Eating Blood (2 of 2)

pig's blood 1

(Continued from yesterday)

• The references cited for the “no problem” position pertain to all foods or things being “clean”. However, the reason for forbidding eating blood is not “uncleanness”, but because blood stands for life (Gen 9:4; Lev 17:11, 14; Deut 12:23). The “no problem” verses are misapplied. Ceremonial cleanness or uncleanness is not the issue, which in any event have been fulfilled in Christ. The sanctity of life is.

• The prohibition against blood is repeated in the NT, not set aside (Acts 15:20, 29; 21:25). The Jerusalem Council under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (Acts 15:28) determined that a Gentile does not have to be circumcised like a Jew in order to be saved (Acts 15:1). Nevertheless, it placed 4 requirements on Gentile believers, to abstain from:
o things sacrificed to idols,
o fornication,
o what is strangled,
o blood (Acts 15:20, 29; 21:25).

• Some believe the restrictions were cultural to accommodate Jewish sentiments at that time, as the Mosaic law forbade eating/drinking blood. I believe they were more than that. The issue at stake is whether the observance of the law of Moses (Acts 15:5) is necessary to be saved. The answer is clearly “NO”, as we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus (Acts 15:5). Having broken away from the yoke that no one could bear (Acts 15:10), I think it’s highly unlikely that the apostles will muddy the water again by accommodating to the Pharisees’ desires.

• Rather, the 4 practices were common among Gentiles, and the Council’s requirements were that Gentile believers need to make a clean break from paganism. They need not become Jews, but they need to be thorough Christians, not hanging onto pagan practices they’ve left behind. I believe the principle of “abstaining from blood” to be the correct interpretation, though I believe its application need to be contextualized to 21st century.

• Concerning eating of things sacrificed to idols, to someone with knowledge they are nothing in and of themselves, and it is alright to eat them, but we don’t eat them for others’ sake:
o 1 Co 8:4 Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one.
o 1 Co 8:10 What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything?
o 1 Co 10:28 But if anyone says to you, “This is meat sacrificed to idols,” do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for conscience’ sake;

• Fornication comes from the heart and defile the man, so we abstain:
o Mt 15:18-20 But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man; (also Mk 7:20-21)

• What is strangled does not have its blood drained. Both strangled and blood relate to the sanctity of life which is to be protected. Hence their prohibition.

• None of the underlying reasons are cultural, but moral. That’s why I believe they are still valid nowadays. Having said that, blood is no longer closely associated with paganism as it was, and we have to adapt its application to the spirit rather than the letter of the law. Some eat black pudding or blood soup for their taste. I don’t take them myself for theological as well as personal reasons, but respect others’ preferences provided they do not infringe on others. So enjoy your rare steak. To avoid it is to behave like a Pharisee.

Eating Blood (1 of 2)

rare steak 1

Q. I like my steak rare. I also enjoy “pig red” (pig’s blood) congee. But Gen 9:4 says “Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.” So can Christians eat blood?

A. There are opposing views. On the one hand, some claim there are no problems because:
Mk 7:19 because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?” (Thus He declared all foods clean.)
• Acts 10:15 Again a voice came to him a second time, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.”
• Rom 14:14 I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.
• Rom 14:20 Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense.
• Col 2:16 Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day

According to them, blood is clean, and Christians are not bound by OT laws, but live under grace. So they can eat it if they want to. It is not a sin.

On the other hand, some oppose because:
Lev 17:14 “For as for the life of all flesh, its blood is identified with its life. Therefore I said to the sons of Israel, ‘You are not to eat the blood of any flesh, for the life of all flesh is its blood; whoever eats it shall be cut off.’
• Deut 12:23 Only be sure not to eat the blood, for the blood is the life, and you shall not eat the life with the flesh.
• Acts 15:20 but that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood.
• Acts 15:29 that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well. Farewell.”
• Acts 21:25 But concerning the Gentiles who have believed, we wrote, having decided that they should abstain from meat sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from fornication.”

Both cite Scripture. Who is correct? While I believe we live under grace and not law, my position is in between. And I am not being wishy-washy. Here’s why:

(To be continued)

The Biggest Family in the World – Mully’s Children’s Family

Last Sunday we got a treat in our worship service. The Mully Children’s Family (MCF) from Kenya was taking a cross-Canada bus tour and presented in our church. The founder, Charles Mulli, had a poverty-stricken childhood, abandoned by his parents, and lived on the street between the age of 6 and 16. Then another street kid led him to Christ, and his life was changed. He worked hard, slowly turning his life around and building up his business from one taxi, then a fleet, then a bus company, then adding a transport company, a real estate and security company, and finally an insurance company.

But in 1986 his car was stolen by a gang of street kids, which led to an inner conflict between hanging onto what he had, and giving everything up to assist the street children. After 3 years of struggle between the world’s and God’s call, he finally surrendered to God and started MCF, adopting first 3 children, then five, taking them into his home and treating them like his own children. That was 27 years ago. Through this period he and his wife had taken over 10,000 children under their wings. Some had “graduated” and started family of their own, but currently over 2,000 still live with them, getting a proper education and making a contribution instead of ending up broken and a drag to society.

