Troublesome Topic: The Jewish Understanding of How the Universe Functions

Lesson 1 of 13

According to a Messianic Jew named Rich Oka, whose blogsite I will share with you in a moment, what follows is the Jewish way to explain the entire universe and why things function the way they do. In other words, this is huge; this is the foundation on which Jewish thought was built, which was derived from the Torah.

However, when I said that this will explain the entire universe, many of you thought about science, but this is not a scientific explanation; this is a spiritual explanation.

Allow me to use an illustration so you can picture this in your mind.

Let’s imagine that we live our lives surrounded by water. For each person there are four rocks sticking up out of that water. Each rock has a word written on the top of it; those words are “common, clean, uncommon (holy), and unclean.” Holy means something or someone cannot be used for common purposes because it has been set aside for special, i.e. uncommon purposes.

All humans are born into the spiritual condition called common and clean.

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However, that can be changed. If you do something that displeases God or compromises your spiritual integrity, your one foot moves automatically from the  “Clean” rock to the “Unclean” rock. You are now in a new dual position of “Common” and “unclean.” (Don’t get hung up on the word “unclean” because the meaning, usage, and purpose of the terms “Clean an Unclean” are a bit different than what we have been taught. I will explain this in the next lesson, followed by several practical applications to life in the next several lessons.)

You cannot jump from the “Unclean” rock to the “Holy” rock without falling into the water, rather you must first move from being “Common and unclean” to being “Common and clean.” When your feet are on the “Common” and “clean” rocks, you are eligible to be made “clean and holy.”

Rich Oka says that all created things fall into the following categories: Holy and Clean, Common and Clean, or Common and Unclean.

If something is holy (i.e. separated for a specific purpose, and thus uncommon) it must also be clean. In fact, it must be clean before it can be made holy.

If something is common, it will also be either clean or unclean. If it is common and clean it is eligible to be made holy.

If something is common and unclean it is not eligible to be made holy. First it must be made clean, then it is eligible to be made holy, or it can remain common and clean.

That is the way the universe operates regarding spiritual status and these are the combinations available. These foundational truths were taught to all Jewish children at a very young age.

These are also very ancient concepts with the first use of the term “clean animals” being used in the account of Noah (Gen 7:2), long before Moses and the Law. There are hints pointing to some animals being considered clean during the time of Adam, but we cannot be sure. Adam’s son, Abel, offered sacrifices of the first born of his flocks. The word “clean” is not used, but Abel’s offering fit that standard. Therefore, his offerings were both clean and the firstborn, indicating that Abel went above and beyond what was required. It is fitting to think that God taught Adam these concepts as they relate to sacrifices, and he passed them on to his descendants.

It takes no effort to become contaminated, but it takes effort, time and specific action to become pure.

If something clean comes in contact with something unclean, the clean becomes unclean. The condition of uncleanness is communicable by contact or association. But the unclean cannot be made clean by contact, it requires the right process. Also becoming unclean can happen in an instant; becoming clean requires time.

I think it is quite possible that God included the need for time as a requirement for purification in order to teach His people something about spiritual contamination and spiritual cleansing. There should be proper contemplation and recognition of what we have done in order to become clean from our impurities. We should not rush the cleansing process.

Likewise, we usually do not go from being in a state of holiness to a state of defiant rebellion against God in one single step. It happens in numerous tiny steps. Before a person who is in a right relationship with God rebels against God, he first begins to weaken himself spiritually by neglecting key spiritual disciplines. A Jew would say that he has now stopped being totally set apart for God (holy) and thus he is now “clean and common,” which is one step closer to “unclean and Common.” Further steps include changing his focus away from God, opening the door to negative influences, and other such things which are acts that make one isolated from God (unclean). Then desire, when it conceives, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it has matured, gives birth to death (James 1:15).

What happens when something unclean comes in contact with our holy God? The unclean gets destroyed! The holy cannot come in contact with the unclean.

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The next lesson in all three series on Covenants is The Two Key Uses of “Unclean”

The next lesson in Why is that in the Bible? is The Two Key Uses of “Unclean”


1: Rich Oka's blogsite


There seems to be an exception because more than once in Jewish history, foreign armies conquered Israel and entered every part of the temple to take whatever articles they wanted. Sometimes the temple was totally destroyed. Those soldiers defiled the temple, but they did not die an immediate death. Antiochus IV even sacrificed pigs in the Jewish temple and did not die. A unique situation occurred when the Philistines captured the ark of the covenant and deadly diseases plagued each city to which the ark was taken until they willingly sent the ark back to Israel. However, any time an Israelite violated the rules involving the ark of the covenant, he died immediately. The best I can deduce from this is that it was primarily a teaching tool for God’s people, and He did not expect foreigners to understand it. Also, each time that the temple was plundered God was punishing Israel for its sins and was using a foreign army to accomplish that punishment. Thus, at that moment, the focus was on teaching Israel respect for God’s laws, not teaching the foreigners respect for God’s temple.