Thanks for the response. Do you accept that Christianity (and the Bible) contains many ceremonies/ideas, the only point of which is to distinguish between those who partake and those who do not?Forgive me, Geoff, but you've hit a pet peeve of mine, and I can't remain silent.
Those rules aren't pointless, and their primary purpose isn't to identify outsiders.
Of the ten commandments, the fourth is always the first to be dropped--even by Christians--as if this law were arbitrary or could be abrogated. However, the law concerning the Sabbath originates in human nature and therefore is easily knowable: to bring into being and to sustain in being requires work, and to complete a work is to cease from that work, and to cease from work is to rest.
But work is not the end in istelf: it is a means to the end, and, insofar as we wait for the end to be brought into being by our work, we work with the hope that the end will be attained. The end of the Christian life is to know God, and the knowledge of God is through the work of dominion, naming the creation by understanding the natures of things created. And as God completed and rested from the work of creation, so man will complete and rest from the work of dominion.
The law itself is not about resting one day in seven. That is arbitrary. That one day is seven was mercifully given to man by God so man could rest and reflect on his origin and destiny in anticipation of the completed work and the rest to come. But to rest from work on the Sabbath assumes that you've been working. And this is the law itself: we are to work with true hope for the good. We are not to give up hope by thinking the good cannot be attained by work, and we are not to think that the good will be attained without work. When a Christian rests on the Sabbath, he visibly proclaims his hope that through his work, and the work of the church, the good will be attained, that the work of dominion will be completed, that the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of God as the waters cover the sea.
As for the food law you mentioned, ancient Israelites were not to eat animals with a cloven hoof that "did not chew the cud" such as pigs. Unlcean animals were generally those that had been more greatly affected by the curse. Orginally, the green plants were given to the animals for food. There were no carnivores, scavengers, or bottom feeders. The laws that governed what was clean to eat were pedagogical--they were to draw the Israelite's attention to the curse and so remind him to stop and think about the curse, why it had come upon man, and how it was to be removed.
So, yeah, not pointless. Sorry about my verbosity.