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Food and the Bible

By Larry R. Lasiter

1998

WERE ALL ANIMALS MADE CLEAN FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION? 

ARE THE DIETARY LAWS OF LEVITICUS 11 NO LONGER IN EFFECT? 

JUST WHAT DOES GOD SAY CONCERNING WHAT WE ARE TO EAT?

The very first book of the Bible reveals that God created all things, and pronounced them to be good. Genesis tells us that after God created man He put him in a beautiful garden paradise called Eden. Eden was full of trees bearing fruit, and God gave the first humans all the trees of the garden to eat of except one, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  

According to the Biblical account, it is very clear that Adam and Eve were given fruit for food. But does this mean that man is not to eat animal flesh? Some believe that in the original creation God did not intend for man to eat flesh. There is evidence that even animals themselves did not feed on one another prior to the fall of man. The very fact that after the restoration of all things (Kingdom of God) spoken of by the Prophets, animals will not eat each other. Notice Isaiah 11:6-7 -"And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little boy will lead them. Also the cow and the bear will graze; Their young will lie down together; And the lion will eat straw like the ox." 

It is not Biblically clear whether God had, or was going to give man permission to kill and eat other living creatures in the beginning. But it is clear that man has the right to eat animal flesh today and will eat meat even after the return of Jesus Christ. Notice Luke 22:15-16 -"I (Jesus) have earnestly desired to eat this Passover (lamb) with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God."  

Many erroneously assume that the term "clean and unclean animal" came from Leviticus, the Israelite book of the Law. Leviticus 11 does give specific instructions on what the Israelites were allowed to eat, and what they were not. But God made distinctions between animals being clean and unclean long before Moses, or even Abraham. The first Biblical reference is found in the flood account in Genesis 7, where God instructed Noah to take one pair of unclean animals aboard the Ark, but seven pairs of clean animals.  

How do you suppose Noah knew how to do this? Isn't it obvious that he knew the difference between the clean and the unclean animals? It was either common knowledge of his day, or God directly taught him at this time in order to carry this health law over into the post-flood world Why do you suppose God commanded Noah to take seven pairs of clean animals? Isn't it logical to assume it was because they were given to man as food? Genesis 9records God's blessing to Noah.  

In Verse 2, God gives every living thing into his hand. Now notice Verses 3-4 -"Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant. Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood."  

If we are to believe that "every moving thing" included unclean animals as well as clean animals, then what was the purpose for identifying some as clean? For example: If we were to judge an animal clean or unclean by its appearance or habits, wouldn't a rabbit (unclean) seem cleaner than a chicken (clean)? But the chicken is a clean animal, while the rabbit is an unclean animal. The reference to being clean must have meant it was clean to eat. This was immediately after the flood while yet there were only single pairs of unclean animals. One male and one female in order that they may reproduce and replenish the earth. Had Noah taken this blessing from God to mean he could eat one of the unclean animals, it would have defeated the very purpose of saving them from the flood. It would mean the extinction of a species.  

Notice also that God said "as I gave (you) the green plant." God did give every green plant to man, but did He give every plant to him for food? Man cannot literally eat every green plant that grows out of the ground, because some are poisonous, aren't they? Surely God did not give man poisonous herbs as food. Just as every green plant that God caused to grow out of the ground was not designed for food, so it is with animal flesh. God told Noah to store food in the Ark for himself and his family as well as for the animals. Genesis 6 tells us this food was from the growth of the ground. Notice Verse 21 -"And as for you, take for yourself some of all food WHICH IS EDIBLE, and gather it to yourself; and it shall be for food for you and for them." (family) Notice that God instructed Noah to gather "what was edible." Noah knew what plants were good for food and which were not.  

The common concept of the dietary instructions of Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14, is that they areceremonial laws made only to remind the children of Israel that they alone were clean among the nations. Few today, believe that they were given as food laws to insure proper nutrition. But if this is true, then why did God make the same distinctions in Noah's day? And why did He command Noah to take seven pairs of clean animals aboard the Ark?  

Some argue that the reason for saving seven pairs of clean animals was for sacrificial use. It is true that clean animals such as lambs, goats and bulls were sacrificed, but what about all the clean animals mentioned in Leviticus and Deuteronomy that were never used as sacrifices to God? If the purpose was for sacrifices only, God could have simply told Noah to take extra sheep, cattle and goats. But the fact that God gave Noah the right to kill and eat animal flesh immediately after the deluge, makes it reasonable to believe that the extra clean animals were primarily to be food for man. Also, because of the devastating effect the raging waters would have had on the land, washing the top soil away; Noah and his family would probably have to live a while without vegetables. Although, they no doubt took a good supply aboard the Ark, it would probably not be enough to sustain them through the flood and up until the time they were able to plant and harvest a crop. Noah, his wife, three sons and their wives survived the flood. They would need food during this time of transition. The extra pairs of clean animals would suffice nicely.  

