Should Christians keep the Jewish Dietary Laws?

Messianic Christian Rabbi made the statements, “eating pork is sin,” “”All foods are clean, BUT pork is NOT food – food is only what is described as food in Leviticus 11”; and  “Mark 7 has not a thing to do with the dietary commandments. Plainly, if you read the passage IN ITS ENTIRETY, it says it is about RITUALISTIC HAND-WASHING, not the dietary commandments.”

First let me say that mankind has found at least some benefit for following at least some of the dietary laws. However, this brings up the question of whether Christian should keep Torah (observe the laws given in the Mosaic Law), and if so, what parts and why. I believe the Torah tells us what God considers sin, but I do not think we are required to follow all the law. I will expound on why in a future article. In this article, we will deal with whether Christian should keep the dietary laws found in the Mosaic Law.

Let us address the statement, “pork is NOT food – food is only what is described as food in Leviticus 11.”

To understand how this is not accurate, we must look at what scripture says about food.

Notice that we see that, originally, mankind was given green vegetables to eat.

Genesis 1:29-30

29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.

Genesis 6:21

You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them.”

There was a notion of clean and unclean animals at the time of Noah, as we see in Genesis 7:2-3, before the flood, before any mention of animals being eaten. As such, there was no concept of taking in clean meat or not taking in unclean meat:

Genesis 7:2-3

2 Take with you seven of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and two of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, 3 and also seven of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth

But after the flood, God gave Noah and his sons everything that lives and moves (ie. land animals and fish and birds) to eat. To underscore this, he reminded Noah that He had originally given the green plants to eat, and in the same way He was giving all animals to eat:

Genesis 9:3-4

3 Everything that lives and moves will be food for youJust as I gave you the green plantsI now give you everything. 4 “But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it.

While it is possible to narrow the term everything to include only clean animals, I think that ‘everything’ in this instance included clean and unclean animals. Otherwise, why would God specify to Noah ‘everything’ here rather than specify to not eat unclean animals, to only later specifically lay out what animals were clean and unclean to Moses and could and could not be eaten (which He did in Leviticus 11)? It would be reasonable to spell out which animals to eat for Noah if that were important. But in fact, it was not until the exodus that God laid out for the Jews certain animals as being unclean in terms of food and so they could not eat them.

Before the Law, all animals were given to mankind as food, with the only stipulation being to not eat meat with its lifeblood still in it. This stipulation was repeated by James in Acts 15:12-21.

12 The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the miraculous signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them. 13 When they finished, James spoke up: “Brothers, listen to me. 14 Simon has described to us how God at first showed his concern by taking from the Gentiles a people for himself. 15 The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written:

16” ‘After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it,  17 that the remnant of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things’18 that have been known for ages.

19 “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood21 For Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.”

Lest you think that the statement that Moses had been preached from the earliest time and is read in weekly in the synagogues meant that these things to abstain from were just was to be just a starting point and they were to learn to follow the Law from listening to it on the Sabbath, recognize that the apostls and elders, indeed the whole church, chose to not bother the Gentile believers with anything further than what was in the letter they sent – with no mention of learning more and following to the Law – WHEN THAT WAS THE WHOLE POINT OF PAUL GOING TO JERUSALEM TO BEGIN WITH.

In fact, look at what Peter said in response to people trying to make the Gentiles follow the Law:

Acts 15:5-11

5 Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses.

6 The apostles and elders met to consider this question. 7 After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. 8 God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9 He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”

The apostles and elders, indeed the whole church, agreed with Peter and James to not require the Gentile believers to obey the Law of Moses. As such, they told the Gentile believers they did not wish to burden them with anything other than to say they were to “abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality.”

Acts 15:22-29

22 Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to choose some of their own men and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose Judas (called Barsabbas) and Silas, two men who were leaders among the brothers. 23 With them they sent the following letter: The apostles and elders, your brothers, To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia: Greetings.24 We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said.25 So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul— 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. 28 It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements:29 You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell.

In the same way, Jesus declared all food clean – that nothing from outside a man (including food) can make him unclean – in  Mark 7:14-23.

14 Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. 15 Nothing outside a man can make him ‘unclean’ by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him ‘unclean.’ “

17After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. 18“Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him ‘unclean’? 19For it doesn’t go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods “clean.”)

20He went on: “What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’ 21For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.’

