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CLEAN AND UNCLEAN ANIMALS

 

The commandments that God has given concerning food (Lev. 11

and Deut 14) are not abolished anywhere in the New Covenant.

Even before the Torah (the Law) was given did Noah know to

separate clean and unclean animals (Gen 7:2,3).

 

When taking one verse out of its context it may seem that all animal

flesh is edible in the New Covenant. These verses are often quoted

when people want to show that the commandments concerning food

that God has given are no more valid in the New Covenant.

 

”This he said, making all meats clean.” (Mark 7:19, ASV)

 

When reading the whole context, it is to be seen that the issue here is

only of washing one's hands before meal.  Mark 7:3: “For the Pharisees,

and all the Jews, except they wash their hands diligently, eat not,

holding the tradition of the elders.”  The same issue is told in Matthew

chapter 15 (verses 1-20) where Yeshua sais that it is the evil things that

come out of the heart that defile and then adds: “these are the things

which defile the man; but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not

the man” (15:20).  The issue was about how  to eat and not about

what  to eat (Mark 7:1-19; Matthew 15-20).

 

“Rise, Peter kill and eat”  (Acts 10:13).

 

“…What God hath cleansed, make not thou common.” (Acts10:15).

 

In the book of Acts (10:1-11:18) we find Peter’s vision in which a sheet

filled with unclean animals was let down in front of him a voice came

to him saying: “Rise, Peter,kill and eat.”  Peter was perplexed in himself

what might mean the vision which he had seen and he was pondering

about it.  With this vision God wanted to make it clear to Peter that the

Gospel was meant also for gentiles.  It is forbidden to a Jew to converse

with a foreigner not being Israeli or to go and visit them but in this vision

God showed that no human being is to be said common or unclean.

During these years after Yeshua’s death Jews had not told the Gospel to

gentiles, thus all believers being only Jewish, but Peter now went to visit

a Roman gentile. After returning to Jerusalem, when he expounded all

of it unto brothers, they stated: “Then to the Gentilesalso hath God

granted repentance unto life.”  Also here the issue was not food but

the gentiles held unclean by Jews and becoming clean by receiving

the Gospel and faith in Yeshua.

 

Peter eating with gentiles in Galatia

 

After some years in Galatia Peter (Cephas) had forgotten this teaching.

He visited the gentile believers and ate with them but when Jewish

believers came to the place he separated himself from the gentiles.

Paul rebuked him of this in Gal. 2:11-13:  “But when Cephas came

to Antioch, I resisted him to the face, because he stood condemned.

For before that certain came from James, he ate with the Gentiles; but

when they came, he drew back and separated himself, fearing them

that were of the circumcision.  And the rest of the Jews dissembled

likewise with him; insomuch that even Barnabas was carried away

with their dissimulation.”

 

Here too the issue was not what  to eat but about the company in eating.

 

“Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, eat, asking no question for

conscience’ sake,”  (1 Cor. 10:25).

 

This is the verse often used to show that the commandments

concerning food are no more valid: ”Whatsoever is sold in the

shambles, eat, asking no question for conscience’ sake,” (25).

“If one of them that believe not biddeth you to a feast , and ye

are disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no

question for conscience’ sake”  (27). It is Paul giving an advise of

an issue of this kind here:  “But if any man say unto you, this is

offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it,

and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness

thereof:  Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why

is my liberty judged of another man's conscience?”  Also here it is

not about clean or unclean animals but about meat offered in

sacrifice unto idols.

 

“… Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings,

carnal ordinances,  imposed on them until the time of reformation”

(Hebr 9:9,10).

 

Out of Hebrews 9 also these words are often referred: “which is a

figure for the time present; according to which are offered both gifts

and sacrifices that cannot, as touching the conscience, make the

worshipper perfect, being only (with meats and drinks and divers

washings) carnal ordinances, imposed until a time of reformation.”

This is written before the destruction of the Temple and it does not

refer to eating, drinking or washing in every day life but the ordinances

that were given concerning ministering in the Temple. Ministering in

the Temple continued approximately 40 years after Yeshua’s death

and resurrection and all in vane because the new order and ordinances

had all ready come.  So here the issue is about the sacrificial service

of the old Covenant and about the sacrificial cleansings that priests

were to do before offering to YHVH.  They had to offer animals,

fine flour, and cakes made of it, food anddrink offerings to the Lord.

Both the legs and inwards of an animal were to be washed with water

like priests themselves and a person who had defiled himself had to

wash himself with water. (Ex. 29:40, Lev.1:9,13; 2:1; Num. 19:7-22)

Observing these ordinances was now needless because Yeshua the

Messiah had by one offering replaced these former animal, food

and drink offerings.  Out of the context comes a conclusion that

these verses do not abolish distinction to clean and unclean animals

but only animal offerings and washings (mikveh: emersion) i.e.

cleansing rituals, which are not part of and include in serving God

in the New Covenant.

 

“For one believes that he may eat all things…”  (Rom. 14:2).

 

Romans 14:1-4: “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, [but] not

to doubtful disputations.  For one believeth that he may eat all

things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.  Let not him that eateth

despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge

him that eateth: for God hath received him.  Who art thou that

judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or

falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him

stand.”  Here the issue is not clean or unclean animals but how to

deal with vegetarian versus meat dishes.

 

The issue in the following verses is fast. Romans 14:5-7: “One man

esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day

alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.  He that

regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth

not theday, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth

to the Lord, forhe giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the

Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.  For none of us liveth

to himself, and no man dieth to himself.”. The words “One man

esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day

alike” are often used when people want to abolish Sabbath and

other feasts or holy convocations that God himself has ordained

(Lev. 23) but looking carefully to the context one sees that the issue

here is not about feasts but about fasting.  Paul writes here that

everybody can freely choose a day when he fasts.  Orthodox Jews

have ordained themselves certain days of week when they do not

eat but the one who believes in Yeshua may freely choose if he

eats or fasts and when he fasts.

 

“… For [it is] a good thing that the heart be established with grace;

not with meats,…”  (Hebr. 13:9).

 

“Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For [it is] a

good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats,

which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.”

(13:9). Here the issue is about doctrines and not about ordinary food.

 

“Handle not, nor taste, nor touch!”  (Col. 2:21).

 

“If ye died with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as

though living in the world, do ye subject yourselves to ordinances,

Handle not, nor taste, nor touch (all which things are to perish with

the using), after the precepts and doctrines of men?  Which things

have indeed a show of wisdom in will-worship, and humility, and

severity to the body; but are not of any value against the

indulgence of the flesh.” (Col. 2:20-23).

 

This passage does not concern ordinances given by God but by

men as it says: “after the precepts and doctrines of men”.

 

There are certain sects in whom it is defined what is permitted to

do and to eat.

 

“Forbidding to marry, [and commanding] to abstain from meats,

which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them

which believe and know the truth” (1 Tim.4:3). God has not created

everything or what ever to eat with thanksgiving but if e.g. eating

meat or drinking coffee is forbidden are these ordinances given by

men and are not to be followed or observed by a believer.

 

“Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect

of a holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days: Which are

a shadow of things to come; but the body isof Christ.” (Col. 2:16,17).

If we read this carefully we see clearly that those who obey God

are not to be judged.  Many translations are provided with a word

just or only a shadow” added in the clause all though it is not in

the original text as to make it carry an opposite meaning.  These thing

are not ONLY shadows of things to come but they ARE shadows and

disclosers, for ensamples.


Moshe Zew

 

 

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