LET'S LOOK AT LEVITICUS 11: Notice Verses 46-47 -"This is the LAW regarding the animal, and the bird, and every living thing that moves in the waters, and everything that swarms on the earth, to make a distinction between the unclean and the clean, and between the edible creature and the creature which is not to be eaten."  

If you are a Christian, you may ask -"Why should I begin my study on how I should eat in the Old Testament?The answer is for the same reason the early church searched the Holy Scriptures daily.(Acts 17:11) They were searching the only Scriptures in existence at the time, the Old Testament. And they were putting to test the teachings of the Apostle Paul, to see if they measured up to what was taught in these Scriptures. The New Testament was built upon the Old Testament. When the Apostle Paul wrote his second letter to a young evangelist named Timothy, he told him to "continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them; and that from childhood you have known the Sacred Writings(Old Testament) which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus." (2 Timothy 3:24-25) Now notice Verses 16-17 -"ALL SCRIPTURE (New Testament was not canonized yet) is INSPIRED BY GOD and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work."  

All the Apostles and the early Christian congregations read from and studied the Old Testament scriptures in their services. Jesus Himself read the Sacred Scriptures aloud in the synagogue on the Sabbath day. This is NOT TO SAY that Jesus Christ did not make some changes in the New Testament. He certainly did. But our reference point cannot start with the New Testament. The New Testament must be studied with solid knowledge of the Old Testament. This is a mistake many make. They seek to understand the teachings of the Bible through study of the New Testament alone failing to realize it is built upon the former Scriptures. If the Old Testament is not inspired by God, then the New Testament is useless as well. For it is the Old Testament that foretells the coming of the Son of God we call Jesus today. It is through those Writings that we recognize Jesus as Messiah.  

Ultimately, all who have ever lived will have the way they lived their lives judged by what is written in the books of the Bible, Old and New Testaments. Notice Revelation 20:12 -"And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and BOOKS (of the Bible) were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which are written in the BOOKS, according to their deeds."  

Christians are not the FIRST people of God. There have been righteous people throughout history. God declared Noah righteous.(Genesis 6:9) God said of all men of that time, Noah alone was righteous. What made Noah righteous? Very little is said to let us know. But in a time when everyone was doing their own thing, leaving their Creator out of it, Noah found favor. Noah must have held onto the teachings of his Creator while others had let go of them. Remember, the Creator walked and talked in the garden with Adam and Eve. He taught them how to live righteously, but they disobeyed Him. The problem pre-flood was not ignorance. It was rebelliousness. Noah warned them, and preached a message of repentance for 120 years, but no one listened. Is there any significance in that Noah knew what animals were clean and unclean? Did this have any bearing on him being righteous before God? Perhaps the very fact that he knew these health laws of God, tells us he also was not ignorant in the weightier matters of God's Law.  

There have been other great men that stood righteous in the eyes of God. Men like Enoch, Elijah, Job and Abraham. Then in the time of Moses, God called a people to be His own possession. A chosen people, the children of Israel. The Israelites were the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Actually, they were the offspring of the twelve sons of Jacob. They are called Israel, because the Eternal changed Jacob's name to Israel when he found favor with Him. "Jacob" means "heel-catcher", but "Israel" means "one who rules with God."  

After calling the children of Israel to be His people, God gave them Ten great Commandments by which they were to live. Because of transgressions, God later added some specific rules to govern a carnal-minded people. These were primarily civil laws regulating human relations. It is in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 that we find the commandments regarding what these people of God were to eat. Notice Deuteronomy 14:4-8 -"These are the animals which you may eat; the ox, (cattle) the sheep, the goat, the deer, the gazelle, the roebuck, the wild goat, the ibex, the antelope and the mountain sheep. And any animal that divides the hoof and has the hoof split in two and chews the cud, among the animals, that you may eat. Nevertheless, you are not to eat of these among which chew the cud, or among those that divide the hoof in two; the camel and the rabbit and the rock-badger, for though they chew the cud, they do not divide the hoof; they are unclean for you. And the pig, because it divides the hoof but does not chew the cud, it is unclean for you. You shall not eat any of their flesh nor touch their carcasses."   

