Archive for the ‘Clean and Unclean Meats’ Category

Interpreting Dreams and Flawed Biblical Logic

A friend of mine recently posted this on facebook. I love how succinctly he put it.

Dreams-005

Question 1: “Pharaoh had a dream about seven fat cows, followed by seven skinny cows. Was the dream really about cows?”

Answer 1: “Of course not! Scripture reveals just a few verses later that the dream was about seven years of plenty, followed by seven years of famine.”

Question 2: “Joseph had a dream about his brothers’ sheaves of wheat bowing to his own sheaf. Was the dream really about wheat?”

Answer 2: “No! Later on, we learn that this was a prophecy, fortelling of the event when his brothers would come to Egypt, not recognize him, and yet bow down to him.”

Question 3: “Nebuchadnezzar had a dream about a multi-metal statue. Was the dream really about a statue?”

Answer 3: “Not at all! It was about the different kingdoms that would arise, starting with Babylon. Daniel gives the interpretation right after the dream is revealed, just a few verses later!”

Question 4: “Peter had a dream about a sheet of unclean animals. He hears a voice say, ‘Arise, slay, and eat.’ Was his dream really about unclean animals now becoming acceptable as food?”

Answer 4: “Of course it was! Can’t you read? He says slay and eat! Duh! Of course all unclean meats can be eaten now! Never mind verse 28 where he says something about PEOPLE being unclean, that is completely unrelated. This dream doesn’t need to be interpreted, it should be taken literally.”

No More Mosaic Law? A Response to a Seminary Professor’s Position

This is part of a series that began here.

In my last post I wrote about an article I read earlier this week about the transforming power the book of Leviticus has on our hearts and worship.  The article led me to a short series of Leviticus Q&A videos the author had also done. I really enjoyed the first four videos, but I was disappointed by the answers presented in the fifth.

The fifth question was: Are Christians inconsistent with their use and application of Old Testament law today?

Dr. Jay Sklar, professor of Old Testament and dean of faculty at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, gives his perspective on this question below.

I was sad that the unity of heart I was experiencing with Dr. Sklar up to this point regarding Leviticus was dashed by what I felt was such a scripturally weak response.

Here are four issues I had with it:

1) Pitting the Old Covenant against the New Covenant

Around 1:50, Dr. Sklar points out that the covenant God made with the Israelites at Mt. Sinai was the Old Covenant and that Jesus came to establish a New Covenant. He says that the laws of the Old do not necessarily apply in the New.

But this is in direct opposition to what the LORD Himself says will happen in the New Covenant.  He says with the New Covenant, “I will put my laws within them, and I will write it on their hearts.” (Jeremiah 31:31-34)

God gives no indication that certain chunks of His law will suddenly vanish in this New Covenant. In fact, the major differentiation between the two covenants seems to be that in the old the laws were external to the people whereas in the new the laws would be internal – in their hearts.  So, it’s not a removal of the law, but an internalization of it that seems to differentiate the two covenants.

Our Savior also gives no indication that certain chunks of the law would vanish after He ushered in the New Covenant.  To the contrary, He said that He didn’t come to abolish the law or the prophets and that not an iota or a dot would pass from the law until heaven and earth pass away.  He went on to say that whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. (Mathew 5:17-19)

Paul, the one most credited for leading us out of the “bondage” of the Mosaic law, said that we should by no means overthrow the law by our faith in the Messiah.  On the contrary, we uphold the law. (Romans 3:31)

And the saints of the last days are called to endurance.  Who are those saints? Those who “keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.” (Revelation 14:12)

2) Only the Laws Repeated in the New Testament are in Effect

Around 2:20, Dr. Sklar takes the angle that only laws that are repeated in the New Testament are binding on believers today.

But, again, there is no scriptural basis for making such a claim.

Our Savior said that those whose will is to do God’s will, would know whether the things he taught were from God not.  Those who had it in their hearts to obey the commandments of God would know that Jesus’ teachings always matched up with God’s.  He never spoke on His own authority. (John 7:17)

If He had come to change God’s laws or to revise which ones were applicable, He would have been a false prophet. The Father clearly warned His people that only false prophets would speak against His commandments (Deut 13:1-5, especially note verse 4).

So, to say that Jesus or any other New Testament writer had the authority to revise the application of God’s law is completely contrary to scripture.  This is a big deal!

3) Values Stand but Ritual Laws Are Unimportant

Around 2:45, Dr. Sklar says that the values we see through the Old Testament laws are ongoing and are still able to teach us about life today.  He points out that the laws about clean and unclean animals given in Leviticus 11 were meant to teach us something on a moral level.

