Troublesome Topic: Lessons from Split Hooves and Chewing the Cud

Lesson 7 of 12

What Was So Important about Completely Split Hooves? Is There Something We Can Learn from that Characteristic?

Yes, I think there is something we can learn there.

Because their hooves were divided in a physical way, we need to do some dividing and discerning on a spiritual level. We need to discern the difference between “God’s institutions and men’s inventions” (Matthew Poole), between the influence of the world and the teaching of God’s word, between a purely emotional response and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. John Gill saw a connection similar to what Matthew Poole observed.

Another way to say it would be that we need to learn to be discriminating about things that have spiritual impact. The word “discriminate” means to evaluate and choose between two or more options. Today it is almost always used in a negative sense referring to choosing people based on external characteristics. However, the word has positive uses as well. We need to discriminate between the easy path that takes us into temptation and the tough path that takes closer to God. All parents hope that their young adult children will be very discriminating when choosing a spouse; we want them to look at all the options and choose the best one, not just the first one that comes along. The idea of a split hoof seems to be saying the same thing; we need to separate things so we can better discern which one is best.

According to II Tim 2:15, we also need to “divide the word of God” correctly. The word used there means “to cut straight,” meaning we must discern correctly when and how it is applied and to whom. We must be able to discern when a given passage applies to everyone, and when it applies to certain people in certain contexts. Also, is the truth being taught something that must be applied always, or does it have specific settings in which it must be applied?

However, our spiritual priorities and our deepest commitments should never be divided. They should be pure in the sense of the Greek word used in Philippians 1:10 which means “unmixed.” This idea is also expressed by Jesus in Mt 6:24 where He says that “no one can serve two masters.” The beautiful thing is that we can be committed to loving God and family and others around us without conflict in our core commitment to God. As long as He is our number one priority, everything else can fit in its proper place. Being “mixed” means inserting things into our list of priorities that should not be there. Doing so messes everything up.

Therefore, we should separate certain things from other things and separate ourselves from those that are harmful spiritually, yet our commitments and priorities should never be divided.

Is There More We Can Learn from the Chewing of the Cud?

Yes, once again there is something to be learned here.

Several writers have seen in this act a picture of our need to meditate on God’s word, to bring it up (the Hebrew phrase “chew the cud” means “to bring up the food that is drug [up]”) over and over again in our minds and turn it over time and again until our minds have fully digested every part of what we read. This involves careful study as well as meditation, and memorization is good too.

Likewise the chewing of the cud can represent cautious and purposeful deliberation on a matter before taking action. However, this deliberation must be based on God’s word and must follow God’s word; it cannot be the result of an overly imaginative mind.

The next lesson in the full series on Covenants is: Why Were the Animals that Move along the Ground Highlighted?