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Leviticus 11. “ Clean and Unclean ” God used their diet as a teaching tool . The laws were also practical reasons for health and sanitation. It was a daily reminder for the Israelites to act in their faith.

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Leviticus 11

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leviticus 11
Leviticus 11

“Clean and Unclean”

God used their diet as a teaching tool.

The laws were also practical reasons for health and sanitation.

It was a daily reminder for the Israelites to act in their faith.

People may forget or neglect prayer, play, work, or worship, but they seldom forget a meal.

At every meal a formal choice was made, generating quiet self-discipline.

In Hebrew “Clean and Unclean” = “appropriate and inappropriate.”

Holiness was the central theme and all of its laws were established to achieve it.

Leviticus 11 is today’s Doctrine & Covenants 89.

Leviticus 11:2-31 “Kosher”

What was kosher to eat?

To a Jew it meant what was fit of proper according to the Law of Moses.

Something which was not kosher was not dirty; it simply did not meet the requirements of the law.

Remember, we are looking at both the physical and spiritual benefits of the law.

Obeying our modern-day Word of Wisdom brings physical benefits which are well understood.

But the Lord also had spiritual reasons for giving us the Word of Wisdom.

Observing it helps us to be “in the world, but not of it.”

The dietary laws given to the children of Israel served a similar purpose.

The law also separated the children of Israel from their Canaanite neighbors.

Mosiah 13:29-31 Why such a strict law?

Leviticus 11 Clean and Unclean Food

Two conditions determined the cleanliness of animals:

1. They had to be cloven-footed (that is, the hooves had to be separated into two parts).

2. They had to chew their cud (v.3).

Leviticus 11:2-3 “Pigs”

Pigs were unclean because they will eat anything. There kind of clean, but not.

This attitude is very dangerous for members of the church .

We can’t afford to be kind of clean, but not.

The Israelites were told to eat animals that ate grasses and grains, not meat eaters.

Seafood was limited to those that had scales and fins. This requirement eliminated all shellfish, such as lobster and shrimp, and fish such as sharks and dolphins, as well as the eel.

Birds forbidden were generally birds of prey that lived on carrion, or, as in the case of the stork and heron, those that may have eaten other unclean creatures.

Leviticus 11:21 “Insects”

Insects that had four shorter legs and two long legs used for hopping were okay.

Leviticus 11:24, 31

Why did contact with a dead body cause one to be unclean?

The law specified that contact with the carcass of an unclean animal (or a clean animal that had died in some other way than by proper slaughter) caused one to be unclean.

The human corpse was the most defiling according to Old Testament regulations.

The two great sins were to:

1. touch a dead body

2. touch blood

Many priests only worked at the temple a couple of times a year.

In all probability it epitomized for the people of God the full gravity and ultimate consequences of sin.

That the unclean person was barred from temple service and fellowship with other Israelites seems to bear out this assumption.

The symbolism suggests that contact with sin leaves one tainted, and from this taint there had to be a period of cleansing.

Luke 10:30-37

What does Leviticus 11 have to do with the parable of the Good Samaritan found in Luke chapter 10?


Doctrine and Covenants 89

“The Word of Wisdom”

Recalling the circumstances that precipitated this revelation, Brigham Young said: “I think I am as well acquainted with the circumstances which led to the giving of the Word of Wisdom as any man in the Church, although I was not present at the time to witness them. The first School of the Prophets was held in a small room situated over the Prophet Joseph’s kitchen, in a house which belonged to Bishop Whitney and which was attached to his store. In the rear of this building was a kitchen, probably ten by fourteen feet, containing rooms and pantries. Over this kitchen was situated the room in which the Prophet received revelations and in which he instructed his brethren. The brethren came to that place from hundreds of miles to attend school in a little room probably no larger than eleven by fourteen.