Now, the Jewish people were familiar with people of other cultures and religions, so they knew that food included all things edible, but that the Jew was forbidden from eating certain foods, as they had been considered unclean. But here we see Mark telling us that Jesus declared all food clean.

Some want to say that the words are in parentheses because they are not in the original text. However, depending on the version, sometimes the words are in parentheses and sometimes not. Look in various versions of the Bible (NIV, NASB, NLT, ESV, CEV, NKJV, NCV, ASV, Youngs Literal Translation, Holman Christian Standard), the words are there, sometimes in parentheses, sometimes not – but the versions which give footnotes that the best or oldest manuscripts do not have certain passages do not have any such footnote. The only versions I found which did not have it are Darby, KJV, KJ21, and Wycliffe. Yet, even those verses DO include the phrase, just using different language: “purging all meats” (Darby, KJV, WYC, KJ21), “purifying all foods” (NKJV).

Someone might say, “Mark 7 has not a thing to do with the dietary commandments. Plainly, if you read the entire passage , it says it is about ritualistic hand-washing, not the dietary commandments.”

Yes, the conversation in Mark 7 began by discussing the traditions of the elders of washing hands before eating, but it ended discussing the things that actually make a man unclean, and it was NOT anything that enters the body from outside (including food). Mark 7 was not simply about ritualistic hand-washing, or any other hedge-laws enacted by the rabbis. It is also about what really makes one clean or unclean. Jesus was clear that things that enter our bodies from the outside, including food, do not make us unclean. But it is our heart-attitudes, what is inside us, that makes us unclean.

In fact, Paul is clear that he did did not think any food was unclean according to Romans 14:13-21:

13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. 14 As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. 15 If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. 16 Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men. 19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.

So, all food is clean. As believers, we are free to eat what we choose. Although, we should never eat something or not eat something that  might cause our brother to stumble. Additionally, we should be convinced in our own minds whether something is clean or unclean, and if we consider something unclen, then it is, but by the same token, if we consider something clean, then it is. It is not about what the Law said, but what God said to people who had faith in Christ. And God gave all animals as food, and Jesus declared all foods clean.

Of course, this does not speak to health benefits that following the diet found in dietary laws might (and in some cases have been proven) accrue to one. To me, that is an entirely different issue than when one must keep them – since God has declared all foods clean.

If you think you can follow the dietary laws and not replace the grace of God with the following of these laws (Galatians 1:6-8), then feel free to do so. Paul didn’t think it was something you should do, but you should be convinced in your own mind. Likewise, those who are convinced that there is no requirement to follow said laws should show love to those who do.

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26 Responses

  1. Brother, you make some very good points and I agree that we Gentiles are not obligated to the Jewish Torah beyond what is clearly stated by James. Whether or not the Jews are to continue to follow it is another subject. Since you are specifically talking about Gentiles, I will address that.

    I have some food for thought for you regarding some of the things you have written. :-)

    There was an oral Torah long before there was a written one. Clearly, Yahweh always forbade things like murder, adultery, lying, stealing, etc. It was passed down orally and then Yahweh finally wrote His teachings down in what we know today as the written Torah…Old Testament, etc.

    Therefore, since Yahweh finalized some things in writing that were orally handed down previously, the same could follow regarding what Yahweh considers food and not food; especially since, at the time of the flood, He DID clearly make a distinction between clean and unclean animals. There was a reason for that.

    Consider that, although Yahweh told Noah to separate the animal count by clean and unclean…He did not tell Noah how to tell the difference…at least not that it is written about. Again, the argument goes that obviously there was some oral unwritten communication going on. Noah had to be told which was which. It may have even been something that was in place from the very beginning. We don’t really know.

    We just know that Noah knew how to tell the difference. It was clearly something either already in place (although mankind was vegetarian up to that point) or something communicated privately to Noah.

    Also, although the Jews would have known what other cultures ate…that would not have mattered to them one bit. They looked down on other cultures and the only thing that mattered was what Yahweh had taught THEM as a people. In fact, they were quite prideful about their distinctiveness from the Gentiles.

    When Yeshua, in Mark, declares all foods clean…He, as a practicing good Jew talking to Jews, was clearly referring to Yahweh’s definition of food that they were all living by. To say otherwise is, methinks, to actually read into the scripture.

    In Romans 14, if you look at the beginning of the chapter, Paul was speaking about eating only vegetables as opposed to also eating meat. No where does he touch the subject of which meats to eat…only whether or not eat meat at all.