While I wholeheartedly agree with this principle of things in the physical teaching us things in the spiritual, I cannot agree that once we get the spiritual meaning we can then choose to disregard the physical command.

Just because I understand that marriage is a picture of the relationship between Christ and His bride doesn’t mean that I can then disregard my physical marriage.

Just because I understand that baptism is a picture of my death and resurrection in Christ doesn’t mean that I can disregard the physical practice of baptism.

And just because I understand that clean and unclean animals are pictures of clean and unclean things I must distinguish between morally doesn’t mean that I can disregard the physical practice of abstaining from eating unclean animals.

We are both physical and spiritual beings, and our heavenly Father asks for our obedience in both the physical and spiritual realms.

(Here is a great video that highlights the physical and spiritual truths in God’s clean and unclean animal laws.)

4) Jesus Declared All Foods Clean in Mark Chapter Seven

Around 4:06, Dr. Sklar uses Mark 7 to prove the point that the physical law was no longer important; only the moral law still stood. In fact, Dr. Sklar goes so far as to say,

“Jesus says, Mark chapter 7, ‘Look, in the New Covenant you no longer need to make those distinctions ritually between clean and unclean animals.'”

Is this really what Jesus said?

I did a study on Mark 7, because this section of scripture does seem to seal the deal on the clean/unclean issue.  It was one of the big ones I needed to wrestle through.  Here’s a condensed version of what I found:

The sentence, “Thus He declared all food clean” is NOT in the original text! (Check it out for yourself.)

In fact, the context had nothing to do with what could be eaten as food. The beginning of chapter seven shows us that the context was all about hand-washing.

Some Pharisees, who adhered to a very strict, totally man-made system of hand-washing, saw that Jesus’ disciples ate without washing their hands at all. This made them indignant.

It’s important to note that God never outlined any method of cleansing hands before eating.  Our Savior and His disciples were not breaking any God-given instruction. But the Pharisees were professional extra-Biblical rule-makers. And they were furious when anyone refused to follow them.

The definition of what counted as food was never in question.  God only created certain animals to be eaten. Everyone involved in this conversation was on the same page on that issue.

So, in Mark chapter 7, the Savior did not challenge Mosaic law by changing the definition of food.  He merely challenged the man-made notion that eating with dirty hands would defile you.

(Here is a study looking into the top five New Testament verses used to discount the dietary laws.)

Summary

I still have a great deal of respect for Dr. Sklar based on the other things I’ve read and heard from him.  I love that he finds treasures (applicable to his life today) in Leviticus and that he’s helping others to find those same treasures for themselves.

Where I diverge in understanding from Dr. Sklar is in how to respond to those commands we, as a people of God, haven’t followed for millenia.  I think we need to dig even deeper and question more fully the commandments from which we’ve allowed ourselves to stray.

No More Mosaic Law? Thus He declared all foods clean (Mark 7:18-19)

This is part of a series that began here.kosher pig

“Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?”
(Thus he declared all foods clean.)

Mark 7:18-19

What the Verse Seems to Say

He declared all foods clean.  It’s simple. For lovers of bacon, this verse seals the deal.  You are forever allowed to enjoy pig products in any form you’d like. Actually, you can enjoy any of the animals previously forbidden by God – shrimp, clams, lobster, dogs, rats.  They’re all clean.

The Problem

The problem is that the Father clearly says otherwise throughout the scriptures.  He very specifically lays out which animals He created for food and which He doesn’t want us eating or even touching.  For the sake of brevity, we’ll look only at the mentions of pigs:

  • And the pig, because it parts the hoof and is cloven-footed but does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. You shall not eat any of their flesh, and you shall not touch their carcasses; they are unclean to you. (Leviticus 11:7-8)
  • I spread out my hands all the day to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good,  following their own devices; a people who provoke me to my face continually, sacrificing in gardens and making offerings on bricks;who sit in tombs, and spend the night in secret places; who eat pig’s flesh, and broth of tainted meat is in their vessels. (Isaiah 65:2-4)
  • Those who sanctify and purify themselves to go into the gardens, following one in the midst, eating pig’s flesh and the abomination and mice, shall come to an end together, declares the LORD. (Isaiah 66:17)

The problem is worsened when we consider that the Savior Himself said that the words He spoke were not His but the Father’s who sent Him (John 14:24). His words become downright heretical when we consider that the Father warned that only false prophets would speak against His commandments (Deut 13:1-5).

The Surprise

When I started studying whether the food laws had been lifted by the Savior in the New Testament, this was one of the primary verses I needed to address.  I went to one of my trusty online study tools, InterlinearBible.org, and was blown away by what I found.