Both Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 go on to describe what types of fish and seafood, poultry, and insects were clean and unclean. For instance, the only seafood given for food is fish having both fins and scales. Bass have both fins and scales and is clean. Catfish is a skin fish with no scales. Thus, is unclean. Oysters, lobsters, clams, crabs, shrimp and crayfish would also be unclean for food.  

Of the Bird family, God gives all birds except the eagle, vulture, the kite, falcon and its kind.(birds of prey) The raven, ostrich, owl, sea gull, stork, heron and the bat.  

Of the insects God forbids eating those with wings and that walk on all four legs. However, God declares clean, the locust, cricket and the grasshopper. The third chapter of Matthew records that John, the baptist lived on locusts and wild honey.  

You may think that disgusting. You may also think that one would naturally know what was good to put in their mouth. But consider the wide variety of foods that are delicacies to some, while revolting to others. In some South America countries, people sit at a table with a hole in its center. The purpose of the hole is to hold the head of a live monkey above the table. Those partaking of this delicacy must strike the monkey's head with a hammer until its brains are exposed. They then eat the fresh brains. This is probably nauseating to some of you reading this article, but it helps give us a clearer picture of how diets differ culturally.  

Another example: The Orientals eat mice. But would not eat an oyster at all. Americans eat oysters, but would find mice detestable. The point is, that we can easily get used to finding certain foods appetizing can't we?  

It is clear that the Old Testament of the Bible teaches that there are clean and unclean animals. It is also clear by God's Word in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 what animals are clean which are not, and that man was not to eat those that were unclean. We have also learned by demonstration, that it is not inherently in man to know which are clean. Without the Holy Scriptures we would have no way of knowing. Now I realize the Old Testament is not the only writings from God. I believe in New Testament Teachings as well. So momentarily, we will examine what the New Testament has to say about what the Christian is to eat. But based upon the Old Testament, we must conclude that at this point, that man was commanded to eat only clean animals. The reason is debatable whether it was for symbolic, ceremonial reasons, or simply God telling us how to have a healthy diet. But before we make a change, we must see clearly how the New Testament teachings of Jesus and His Apostles differed from the former Scriptures. The Scriptures themselves must be the final authority.  

Most of you are familiar with the Jewish festival, Hanukkah. This Hebrew word means "dedication". It is a time of rejoicing for the Jewish people, because after their Temple was defiled by the Syrian tyrant Antiochus Epiphanes, it was retaken and dedicated for holy use. Antiochus had desecrated the Temple of God by placing an idol of Zeus in it, and sacrificing a swine on the altar. The hog is an unclean animal and was never an acceptable sacrifice to the Eternal. Antiochus was not making an offering to the God of Israel, but none the less, the presence of the blood of an unclean animal on the altar of God, defiled the Temple.  

After regaining control of their Temple, the Jews removed the idol of Zeus, and painstakingly cleaned the swine blood off the altar. After this was accomplished, the Temple was ready to be rededicated for the holy use of worshiping the Lord. In the Temple the Jews found only one lamp with only a small cruse of oil in it. But miraculously, this lamp burned for eight days, giving the priests light to prepare the Temple. Thus many call Hanukkah, the "Festival of Lights". This historical account took place in 165 B.C., about 200 years before Jesus began His ministry.  

When God created the pig He pronounced it "good". But clearly it was not a good animal to sacrifice in the Temple of God. In fact, its very presence defiled the earthly Dwelling Place of God. Today Christians are called the Temple of God. Notice 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 -"Do you not know that you are a TEMPLE of God, and that the spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the Temple of God, God will destroy him, for the Temple of God is holy, and that is what you are."   

True Christianity is certainly more than eating and drinking, but it may be wise to consider that if God did not want unclean animals in His Dwelling Place that Solomon built, perhaps He doesn't want them in His Dwelling Place Christ built, which is inside the Christian. The Church of God is the Body of Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:27)  

In the book of Daniel we find the belief that unclean foods can defile oneself. Notice Daniel 1:8 -"But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king's choice of food or with the wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself." Daniel clearly believed King Nebuchanezzar's choice of food would be bad for him. Daniel was a prophet. He had the indwelling of the holy spirit of God in him. He believed, this gentile food would defile his body.  