    Historically, we know that all (or almost all) of the meat in the marketplace had been sacrificed to idols. This was a matter of grave concern to believers who felt that eating something sacrificed to an idol would pollute them, spiritually speaking…or that it would mean that they agreed with the sacrificing. They wanted to be totally distanced from paganism. Others believed that they were totally free to eat since the pagan “gods” were really nothing. Yahweh is above all.

    The whole context of the passage deals with believers judging other believers…not only about the food they eat, but also regarding one day above another. It is about walking in love and not causing others to stumble.

    It is also important to look at the language it was originally written in. Your translation says “no food” and “all food”. However, the Greek word used in both of those instances has nothing to do with food. It has to do with no “things” and all “things”.

    This makes sense when you look at the overall context of the passage. Although food is mentioned…that is not the real subject. It is only a manifestation, or symptom, of a greater problem…being spiritually “unclean”. Paul is making it clear that what you eat or how you regard your days does not make you clean or unclean.

    Now…aside from that…my husband and I find it interesting to note that all the unclean animals are basically scavengers. Even today, studies show that eating scavengers is the cause of a myriad of health problems.

    Dave and I look at this way. Yes, we are free to eat whatever we want. However, Yahweh who made us knows what the human bodies He designed will best run on. In the beginning, it was living plant foods.

    After the flood, things changed drastically on the planet and now we apparently needed meat, too. He apparently told Noah about the distinction. As mankind grew in numbers and split in different directions, it became necessary to write things down…so He did. He wrote about health of the body and health of the spirit. His teachings…the Torah.

    Anyway, just my two cents worth. :-)

    I enjoyed reading this and appreciate your writing.

    Your sis in Yeshua/Jesus

  2. Sister,

    I appreciate your obvious devotion to God and the scriptures. I also appreciate the kind and loving tone of your comment.. Finally, thank you for what you have written and the care with which you wrote it.

    Yes, there was an oral tradition before Moses wrote what God wanted kept for all eternity. And I agree that we know that there was an understanding of which animals were clean and unclean. However, if God had wanted to specify only clean animals to eat, given that there WAS a tradition of clean and unclean animals that had nothing to do with eating and of which Noah was already aware, then certainly He could have chosen to specify clean animals when He said in

    Genesis 9:3-4

    3 Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything. 4 “But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it.

    This is especially the case when He have obviously gave an exception to what could be eaten. Had God wanted to communicate to us everything He communicated to Noah, we would have that in writing. However, God did not choose to do so, and to speculate what private messages were given to Noah would be adding to scripture, which I am loathe to do and do not believe God wants us to do.

    You make a good point that Jews would have not cared about other cultures. Another good point is that Jesus would have been a good practicing Jew, following the Law in all respects. but this does not mean Jesus, or Paul, were not referring to all food, rather than simply clean food. It would make no sense for Mark to have included ‘Jesus declared all food clean’ in Mark 7:19 if Jesus were only speaking of clean food, since clean food by definition was already clean. It is easier to see this when we realize the audience of Mark 7:19; we must understand that the book of Mark was written to Gentiles. I say this because if the audience was Jewish, there would have been no need to explain the customs of the Pharisees and Jews, as was done in Mark 7:3-4

    3(The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. 4When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.)

    So the understanding of the term ‘food’ would most likely have included all things Gentiles would consider food, rather than just what the Jews understood as food. Thus, we have another reason to understand that the statement made by the author ‘Jesus declared all foods clean’ would most likely have included all animals, not just clean animals.

    In regards to the passage in Romans 14, we again have to understand the audience. This book was most likely written to a mixed group of people fro Jewish and Gentile heritage (it is less likely to have been written solely to Gentiles who had knowledge of the Law). I say this because Paul wrote in Romans 2:7

    Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God;

    And then we see in Romans 11: 13

    I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry

    I agree the context of Romans 14 indicates people judging each other for various things and what makes one clean or unclean. You are correct, I was using the NIV for this particular post. I should have used the NASB, for a more literal translation. Let us look at the passage in question in the NASB. Roman 14:14-17.

    14 I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 15 For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

    But the context of Romans 14:14 at a minimum includes food (or taking into account verse 5, at least both special days and food – the matters mentioned as being under dispute), as we see in Romans 14:15, and again in Romans 14:20-21.

    Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense. It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles.

    Having said all that, it is possible part of the confusion could have been whether to eat food that had been sacrificed to a pagan god. But there is no clear indication of this. What we DO know is that if Paul had wanted to specify only clean animals, he certainly could have, but he specifically said ‘all food is clean’ in Romans 14:20 (in the NIV), while in the NASB, it states ‘all things indeed are clean’). So even if you want to remove the concept of food from the context (which, I do not think one can safely do), Paul was clear that all things are clean. And if you include the audience of this book, it most likely would have included food that would be considered clean and unclean according to Leviticus 11.

    Having said all that, I agree with you when you wrote, “Paul is making it clear that what you eat or how you regard your days does not make you clean or unclean.” But I would add that this would include clean and unclean food.

    As for the unclean animals being scavengers, I mentioned in the post, “this does not speak to health benefits that following the diet found in dietary laws might (and in some cases have been proven) accrue to one. To me, that is an entirely different issue than when one must keep them – since God has declared all foods clean.”

    I again agree with your comment regarding the writing of the Torah. But I refer you to my previous comments regarding Mark 7.

    Thanks again for your kind tone. I pray I have not been insulting in any way.

  3. Hi, brother…thank you for your response. I am not ignoring you. I am just a bit swamped and overwhelmed this week with life stuff. I have been reading and praying, however, about your response…as I can. I’ll get back to you when I can. :)

    • Thank you for writing. I don’t feel ignored. I look forward to your response. Take your time. I’m welcoming this conversation. I am concerned with the issue of whether we are to observe the Law, or parts of the Law, if so what parts, and why. I have not been convinced by arguments that indicate we are to do so, other than the moral laws – and even that should be driven by love rather than the letter of the Law. But if I am wrong, I’m more than willing to say so – I just need to be convinced this is what scripture says to do.

      My life has been busy as well. My wife is coming HOME! She’s been supporting her mom in a very difficult situation. The situation has not resolved itself, but my wife has become ill and needs to rest at home. We look forward to her arrival at any moment. But she has cellulitis in her foot and its swollen and she has a fever. So please pray for her.

  4. I’ll pray!

  5. I have been praying and thinking about this. Sadly, we Gentile Messianics have not been taught some very basic key truths about how to look at the scriptures and the heart of Yahweh. This is something I have been studying for quite a while now, although I have not written anything specific about it…yet.

    There are key bits of information and understandings that I have gleaned over the years that all come together and influence how I understand what Yahweh is teaching us. So, it is not a simple chapter and verse answer…yet…it is…when we understand some of these key things that are not specifically related to food.

    It is difficult to know where to start, but I will try. You are probably already aware of some of these things, but I am not going to assume. So, please be patient with me while I explain some things you probably already know. At the same time, pray and ask the Ruach HaKodesh/Holy Spirit to open your eyes and heart anew. I have often found that I make the mistake of assuming I know all about something, yet, when I listen carefully, I find some key nugget that I had missed previously.

    One of the first things we need to recognize is that we are, for the most part, reading English translations of translations. The other thing to remember is that every language has words that are just not very translatable, making it a challenge for to accurately convey what was written.

    The Tanakh…OT…was written in Hebrew and Aramaic. Now, the Jews are very particular when it comes to Yahweh’s word. They want every copy to be so perfect that they count letters and words and lines and will destroy any copy that is not perfect. So, we know the copies of the original manuscripts are good.

    They translated the Tanakh into Greek and were just as careful and meticulous about making sure it was as accurate of a translation as possible. It is typically from the Greek that we get our English translations…while referring back to the Hebrew.

    The NT can be found in both Greek and Aramaic. The assumption has been held by the Western church that the Aramaic was a translation of the Greek, while the Eastern church has held the opposite. Which is true?

    Well, linguists have looked at both. There are linguistic indicators within texts that tend to point to a text being a translation versus an original work. According to a group of linguists, there are a lot of those indicators found in the Greek that are not found in the Aramaic. The few that are found in the Aramaic seem to be from using a few words of one language in another.

    For example, if you listen to Spanish radio, you will hear in an advertisement a string of Spanish and then English name of a store or business. There either is no Spanish word for it…or, being the name of something in particular, it makes no sense to use the Spanish word. I think you get the idea.