The sentence, “Thus He declared all food clean” is NOT in the original text!

Check it out for yourself.

What it says is that food enters into the belly, then into the latrine, thereby purifying all the food.

The word translated “purifying” is the Greek word katharizo, which according to Strongs Concordance means “cleanse, purge, purify.”

He is simply describing the digestive process. You eat food, then purge it.

The Context

The beginning of chapter seven lays out the context and helps us to understand what the exact topic of conversation is.

Some Pharisees, who adhered to a very strict, totally man-made system of hand-washing, saw that Jesus’ disciples ate without washing their hands at all. This made them indignant.

It’s important to note that God never outlined any method of cleansing hands before eating.  Our Savior and His disciples were not breaking any God-given instruction. But the Pharisees were professional extra-Biblical rule-makers. And they were furious when anyone refused to follow them.

Our Savior responded with scathing rebuke:

“Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,

‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
 in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’

You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”

And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!”

He was telling His disciples that eating with unwashed hands would not defile them.  It was the contents of our hearts that defile us.  People like the Pharisees who left the commandments of God to chase after their own traditions were the defiled ones.

What Was Not Up For Discussion

The definition of what counted as food was never in question.  God only created certain animals to be eaten. Everyone involved in this conversation was on the same page on that issue.

Can you imagine what the Pharisees’ response would have been if He had said what most believers think he said?! Overturning the Father’s dietary laws would have definitively made him a false prophet.  And doing so right after chastising the Pharisees for abandoning the law would have been just plain weird.  No need to continue testing Him or looking for false witnesses to testify against him.  The whole crowd would have been up in arms.  This would have been a much bigger issue than our Bibles present.

Conclusion

The Savior did not challenge Mosaic law by changing the definition of food.  He merely challenged the man-made notion that eating with dirty hands would defile you.

For further study, here are two more posts you may enjoy.

Phyiscal and Spiritual Meaning in the Dietary Laws

Wow.  This is a beautiful and profound 8 minute video that explores spiritual truths contained in the dietary laws of Scripture. It makes me think again of this verse:

It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out. (Proverbs 25:2)

What a great God we serve! His word is so rich, so meaningful, full of gems of perfection waiting to be searched out!

I hope you enjoy!

Clean and Unclean Meats

Most Christians firmly believe that the New Testament clearly abolished the dietary laws of the Old Testament, but is that conclusion correct?  A closer look at the main New Testament “proof text” passages that deal with this topic reveals that this is actually one of the most misunderstood, but most easily corrected, topics in the New Testament.

I encountered several teachings from 119 Ministries that cover the material really well, so I’ve posted those videos with the corresponding scripture references below.

Mark 7:19 – “Thus He declared all foods clean.”

And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?”(Thus he declared all foods clean.)

This is the easiest verse to deal with because the parenthetical statement (Thus He declared all foods clean) in Mark 7 was nowhere to be found in the original text.

You can see the actual, literal Greek here: http://interlinearbible.org/mark/7-19.htm

Additionally, taking the context into consideration reveals that the subject being discussed was the washing of hands before eating – something God never commanded.  Men added this rule, which wasn’t necessarily bad in itself.  It was the elevation of this rule to a standard of righteousness that was the dangerous part.

Acts 10 – Peter’s Vision

The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.

Does this vision mean that unclean animals are now to be considered clean?  Though that’s the conclusion most of us have drawn, it’s not at all the conclusion Peter or any of those who heard the vision came up with.

1 Timothy 4:1-5 – Clean meats from deceitful spirits and teachings of demons?

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving 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 thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.

Is teaching about the dietary laws of the Old Testament paramount to departing from the faith and being devoted to deceitful spirits and teaching of demons?  That’s certainly what it sounds like the text is saying, but a closer look reveals the truth.  God didn’t create all animals to be received as food.  He only created certain animals to be food. See Leviticus 11 for details.

Acts 15:19 – Not troubling the Gentiles

Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood.

This scripture was a confusing one to me for a while. Does this verse say that Gentiles who turn to God don’t have to keep the dietary laws?

When talking to one of my Messianic Jewish friends about this part of scripture, I was instructed to read one verse further. This verse says, “For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.”

So, it seems the members of the council were assuming new believers would eventually hear all of the law. There was no need for them to adhere to everything BEFORE admitting their salvation. The law was never a pre-requisite for salvation; it was God’s direction for how his already-saved people should walk. God would reveal more of Himself to them each week through His word.

Genesis 9:3 – Every living thing will be food for you

Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.

And for those who question what God allowed Noah to eat, there are answers for this verse too.

Here is a more in-depth study of the verse: