and stoke your worship fires?
Or can you say, "I am so excited about the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on Calvary's cross. I'm as excited about it today as I was the day I first heard about it. My sins are forgiven. I have my name written in the Lamb's Book of Life. I'm going to heaven. That excites me! I don't need anybody to give me some false sense of excitement, 'Yeah, I'm being pumped up, pump me up more.' " Who lights your fire? Is it a false fire?
"Then Moses spoke to Aaron, and to Eleazar and Ithamar, his sons who were left." Two boys who didn't die. "Take the grain offering that remains of the offerings made by fire to the Lord, and eat it without leaven beside the altar; for it is most holy. And you shall eat it in a holy place, because it is your due." It's your payment and your sons' payment or due.
"Of the sacrifices made by fire to the Lord; for so I have been commanded. The breast of the wave offering and the thigh of the heave offering you shall eat in a clean place, you, your sons, and your daughters with you; for they are your due and your sons' due, which are given from the sacrifices of peace offerings for the of children of Israel."
Let me remind you there is two different kinds of motions here that are referred to: the heave offering and the wave offering. The heave offering is where you would take the sacrifice, the meat, in this case, and you would move it toward heaven vertically. You go up and down, up and down, that's the heave. The wave is you go from side to side, from right to left, right to left. Why? What's the deal with the heave offering? Because when I hear the word heave—well, see, you know what I mean. You think of getting nauseated.
The idea of moving it vertically or heaving it before the Lord is to show my dependence upon God. I've received this from the Lord; I'm offering it up in the presence of the Lord. It acknowledges my dependence upon God. When I wave it from side to side, now it's not vertical, it's horizontal. The first one deals with the vertical relationship, my relationship with God.
The second one, with all the people. So when I wave it from side to side I am expressing that God is present among his people. So look at it as a two‑fold witness. The heave offering, God is infinitely high. The wave offering, God is infinitely nigh. He's near, he's with his people, but he's also separate and holy. That's the idea; that's the very visual sermon that was being preached by the priest who did it.
"Then Moses diligently made inquiry about the goat of the sin offering, and there it was—" there's the goat, "burned up." He looks and sees a burned-up, old goat, and he goes, "H'm." Well, it doesn't say that, but since he made inquiry he must've gone, "H'm." "And he was angry." So he went, "H'mm!" "He was angry with Eleazar and Ithamar, the sons of Aaron who were left, saying, 'Why have you not eaten the sin offering in a holy place, since it is most holy, and God has given it to you to bear the guilt of the congregation, and make atonement for them before the Lord?
See! Its blood was not brought inside the holy place; indeed you should have eaten it in a holy place, as I commanded.' And Aaron said to Moses, 'Look, this day they have offered their sin offering and their burnt offering before the Lord, and such things have befallen me!' " My kids have died. " 'If I had eaten the sin offering today, would it not be accepted in the sight of the Lord?' So when Moses heard that, he was content."
Evidently, these two young priest, these two other sons of Aaron, who weren't, perhaps, as trained as Nadab and Abihu who died, didn't follow the priestly protocol, which is you take a portion dedicated to the priesthood and you have to eat it right there in the holy place. That's where you have to eat it. But their brothers just died. They probably lost their appetite. They didn't show any visible signs of mourning, but they—in not following the protocol—because they probably either felt very unworthy to eat of that, or they felt like they were in mourning.
And Aaron just by his speech here, it's almost like, "Look, I don't even want to be in the ministry anymore. I want to quit." I've told you before that sixteen hundred ministers a month quit the ministry. I think that Aaron at this point said, "Uh, could you, like, choose another family, you know. I mean, I know I got the right genes." Right? Levi® jeans, right? He's a Levite. So he had the right genetics, I mean. But after what happened, he's just like, "I don't want this anymore." So he explains it and Moses understands it. When Moses heard that, it says that he was content.
I see a corollary here, because sometimes I wonder, "Why is that paragraph even put here?" Moses makes a big deal. "You have to eat the goat. You have to eat the flesh. How come you didn't eat this flesh?" Jesus in the New Testament said, "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood you have no life in you." And so, when you put that verse next to verses like this, you see this twine, this crimson twine of redemption that connects one dot to another dot. And you can see the corollary from the Old Testament into the New Testament.
So once again, before we get into the next chapter: Chapters 1‑7, we need a sacrifice. Chapters 8, 9, and 10, we need a priest. And the fulfillment of that is Jesus Christ our Great High Priest. I said that you need to understand this book or you will not understand the book of Hebrews, right?
Hebrews, chapter 4, the author says, "Seeing then, that we have a Great High Priest, Jesus the Son of God, who has passed into the heavens, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest that is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted just like we are, yet without sin. Therefore, let us come boldly before the throne of grace, that we might find grace to help and mercy in time of need." It's a beautiful tie‑in as one represents the other. So when Moses heard that, he was content.
Now, we get into chapter 11, and, well, it's different. Let me tell you the focus. The focus in the chapters that we just read were on the what? On the whom? The priest. Now, the focus is on the people, not the priesthood, the people. In the previous chapters it was about offerings for God; in this chapter it's about food for the people. In the previous chapters it was about the worship of God; here it's about the walk in the world.
It's the choices that people will have to make on a daily basis of what they can and cannot eat. Or you might say, as some people do, the previous chapters dealt with the sacred; this chapter deals with the secular. The sacred verses the secular.
However, I have a problem with this whole false dichotomy of sacred and secular, you know. Christians do this, we have certain things—"We call that—that's sacred. That takes place in the church, so that's sacred." And they like to call me "Reverend." "Well, you're Reverend Skip. Although that sort of sounds like an oxymoron." And the whole separation of church and state, because we have the secular, but then we have the sacred. It's really a false dichotomy.
God wants to be part of everything. All of your life. Every detail. He wants to be the Lord of your life at work, in your marriage, in your personal activities, in your hobbies, as well as the church. We think that if something takes place at church, "Oh, it's sacred." You know, we sanctify things that are even wrong. Gossip is okay at church. We just give it a new name. It's a prayer request. "Hey, come here, want you to pray about something I just heard about." "Oh, okay. I'm really concerned, tell me more." Well, now it's sacred all of a sudden. No, it's not—it's sinful.
So what God is doing in chapter 11 is giving the children of Israel a diet. This is God's diet. This is what you can eat; this is what you can't eat. This is what's on the menu; these things are off the menu. Here's my question: Why? Why would the God of the universe, who you'd think would have better things to do or think about, give a menu to the children of Israel?
Number one, it shows us that God wants to be in all of the details of your life. Even the things that go into your body. Have you noticed that Christians, some of us, we emphasize the spiritual. "Well, the physical doesn't matter, it's not really about the physical, it's all about the spirit."
Well, as I read chapter 11, I would contend that. I would say your physical body is connected to the spiritual entity which is you. You better take care of your body. Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. You've been bought with a price, Paul said. Therefore, glorify the Lord in your body and your spirit, which is the Lord's.
I look at it—I'm given a body, I'm only going to be given one, so I take care of it so that I can serve the Lord with a quality of life, as much as I can—the Lord knows when my time is my time—but I want to be a steward of what he has given me, and take care of that because the body houses the spirit, and so, it's spiritual to take care of it. God mentions that here. He's concerned about our health. There are other reasons; we'll get to that at some point in time.
Verse 1, "And the Lord spoke to most and Aaron, saying to them." Now, just follow this, I think it's going to be enjoyable as we go through it, but it is different. "Speak to the children of Israel, saying, 'These are the animals which you may eat among all the beasts that are on the earth: Among the beasts, whatever divides the hoof, having cloven hooves and chewing the cud—that you may eat.' "
Now, when was the last time you went to the meat market or the butcher at the store and this became an issue to you? "Hey, I'd like that meat, but does it have a split hoof?" Well, back then it would have been a big deal. " 'Nevertheless these you shall not eat among those that chew the cud or those that have cloven hooves.' "
You can't eat the camel. Good to know. Not interested. " 'Because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, it's unclean to you; the rock hyrax.' " A rock hyrax is a furry little mammal that's an herbivore, it's herbivorous, furry, little creature. " 'Because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, it's unclean to you; the hare, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, it's unclean to you.' " So, no rabbit stew.
" 'And the swine, though it divides the hoof, having cloven hooves, yet does not chew the cud, it is unclean to you. Their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall not touch. They are unclean to you.' "
Now, frankly, I have no problem with the list, except for the not eating the bacon thing, and I mean, I know it's not good for you, but crisp bacon in the morning—anyway. I'm not under the old covenant, so not a big deal, I'll eat it anyway. I don't have a problem that God tells me I can't eat camel. I've never had a hankering for rock hyrax or camel. I don't even like camels. I've been around enough camels. Okay, their cute in the pictures, but you know their treated like slaves in the Middle East, and they don't really like people. They get beaten into submission by their owners.