The Overseer granted Daniel's request to be spared the king's meat, and to be served vegetables and water only for ten days. This request was granted to Daniel's friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego also. Their outward appearance was to be checked at the end of the ten days to see if they looked healthy. Notice Verse 15 -"And at the end of ten days their APPEARANCE seemed better and they were fatter than all the youths who had been eating the king's choice food."   

The RESULT of this test was physical. These Jewish lads were healthier than those eating unclean meats. Daniel was not afraid to offer this challenge to his Overseer. He was confident that he and his three friends would appear healthier than the other youths eating the king's diet. And he was right, so the Overseer continued to serve Daniel the foods he specifically asked for.  

This was a thousand years after these food laws were given to Israel, but they produced a healthier Daniel, while he was exiled in Babylon.(586 B.C.) If these food laws were purely ceremonial, for symbolic purposes only, then why did Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego's appearance of health change so as to be noticeable? It can only mean, that eating the right foods have an impact on one's health. And remember, man does not have the ability to know what is good for him and what is not. Could that be why our Creator divided the animals into two categories before the flood? And why He specifically gave His dietary laws to the ancient Israelites in the time of Moses?  

In the book of Isaiah, we find that one of God's indictments against the people is the eating of unclean meat. Notice Isaiah 65:2-4 -"I have spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in the way which is not good, following their own thoughts, a people who continually provoke Me to My face, offering sacrifices in gardens and burning incense on bricks, who sit among graves, and spend the night in secret places; WHO EATS SWINE'S FLESH, and the broth of UNCLEAN MEAT is in their pots."  

These are very strong words from God indeed, to a rebellious people. A people who know better, but refuse to obey their Creator. God does not have such strong words of judgment to those who do not know any better. He is speaking to a people that have turned away from His instructions.  

After the return of Jesus Christ and the establishment of God's Kingdom on the earth, man will not be allowed to eat unclean meats. Notice Isaiah 66:15-17 -"For behold, the Lord will come in fire. And His chariots like the whirlwind, to render His anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire. For the Lord will EXECUTE JUDGMENT by fire. And by His sword on all flesh, and those slain by the Lord will be many. Those who sanctify and purify themselves to go to the gardens, following one in the center. (Pagan religious rite, see Ezekiel 8)WHO EAT SWINE'S FLESH, detestable things, and MICE, SHALL COME TO AN END ALTOGETHER, declares the Lord."  

When Jesus returns in glory as King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, His is going to make some changes isn't He? He is going to abolish war. The nations will be forced to turn their war-machines into useful farm equipment. (Isaiah 2:4) The nature of the animals will change back to how they were in the beginning. The dead in Christ will rise from the grave, and all true Christians will be transformed into glorious spirit beings, in the very likeness of the returning Christ. And as we learned in Isaiah 66, the practice of eating things not created clean by God will come to an end.  

Now that we have a solid Old Testament background, let's examine the New Testament teachings on this subject.

WHAT ABOUT PETER'S VISION?  

Acts 10 records the story of two men and two visions. One man, Peter, was a Jew, and was an Apostle of Jesus Christ. The other man, Cornelius, was an Italian (gentile), and served as a Centurion in the Roman Army.  

By vision, God communicated with Cornelius. He told him to send men to Joppa to find a man named Peter, in order that Peter may accompany them back to Cornelius' household.  

In the meantime, Peter was on his rooftop praying when suddenly he entered into a trance. While in this trance, Peter saw the sky open up, and then saw a sheet coming down. This sheet was full of all manner of unclean moving things. Animals, birds and insects.  

Peter was shocked by the sight of all this. Then, his shock turned to bewilderment, because God commanded him to kill and eat of these unclean creatures! But how did Peter respond? Notice Verse 14 -"By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean." This happened three times. But each time Peter said "No".  

After each "No", the voice from heaven said -"What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy." Did this mean that the meats formerly considered unclean were now cleansed? Many believe that this is the meaning of this scripture. But notice that Peter did not understand the meaning of the vision. Verse 17 says that he was"perplexed in mind as to what the vision which he had seen might be."

If it was as simple as God making unclean animals clean, it is plain that the Apostle Peter did not understand that the vision meant that. In fact, according to scripture, he was"perplexed" concerning its interpretation.  

What about the fact that Peter disobeyed the heavenly voice? He recognized the voice as the Lord's. (Verse 14)Since Peter knew it was the glorified Jesus speaking to him, why did he not submit to His commands? And why didn't Jesus correct him for not obeying His command?  

Could it be that the vision had nothing to do with food?

