Archive for August, 2007

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Does God Care about What You Eat?

August 18, 2007

Do you think God  is concerned about what we eat? Before you answer that, let me ask you this. Does God care about where you go? What you say? What you listen to? Then perhaps, He just might care about what we eat. Men, and women, spend a lot of time and effort trying to discover what is healthy for us to eat, and what is not. Believe it or not, our Father gave us good instructions in this area, if, we choose to listen. And after all, He should know!!

  A good place to check me out is in Leviticus. In chapter 3:17 He tells us not to eat fat or blood. Then in chapter 11, God gives us His list of those animals, fish and insects that we are allowed to eat. He also gives us a list of those that are unclean or an abomination to us. Remember, these are instructions from God.  Once again, in chapter 20:25-26 He tells us we should make a distinction between what He calls clean and unclean foods and, now this is important, that we should be holy unto Him because we are His people.  Now check out Isaiah 65:3-6 and Isaiah 66:15-24 and see what is said concerning a future judgment.  He seems to really, really care about what we eat!!  

Now, many would say that God later changed His definition of food, that Jesus somehow gave us permission to eat the abominable. So let’s examine the question… Does Jesus (Yeshua) ever teach against His Father’s instructions for us?  What about Paul or Peter?  Let’s find out by going to those Scriptures that many believe justify changing God’s definition of food. 

First, let’s take a look at Peter’s vision of all the unclean animals.  It is so often used to teach that God no longer cares about what we eat. You can find this story in Acts 10 beginning with verse 9. Many use this story as the key evidence for doing away with the commands concerning clean and unclean, but let’s read for ourselves and pray that God would show us the true teaching in context. Notice that Peter is shown a vision three times of a sheet being let down to him full of all kinds of creatures, and in verse 13, he hears a voice telling him to “kill and eat”. Of course, Peter, knowing God’s instructions concerning food, says “Not so Lord” in verse 14. But then in verse 15 Peter hears a voice tell him “What God has cleansed you must not call common”.  Now, the following is crucial…many teachers would stop right there and draw the conclusion that God has just given us permission to eat whatever we want. But just for fun, let’s continue on a bit and see if that is what Peter believes is going on.

 Notice that just two verses later in verse 17 the Scripture saysPeter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant”.  So, Peter really does not yet know what this vision means. Will God make it clear to him? Let’s read on. Next we find that Peter is summoned and sent by God to the house of Cornelius, a Gentile. And although Cornelius fears God, he is still just a Gentile, considered unclean by the Jews. And so we find Peter, a Torah observant Jew, keeping company with him. With that backdrop, we come to verse 28 and hear in Peter’s own words, what the true meaning of the vision is. He says “God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean”.  Did you catch that? God is not telling Peter it’s now okay to eat bats, He is teaching Peter that (verse 35) “in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him”.  Gentiles can repent and be saved!!  Read on to Acts 11:18which says Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life”. Praise the Lord!  Now let’s take a look at another section of Scripture which is often misunderstood…

 1Timothy 4:1-5 says” Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.  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.

  Once again, we find a portion of God’s Word that is often misunderstood and used to denounce anyone who would say that God still expects us to conform our will to His concerning food. Let’s look afresh at these verses and see what we find.

 First of all, notice “giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons”.  Friends, alarms should be going off in your mind right now and we haven’t even started.  It becomes clear from the start, that the context of this Scripture has nothing to do with God’s instructions concerning how we should live as his people. Paul, a Pharisee would never use terms like “doctrines of demons” to describe God’s Torah, His Word.  Consider what he said in Acts 24:14…”But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets”.  Now notice the next clue…  “and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.   Did you catch that? “which God created to be received” God did not create bats or eagles or swine to be received by us as food!! These deceivers, whom Paul describes, will try to tell you not to eat those things that God has given us His blessing to eat!! Friends, if someone tries to tell you that you may only eat fish on Fridays, remember this Scripture. 

 Finally…Paul tells us that “every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused” IF it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified (set apart as clean food) by the word of God (His Torah) and prayer. I find nothing in this Scripture which would indicate that God has changed His mind concerning what we are to consider food.

 The last section of Scripture I thought we should look briefly at is Mark 7.  In some translations Mark 7:19 says” In saying this, Jesus declared all foods “clean”.  Check it out and see what yours says.  Now, this will be brief, so hold on and then go do your homework. First of all, what is the context of this Scripture? What is happening in this story?  We find the Pharisees and scribes upset with the disciples for eating with unwashed hands according to “the tradition of the elders” (verse 3) and they confront Jesus in verse 5.  Notice his response to them. In verses 6-13 we see Jesus go to the heart of the matter. First He quotes Isaiah 29:13. “This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” In verse 8 He says “For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men” These are big clues. Jesus is concerned about our hearts, and those who would ignore God’s commandments and follow after what men teach. He says in verse 9All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition”.  Sounds sort of like us at times.  Now in verses 14-21 Jesus (Yeshua) explains to us once again the “heart of the matter”. Check it out. Jesus is teaching us that sin comes from within

 Now I must tell you that there is some controversy surrounding verse 19. I have read that “declared all foods clean” is not in the original Greek, but friends, it does not really matter for purposes of this conversation.  What matters is that we remember our Fathers definition of food!! (Leviticus-chapter 11)  For Mark 7:19 says (depending on the translation) that Jesus declared all FOODS clean, it does not say that Jesus declared all things to be food! Do you see the difference?  

Finally did you know that God had declared what was clean and unclean food long before the time of Moses? Read in Genesis 7:1-2 and let me know what you find. You know, we each have come up with our own personal lists of things we will, and won’t eat. Would it not make sense to line our lists up with that of our Creator? He loves us so much. Once upon a time, long ago in a beautiful garden, the serpent convinced Eve that God really didn’t mean what He had said concerning food. And look what happened!!   

  

Isaiah 66 15.  See, the LORD is coming with fire, and his chariots are like a whirlwind; he will bring down his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire.  16.  For with fire and with his sword the LORD will execute judgment upon all men, and many will be those slain by the LORD.  17.  “Those who consecrate and purify themselves to go into the gardens, following the one in the midst of  those who eat the flesh of pigs and rats and other abominable things–they will meet their end together,” declares the LORD.

 

Copyright 2007 Tim C. Terry