And my camel experience is: I was living in Israel, and I was down at a little, scuba-diving town which is now in Egypt called Sharm El Sheikh, and there was a camel by a Bedouin tent. And I was going over to this camel with a friend of mine going, "Oh, cool, a camel. I'm going over and see it and pet it." I got about three feet from it—maybe five feet, actually—and it, like, big honking loogie. It just spat and nailed me right in the face. I wasn't interested in the camel after that. I wasn't interested in eating it. Killing it, yes, but not eating it.
We're dealing with kosher law. We're dealing with what foods on a daily basis you—if you were Jewish under the old covenant—had to make a distinction between. What is kosher, what is not. God wanted his people separate from the other nations, different in everything including their eating habits.
But, now, allow me to draw a spiritual corollary to the chewing of the cud. Do you remember Psalm 1? You know it, it's very famous. It's the most famous psalm because it's number one. It's the first one you read. "Blessed is the man," David begins, "who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stand in the way of sinners, nor sit in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law does he meditate day and night."
The word in for meditate literally means "to chew the cud." You know what it is to chew the cud? Animals that chew the cud, they take the food, it's chewed up, swallowed, brought back up into the mouth from the stomach; chewed again, swallowed, brought back up again; chewed, swallowed, brought back up several times. It's gross. It's the heave offering. God designed these animals to do that to get the maximum amount of nutrients through the process. Some have several stomachs to be able to stomach it, do it, but that's how God designed it.
The idea of meditating on the Word of God is more than just reading through it, but it's taking a section of a phrase, words, a paragraph, and reading it over and over and seeing how it goes together; and reading it again, and pulling out different points, and going deeper and deeper. That's the idea of meditation, to chew the cud. Beautiful. That you can do. That's kosher.
And verse 9, he goes from earth animals to water animals, clean and unclean. Basically, if it's got fins and scales, you're okay. So no eels, no shellfish, things that crawl. " 'These you may eat of all that are in the water: whatever is in the water that has fins and scales, whether in the seas or in the rivers—you may eat.
But all in the seas or in the rivers that do not have fins and scales, all that move in the water or any living thing in which is in the water, they are an abomination to you. They shall be an abomination to you; you shall not eat their flesh, but you shall regard their carcasses as an abomination. Whatever in the water does not have fins or scales—that shall be an abomination to you.' "
Have you seen a map of Israel? Or if you've been, you know. If you look at a map even—in the back of your Bible; Israel is situated on the Mediterranean Sea. Much of the food that the children of Israel got was from the Mediterranean Sea, also, there was the inward Jordan River, and Sea of Galilee. The New Testament gospels, the disciples were fishermen. Their sustenance came from the Sea of Galilee. They depended upon fish to eat. And so these things became very, very practical to them.
There was even a gate in ancient Jerusalem known as the Fish Gate. If you remember the book of Nehemiah, there were a group of merchants who went in through the Fish Gate and sold their fish on the Sabbath day and Nehemiah just, like, goes berserk, because their breaking the Sabbath law to gain a profit. So if it's got fins and scales, you can eat it. If it doesn't, you don't eat it.
I'm glad I'm under the new covenant because I love shellfish. But I also know that certain times during the year mollusks—whatever kind—shellfish, aren't good to eat. There's a higher level of bacteria in them during the summer months and they can be poisonous and can kill. And, also, there's a lot of iodine in shellfish and a person can have a reaction instantly, and their body can shut down in extreme cases.
So God just says, "Don't do it." Now, Moses didn't know all this, but God did. So he gave them for health reasons, as well as to show that they were different. For their health, God knowing that—science—told them to stay away from it.
Years ago I visited China. And I'm an inquisitive kind of a guy, so when they bring me stuff to eat I always ask, "What is that?" And then they tell me, "Oh, that's turtle." And I go, "Huh! I wish I wouldn't have asked that. What's that?" "Oh, that's shark‑fin soup." "H'm. Okay, thanks." And I kept asking these questions. I was with my pastor at the time, Chuck Smith, and Chuck finally turned over to me and said, "I'd stop asking that if I were you." Because he didn't want to hear it either. He was sort of getting grossed out by it all.
But my worst experience, I told some of you about, is when I was in the Philippines and I was dying for a burger, and they didn't have them there. You know, I am looking for an In‑N‑Out. They don't have them in the Philippines. They just have "out", not In‑N‑Out.