Remember, Peter had lived with Jesus for three years. He was chosen as an Apostle of Christ, sent forth to proclaim the teachings of the Lord. This was ten years after Jesus had been crucified, the ceremonial and sacrificial rituals had already been fulfilled by His death. But here, ten years later, we find Peter still believing in the food laws of Leviticus 11. It is obvious that Jesus had not instructed Peter to abandon these food laws.  

Although Peter did not know the meaning of the vision, his actions show that he did not believe it had anything to do with changing the food laws, or else he would have eaten, and not been confused.  

Now notice what happened next! While Peter was reflecting on the vision, the holy spirit said to him -"Behold, three men are looking for you. But arise, go downstairs, and accompany them without misgivings; for I have sent them Myself."(Verses 19-20) Cornelius by inspiration from God, had sent three men for Peter. Could this be why the sheet was lowered three times, and why God had said "what He had cleansed, no longer consider unholy" three times?  

Somewhere between this point and his arrival at the home of Cornelius, Peter understood the meaning of the vision. Cornelius had gathered together his relatives and close friends to hear the word of God through the Apostle Peter. (Verse 24) Now notice Peter's opening statement to them, Verses 28-29 -"You yourselves knowhow UNLAWFUL it is for a man who is a JEW to ASSOCIATE with a FOREIGNER (gentile) or to VISIT him; and yet GOD HAS SHOWN ME that I should not call any man UNHOLY or UNCLEAN. That is WHY I cameWITHOUT even raising any OBJECTION when I was sent for."  

The ancient Israelites, and the Jews of Peter's day, were forbidden to associate with gentiles (non-Israelites) because of their religious practices, which were abominations in the sight of God. God had long warned His people that association with them would eventually cause the Israelites to stumble in this regard. Jeremiah 10 says not to even learn how the pagan nations worshiped their gods. The gentiles were considered unclean to God, and the Israelites clean.  

In times past, the congregation of God were the natural descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But now, God was opening the door to gentiles as well. God was building a holy nation, not from the seed of man, but by the spirit of God. (1 Peter 2:9)  

Notice Acts 10:34-35 -"I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in EVERY NATION the man who fears Him and does what is right, is welcome to Him." God was calling gentiles to repentance from sin, offering them something they had never had, -a relationship with their Heavenly Father and His Son. They were cleansed. And "What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy." The lesson the Apostle Peter learned from this vision sent from God, had nothing whatsoever to do with food, but with men that were once cut off from God, and unclean in His eyes. Also, Peter learned exactly what God wanted him to learnfrom this dream. And as a result, had no inhibitions toward entering a household full of gentiles to preach. Peter testified to this lesson he had learned, at the council at Jerusalem years later, see Acts 15.  

WHAT ABOUT 1 TIMOTHY CHAPTER 4? There are some that believe the Apostle Paul was telling Timothy that the teaching of abstaining from any food was a doctrine of demons according to this scripture! But is this really what Paul was saying? Let's take a close look and see.  

Timothy 4:1-5 -"But the spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods, which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer."  

So there we have it, don't we? It seems clear enough. But it does make me wonder why the Apostle Peter didn't understand this doctrinal change. Why Jesus had not taught him concerning a change in this subject, seeing as though, he lived with Jesus for three years. And even ten years after the establishment of the NEW COVENANT Peter did not realize that the food laws of Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 had been abolished by it, as the sacrifices, civil laws and ritual washings had.  

In an effort to harmonize the Holy Scriptures, perhaps we had better take a closer look at 1 Timothy 4. Notice carefully that this "demonic doctrine" about food, was the teaching of abstaining from food "WHICH GOD HASCREATED TO BE GRATEFULLY SHARED". Notice also, it was food that was CREATED for those "WHO KNOW THE TRUTH." "Nothing is to be rejected." Does this mean nothing at all, or nothing which God has"created to be gratefully shared"? Notice the final words of this scripture, -"For it is SANCTIFIED by means of THE WORD of God and prayer." "Sanctify" means to make holy, or to set apart for right use. "Sanctified" by "the Word of God", means FOOD that is set apart for right use, by the Word, which is the Bible. Now which meats has God sanctified for human food? The only passages found in the entire Bible showing which meats are set apart (sanctified) for the human diet are Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14.

Understanding this viewpoint, harmonizes us with Peter's vision in Acts 10. It allows us to understand whyPeter, being hungry, didn't kill and eat any of the unclean creatures on the sheet. And why the Lord didn't reprimand Him for disobeying His command to do so. Peter knew well this was not the Lord's teaching. It was about something other than food. It also harmonizes with the account of Daniel and his three friends. The fact that clean food had a positive effect on their health. The human body hasn't changed. And neither has the make-up of the various animals.  

WHAT ABOUT ROMANS 14? The Apostle Paul's letter to the Church at Rome addresses this issue of food, but is primarily about tolerance. There were some saints in Rome that were "weak in faith" concerning what they could eat. Some believed in eating "all things", while the "weak" would eat vegetables only. This scripture is addressing the relationship of the meat eater with the vegetarian, with Paul instructing thosestrong in faith to bear with those who are weak 

Notice Verses 1-2 -"Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. One man has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only."  

This entire chapter is about helping the meat eater and the vegetarian get along within the assembly of the church. It is Paul's instruction toward being careful to not offend another in food or drink. For Example: The Bible does condemn drunkenness, but does not condemn drinking wine or other alcoholic beverages. (Deuteronomy 14:26) Now there are Christians that drink and those who do not. One who does, should be careful to not offend another by drinking in his presence. Even though the Bible does not teach against drinking, it does teach against offending your brother.  

Paul is saying in principle, that the pursuit of the Kingdom of God is MORE THAN eating and drinking. It is about loving and showing concern for your brethren. Likewise, a Christian who eats meat is not to shake the faith of one who does not. It you were to invite a vegetarian to your home, the Christian principle is to serve vegetables only. If you were to eat with a vegetarian brother in a restaurant, you should order a vegetable plate as well, in order that you don't offend your weaker brother in the faith. Because he is weak does not mean he is not in the faith of Christ. Notice Verse 15 -"For if BECAUSE OF FOOD your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died."  

Some had meatless days. Some esteemed some days above other days in this practice. The Roman Catholic Church advocates abstaining from eating meat on Friday of each week, although the Catholic Church in America is no longer required to do it. Still yet, millions worldwide follow this practice of esteeming Friday above other days, as a day to abstain from any meat.  

In the early Catholic Church (200-300 AD), some days were considered better days to abstain from any food. Soon after the Church at Rome began to replace the keeping of the Sabbath with Sunday observance, they ordered that their members abstain from food on each Sabbath. This was a common practice for many years.   

This was also common among the gentiles. But even in the Jewish religion, some sects believed in abstaining from any food on certain days of the week. Notice Luke 18:11-12 -"The Pharisee (Jewish Sect) stood and was praying thus to himself, `God I thank Thee that I am not like other people; swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax-gatherer. I FAST TWICE A WEEK; I pay tithes of all that I get." Jesus went on to say, that even though this Pharisee did all these things in the name of worshiping God, he was not justified in the Father's eyes because he had exalted himself above others. He was self-righteous and vain, rather than humble and contrite. He was trying to stand before his Creator on his own righteousness and merits, instead of the righteousness of Christ. God does not OWE us. We OWE HIM. We always fall short, don't we?  

We must continually study to prove and reprove our beliefs. But God thinks more highly of a vegetarian Christian who is sincere in his beliefs, conscientiously denying himself meat, even if it is because he is weak in the faith as the scripture says; -than he does the Christian who is right in the letter of the law concerning food, but carelessly offends another in his freedom.  

Notice Verses 20-21 -"Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean,(made clean by the Word) but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense. It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles."  

In Verse 14, the Apostle Paul says the Christian that believes something is unclean such as meat, it is unclean to him. Meaning, that he would be sinning in his heart. He would be doing something that he believes is wrong. Often, as the Christian grows in knowledge and understanding, he finds that his beliefs change. We all have certain convictions that may bother our conscience. But some things that may bother us, really shouldn't. And in fact will not always. As we learn more and more of God's Word, allowing it to fill our minds and hearts, our perspective about what is right and wrong, and what is clean and unclean will change. Our conscience will be educated with the written Word of God, the Bible, and it will begin to give us freedom in some areas, and convict us in others. It will replace the "Well, I think", with the "This is what God says", in our lives.  

One of the most serious problems Christians face, is the unlawful use of lawful things. And that is what Paul is addressing in Romans 14. In Verse 14, Paul says that personally, he is convinced, in the Lord Jesus Christ, that all things are clean. As we have learned earlier in Acts 10, and 1 Timothy 4, this must be referring to all thingscreated clean, being clean to eat. The argument in Romans is not WHICH MEATS are clean or unclean, but whether any meat is clean. It was meat eating versus vegetarianism. Paul is saying that it is lawful to eat meat, but if eating meat in your brother's presence offends him, then you are using a lawful thing in an unlawful way.  

