Was God’s Dietary Law Done Away With?
by Christine Egbert
A couple of years ago I wrote an article titled Swine’s Blood On The Altar in which I contrasted the differences in diet and the digestion process between cows and pigs. I will not rehash that in this article. Instead, I will deal only with those verses some use to try and prove that Jesus (Yeshua) overturned His Father’s Dietary Law.
ACTS 10 (Peter’s Vision)
Starting with Peter’s vision in Acts 10, allow me to point out that in Scripture, visions and dreams are usually symbolic. They are never literal. In Acts 10:7 three Gentiles (Cornelius and two others) are sent by God to Joppa to see Peter. As they are approaching, Peter has a vision in which three times all the four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and the birds of the heaven descend on what looks like a sheet. Then a voice instructs Peter to kill and eat. But Peter, a disciple of Jesus (Yeshua), who would have known had Jesus (Yeshua) declared all meats clean, as was inserted by translators in Mark 7, responds, “Not at all, Lord, because I never did eat anything common or unclean.”
Then three times (verse 16), Peter is instructed not to call what God has cleansed common. Now verse 17 is the proof that Peter understood his vision to be symbolic—not taken literally, not about eating—for in verse 17, Peter “wonders” what his vision meant. He would not have been wondering this had he understood his vision to mean that now pigs, lobsters, toads, salamanders and such were to be eaten as food.
In verse 28, Peter gives the correct interpretation. “You know how unlawful it is for a man, a Jew, to unite with or to come near to one of another race. Yet God showed me not to call any man common or unclean.” – Literal Version (LITV). Peter’s reference to it being unlawful to associate with those outside of Judaism comes from Rabbinic Oral Law. Such a law can be found nowhere in Torah. This was Oral tradition, the sort of man-made Rabbinic laws that Jesus (Yeshua) railed against. Peter was not claiming God told him to nullify Leviticus 11.
Did Jesus (Yeshua) declare all meats clean?
Mark 7: 1-19
Many translators—disregarding God’s command never to add to or take away from His word—have inserted the false assumption that he declared all meats clean. Yet the discourse in those verses is not about what is and is not food. It’s about ritual hand washing before eating, a Rabbinic tradition (7:5), which Jesus’ (Yeshua’s) disciples did not adhere to. It’s about forsaking the commandments of God (commandments like those in Leviticus 11, in which God establishes what is and is not food) for the doctrines, the commandments, of men. Jesus (Yeshua) railed against their setting aside the commandments of God, in order to keep these traditions.
In 7:15, the Messiah stated that it is what comes out of a man (from his heart) that defiles him (not eating with unwashed hands). In verse 19, quoting from the Literal Translation, it says: “because it does not enter into his heart, but into the belly, and goes out into the waste-bowl, purging all the foods.
Now the Greek word kath-ar-id’-zo can mean either cleanse or purge. But based on the context of “going out of the body into the toilet,” the correct choice could ONLY be PURGE! It can never mean to PURIFY! What goes into the toilet is not purified; it is purged!
Now the original KJV version translated kath-ar-id’-zo correctly as purge. The New KJV, however, among several other modern translations render kath-ar-id’-zo as cleansing, after which they insert their summation that Jesus (Yeshua) just declared all foods clean.
Our sinless Messiah, who Scripture says came only to do His Father’s will, and who said that if we love Him, we would keep His commandments, commandments from which, in Matthew 5 He said, not one jot would pass away, our Messiah who warned of a day coming when He’d command those working “anomia” lawlessness, to depart from Him, did not, in one vague passage, nullify hundreds of Scriptural admonitions not to eat abominable things. Our Creator, who knows the end from the beginning, and who never changes, determined once and for all, in Leviticus 11, what is and is not food.
Is Every Creature Good For Food?
1 Timothy 4:1-5
Here again, some twist Paul’s statement in I Timothy 4:4, that every creature of God is good, and nothing to be thrust away, out of context in order to try and prove God’s dietary law has been done away with. Before I get into the context of verses 1-4, and the crucial point made in verse 5, allow me to remind the reader that Peter warned in 2 Peter 3:16 that some things Paul writes are hard to understand, and that the unlearned (in the Law) and the unsettled pervert what he writes to their own destruction. Peter warns in verse 17 not be led astray by the error of the “athesmos”, the lawless.
Now, let’s start at verse one, in 1 Timothy 4, to establish context – for any text without context is a pretext. But the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith (by faith, it is clear Timothy is speaking of God’s instructions, His Law) cleaving to deceiving spirits and teachings of demons, (verse 2) in lying speakers in hypocrisy, being seared in their own conscience, (verse 3) forbidding to marry (God’s word establishes marriage; Gnostics forbid marriage), saying to abstain from foods (God’s Law establishes what is food for man; Gnostics taught to abstain from eating), which God created for partaking with thanksgiving by the believers (in God’s word) and those knowing the truth. (Psalms 119:142 “…Your Law is truth.”) Now here is the key—in verse 5— for through God’s Word (Leviticus 11) and supplication (prayer) it is sanctified. By the very definition of sanctified – to be separated from the profane, the common, the unclean – if every animal on the face of the earth were good for food, no animal would be sanctified, no animals would be set apart from others.
