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New Testament Dietary Law?
To begin with, before we as believers abandon ANY "Old Testament" Laws, we must have a New Testament scripture that CLEARLY teaches us that it has changed.
Hebrews 13:8 declares:
"Jesus the Messiah is the same yesterday, today and forever."
Let’s look at the bible and see if the writers themselves obeyed the "law".
"Do not think I have come to abolish (destroy, do away with) the law or the prophets, I did not come to destroy but fulfill (give it fullness, fill up)." Matthew 5:17
"I was taught according to the strictness of our father's law (Torah), and was zealous toward God as you all are today" Acts 22:3
"Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day" Acts 23:1
Later Paul went on to say:
"Do we then make void the law (Torah) through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law (Torah). Romans 3:31
The law all summed up in two?
Most believers believe that all of the law was wrapped up into two laws spoken by Jesus in the New Testament. Is this true? What was asked? The question asked by the Rabbi to Jesus was what is the GREATEST commandment in the Law of Moses? Jesus responded as does any Jewish leader of the Law of Moses. First he responded with what is known as the Shema.
"Hear O' Israel the Lord our God, the Lord is one".
Secondly He responded with what is called by the Rabbis as the Kingly law or the Royal law. It is:
"You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength"
"You shall love your neighbor as yourself" Duet 6:5, Matt 22:37, Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27
Jesus said this is the FOUNDATION of all of the Law of Moses.
Secondly let’s look at the Ten Commandments. Actually the previous Kingly or Royal law is a summed up version of the Ten Commandments The first "Royal law" is the first tablet of the first four commandments on "how to love the Lord" and the second tablet of the next six commandments is "how to love our neighbors".
These commandments were intended to be followed forever even by New Testament believers or we would be "free" to rob banks, lie, sleep with anyone we want or commit murder. Obviously this is not correct.
Third we see the rest of the laws written on skins or parchment. Of these laws are the dietary laws.
New Testament scriptures on dietary law
"Therefore if you died with the Messiah from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourself to regulations - Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle, which all concern things which perish with the using - according to the commandments and doctrines of men?" Col 2:20-22
Many have said that we should not be stopped from "tasting" (some versions say eating) because we should not be "subject to regulations". After looking at this scripture it should be clear that Paul is addressing some regulation that is coming from the Colossian people because he called them commandments and doctrines of men, not the commandments of God!
"For every creature is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified (made holy) by the word of God and prayer". 1 Tim 4:4-5
This sounds good at face value, but lets look at the text, the food that is to be received (1) with thanksgiving (2) made holy by the word of God (3) prayed over. At the time Paul wrote this to Timothy the only WORD OF GOD they had was the OLD TESTAMENT! I don't think I have to say what creatures were sanctified by the Old Testament!
Some passages of 1 Cor 8 and 10 have been used to permit the eating of unclean meats but in these scriptures Paul is dealing with whether ANY meats that have been sacrificed to idols could be eaten".
All of this is summed up in 1 Cor 10:28
"But if any one says to you, ' This was offered to idols', do not eat it for the sake of the one who told you..."
One of the major arguments given for eating unclean meats is Peter's vision in the 10th chapter of Acts. Let’s look at these passages IN CONTEXT and see if that is true. In Acts 10:9-16, Peter was shown a vision of a sheet of unclean meat which was offered to him to eat, this happened three times with the words "kill and eat" (in the tenth verse please note that Peter went into this vision "hungry", probably explaining why God used food for this vision).
Peter refuses to take the food saying:
" I have never eaten anything unclean" v. 14
This statement shows that this was the practice of the apostles and Jesus Himself since Peter spent three years with the Lord.
After this refusal God replies:
"What God has cleansed you must not call unclean" v.15
I want at this time to look at v. 17
"Now while Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant..."
If the vision meant exactly what he saw, why did Peter wonder what it meant? Could it be that the vision meant something else? Let’s look further at the scriptures and let them interpret themselves.
"But God has shown me that I should not call any man (not any meat) common or unclean" v.28
A clear evaluation of this passage reveals no message permitting us to eat unclean meats. The whole purpose of the vision was to convince Jewish believers to accept non-Jewish believers into their fellowship and not to consider them unclean.
Another passage of scripture that is used to permit believers to eat unclean meat is the passage in Matthew 15:11
"Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man."
In context this verse is dealing with a rabbinic tradition of washing the hands, not eating meats or anything else since the rabbis asked Jesus:
"...Why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread." Matt 15:1-2
The readers should realize that most of what people have come to know as "Jewish laws" are not the laws of Moses but "rabbinic traditions" also known as "the works of the law".
In Leviticus 11:43-44, God states this concerning unclean things:
"You shall not make yourself abominable with any creeping thing that creeps; nor shall you make yourselves unclean with them, lest you be defiled by them. For I am the Lord your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy.
Paul states this passage again to the non-Jewish believers in Corinth after dealing with the sinfulness of the world, he notes in 2 Cor 6:16-18:
"...For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: 'I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God and they shall be My people'. Therefore 'Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN, and I will receive you'. 'I will be a Father to you and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty'.
IF ALL OF THIS IS NOT ENOUGH....
Lets look at an end times prophecy of the Lord coming back to bring judgement on the earth. Let’s see if God intends for the last day’s non-Jewish believers to be free from judgement for disobeying His dietary laws.
"For behold, the Lord will come with fire and with His chariots, like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by His sword the Lord will judge ALL FLESH; and the slain of the Lord will be many. Those who sanctify themselves and purify themselves, to go to the garden after an idol in the midst, EATING SWINE'S FLESH and the abomination and the mouse, SHALL BE CONSUMED TOGETHER, says the Lord".
This is prophesied in the book of Revelation as the account of the Lord coming back to render judgement (Rev 19:11-21).
I wonder how many Christians realize that one of the things that causes Jesus to kill the people with "the sword of His mouth" is the people eating pigs and other unclean meats (Isa 66:17)
It is interesting to note that one of the major scriptures used in the church about God is in Mal 3:6
"For I am the Lord, I do not change..."