    Now…English translations…that is another biggie. There are a LOT of English “bibles” out there that are not true translations. They are modified and opinionized. As I understand it, most scholars agree that the NASB and NKJV are among the best to study by, but none are “perfect”. We must always go back to the original languages and to the culture at the time to understand what is being said and why.

    I have to run, but the next thing I think I want to share is an attitude that many Gentile Christians seem to have today that also influences how we look at Yahweh’s word.

    I hope your wife is feeling better. Take good care of her!

    • Sister,

      Thanks for your kindness.

      I often pray the Holy Spirit illumine me about what I am reading or what He wants me to know/recognize. I have found that there are times when I have read, or even studied, scripture which I have already reviewed, God shows me something I missed before. Perhaps because the previous times I was not ready to understand or accept it, perhaps because I am simply in a different place in my life now, perhaps because I am addressing a different issue. For instance, I recently realized that Paul may have not taught Jews to leave the Law behind (Acts 21:20-25).

      As for translations, I am all too aware that we are not reading the originals. I think we are poorer for it. I speak Spanish and often translate for others from English to Spanish or vice-versa, so I realize that word choice can make something easier or more difficult to understand, even if the message is accurately translated. I also understand how sometimes something subtle can be lost in even the best translation. Something else I have come to understand is that there are some who believe the original language of some, if not most, of the New Testament may have neither Greek nor Aramaic, but Hebrew. If that is the case, since Aramaic is much closer to Hebrew than Greek, the Aramaic translations might be more accurate than the Greek.

      Thanks for praying for my wife. She has returned home, but has to see a doctor today (4th in a week). And that situation I mentioned earlier may be resolved today. If that is the case, we will have to leave again. But this time we will be going together. I pray she rests.

      God bless!

  6. Jesus Christ himself said “nothing that enters the mouth can make you unclean, only what comes from within can make a man unclean”. (forgive me if I misquote a word or two)

    As in eat anything you want; what makes you unclean is what comes out from your heart (you know that wickedness and sin inherent in us).

    End of arguement.

  7. Well you basically said it in your initial post.

    Mark 7:18“Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him ‘unclean’? 19For it doesn’t go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods “clean.”)

  8. Darren, this is not about what makes us spiritually clean or unclean. What we eat cannot make us spiritually unclean. That is what the discussion was about. The leaders were operating as if they were spiritually clean simply because they followed certain rules…rules that may or may not have even been Yahweh’s.

    This is about whether or not the teachings of Yahweh apply today. We certainly would not argue that it is now OK to murder…to worship idols…or to commit adultery.

    Yahweh created our bodies. He knows what they best run on. Are we free to eat anything we want? Sure. We are also free to lie, cheat, steal, murder, etc. Right? After all, Yeshua already paid the price for any transgression of any of Yahweh’s teachings. Paul, however, makes the point that we are not to take our freedom and use it as a license to sin.

    All things are lawful, but not all things are expedient. We can eat whatever we want, but that does not make it best for us. It is interesting to note the difference in the health of cultures where only clean animals are eaten. There is a difference, if you take the time to study it.

    Yahweh gave us teachings on how to live…teachings that cover who/what we worship, how to honor one another, how to take care of our families, our societies and yes, even how we should care for our bodies. Interestingly, the hand washing, although ritualistic, is actually a healthy practice. Long before germs were heard of, Yahweh’s people stayed healthier than those of surrounding cultures due to hand washing, quarantining, dietary laws, etc.

    It is also interesting to note that not all of the OT is considered “law”. In fact, the Greek word used actually has more than one definition, so I understand. One aspect is law as we think of it. Another aspect is teachings. So, how did the Jews view it? They used many words, “ways”, “teachings”, “commands”, “laws”, etc.

    We cannot simply pick and choose which of Yahweh’s teachings we want to follow. Well, actually, we can. However, we do so at our own peril. He did not teach us about all those areas of life for no reason. Why is it that we so readily accept (or not so readily any more) teachings about murder, stealing, marriage, etc., but reject teachings regarding food?

    Yeshua IS clearly talking to Jews in this passage. The evidence of this is found in the next few verses in His response to the Syrophenician woman. He makes it very clear to her who He is there for. She pleads His mercy anyway and receives what she asks for.

    We need to always be careful to read verses not only within the context of the chapter…but also of the book. We also need to remember that there are TWO audiences to keep in mind. The audience of the speaker…in this case Yeshua…plus the audience of the author…in this case Mark.