WHAT ABOUT COLOSSIANS 2? Notice Paul's letter to the Church of God in Colossae. Colossians 2:16-17 -"Therefore let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day, -things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ."  

First it is clear that there were those who were judging the saints at Colossae. The subjects of their judging were,- the food they ate, their religious festivals, the observance of new moons and the observance of the Sabbath.  

Now, every one of these topics mentioned here are familiar to the Israelite people, because they were given the "food" laws, the "festivals", the observance of "new moons" and the "Sabbath" day in which to worship God. The question here is WHO was doing the judging. Either Jews were judging the saints at Colossae for NOT keeping these things, or it was their non-Christian family members and fellow gentile citizens judging them for keeping what they believed were Jewish things.  

A third scenario, is that the brethren at Colossae were judged by both zealous Jews and condemning gentiles of their former religions. Gentiles because they were no longer worshiping the idols in the city, and were practicing what seemed to them to be the Jewish faith.  

And the Jews of the community, because they were not keeping the Sabbath and Festivals the WAY the Jews taught. Remember, they judged Jesus' disciples as breaking the Sabbath simply because they picked a handful of grain from the field and ate it on the Sabbath. (Mark 2:23-24) The Jews taught that is was even unlawful to carry your blanket on the Sabbath. Jesus told them that the Sabbath was made FOR MAN, not man for the Sabbath. Jesus never denounced the observance of the Sabbath, in fact He kept it Himself,(Luke 4:16) but He did denounce the WAY the Jews were teaching its observance, -saying that they had made it a burden instead of a delight.(Matthew 23)  

I believe that since Colossae was a gentile city, -that the Christian converts were almost all gentiles that hadformerly not observed the Sabbath or God's Festivals and Holy Days (Leviticus 23). And in times past, had eaten any and everything they desired, not knowing the food laws. And all their family and friends were dismayed at their sudden change in religious practices. It would have meant they were no longer sacrificing to the idols of the gods, the Colossians worshiped, and were not being involved in any of their former pagan god services.  

Notice how Peter dealt with this same problem, -1 Peter 4:3-5 -"For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the DESIRE OF THE GENTILES, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousals, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. And in all this, THEY ARE SURPRISED that you DO NOT RUN WITH THEM into the same excess of dissipation, AND THEY MALIGN YOU; but they shall give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead."  

When I became a Christian, and began learning more and more of God's will through studying the Bible, I also was convicted to make changes in my life. I Began to "remember" the Sabbath day and keep it holy. I learned that I should be observing the annual Festivals of Leviticus 23. I learned that Christmas and Easter were observed by pagans long before Christ, so I stopped keeping them. The more I learned and changed, the more people wondered why I worshiped God so differently. My parents and some other family members, along with all my friends, could not understand why I had made such changes. Why  

I believed the way I did. Because I have strived to learn the truth of how God wants a Christian to live, many have labeled me as "self-righteous" and "legalistic". But as the Apostle Paul told Timothy, -"All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted."(2 Timothy 3:12) And if you make a mistake at all there are those waiting, standing ready to call you a "hypocrite". I have experienced first hand, how even in America, the land of religious freedom, how the true Christian can be maligned. It surely would have been much worst in the gentile city of Colossae.  

WHAT ABOUT MARK 7? The Pharisees and Scribes had noticed Jesus' disciples eating with unwashed hands. In Verse 5, they asked Jesus why His disciples ate without washing, and why they were not following thetradition of the Jewish elders. In Verse 9 Jesus replied -"You nicely set aside the commandments of God in order to keep your tradition." In Verses 18 and 19, Jesus says that it is not what goes into a man that defiles him, because it does not go into his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated. Some translators add "Thus He declared all foods clean". But this phasing is always in parentheses, which means it is a personal interpretation of the scripture, and is not in the original manuscript.  

Notice how the King James translation renders it, -"Because it enterth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught (privy), purging all meats." Now notice how the New King James translation renders it, -"Because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods."  

Was Jesus purifying all meats or foods? Was He announcing a doctrinal change that would be a part of thenew covenant? Or did He say the human "stomach" purifies whatever the person eats, before the waste is passed and "eliminated"? The original manuscript from which English translations are made, was written in Greek; the Greek word translated "meats" in the KJV, and "foods" in the NKJV, is "broma", which simply means"that which is eaten".  

