Holy in an Unholy World

Deuteronomy 14

Jerry A Collins




v        How can I be holy everyday of my life?

v        What is the distinction between clean and unclean?

v        Do I have to tithe today or is giving today different?


How do people know who you belong to? I was reading an article about Prince William with pictures of himself and the young lady he has been with for the past 5 years, Kate Middleton. Looking at Prince William, you can easily see the features of his mother, princess Diana, that make him stand out distinctly as her son. The trappings of royalty also make a statement about his distinctive and unique person. Whether being groomed for his unique position with royal photo op’s or making the circuit in his social circles, he stands out as a royal of Great Britain. He definitely belongs to Prince Charles and the Windsor royalty. Moses says that Israel is to be distinguished from all the other nations as God’s unique people, called and elected and chosen by Him alone vs 2 and 21. Their redemption by a holy, sovereign God must demonstrate His holiness in their everyday lifestyles, notable in something as mundane and common as eating and giving. For Israel, obeying these laws in everyday life would reflect God’s holiness, and be a perpetual reminder that they belong to Him. So, too, today, the people of God are required to imitate God’s holiness in every aspect of their lives. So how can we do this?


The principle design of laws like these was to enable the Israelites to exist as a distinct people in the land of Canaan, to prevent then from being influences by the beliefs of neighboring nations, as well as to preserve them from the degrading defilements of the Canaanites. Close, personal friendships are easily formed over a shared meal but with someone with whom people can neither eat nor drink, such a relationship becomes more difficult. Add to that that they must abhor the food which the others eat, there is even a greater obstacle to a close relationship—which is the point of these regulations. Eating is a sign of fellowship and union—like Thanksgiving is with family and very close friends. You just do not invite anybody to join you and that is by design!

Rela between holiness and cleanliness Twice God calls them His ‘Holy” people 2 and 21. Their holiness is associated with the ‘clean’ vs 4, 9, 11, 20. The clean described what was acceptable to God for His ‘holy’ people. The unclean was what was contaminated, diseased or impure in some way and to be avoided completely even hated and loathed so as not to be tempted by it ever vs 3 detestable thing, 7 unclean, 10 unclean, 12, 19 unclean, 21 dies. Some uncleanness was contagious like touching dead and some were permanently unclean. So thru the circumstances of life there would be frequent, almost daily, defilement and disease. The law made provision for these—isolation and quarantine to control contamination outbreak making others ritually unclean. Then purification thru cleansing ritual and finally sanctification thru the sacrificial ritual. God made provision for all kinds of uncleanness for the people to return to His holiness. These regulations were temporary and particularly for Israel.

Categories of cleanness and uncleanness  There are three different categories of creatures. First, we have land animals 3-8. There are two stipulations must be met before a land animal can be considered clean and eaten by Israelites. Split-hoofed and a cud-chewer. It cannot just be one of those, it must be both. A rabbit, for instance is a cud-chewer but not split-hoofed. The pig is split-hoofed but not a cud-chewer. It seems that the food is non-meat, so cud-chewers are vegetarians.

Second, we have sea creatures 9-10. They must have fins and scales. Sea creatures like shrimp. Creatures like Lobster  and shrimp would not be fit to eat. I am sure glad the regulations have changed for us.

Third, we have air creatures 11-12. It seems that the clean air creatures are not meat eaters or fed off of dead carcasses.

Fourth, we have dead animals 21. Touching a dead carcass of an animal makes a person unclean. Even clean animals that die of natural causes are unclean and unfit to eat. The dead animal not killed to eat would not have had the blood drained from it. Other people could eat it—the stranger in town. You shall not boil a kid in its mothers milk could be because they were not to take what was intended to promote life (goat milk) and use it to destroy life. So all of these food laws reminded Israel of her unique status with God. You could not eat—a common and daily occurrence-without  the  reminder that your life was consecrated and set apart to God. It was always in your face!

(1) Cleanness is defined by God. What is unclean and clean is what God says is. There is no negotiation about this. God declares it and it is.

(2) Cleanness as God defines allows one access and fellowship with God. The whole point is that they are a holy people to the Lord your God. Uncleanness restricts approach to God and fellowship with Him.

(3) These unclean things must be hated and loathed. Not enough to just say ‘I cannot eat this.’ When Eve looked at the forbidden fruit, she looked at it as something desirable not just to look at but something desirable to eat. If we look at something desirable, like money, a person, revenge, sooner or later we are probably going to eat it. But when we look at it as something detestable, we are not going to eat it.

(4) So, to be separate from the worldly influence is to view what God defines as unclean as detestable. When we do that we will maintain holiness and fellowship with God and not be inclined to temptation and participate. We do this because God says so and we sovereignly belong to Him.

(5) God reaches into the daily routine of His people. And in everything—even eating and drinking—believers are to glorify the Lord as the holy God who has redeemed them 1 Cor 10:13. So holiness must permeate ever dimension of our lives—even something as mundane as matters of eating and drinking.


A second tithe 22-29 Four types of food were to be tithed—grain, new wine, oil, 1st born of herd. They were to eat this in God’s presence and if too distant sell goods and bring money to the Temple, purchase goods on whatever you want, giving some to the Levite.

Third year vs 28 every 3rd year bring it into your own town and give to the Levites, orphan, widow. So that makes the first tithe, second tithe, and third tithe every 3rd year. This would average 22 1/3% annual income. Vs 23 –so they would learn to fear the Lord. It makes it more difficult to save and depend on my savings doing this.


(1) We should see our wealth as belonging to God. Understand that our income is from God it is not from your vocation. We should not keep it or save it or hoard it as a security so that we do not need to fear God. Retirement is American not biblical. 

 (2) Our wealth should inspire a spirit of giving as the Jews supported the Levites. The man who gives money away every xmas season. 100,000 so far.  

(3) There is nothing wrong with consuming (enjoying) our wealth, as long as it is done in a context of being mindful of the presence of God and not like the world. The world’s concept of consumption is living in luxury. There are no objections to wealth or enjoying it in Bible. But many to living in luxury—that is living beyond your needs.