What Does The Description Of Clean And Unclean Creatures Signify?

by Matheus Yuhlung

John Bunyan[i] saw the description of clean and unclean beasts[ii] to be a symbolism of types of men. The former being the people of God while the later being the children of the wicked ones. Further and more importantly, regarding the beasts he saw the reference of chewing the cud as feeding on the word of God and parted hoof as  parting ways from the ungodly men. It can be said that Bunyan must have meant that believers must keep the company of people who feed on the word of God and part their ways from the ungodly men.

Now, taking cue from there; I wonder what the description regarding the fishes[iii] without fins and scales would mean.

Since fins are used for locomotion and scales for protection; I assume fins must signify dependence on God for moving through life and scales as the armour of God.[iv]

Considering the birds[v] and insects[vi] the one enlisted are the entire one who does not share a strict plant based diet. Now, considering the way sin has been spoken in the context of death in the Bible. I believe the unclean birds and insects (who feast on the death) signify un-repented souls feasting on the carcasses of each other’s sins (by co – relating death to flesh and flesh to sin).

The following verse (after that) more vividly commands the same considering it in a more practical stance. Do not eat anything you find already dead.[vii]

Interestingly, the regulation on diet ends with not slaughtering a young goat in its mother’s milk for food. Young goats being dependent on the flesh of their mothers for survival, they were also forbidden to be considered for food. (Refer back to the co – relation of death, flesh and sin relation in the preceding paragraph).

Considering the context of the Old Testament where the Israelites were repeatedly called to set themselves apart and walk in ways of being worthy of being known as peculiar people of God – it is essential that in this post – new testament times we try to keep the integrity of our spiritual selves unadulterated by the idea of morality of the cultures that we live in.


To mingle with the tax collectors to introduce them to the love of God is one thing but to mingle with the tax collectors for pleasure or vain entertainment’s sake is another; we should learn to demarcate the difference between the two.

Hence, as it was to Bunyan, so it is to me; this is what the description of clean and unclean beasts signifies – to keep oneself apart by keeping the company of the believers[viii] for growth and edification and the company of the unbelievers for the purpose of fulfilling the great commission.[ix]

Stay blessed. Know your worth.

[i] Grace Abounding (71)

[ii] Deuteronomy 14:3-8

[iii] Deuteronomy 14:9-10

[iv] Ephesians 6:10-11

[v] Deuteronomy 14:11-18

[vi] Deuteronomy 14:19-20

[vii] Deuteronomy 14:21

[viii] Who feed on the word of God and part themselves from the ways of the ungodly.

[ix] Matthew 28:16-20

Picture Credit: salvagedfaith.files.wordpress.com