I. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF EATING
The first thing we need to consider in relation to discernment in diet is the significance of eating. To know this significance is to know the real meaning of eating in Leviticus 11.
A. To Contact the Things outside of Us That Could Affect Us Inside
To eat is to contact the things outside of us that could affect us inside. This especially refers to our contacting of people. When we eat we contact something that is outside of us, something that has nothing to do with us. However, if we eat that thing, it can affect us inside. In Leviticus 11 the things we eat signify people, and eating signifies our contacting of people.
B. To Receive Things from the Outside That Can Be Digested Inside to Become Our Constituent Expressed in Our Living
To eat is not merely to contact something but also to receive something into us. Once a thing is received into us, that thing can be digested inside to become our constituent, that is, our being, our constitution. We all are a constitution of the food we eat and digest. Eventually, what we digest becomes us; it becomes our very constitution. This indicates that contacting people is an important matter. If we intend to live a holy life as required by the holy God, we need to be careful about our contact with people. Our contact with certain kinds of people can cause us to be reconstituted and thus make us another kind of person. Whatever we contact we will receive, and whatever we receive will reconstitute us, making us a different kind of person from what we are now.
II. THE CATEGORIES OF LIVING CREATURES THAT ARE CLEAN WITH RESPECT TO DIET
In chapter eleven of Leviticus five categories of animals are covered: first, the beasts, including cattle; second, the aquatic animals, the animals in the water; third, the birds, the animals in the air; fourth, the insects; and finally, the creeping things. All creeping things are unclean, but in the other four categories some animals are clean and others are unclean. Let us now consider the four categories of living creatures that are clean with respect to diet.
A. Beasts That Divide the Hoof and Chew the Cud
Beasts that divide the hoof and chew the cud (vv. 2-3) signify persons who have discernment in their activities and who receive the word of God with much reconsideration. A divided hoof signifies discernment. A horse has whole hooves, not divided hooves. Hence, a horse signifies a person who does not have the power, the strength, to discern things. Such a person cannot discern what things are of God and what things are of Satan, what things are heavenly and what things are earthly, what things are spiritual and what things are fleshly. We need to discern not only what is good and what is bad but also what is of our spirit and what is of our flesh, as well as what things are of the new man and what things are of the old man.
Let us use as an illustration the difference between going to a theater and going to a church meeting. To go to a theater is to do something earthly, but to go to a church meeting is to do something heavenly. However, to a person, even a Christian, who does not have divided hooves there is little difference between going to a theater and going to a church meeting. Such a person lacks discernment in his activities. In his activities he does not have the discerning ability. We should be careful in contacting this kind of person, for contact with him may defile us. We need to have divided hooves, the ability and strength to discern what is of God and what is not of God, what we should do and what we should not do.
Chewing the cud signifies receiving the word of God with much consideration and reconsideration. Just as a cow chews its cud, we should consider and reconsider the word of God. We may do this while we pray-read early in the morning. As we are pray-reading, we may consider and reconsider the word. This is to chew the cud to receive nourishment by reconsidering what we receive from God’s word.
In verses 2 and 3 we see God’s wisdom. The two phrases “divides the hoof” and “chews the cud” are very meaningful. On the one hand, we need to chew the cud, eating the word of God by chewing it again and again. On the other hand, we need to have a walk that is full of discernment. However, many people today do not have divided hooves, and they do not chew the cud. They never even touch the word of God. We should not contact those who do not have divided hooves or chew the cud. We need to avoid such people, lest they affect us and influence us.
(Life-Study of Leviticus, Chapter 36, by Witness Lee)