EATING TO LIVE - FROM THE BIBLE'S PERSPECTIVE
The “debate” continues on whether the sometimes controversial topic of the food laws as commanded by God and laid out in the Old Testament were negated and no longer applied after the coming of Jesus Christ. Why continue such a lengthy discussion on a subject that some say is not important enough to make such a big fuss about? Because eating the "right" foods as commanded by God has a positive effect on our health. Divine Health - what could be more important than that?
I Corinthians 3:16-17 teaches us, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are." Knowledge, however, is the first step to doing (“action behavior”); thus, the reason we continue to spend time on this particular topic. Once we have acquired the knowledge, we must then put into action what we have learned In order to positively change our lives.
So is it true that the health laws established in the Old Testament were done away with in the New Testament when Jesus Christ came on the scene, and that we can eat whatever we want, including swine and shellfish, because God made everything good and very good? The "misinformed" rely on the words of Peter in Acts 10:14-15 and the words of Paul in I Timothy 4:1-5 to substantiate their misinformation. I will borrow the works of established biblical scholars to explain the correct interpretation of the scriptures in Acts and Matthew so we will not be misled as to the significance of God's food commandments as outlined in Leviticus and Deuteronomy.
It is true that Acts 10 speaks of Peter becoming very hungry and would have eaten but he fell into a trance in which there were all manner of creatures. It continues on that “there came a voice to him" telling Peter to rise, kill and eat but he refused because he said, "I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean". The scripture then states "the voice spake unto him. . . What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common." Did this mean that the foods formerly considered unclean were now cleansed?
If it was as simple as God making unclean animals clean, it is clear that Apostle Peter DID NOT understand that the vision meant that. In fact, verse 17 reads that he "doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean". What about the fact that he disobeyed the heavenly voice? Verse 14 shows that Peter recognized the voice as the Lord's. Why did he not submit to Jesus' 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? Although Peter did not know the meaning of the vision, his actions showed that he did not believe it had anything to do with changes in the food laws or else he would have eaten and not been confused.
Verse 28 clarifies that clean versus unclean actually relates to Jew versus gentile rather than food, and that God would not that any man be called common or unclean. As shown in verses 34 and 35, God was opening an otherwise closed door to gentiles in an attempt to build a holy nation by the Spirit of God, rather than from the seed of man (1 Peter 2:9). In other words, the vision of Apostle Peter had nothing whatsoever to do with food, but with men that were once cut off from God and unclean in His eyes.
Let us now discuss the 4th chapter of Timothy. There are those who believe the Apostle Paul was telling Timothy that the teaching of abstaining from any food was a doctrine of devils. However, let's take a closer look.
I Timothy 4:1-5 reads that, "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy . . . commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer."
Carefully notice that this "doctrines of devils" related to the teaching of abstaining from food which God has created to be "received with thanksgiving" (i.e., gratefully shared). Also notice that it was food that was created for those who "believe and know the truth". Nothing is to be refused, as indicated in verse 4(i.e., nothing is to be rejected). Does this mean "nothing at all" to be refused or nothing which God has "created to be received with thanksgiving"?
Notice the final words of the scripture - "For it is sanctified by 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. Now, important question - which meats (food) has God sanctified for human consumption? The only passages found in the entire Bible showing which meats are set apart (or sanctified) for human consumption are Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14.
In conclusion, the God of Israel's food laws were not abolished after the establishment of the New Covenant. Jesus made clear in Matthew 5:17-19, that he came to fulfill God's law, not to destroy the law. Realizing this and following God’s food laws will increase our health, enhance the quality of our life and add to our longevity. [Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 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. 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: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."