Scripture: from verse 24
Whoever touches the carcass of [an unclean animal] will be unclean until evening, and whoever picks up any part of their carcass is to wash his clothes and be unclean until evening…
Observation: So here we have this “uncleanness” thing. Lots of things rendered people temporarily unclean, including touching dead things, giving birth, and cleaning up after certain sacrifices. It doesn’t appear to be a state of sin, since sin requires sacrifice to be cleared, but it does prevent the person affected from participating in worship and society. In many cases, this was probably a practical benefit: it helped keep germs and other contaminants from spreading, and it gave women a period of rest after childbirth and during their periods.
I’m never sure what to do with this rule. Sooner or later I have to handle the bodies of dead things (usually worms and flies and the like), unless I can get my husband to do it for me. Naturally I use a tissue, but the law doesn’t say whether it still applies if you pick it up with something. Admittedly we’re no longer condemned by the Law, but I’m still relieved whenever I discover that the worm I found is actually still alive and therefore not part of this commandment.
And that’s probably the real purpose of these rules: to remind us that the world that exists is not the world that God desires. Death is the result of sin in the world, and so is the pain of childbirth and the difficulty of making a living. God plans to redeem His creation, and once He does nothing will be unclean anymore.
So we acknowledge that this world is broken, and we are grateful that we only spend a short time on it. Our home is with Him for eternity. Uncleanness lasts until evening, but joy awaits in the morning.
Application: Look forward to eternity rather than getting swamped by this life. Our current troubles will not last. Light is coming.
Prayer: Father, thank you for building a home for me. Thank you for preparing joy and peace that I can look forward to when life on Earth is difficult and chaotic. Help me to trust you when you say the all will be well. Amen.