Here is, I. The exposition of this law, or a key to let us into the meaning of it. It was not intended merely for a bill of fare, or as the directions of a physician about their diet, but God would hereby teach them to sanctify themselves and to be holy, Lev. 11:44. That is, 1. They must hereby learn to put a difference between good and evil, and to reckon that it could not be all alike what they did, when it was not all alike what they ate. 2. To maintain a constant observance of the divine law, and to govern themselves by that in all their actions, even those that are common, which ought to be performed after a godly sort, 3 John 1:6. Even eating and drinking must be by rule, and to the glory of God, 1 Cor. 10:31. 3. To distinguish themselves from all their neighbours, as a people set apart for God, and obliged not to walk as the Gentiles: and all this is holiness. Thus these rudiments of the world were their tutors and governors (Gal. 4:2, 3), to bring them to that which is the revival of our first state in Adam and the earnest of our best state with Christ, that is, holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. This is indeed the great design of all the ordinances, that by them we may sanctify ourselves and learn to be holy. Even This law concerning their food, which seemed to stoop so very low, aimed thus high, for it was the statute-law of heaven, under the Old Testament as well as the New, that without holiness no man shall see the Lord. The caution therefore (Lev. 11:43) is, You shall not make yourselves abominable. Note, By having fellowship with sin, which is abominable, we make ourselves abominable. That man is truly miserable who is in the sight of God abominable; and none are so but those that make themselves so. The Jewish writers themselves suggest that the intention of this law was to forbid them all communion by marriage, or otherwise, with the heathen, Deut. 7:2, 3. And thus the moral of it is obligatory on us, forbidding us to have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness; and, without this real holiness of the heart and life, he that offereth an oblation is as if he offered swine’s blood (Isa. 66:3); and, if it was such a provocation for a man to eat swine’s flesh himself, much more it must be so to offer swine’s blood at God’s altar; see Prov. 15:8.
II. The reasons of this law; and they are all taken from the Law-maker himself, to whom we must have respect in all acts of obedience. 1. I am the Lord your God, Lev. 11:44. “Therefore you are bound to do thus, in pure obedience.” God’s sovereignty over us, and propriety in us, oblige us to do whatever he commands us, how much soever it crosses our inclinations. 2. I am holy, Lev. 11:44; and again, Lev. 11:45. If God be holy, we must be so, else we cannot expect to be accepted of him. His holiness is his glory (Exod. 15:11), and therefore it becomes his house for ever, Ps. 93:5. This great precept, thus enforced, though it comes in here in the midst of abrogated laws, is quoted and stamped for a gospel precept, 1 Pet. 1:16; where it is intimated that all these ceremonial restraints were designed to teach us that we must not fashion ourselves according to our former lusts in our ignorance, Lev. 11:14. 3. I am the Lord that bringeth you out of the land of Egypt, Lev. 11:45. This was a reason why they should cheerfully submit to distinguishing laws, having of late been so wonderfully dignified with distinguishing favours. He that had done more for them than for any other people might justly expect more from them.
III. The conclusion of this statute: This is the law of the beasts, and of the fowl, etc., Lev. 11:46, 47. This law was to them a statute for ever, that is, as long as that economy lasted; but under the gospel we find it expressly repealed by a voice from heaven to Peter (Acts 10:15), as it had before been virtually set aside by the death of Christ, with the other ordinances that perished in the using: Touch not, taste not, handle not, Col. 2:21, 22. And now we are sure that meat commends us not to God (1 Cor. 8:8), and that nothing is unclean of itself (Rom. 14:14), nor does that defile a man which goes into his mouth, but that which comes out from the heart, Matt. 15:11. Let us therefore, 1. Give thanks to God that we are not under this yoke, but that to us every creature of God is allowed as good, and nothing to be refused. 2. Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and take heed of those doctrines which command to abstain from meats, and so would revive Moses again, 1 Tim. 4:3, 4. 3. Be strictly and conscientiously temperate in the use of the good creatures God has allowed us. If God’s law has given us liberty, let us lay restraints upon ourselves, and never feed ourselves without fear, lest our table be a snare. Set a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite; and be not desirous of dainties or varieties, Prov. 23:2, 3. Nature is content with little, grace with less, but lust with nothing.