When they assembled together in this room after breakfast, the first thing they did was to light their pipes, and, while smoking, talk about the great things of the kingdom, and spit all over the room, and as soon as the pipe was out of their mouths a large chew of tobacco would then be taken. Often when the Prophet entered the room to give the school instructions he would find himself in a cloud of tobacco smoke. This, and the complaints of his wife at having to clean so filthy a floor, made the Prophet think upon the matter, and he inquired of the Lord relating to the conduct of the Elders in using tobacco, and the revelation known as the Word of Wisdom was the result of his inquiry (JD, 12:158).


Horace Greeley wrote:

In my childhood there was no merry-making, there was no entertainment of relatives or friends, there was scarce a casual gathering of two or three neighbors for an evening’s social chat, without strong drink. Cider always, while it remained drinkable without sever contortion of visage, rum at seasons and on all occasions, were required and provided. No house or barn raised without a bountiful supply of the latter and generally of both. A wedding without “toddy,” “flip,” “sling,” or “punch” with rum undisguised in abundance, would have been deemed a poor, mean affair, even among the penniless; while the more thrifty of course dispensed wine, brandy, and gin in profusion. Dancing – almost the only past-time wherein the sexes jointly participated – was always enlivened and stimulated by liquor. Militia training – then rigid enforced at least twice a year – usually wound up with a drinking frolic at the village tavern. Election days were drinking days… and even funerals were regarded as inadequately celebrated without the dispensing of spirituous consolation (Taylor, Freedom’s Ferment, 99-100).


David Whitmer said:

“Quite a little party of the brethren and sisters being assembled in Smith’s house. Some of the men were excessive chewers of the filthy weed, and their disgusting slobbering and spitting caused Mrs. Smith to make the ironical remark that “It would be a good thing if a revelation could be had declaring the use of tobacco a sin, and commanding its oppression.” The matter was taken up and joked about.

One of the brethren suggested that the revelation should also provide for a total abstinence from tea and coffee drinking, intending this as a counter dig to the sisters.

Sure enough, the subject was afterward taken up in dead earnest, and the Word of Wisdom was the result.


Zebedee Coltrin said:

The Prophet Joseph Smith was in an adjoining room in the school where they were assembled, and came in with that revelation in his hand.

Out of the twenty-two members that were assembled, all used tobacco, more or less, except two.

Joseph read the revelation and when they heard it, they all laid aside their pipes and use of tobacco, and said Brother Coltrin, “I have never used it since.”


Not by Commandment

“No official member in this Church is worthy to hold an office, after having the Word of Wisdom properly taught him, and he the official member, neglecting to comply with or obey it” (HC, 2:35).

“If we would observe this law of commandment of the Lord, first given not as commandment nor by constraint, but afterwards declared by the mouthpiece of the Lord to be in force as a commandment thereafter to the Latter-day Saints, if, I say, the people would observe the principles of this revelation, there could not exist… that most obnoxious institution known as a saloon” (Joseph F. Smith, C.R., Oct. 1908, 6).


Hot Drinks

Joel H. Johnson with whose family the Prophet was intimate relates that on a Sabbath Day in July (1833) following the giving of the “Word of Wisdom,” when both Joseph and Hyrum Smith were on the stand, the Prophet said to the Saints, “I understand that some of the people are excusing themselves in using tea and coffee, because the Lord only said, ‘hot drinks’ in the revelation of the Word of Wisdom. Tea and coffee are what the Lord meant when he said, ‘hot drinks’ (Joel H. Johnson, Voice from the Mountains, 12).


Cola Drinks

“With reference to cola drinks, the Church has never officially take a position on this matter, but the leaders of the Church have advised, and we do now specifically advise against the use of any drink containing harmful habit-forming drugs under circumstances that would result in acquiring the habit. Any beverage that contains ingredients harmful to the body should be avoided (Priesthood Bulletin, Ensign, June 1972, 46).


Doctrine and Covenants 89:1-3

As the Prophet received it, the revelation began with the fourth verse as it is now rendered. The first three verse were simply an introduction that he gave to the revelation.

