Troublesome Topic: Death is Abnormal

Lesson 8 of 9

Death feels wrong. That is because death is abnormal. There is nothing normal about death. Death was not in God’s original plan, nor part of His original creation. That is why the Law made a really big deal of not touching dead things.

Leviticus 11:24


Whoever touches the carcass of any of them will be unclean until evening


Whoever touches the dead body of any of these animals must temporarily be placed in the kind of isolation that separates the dead from the living; it will last until evening.

God wanted them to stay away from anything associated with death, or anything that leads to death. Even though it is the way of nature, death feels somehow unnatural to us. The strangeness we feel about death has been placed there by God. He does not want us to get used to death. He wants us to always feel like death is wrong. The Former Covenant drove home this point in many ways, saying things like, “Stay away from dead things; they are unclean, they are abnormal.” Besides showing an avoidance of death, utmost respect had to be shown to blood because blood is necessary for life.

Death came into our experience because of sin. Death is separation. Sin brings spiritual death (separation from God), and later physical death (the separation of our soul from our body). God did not design us and create us for separation, but for unity and harmony. Separation is unnatural. Separation is the result of sin; unity and closeness come from being reconciled to God. What’s more, death is the primary curse of sin. It is our constant reminder that we need to be reconciled to God. The connection of death to sin is another reason why the Law made such a big deal about staying away from dead things.

Likewise we should not get comfortable with physical death. It is rightly a cause for concern when a child gets a thrill out of killing animals for the sport of it. It is also a concern that American culture seems to be overly infatuated with death. We hear much more than we used to about the ancient gods of death, or about the “walking dead,” i.e. zombies. Why are zombies a big deal right now? It is because many people have failed to see death and dead things through God’s eyes. Instead of being the primary consequence of sin and something to stay away from, death is a curiosity, a mystery to be explored. High rates of abortion are a consequence of not seeing death the way God wants us to see it.

In the Law God was teaching a spiritual lesson through physical prohibitions which had side benefits of physical and spiritual blessings. Like the Children of Israel, we need to resist the temptation to be infatuated with physical death and stay very far away from all influences that lead us away from the eternal life that God offers and toward eternal death.

Through many regulations in the Law God was guiding his people to understand that living separated from Him is an abnormal state. Human beings were created and designed to live in intimate communion with our Creator. Therefore, we should separate ourselves from everything that separates us from Him because separation is death!

To get an idea of how prevalent the teaching against touching dead things was, see my comments on Haggai 2:13, but start with 2:12 for context. Haggai 2:12

The next lesson in all three series on covenants is: Did Unclean Mean Sinful?

The next lesson in Why Is That in the Bible? is: Did Unclean Mean Sinful?