GOD’S HEALTH LAWS

God spoke to Moses to give many laws to the Jewish people. There were laws of divorce, sin, and what to eat. Among the things they could not eat were shellfish, cloven-footed animals, and any blood was forbidden by these laws. Food and drink laws were very strict to the Jewish people, but Christians of good faith eat things such as shellfish and pork regularly, so what happened?

I know a part of a Christian denomination that teaches the eating of lamb is a sin because Jesus was the lamb of God. Even though it’s written nowhere that eating lamb is a sin, again men have to take it upon themselves to create their own word instead of just adhering to God’s. Why Christian Gentiles began eating things that were not lawful for the Jews to eat comes from Acts 15:20, which says the Gentiles only have to keep away from animals that were strangled, blood, the pollutants of idols, and fornication. Gentiles are allowed to eat shellfish and even those Christians that believe eating lamb is a sin but can’t keep their lips off of pork can indeed eat all the pork they want, save for gluttony. That’s a good thing too because I love shrimp as well as a good ham dinner.

The reasons for the health laws was that the Israelites were God’s chosen race, so they had higher standards. The animals forbidden were bottomfeeders, scavengers, and animals that were considered unclean. Perhaps there is also something in the DNA of the Israelites that would do them harm if they ate those animals considered unclean. Certainly for sure the main reason is that God had higher standards for them.

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4 comments on “GOD’S HEALTH LAWS

  1. Peter says:

    Food laws were among those designed to teach the people of God to distinguish between the clean and the unclean, the profane and the holy. (Health considerations were simply not under consideration here.)

    The Mosaic law itself was a schoolmaster to lead us, the people of God, to Christ (Gal 3). The law was a shadow of the reality found in Christ (Hebrews). Thus Peter discovers that even Gentiles become clean, not through obedience to food laws, but through the gospel of Jesus, the same as Jews (Acts 10, 11). Ceremonial clean food laws, in other words, foreshadow cleansing from sin (in ethical terms rather than ceremonial).

    Alternately put, Jesus fulfills the prophetic voice of the law. Jesus thus declares that it is not what a person eats (like pork), but what he says and does that makes him unclean (Mark 7). His death on the cross cleanses from evil words and deeds.

  2. Jesse Norman II says:

    You have some good points, but why not also allow the Gentiles to eat things strangled or of blood if you are correct?

  3. Peter says:

    Hi Jesse! You ask a natural question which I chose not to address last time, partly because it is more controversial and patient of a variety of possibilities. My previous comments represent, I think, positions which are defensible at length and in depth, and on the whole are more established in the church.

    As an aside, let me inject that to my knowledge nowhere in Scripture is the degree of meat cooking–we would say the steak is rare, medium, or well done–at issue, whether in regard to blood content or otherwise. Either the animal’s blood is drained out or it is not. (Nor of concern in antiquity was the fact that, when the animal’s blood is drained, some blood cells remain in capillaries.)

    But a first century Jew or Jewish Christian could well have asked Jesus or Paul whether eating blood is acceptable, in the case of Jesus following His remarks recorded in Mark 7, or of Paul following his argument with Peter as recorded in Galatians 2 (cf. Romans 14, 1 Cor 8, 10). In other words, an affirmative answer to the question of eating blood seems to be a reasonable deduction.

    The logic then leads to a qualification for conscience and a question as to how to reconcile with the Jerusalem Decree (Acts 15:29, cf. v. 20 & 21:25).

    Among the controversies about the Jerusalem Decree (other than textual variants) are included (1) whether the context of the decree is idolatry and immorality as tied (a) to the butcher’s shop and the brothel or (b) to practical accommodation in a mixed Jew-Gentile church, (2) whether the word translated “blood” means “bloodshed” (i.e., murder), and (3) whether the decree is meant as a recommendation or as a command.

    One can eat (1) with thankfulness to the glory of God, or (2) as Peter at Antioch, in such a manner as to imply that the gospel is insufficient to save from sin, or (3) in such a way as to violate the conscience of others (Corinthian context). Applied to the Jerusalem Decree (assuming the consumption of blood is at issue), the significance of the eating (as opposed to the mere fact of eating) may be a primary interpretive question.

    I myself am less certain of issues such as the eating of blood noted in the Jerusalem Decree than I am of issues I noted in my first comment to your post.

    For what is is worth, I would add that the inclusion of the words “abstain from things polluted by idols” is included in the brief decree, and that strangled animals would normally have blood in them. Is the decree redundant with regard to eating blood?

    I realize you may not find the above satisfying. I do not entirely either, but my best harmonization of Scripture and apostolic thought is that the eating of blood is spiritually acceptable for the Christian unless it violates the conscience of the eater or that of a witness, particularly when the eating is seen as implying the acceptance of idolatry. To date I have neither conceived nor read of a more reasonable way to view all the evidence.

  4. Jesse Norman II says:

    No, I don’t find the above all that satisfying, but yet you seem to always bring up good points for discussion 🙂 I believe things polluted by idols means to not eat things sacrificed unto idols. Also, most of the Gentile early Christians were Greek and Roman, who made idols. How they are killed outside of strangulation isn’t of importance, at least in my estimation. You’re welcome here anytime.

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