Mt 25:40 The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

Mulli gave back to the Lord who multiplied his ministry far more abundantly beyond all that he asked or thought (Eph 3:20). What about us? Are we willing to respond to His call?

Joshua’s Spies

Rahab spies 2

Q. Jos 2:1 Then Joshua the son of Nun sent two men as spies secretly from Shittim, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” So they went and came into the house of a harlot whose name was Rahab, and lodged there. My bible study leader said Joshua sent spies because he lacked faith, as all early chapters of Joshua mentioned the LORD except ch. 2. Do you agree? Also why only two secretly, not 12 publicly as Moses did in Num 13? Why go to a harlot? Is Rahab really a harlot or an inn-keeper as some suggested?

A. I do not see it that way. While ch. 2 did not say the LORD instructed Joshua to send out spies, He is referenced to 6 times in the words of Rahab and the spies (Josh 2:9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 24). The LORD told Joshua to be “strong and courageous” 4 times in ch. 1 (Josh 1:6, 7, 9, 18). It is unlikely that he will forget so soon. Besides, Joshua was a military man, and sending out spies was his usual practice:
Josh 7:2 Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth-aven, east of Bethel, and said to them, “Go up and spy out the land.” So the men went up and spied out Ai.
God did not chastise Joshua for sending spies; He chastised Israel because Achan took some of the things under the ban (Josh 7:1).

Why spies at all, and two secretly? The Bible did not say, so I can only speculate. There are several possibilities:
• Joshua remembered he and Caleb spying out Canaan, but that was forty years ago, and things could have changed.
• He recalled the bad report from the 10 leaders of the tribes which led to their wandering in the wilderness for forty years, and did not want leaders to influence the people again with their opinion. He wanted only military intelligence, so sent people who are not known.
• A single witness is not binding, but two or three are (Deut 17:6; 19:5). So two were sent as they are better than one (Eccle 4:9) and can help each other.

Why a harlot? Again the Bible did not explain, but possibly:
• They as foreigners would attract the least attention by going to a harlot.
• Harlots deal with people from different social class and might have military intelligence.

Was Rahab a harlot or inn-keeper? She could be both, but the Bible is consistent in identifying her as a harlot or prostitute:
Josh 2:1
• Josh 6:17 The city shall be under the ban, it and all that is in it belongs to the LORD; only Rahab the harlot and all who are with her in the house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent.
• Josh 6:25 However, Rahab the harlot and her father’s household and all she had, Joshua spared; and she has lived in the midst of Israel to this day, for she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.
• Heb 11:31 By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace.
• Jas 2:25 In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?

The Bible accurately records the good and the bad about God’s people. That’s why it is trustworthy. And God redeems the bad and changes it into good, as Rahab became the mother of Boaz, Jesus’ ancestor (Mt 1:5). From hindsight we might even say that the spies went to her house so that she could be redeemed to become part of Jesus’ genealogy. It’s all part of God’s plans.

Healing of Paralytic

paralytic 2

Q. I have a question on Mark 2:1-12. I always think that by simple reading of what has been happening, Jesus’ purpose in asking the question in Mark 2:9 was to demonstrate that it would be easier to say ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’ than ‘Your sins are forgiven’; yet He chose to say the more difficult statement of ‘Your sins are forgiven’ (NIV) that would invite criticism of blasphemy. However, recent reading of lots of commentaries say the opposite, that it is easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven’ because it would not be possible to judge whether a person’s sin was really forgiven than saying ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’ which would prove Jesus Himself a false prophet if this saying was not immediately materialized. But right after this, Jesus also said ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’, which confuses me further if this question is a more difficult one. What had Jesus in mind when asking the question in Mark 2:9? Is it just a rhetoric question that He did not expect an answer? So, which is easier then, or that it doesn’t matter if it is a rhetoric question?

A. To say something is one thing, to back up what you say is true is another. If Jesus were to simply say, “Son, your sins are forgiven”, it can’t be verified as it is invisible. However, if Jesus said, “Arise, take up your pallet, and walk”, He is putting His reputation on the line. If the man did not walk, He would be proven a false healer/prophet. If the man did walk, it does not necessarily prove His deity, since God’s servants can heal by God’s power too. But by saying both and healing the man, He is demonstrating that He has the power to do both, including forgiving sins which is God’s prerogative.

Secondly, the friends’, the scribes, and the people all perceived the paralytics’ need to be healing. Jesus’ is the only one who saw his real need is forgiveness. What good is it to have both feet whole but sins unforgiven and end up in hell?
* Mk 9:43 If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire,
* Mk 9:45 If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than, having your two feet, to be cast into hell,

So Jesus addressed the real need first, but also the perceived need to prove that His forgiveness is real by healing the man. So in this case I think the commentators are correct. I don’t think it’s a rhetorical question.