“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matthew 5: 17,18)
It never ceases to amaze me when someone can isolate a Bible passage and take it totally out of context. It happens all the time as a particular stand or perhaps a habit needs some justification. At a wrap-up meeting of a Bible study group, when it was learned that I try to follow the Bible Food Laws, the group leader suggested I was being too legalistic. As far as he was concerned, I didn’t understand New Testament passages that abolished the Food Laws codified by Moses at Sinai. Of course, it came as no surprise when he quoted, in part, Peter’s vision in Acts 10, for no matter how flimsy; it is the prime proof for those who want to change God’s Food Laws. Pointing to the great sheet descending from Heaven filled with unclean animals, creeping things and fowls of the air, he went on to prove his contention by quoting the voice of Verse 13, “Rise, Peter: kill and eat”; Peter’s response in Verse 14, “Not so Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean” and the Voice again in Verse 15, “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.” For my friend, these three verses were all the proof he needed to partake of the shrimp offering at the dinner. It is puzzling that he never considered for a moment that Peter obviously didn’t believe this (Verse 17) or that the real meaning came clear to Peter (Verse 28) that the vision was about men, not animals, and that God was simply showing him that Peter should not call any man unclean. Notwithstanding my friend’s contention, God wasn’t approving a change of diet, and this goes for other verses quoted to prove forbidden foods acceptable, whether 1st Timothy 4: 4,5, Romans 14: 14, 1st Corinthians 10: 25, 27or whatever. A close analysis of each of these passages will demonstrate that the meaning is other than what the opponents of the Food Laws desire it to be.
The verses from Matthew 5 at the outset of this article are the Lord Jesus Christ’s own words. He said in the clearest of terms, “I have not come to change the slightest part of the Law.” Is it too difficult to believe God the Son? What about when He said, “If ye love me, keep my Commandments.” Yet, how many times have we heard theologians say, “The Law was nailed to the Cross.” It doesn’t seem to matter that Colossians 2: 14 demonstrates it was only the Law of Ordinances nailed to the Cross, no longer needed through the blood of Jesus Christ. Yet, such a statement is still taught by those who point out we are not under the Law but under Grace and therefore the Law need not concern us. Malachi 3: 6 tell us, “For I am the Lord, I Change not….”. Hebrews 13:8 points out, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.” To my evangelical friend I can only say, “Yes, we are under Grace but we had better not ignore God’s Laws that have been established for our own good.”
Let’s get away from the idea that the Food Laws represents some religious significance. They were given us by the Lord God Almighty to keep us healthy. They were in existence before being codified; obviously Noah was aware of them when he was told to take two each of the unclean animals, etc. into the ark and seven of each of the clean animals, etc. (Genesis 7: 2,3). They were codified for the Israelites because God chose them to take His Order and Law around the world and he wanted them healthy to be the blessing to the nations as His Grand Plan unfolded. One thing is clear. We only have to reflect on the astronomical growth of the pharmaceutical industry, or the vast changes in the medical industry or the continuing emergence of industries involved in unclean food production to understand why the huge increase in disease and staggering growth of an infirm society has come upon us, particularly in the past half-century.
Indeed, what do you think would be the response of our governments if an indisputable study were undertaken to show that by following the Bible Food Laws it would result in a healthy, vibrant population? Obviously, it would be ignored; the effect on corporate North America, unemployment and finance would be too great for government to face. Just a few years ago, a study undertaken by a western government linking red meat to cancer was buried because the economic results to the cattle industry would be catastrophic. So unfortunately, until our wonderful Lord returns, it is up to the individual to first understand that he or she should not listen to those who denigrate God’s Food Laws but take the time to look at the benefits themselves. Sadly, even the clean foods are no longer clean in the sense that enormous amounts of antibiotics and chemicals are employed in their production. To those who teach that the Bible Laws have been abolished, the Lord’s Words following the opening verse should be carefully considered, “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven….”
The Law is not that complex and frankly, is not too much of a sacrifice to follow. The simple rules established by God makes it easy to differentiate the clean from the unclean (Leviticus 11: 3,4 & Deuteronomy 14: 6-8). Clean animals are those who both chew the cud and have split hooves and would include such animals as sheep, cattle, goats, deer and elk. If an animal doesn’t have both these characteristics, their function is not as a food source but is that as a scavenger of the land, a beast of burden, a source of clothing, or other such purposes. In this group includes the pig, which has the split hoof but doesn’t chew the cud. Think of the huge industry and the popularity of bacon and pork, or the churches that proudly advertise their ham dinners at Easter. Yet, the tissues of the swine swarm with parasites and it has been determined that seven out of ten people who eat pork have trichina antibodies in their blood streams. Unclean animals also include the horse, rabbit, dog, cat, bears and so on. A quick review of the different digestive systems should clearly show the difference, for example, the cow requires twenty-four hours to digest food, it utilizes two digestive processes but the extent of the process screens out impurities that would otherwise be deposited in the flesh and milk. In contrast, pigs digest food in less than four hours so it’s easy to understand why they swarm with parasites. Our diet has not been made easier through the introduction of other peoples to our land that believe the flesh of horses, dogs, rabbits, swine is as nourishing as beef or venison.
Of course, milk, butter, eggs are for our nourishment.
God also made it easy to identify clean water creatures, in that they must have both fins and overlapping scales (Leviticus 11: 9-12 & Deuteronomy 14: 9,10). Trout, salmon, cod and others qualify as clean. Crab, lobster, shrimp, oyster, snails, frogs, abalone, turtle, shark, squid, octopus, catfish, and so on are unclean. I well remember my dilemma when I could no longer eat crab, a favourite delicacy of mine. However, it was made easier when I learned that the crab primarily feeds on rotten carcasses and other garbage. Unclean water creatures are the source of many diseases; of this we can be certain.
God specifies the birds that fall into the unclean category, birds of prey including the eagle, vulture, buzzard, raven, crow, owl, hawk, sea gull, water hen, pelican, stork, woodpecker, penguin, parrot, bat and others (Leviticus 11: 13-19 & Deuteronomy 14: 11-18). Clean birds include chicken, pheasant, grouse, quail, turkey, duck, goose and song birds.. God also forbids us eat such abominable food as mice, rats, weasels, lizards, snakes, worms and moles. In fact, these later creatures are considered so unclean that anything their dead bodies touch is unfit for use until thoroughly washed (Leviticus 11: 23-25). By the way, if you are in mood for a good feed of grasshopper, that’s okay.
Various passages covering God’s rules for plants and herbs appear in the Bible as well as certain rules when such cannot be eaten (Leviticus 19: 19, 23-25/Genesis 1: 29/Genesis 3: 18/Genesis 9: 3/ Deuteronomy 22: 9). However, suffice to say, they cover vegetables, ripe fruits, nuts, grains, etc. Sorry, mushroom lovers, fungus is not on the menu.
I once read that good health goes hand in hand with good food, good thinking and deep breathing habits. When you think about it, this is quite true. The good thing is that we as individuals can control our habits through discipline. And as health relates to food, we have the wonderful laws given us by the Lord God Almighty. As for me, researching for this article has renewed my determination to better my diet. One thing is a certainty. I shall send a copy of this article to my evangelical friend and will also encourage him to review 1 Corinthians 11: 29-30, “For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks damnation to himself, not discerning the body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep [die].