Doctrine and Covenants 89:2

A binding commandment in 1833?

Yes and no! Why?

John Smith, patriarch gave a talk on the Word of Wisdom at conference. After his talk, Brigham Young arose and proposed that it become a binding commandment (1851).


“Not by Commandment or Constraint”

President Joseph F. Smith offered this explanation,

“The reason undoubtedly why the Word of Wisdom was given – as not by ‘commandment or restraint’ was that at that time, at least, if it had been given as a commandment it would have brought every man, addicted to the use of these noxious things, under condemnation; so the Lord was merciful and gave them a chance to overcome, before He brought them under the law” (C.R., October 1913, 14).

Since the early 1930’s, however, the prohibitions of the commandment – refraining from the use of alcohol, tea, coffee, and tobacco – have been viewed as binding on the faithful Saints. Adherence to the same is considered a prerequisite for baptism and for entrance into the temple.


Doctrine and Covenants 89:4

“Evils and Designs”

A prime target for their avarice will always be our children.

The main purpose of the Word of Wisdom?

In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exists in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you!


Four Blessings from the Word of Wisdom:

1. Self-control developed

2. Strength of body

3. Clearness of mind

4. Spiritual power

(John A. Widtsoe, Program of the Church, 39-40).

A readiness and willingness to receive revelation. Increased faith and spiritual power (Stephen Richards, C.R. 1949, 141).


Doctrine and Covenants 89:5-9 NO!

Doctrine and Covenants 89:6 “PureWine”

The language of this revelation leaves the impression that a wine with a low level of intoxicant is intended.

Doctrine and Covenants 89:7 “StrongDrink”

Strong drink is a biblical phrase used to mean intoxicating drinks (Lev. 10:9, Num. 6:3, Deut 14:26; 29:6)


“The Lord has told us that ‘Strong drinks are not good,’ who is it that will say they are?” asked Hyrum Smith, “when the Lord says they are not. That man who says ‘I can drink wine or strong drink, and it not hurt me,’ is not wise. But some will say, ‘I know that it did me good, for I was fatigued, and feeble, on a certain occasion, and it revived me, and I was invigorated thereby, and that is sufficient proof for me.’ It may be for you, but it would not be for a wise man, for every spirit of this kind will only produce a greater languor when its effects cease to operate upon the human body. But you know that you are benefited, yes, so does the man who has mortgaged his property, know that he is relieved from his present embarrassments; but his temporary relief only binds the chords of bondage more severely around him” (Times and Seasons, 3:800).

Washing of your bodies:

Alcohol is a very helpful agent for cleansing wounds and abrasions.


Doctrine and Covenants 89:6

“Tobacco… an herb for bruises and all sick cattle.”

Applied with skill, a tobacco poultice can be useful in healing cuts and bruises on cattle.

Doctrine and Covenants 89:9

“Hot drinks”

Hot drinks means tea and coffee, as those two beverages were the only ones in common use among the members of the Church at that time.

The reason why those beverages were condemned was because they contained a habit forming drug, rather than because of the temperature at which they were swallowed.

It follows logically that any other beverage which contains a hurtful drug or element, is open to the same objection, regardless of the temperature at which it is taken (Doctrine and Covenants Commentary, 573).


Doctrine and Covenants 89:10-17 YES!

Doctrine and Covenants 89:21

“The destroying angel shall pass by them”

Is this reference to the destroying angel in this text to be understood figuratively or literally?

The answer, it would appear, is both. Certainly there have been those whose lives were destroyed by their failure to comply with the principles given in the Word of Wisdom. There will yet be others who will lose their lives in like manner. Given also that this revelation cannot, in the proper sense, be lived in isolation of all the commandments of the Lord and thus all the promises of the Lord, we would also think that the time must surely come when the angels of heaven will take vengeance on the wicked as they did among the firstborn for the Egyptians (Exodus 12:23, 29).