One of my favorite sandwiches for lunch is a Cold Cut Combo. It’s a sub served with three meats: bologna, ham and salami. Under the Old Covenant that God had with the nation of Israel this sandwich would not have been found on any menu because it was considered an unacceptable meal.
In Leviticus 11 and in Deuteronomy 14 God gave the children of Israel instructions concerning animals that were acceptable/unacceptable for food. Pigs are probably the best-known animal on that list. But they are also accompanied by many other animals that are popular to eat today, but were still considered unclean to Israel such as the rabbit, catfish, shellfish and crabs, etc. You can read the chapters to find other animals if you’d like.
When it comes to the animals you read about in the above references, people go to many extremes trying to explain why God placed such restrictions into His Law for Israel. One popular explanation is that the unclean animals often carried transmittable diseases and were basically unhealthy. While that is true for many of them, it is not true for all of them. For example, have you ever heard the expression healthy as a horse? The horse is a physically healthy animal but it was still considered unclean for consumption. On the other hand, cattle and goats were considered clean but they can carry deadly diseases such as anthrax.
Was health one of the reasons God gave the restrictions on food? Probably so; but was it the only reason? Obviously with the examples above, the answer to that is absolutely not. We need to remember that it was God that determined whether or not an animal was clean or unclean, not Moses, not Aaron and not anyone today who thinks they will live to be 100 simply because they did not eat pork chops or bacon. God said ‘Don’t Eat’ and they were expected to not eat.
The thing about this topic is that many people today still teach that God has dietary restrictions concerning clean and unclean animals for His people, but is that doctrine taught in the New Testament? If it is I have yet to find it. The New Testament does teach against the consumption of blood (that is contained in all animals to a certain extent and ignored by many Christians) but not against the consumption of any species of animals in particular (Acts 15:20-29).
As a matter of fact, listen to what the Holy Spirit inspired apostle Paul told Timothy concerning a future time (from their point of view) when people would depart from the faith and teach that certain meats were to be abstained from for spiritual reasons. He said, “For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.” (1 Timothy 4:4-5). Sounds simple enough!
Concerning the transition between the Old and New covenant, which is the underlying issue of the foods discussion, listen again to the teachings of the Holy Spirit – “having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross…So let no one judge you in food or in drink…” (Colossians 2:14,16). Now, I’m perfectly aware that the meat and drink of Colossians 2:14-16 refer to religious observances that are not spiritually enforced by God any longer; but when a person says something must not be eaten to please God are they not making that a religious observance???
If a person chooses to place certain dietary restrictions on his or herself, that’s fine. It may be a matter of conscience, but that’s your conscience and not everyone else’s. What isn’t fine is when a person teaches and tries to place those restrictions on others. It’s nobody’s job to make someone not eat something any more than it’s someone’s job to make someone eat something. Peace in Christ is more important than any piece of meat on the table! That’s the whole gist of Romans 14.
To eat or not to eat…there is no question to it! God in the New Testament says we can eat and give thanks to Him while doing so.
Think about it. EA
“I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.” (Romans 14:14)