Why are some animals in the Bible called "unclean." What makes them "unclean?" Alex of AR
You asked a very interesting question. The Bible lists many animals as being "unclean" (Leviticus 11). This means that the people who lived in Old Testament times could not eat or sacrifice these animals. They could eat and sacrifice only "clean" animals.
Why the difference? We are not told specifically. It seems that the "clean" animals were animals that were important food sources. God wanted His people to offer a portion of things that were most precious to them, otherwise it wouldn't be a sacrifice. There is a good example of this principle at the end of 2 Samuel. Here we find King David setting out to build an altar on Araunah's threshing floor. Araunah was very generous, and wanted to give it away. David refused, and offered to buy the place instead. Why? Because David would not offer anything to God that cost him nothing. This is why Christ's death on the cross was such a great sacrifice. God gave up something very precious His only Son so that we might have everlasting life (John 3:16; 1 John 4:9-10).
The New Covenant changed all that. With the death of Christ, the need for animal sacrifices came to an end (Hebrews 9:11-15). And no longer was there any need to separate Jew from Gentile on the basis of what they ate (Acts 11:4-18); the Gospel was for everybody (Galatians 3:28).
Now, we have to be careful about what this does not mean. First, it does not mean we can eat absolutely anything. Some foods are not healthy because they carry diseases or would harm us in some other way. Second, it does not mean Christians should be just like their unbelieving friends and neighbors. We might eat the same foods, but this does not mean that we should act like them. Christians should be different from non-Christians (James 1:27). And third, it does not mean that God expects no sacrifices of any kind. While we might not offer animal sacrifices, we can show our love and commitment to God by giving of our best. The apostle Paul urged his brethren in Rome to present themselves as "a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God" (Romans 12:1). And he encouraged the Christians in Ephesus to show love in their everyday lives, for this was a sacrifice that would please God (Ephesians 5:2).