I'll explain. I ate this burger, it was a little stand, you know, and I'm eating anything, and it just tasted weird. Tasted funny. It didn't go down right, and my friend who was with me—it was an "out" burger later on, and a heave offering. When we got to the place we were speaking, and I told the local missionaries there my experience, they said, "Oh, you didn't eat at that stand did you?" I explained and they said, "Do you know what you just ate?" I said, "No." They said, "That's worm meat that they make into burgers. You ate a worm burger."
Okay, some things are just wrong to eat, and that's one of them. So I am kind of digging this whole this of don't eat this, do eat that. We have time for a little bit more. Verse 20, insects are given. If they leap, you can eat them. If they crawl but don't leap, can't eat them because the way their joints are, that's basically it.
When my son Nate was just a toddler, a couple times when he was shuffling around the house he would, like, move the plant or the lamp and he'd find—and we kept the house clean—but he would find every now and then a cockroach. And he was a curious little boy, and, you know, kids will put things in their mouth to kind of get the feel of things, you know, more than the hand. They'll get a little ball or something and they'll chew it. So he'd get a cockroach, and my wife came in and saw him grab this cockroach, looked at it, and then put it in his mouth. Didn't kill him.
Verse 20, " 'All flying insects that creep on all fours.' " So any creeps, don't eat the creeps. " 'They shall be an abomination to you. Yet these you may eat of every flying insect that creeps on all fours: those which have jointed legs above their feet with which to leap on the earth. These you may eat: the locust after its kind, the destroying locust after its kind, the cricket after its kind, and the grasshopper after its kind. But all other flying insects which have four feet shall be an abomination to you.' "
So, no chocolate covered ant. Have any of you ever eaten those? Okay, you've eaten them. Are they good? Well, the chocolate is good, right? Can you actually taste the ant? No, you can't taste it. So, you can't eat those. You can't eat chocolate covered ants here, according to the Bible.
You could eat chocolate covered grasshoppers though; those are okay. In fact, what does it say of John the Baptist when he was out in the wilderness? No chocolate, but he ate locust and wild honey. Was he eating bugs? Trick question. Some think yes. Most scholars believe the locust the Bible was referring to weren't bugs.
There's a tree, have you heard of it? It's called the locust tree. It's even mentioned in the Bible, a locust tree. You know what a locust tree is? A carob tree. The little carob pods that emulate chocolate. We'll take carob extract and we'll make chocolate‑like things that aren't chocolate, but carob is healthier for you they say. So they weren't chocolate covered grasshoppers, but the locust themselves were probably the carob pod that grew out in those desert regions that he was feeding off of.
Interesting side note. That might, like, totally destroy your whole little thing going on about, "Man, he ate bugs. Man, I was all into that hippy thing." Since we have to bring this to a close—I'll never have any hope of finishing the chapter, unless I just read it really quick and just go like this, but I won't.
We have missionaries in our church who were in Africa , spent years in Africa, and one veteran missionary told me the greatest story. He said, "Skip, I'm walking down the road one day, and I see a woman down the road bent over on the dirt road, pounding the earth, pounding the earth. And then she'd stop and her face went all the way to the earth. And then she'd pound the earth, pound the earth, and would get real close."
And he goes, "I had no idea what she was doing." He got closer and it was an ant hill. And she'd pound the earth and the ants would come up and she'd [sucking sound] get a big mouthful in and chew them up and swallow them. He witnessed it. It totally grossed him out. Just thought I would share that with you.
You know the rest of the chapter talks about contact with the dead, and certain things to stay away from, that if you make contact with them, you're unclean until evening: The carcass of the beast that is mentioned in verse 26. Verse 28, " 'Whoever carries any such carcass shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening. It is unclean to you.' "
I get tempted, but I'll wait. Good stuff coming up. Good principles coming up. Some real jewels in these verses. So I don't want to rush it; I want to allow the Lord time. We're going to pray. Great being with you. I just want to close on this note: Sometimes people ask, "Well, how do you know what's right and what's wrong?" Just from reading this chapter, just from the principles that emerge from the chapter, here we have a God who says, "Don't eat that; eat that."
So here's the deal, since God is the Creator and he made the universe, he gets to make the rules. We live in a time when, like the book of Judges, every man, every woman does what is right in their own eyes. "Well, I agree with that." "Well, I don't agree with that." " Well, I think this," and "I think that."
And that's okay, you can have your opinion, but when it comes to right and wrong—God said what is right and what is wrong, and since he's the Creator and he made the universe, he gets to make the rules. If you can go out and create your own universe; you can create any rules you want.