Clearly, 1 Timothy 4 does not claim that creatures like pigs and salamanders, which were created by God, are now to be considered food. Paul is simply saying, in his sometimes hard to understand way, that those creatures God designed and declared to be eaten as food (Leviticus 11) are not to be refused, as the Gnostics, against whom Paul was preaching, urged their followers. Paul writes that those creatures sanctified, which by its very definition means to set apart from the profane (abominable things like pig, lobster, and shrimp) by God’s Word are not to be rejected.
Paul was not teaching against God’s dietary law, but against Gnostic doctrine. And nowhere in God’s Word have pigs ever been set apart as food.
Is Every Moving Thing Now Meat For Man?
“Every moving thing that lives shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.”
Was God declaring every animal meat for man?
No. He was not. He was simply declaring that now, after the flood, since it would take time to grow plants, man could add to his formerly vegetarian diet, meat. And although it does not say in Genesis 9:3 that He was referring only to meat from clean animals, Genesis 7:2 makes that clear. For in Genesis 7:2, Noah was instructed to take into the ark seven pairs (male and female) of every clean animal, while only one pair of every unclean animal.
What about Colossians 2:16?
Paul writes, “…let no man judge you in eating or in drinking.” Does that mean that our sometimes confusing Paul was teaching God’s dietary law has been done away with? No. In verse 2:20, Paul refers to these as rudiments of the world (KJV), and in verse 22 he describes them as the doctrines of men. Paul was not there, nor anywhere else in the New Testament, teaching against God’s dietary laws.
What about Romans 14:1-3?
And receive the one who is weak in the faith, not to judgments of your thoughts. One indeed believes he can eat all things, but being weak, another eats only vegetables. When Paul says one believes he can eat all things, he does not mean meats which God has determined are not food in Leviticus 11. He is simply contrasting those who eat all the things God has declared as food to those who only eat vegetables.
What about 1 Corinthians 10:25?
Paul writes: “Whatsoever is sold in the meat market, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake for the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.”
Once more, Paul is not giving believers license to eat what God has declared not food for man (Leviticus 11). The topic here is not eating clean and unclean, but eating (clean) things that have been sacrificed to idols. Paul’s summation is given in 1 Corinthians 10:28. “But if anyone tells you, this is slain in sacrifice to idols, do not eat it…”
What about Acts 15:20?
Doesn’t it make the case that Gentiles don’t have to follow the LAW, except to abstain from idols, fornication, things strangled, and from blood?
Acts 15:20 does not mean Gentiles do not need to follow any of God’s other Laws. What about murder? What about lying? What about stealing? What about paying tithes? What about keeping the Sabbath? None of those are mentioned in Acts 15. The key is verse 21. It says: “(verse 20) write to them to hold back from the pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and that strangled, and blood (21) FOR in every city from ancient generations Moses has those proclaiming him, having been read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.”
The Greek word that starts verse 21 is Strong’s 1063, “gar.” Strong’s dictionary defines it thus: “Gar – A primary particle; properly assigning a reason (used in argument)…”
You see, there were some Pharisees telling the new Gentile believers that they must first be circumcised to be saved. But the apostles knew better. They knew that God had already offered them salvation through faith (just like He had Abraham, way before Abraham was circumcised), and sealed them with the Holy Spirit.
The apostles knew also that these Gentiles, fresh out of Paganism, needed to abstain immediately from idols, fornication, eating strangled animals and eating blood, all of which are strictly forbidden in God’s Law. But not wanting to overwhelm them, the apostles instructed these new believers to focus on these four (for now), FOR (gar) every Sabbath the Law of Moses, or to be more exact, the Law God gave to Moses, would be taught in every synagogue. Verse 21, shows that the apostles fully expected these new believers, who had been given the Holy Spirit, would attend, learn God’s Law, and obey it – not in order to be saved, but because they had been saved.
The proof for this supposition can be found in Romans 8:4. It proclaims that the righteous requirements of the Law would be fulfilled by those who walk by the Spirit, and these new, formerly Gentile, converts had been given the Spirit. And you may note that I said formerly Gentile converts, because Paul in Ephesians 2:12-13, declared that these former Gentiles, through faith in the Messiah, had become part of the Commonwealth of Israel.
In closing, I’d like to mention something I recently learned through the ministry of Matthew Vander Els regarding circulation differing in clean and unclean animals. I was so excited, I went searching on the internet. This is what I found.
Below is a quote about Rabbi Zamir Cohen’s book: The Coming Revolution.
“Rabbi Zamir Cohen, in his book The Coming Revolution – Science Discovers the Truths of the Bible, quotes modern day scientists that have made an incredible discovery of a major difference in the way the blood flows in the species that are kosher and those that are not. In non-kosher mammals, the vertebral arteries flow directly to the brain through the rete mirabile. However, in cloven-hoofed, cud-chewing mammals and permitted foul, the vertebral arteries drain into the carotid artery and do not have any direct flow to the brain. There will therefore be an immediate drop in blood pressure at the time of shechita (Kosher method of slaughtering) that causes the animal to lose consciousness, thus feeling no pain.”
To that, all I can add is isn’t God awesome!