The context of Mark 7 is not kinds of meats or foods, but why the disciples did not practice the tradition of washing before eating. The Jews taught a ritual of ceremonial washing of the hands before partaking of their meal. But there is no commandment from God in the entire Bible, which forbids eating food with unwashed, or even dirty hands. The Pharisaical tradition is what is in question here, not the food laws of Leviticus 11. Jesus, His disciples and the Pharisees and Scribes, were all Jews. The thought of eating an unclean meat such as pork would have never even entered their minds. If the Pharisees thought that Jesus was claiming that the food lawswere no longer to be followed, they would have protested vigorously. Remember, this was the same Jewish Sect that believed Jesus broke the Sabbath by healing a man. All that was involved in the healing was Jesus simply uttering the words.(Matthew 12:12-13)  

Notice also, Jesus said it is "not what enters the mouth that defiles a man because it goes to the stomach" for purifying. But it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles a man.  

Obviously, Jesus is making reference to the man's eternal state. Eating unclean meat, though unhealthy is not aspiritual sin within itself. It may defile the health of a man, but not affect his eternal state. Rebellion, however is another matter. If one knows better, and believes and understands this is the commanded diet from their Creator, and then rejects it; that person is accountable and is in danger of judgment.(Hebrews 6:4-6)  

Jesus did not come to offer salvation from the first death, but from the second death. It is appointed to man to die once, then the resurrection. (Hebrews 9:27) Jesus and His Apostles' teachings were for purifying the corrupt character of man, so that through repentance, man might have the gift of eternal life.(Romans 6:23) But, had Jesus not given His holy and perfect life for a sacrifice for our sins, all would be dead in the grave, having no hope of resurrection.  

The food laws of Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 are simply God's instruction in how to properly maintain the physical human body He had created. They are for man's good health. But the weightier matters of the law of God are what affects our spiritual state, our character. God wants us to be pure in mind and motivated by Godly love. But this in no way means that those who know that these laws are forever, should be slack in obeying them. Remember as we read in Isaiah 66, after His return in glory, Jesus Christ will abolish the eating of unclean meats.  

And finally concerning Jesus' statements in Mark 7, -Peter as well as all the rest of the disciples were there when He explained these things to the Scribes and Pharisees; yet it is obvious that Peter did not perceive that Jesus was advocating the eating of just any meat, clean or unclean. Or else why would He say to the Lord's voice in the vision of Acts 10, he had "never eaten anything unholy and unclean"? Remember this was ten years after Jesus' death, and Peter still labeled the creatures in the sheet as being unclean to eat. If the Apostle Peter did not believe that these animals were clean to eat, then it is certain that he was still teaching the new converts, gentile and Jew alike, the food laws of Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. And the Holy Scriptures make it abundantly clear that the New Testament Church is built upon the teachings of Jesus and His Apostles. An Apostle is simply "one sent forth with a message". Not his own message, but the message of the One who sent him. Since it is obvious that Peter had no message concerning a change in dietary requirements, then we must assume that Christ did not "send him forth" with one.  

In conclusion, we have seen that the Old Testament is clear about clean and unclean animals. From God's instructions to Noah, to His instructions to His chosen people, Israel, more than one thousand years later. By Daniel's account, we have learned that what we eat does have an effect on our health. And we have found no place in the New Testament teachings that truly abolish these dietary laws of good health, although we did learn that the weightier matters are what would rob us of our reward of eternal life.  

Now notice Matthew 12:36-37 -"And I say to you, that every careless word that men shall speak, they shall render account for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned."  

SOME COMMON CLEAN ANIMALS

Antelope Goat Chicken Quail Bass Flounder
Buffalo Moose Dove Turkey Crappie Snapper
Cattle Sheep Duck Pheasant Salmon Trout
Deer Lamb Goose Pigeon Sardine Tuna
Ox Elk Guinea Grouse Bream Pike
Caribou Gazelle Partridge Sparrow Locust Crickets

SOME COMMON UNCLEAN ANIMALS

Swine Mice Bat Seagull Clam Seal
Dog Raccoon Buzzard Crane Crab Whale
Cat Squirrel Crow Owl Lobster Marlin
Rabbit Horse Hawk Stork Oyster Shark
Possum Armadillo Ostrich Flamingo Shrimp Sturgeon
Bear Beaver Pelican Parrot Catfish Snake
Camel Badger Kite Crawfish Turtle Frog

 

 

 

 

 

 

Points of Truth Ministries