When I was a student nurse learning about aseptic technique and dressing wounds, some wounds needed two nurses the "dirty" nurse and the "clean" nurse.
The "dirty" nurse laid out all the equipment on the dressing trolley and took off the old dressing. Then they helped the "clean" nurse put the new dressing on. The "clean" nurse didn't come into contact with the old dressing and only handled sterile equipment and eventually put the sterile dressing on the wound. We were also very careful when describing the state of the wound in the presence of the patient. It was poor nursing practice to say that the wound was dirty, as it may imply that the patient was dirty.
This gives us a good illustration of the ceremonially clean and unclean in the OT.
Sometimes we can miss the "ceremonially" part and impute the clean and unclean as statements of our virtue or rot before God.
At no point does YHWH say that we are to be discarded, all "our righteousness is a filthy rags" but our lives are precious enough for God to die for. Remember what we read a few days ago, Moses said that we are to keep His commands so that God may come near us.
The necessity of rigorous aseptic technique practices have waned over the years and as we have slackened off wound dressing from stringent practice to "clean enough" practice we see a rising tide of MRSA outbreak in hospitals not only in the USA but in the UK and Australia.
In the church our outward practices of holiness diminish, and we wonder why God seems so far away!
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