Don’t read Leviticus if you are easily embarrassed.
Should students get enough sleep, take vitamins, get flu shots, and stay away from Twinkies while studying? Yes.
How we treat our bodies does matter. Some folks need to get as upset about transfat calories, lack of exercise, and general obesity as they do about dancing, drinking, or smoking!
My second favorite book in the Bible, Leviticus, is an important statement on God’s view of the human body.
The regeneration of the whole person includes the physical. God’s interest in the specificity of the human body is clearly noted in chapters 12-15. The text is a bit embarrassing, I might add! Chapter 23 tells us that focusing on celebration–and eating!–is a good thing. Food regulations in Leviticus 11 suggest that certain foods were acceptable, others not (there were various reasons why this was so in the ancient Near Eastern world).
Implications for human physicality are as important as anything else in Scripture.
God made the physical world, caring for it.
God’s immanence indicates His attention to and interest in His creation (1).
Not only was the body created for response to God but with obvious abilities to move for living and work (2).
The protection and value of the physical human body is even dictated throughout God’s laws (3).
The Hebrew concept of the person was wholistic: the material and immaterial aspects of individuals were seen as one.
Conditions of spirituality and physiology converge (4).
The incarnation affirms the importance of the human body: Jesus came in flesh to earth (5).
Jesus’ healing miracles note the linkage between physiology and spirituality (6).
Jesus’ temptation itself (7) indicates the immediate tie between a person’s spirit and their body.
Life after death comes complete with an incorruptible body, just like that of Jesus (8).
Indeed, The Creator combined flesh and spirit at the beginning (9).
Salvation initiated a sanctification process that includes the body. Life is lived in the body. Devotion to God is shown in the body. Responsibility for action in the body is borne by the person. Control of the body is mandated as sanctification (10). And 2 Corinthians 4:10 expects that people will show Christ’s life in their body.
So in this life, on this earth, believers are to enjoy the all-encompassing life God has given (11). While denial of physical pleasures may be encouraged for a time (12) Jesus set the example of enjoying parties, food, wine, and gifts (13).
All this means, of course, Christians should be the first to enjoy the truths resident within creation. Yes, there are good reasons to be as wary of what we put IN our bodies as what we do WITH our bodies. However, many of God’s good gifts in this life are physical.
Leviticus, like the rest of Scripture, encourages the enjoyment of life.
When people ask me what I like to eat, I tell them, I like to eat! For the most part, I enjoy natural foods, cooking from scratch, and making my own meals. Processed foods are not that good for us.
But, from time to time, I even enjoy a Twinkie.
For those wondering, Mark’s favorite book in the Bible is Ecclesiastes. Dr. Eckel encourages a wholistic perspective on life in all his teaching, especially in his Old Testament classes at Crossroads Bible College.
(1) Matt 10:29-31; Luke 12:22-34
(2) Gen 2:5, 15; Job 28:1-11
(3) cf. Deuteronomy 22-25
(4) cf. Psalm 32:3-4; 38:3-8; Proverbs 3:7-8; 14:30; 15:30; 16:24; 17:22
(5) John 1:14, 18; 2 Peter 1:16-18; 1 John 1:1-3
(6) cf. Luke 4:40-43; 5:18-26; 6:17-19; 7:21; 8:2-3; 13:10-16
(7) Matt 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-11
(8) Luke 24:36-43
(9) Gen 2:7
(10) Rom 6:12-13; Gal 2:20; 1 Cor 7:34; 2 Cor 5:10; 1 Thess 4:4
(11) cf. Ecc 3:12-13; 5:18-20; 2 Tim 6:17
(12) i.e. food—Matt 6:16-18—or sex—1 Co 7:5
(13) Matt 9:10-11; John 2:1-11; Matt 11:18-19; John 7:37-38