Kosher Foods? (2 of 2)

unclean food 9

(Continued from yesterday)

The Lord’s Teaching. Jesus chided the Pharisees and the scribes on their neglecting the commandment of God to hold on their tradition, in this particular instance ceremonial washing, but in passing pronounced a principle on food:

Mk 7:19 because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?” (Thus He declared all foods clean.) See also Mt 15:11, 17-18

What’s external does not make a person unclean. It’s the internal evil that defiles a person. So why insist on following OT laws re what’s ceremonially clean or unclean?

Peter’s Vision. When God wanted to break down Peter’s prejudice against Gentiles and evangelize them, He gave him a vision of four-footed animals, crawling creatures, and birds, and asked him to kill and eat. Critics claimed that the objective was only to teach Peter not to call any man unholy or unclean (Acts 10:28), and has nothing to do with setting aside food laws.

Acts 10:15 Again a voice came to him a second time, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.”

Of course the object was v 28, which Peter realized on his own after three times (v 16). My question is, “Would God have told Peter v 15 if it were not true? Would He have used this as an object lesson if it weren’t relevant?” Even biased Peter caught on, but apparently not the critics.

Paul’s Teaching. Paul used food as an illustration to teach principles of conscience in Rom 14, in particular vegetables (v 2) versus meat (v 21). In 1 Tim 4 he touched on food again, but in the context of apostasy in the last days, when liars seared in their own conscience forbid certain foods:

Romans 14:14, 20 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. … 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.
• 1 Tim 4:3-5 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.

The issue is not whether the food is ceremonially clean or unclean, as all are intrinsically clean, but whether we are causing our brother to stumble (Rom 14:13, 21) and hurting him (v 15). What’s important is love, not food laws. This is reinforced in 1 Tim 4.

So my conclusion after looking at who the laws are addressed to in the OT and NT, the Lord’s, Peter’s and Paul’s teachings, is that I do not have to eat kosher foods. I understand the opposing view’s arguments as to why they think the dietary laws are still binding, but I disagreed that we should put ourselves under the yoke of the law when God had delivered us to live under grace. I can legitimately eat the seafood that I like, only not to excess. After all, all things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable or edify (1 Co 6:12; 10:23).

Kosher Foods? (1 of 2)

unclean food 11

Q. I like seafood – lobster, crab legs, mussels, clams, scallops etc. But Lev 11:9-10 says, ‘These you may eat, whatever is in the water: all that have fins and scales, those in the water, in the seas or in the rivers, you may eat. But whatever is in the seas and in the rivers that does not have fins and scales among all the teeming life of the water, and among all the living creatures that are in the water, they are detestable things to you’. Some told me these laws still apply today. So can we eat lobster?

A. Your subject is about the dietary laws in the Bible. You can find a lot of debates on the internet arguing for or against whether God had abolished such laws for today, with both sides quoting the same passages I cited below, saying how the opposing view had misinterpreted the verses. Many of the papers on either side are authored by people with PhD. I can only give you my opinion. You have to decide whether my reasoning is correct for yourself.

OT Audience. The food laws are given in Lev 11, which distinguished the clean (fit for food) versus the unclean (ceremonially unfit for food) land and water animals, birds and insects. An important note is who is God addressing. Vs 1-2 tells us:

Lev 11:1-2 The LORD spoke again to Moses and to Aaron, saying to them, “Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘These are the creatures which you may eat from all the animals that are on the earth.

God was addressing the sons of Israel i.e. Jews, and the laws do not apply to Christians in the first place.

NT Audience. When Gentile Christians appeared in the NT, some Jewish Christians (former Pharisees) insisted that they must be circumcised to be saved (Acts 15:2), and that they must observe the Law of Moses (v 5). The Council at Jerusalem was called to decide on this issue. The conclusion was that Gentiles are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus (v 11), in the same way as Jews. The essential requirements in terms of conduct are recorded in v 23-29:

Acts 15:20, 29 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. … that you abstain from (1) things sacrificed to idols and from (2) blood and from (3) things strangled and from (4) fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well.

The Jerusalem Council determined that Gentile Christians do not have to observe Moses Law to be saved. The only behavior requirements were moral, not ceremonial. It re-affirmed that dietary laws do not apply to Gentile Christians.

(To be continued)