So God has established certain laws, and those laws, if you break them, are expensive. If you defy the law of gravity—"I'm going to jump off that eighteen-story building because I don't like the law of gravity." You can, but it'll be a very expensive trip.
So here is God giving us rules, regulations, we're not under the old covenant, and I want to tie that in next week of the differences between what we're reading and where we live today, because we're not under that Levitical code anymore. As we know, it's fulfilled in Christ, but God gets to make the rules, and change the rules, and usurp the rules with new covenants and a higher set of rules.
So when he says, "If you want to get to heaven, you have to come through Jesus,"—if he made this universe, and Jesus is his only Son, and he sent him into the world; if that's what he said, that's the rules. You may not like it. You have every right to not like it and not believe it, but it's going to be a very expensive trip.
It's best to come to grips with the attitude of, "I'm going to know the Lord and submit to him," because the covenant God does now with us is simple. We believe, that's it. We simply place our trust, we place our life, we make a living commitment to him saying that what Jesus did for us on the cross, once and for all, is enough, and I'm going to trust him as my Lord and Savior and follow him.
And God says that's enough for him to make you righteous and grant you entrance into his kingdom. That's a good deal. When I first heard that I said, "I don't quite get it, but it's such a good deal, I'd be an idiot to pass it up." If you're hearing that for the first time, or if you've heard it before but you haven't acted on it; don't be a fool. Don't let it pass you up. Let's pray.
Father in heaven, we thank you, even though we're dealing with practices, and priesthoods, and laws that don't specifically apply to the New Testament Christian, there are principles that are over shadowing, that are plain, and they are beautiful to behold.
But the bottom line is what are we going to do with your provision for our salvation in sending your Son to die for our sins so that we can be absolved, once and for all, and you can consider us, by our faith in Jesus—you can consider us your sons and daughters. And we can have a relationship with you, and walk through life with confidence, and carefree, and joy, being filled with the Spirit.
I pray for anyone here tonight who might be here, who doesn't have a relationship with you personally. They've never made it real. They've never made it their own, or they've fallen away from you. They're not walking with you today, and they need or they want to come back. I pray that you'd speak to their hearts.
As we're closing this service, as our heads are bowed, if you need to give your life to Christ, if you need to repent of your sins, you need to come back because you've backslidden—fallen away, I want you to raise your hand up, and I'll pray for you as we close this service. Raise your hand up. Say, "Skip, pray for me. I've come to church tonight, but I need to get right with God, I need to give him my life."
God bless you, right in the middle. Anyone else? Slip that hand up. In the middle toward the back. On the side. Way over here on the side, a couple of you. Thank you, sir. Anybody in the family room? Just raise your hand up. Yes, sir; yes, ma'am. In the balcony? Raise your hand up. Anybody?
Father, for these around this room, I pray that you will not only begin a work, complete it, and carry it through; every day strengthen them as they make this commitment to follow you. I pray for peace. I pray for joy. I pray for a sense of forgiveness, a new start as they leave tonight. I pray that you'd give them strength, Lord, to put feet on their faith, and to make the commitment they're making by a raised hand public, in Jesus' name, amen.
Would you stand to your feet as we close with this last song. I'm going to ask if you raised your hand—I saw some in the family room, you can just come through the doors. I saw some on the side, some in the middle. I want you to get up from where you're standing and find the nearest aisle, and come stand up here. I'm going to lead you in a word of prayer to receive Christ. Why? Jesus called people often publicly, and I'm going to call you like Jesus called people. To follow him, to come out, and make a stand tonight for Christ. This is the beginning stand that you're going to make.
Stand right up in the front where Nelson is standing. We'll wait for you, but you come. Come right up here and stand right up here. Yes, ma'am; God bless you. Come on up. Anyone else from the family room, balcony, back, front, middle? Just come now.
Those of you who have come forward, I'd like to lead you in a prayer, and I want you to pray what you're about to say—I want you to say this from your heart. I want you to say these words to the Lord. This is the covenant you're entering into with him, you're going to pray a prayer of abandonment, of surrender to him, you're going to give him your life in this prayer. So you mean this. You say this with all the feeling you can in your heart to the Lord. Let's pray. Say it out loud after me.
Lord I give you my life. I admit I'm a sinner. Please forgive me. I believe that Jesus died, that he shed his blood for me, and that he rose again from the dead. I turn from my sin. I turn to you as my Savior. Help me to live for you as my Lord, in Jesus' name, amen.
Give the Lord a shout out! Awesome!