    Mark giving an explanation of the Jewish teaching regarding the washing of hands is not unusual at all. Scholars agree that he was writing for the Gentiles. Notice that it is not Yeshua who gives the explanation…but the author, Mark. Yeshua did not give it because He did not need to. He was speaking to His fellow Jews. Any discussion of food in that context was naturally considered to be what Yahweh had taught is food.

    Whether or not Noah ate unclean animals is actually irrelevant. Yahweh, if He had not already taught about not eating unclean animals, was clearly preparing to since He told Noah to bring the numbers according to what was clean and what was not clean.

    If you really look at all the scriptures, even in the OT Yahweh addresses the heart of mankind. However, the leaders had forgotten about that. They were so focused on the “rules” that they forgot the heart behind the rules. In fact, they loved rules so much that they added human rules to the rules of Yahweh. That is what Yeshua chastised them for time and time again.

    Ironically, I was reading about how the Jews view the Christians and vice versa. I think it was in Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s book The Ten Commandments, but I don’t remember for sure. She said that Christians will say the Jews are legalistic, but the Jews look at Christians and say THEY are legalistic because they have to do this and do that. They don’t seem themselves as legalistic at all.

    They don’t try to keep the law because they think it will earn them anything. They KNOW they cannot keep the law perfectly. They KNOW they are Yahweh’s chosen people simply because HE chose it to be so. In some ways, they actually have a better understanding of His mercy and grace than some “Christians” do.

    The reason they keep what we call the “law” is because they love Yahweh and to them…it is His teachings…worthy of being followed. I am talking now about the Jews who are Jewish in heart…not simply by blood. There are Jews by blood only who are not spiritually minded toward Yahweh at all. They only see it as a nationalistic thing. I am not talking about them.

    Anyway, there is a whole lot tied up in this subject. It is not a matter of earning salvation or of earning “brownie points” with Yahweh. It is a matter of why He taught us what He did.

    It is something that we really need to study a lot…looking at the what, who, why and when of what is written…not only by Yahweh Himself, but also by the human authors He chose to write through. We need to pray for the Holy Spirit to teach us accordingly…not to judge others…but to be men and women after His own heart.

    Isn’t it interesting that we can still sin? I mean, Yeshua paid the penalty and all things are lawful now and we are not under the law. So…what actually constitutes “sin”? If we are truly free to live outside of the law…then what is sin? No, obviously, we do sin…that is why we need to confess our sins to the One who is faithful to forgive the truly repentant heart.

    So, here is some food for thought…and for study…what is “sin” for the New Covenant believer? How do we decide which of Yahweh’s teaching to follow and which not to? I don’t know about anyone else, but I am simply not wise enough to decide which ones to throw out.

    I know what James said the Gentiles need to do when the Jews were saying that Gentiles need to become Jews. So, it is not about becoming a Jew. It is about Yahweh’s teachings. We need to study them and ask HIM to show us what HE really means by it all. We might ALL be very surprised at the truth.

    So, that is what I am determined to do…keep studying…keep praying…judge others not…and guard my own heart and mind in Messiah Yeshua. I welcome any and all who want to walk along with me in that journey.

    WB…sorry I am not giving scriptures here. I think you are familiar enough with them to find them…or I can later on. I am just now coming up for air after some personal down time I needed to take. I am very limited on time, but thought I would try to at least put some more thoughts out here. Admittedly, I am not answering you point for point. I don’t have the time and energy to do that right now. However, I have been thinking and praying about what I remembered you had written and these are some of the thoughts that came to mind. :-)

    Your sis in Yeshua

    It is late. I was trying to get this written so that I can go to bed. I hope I made sense and don’t have any typos. :-)

    • Sister Abigail,

      You wrote, “All things are lawful, but not all things are expedient. We can eat whatever we want, but that does not make it best for us.”

      This is the key. I have no problem with people following the dietary laws, as long as they recognize we are free from the Law and there is no need to follow them. People must not replace the grace of God with the Law. I think the best reason to do anything is because someone loves God and wants to please their daddy.

      As for what is sin, I’ve written a few posts on sin and sanctification

  9. Abigail,

    Thanks for your thoughts on this issue. I truly appreciate them and the time you took to share them. I love your heart in this. I pray your down time was productive – that God continues to work in you and through you in that area. I too have been taking a down time.

    I agree we need to do things because it is what we believe it is what God would want us to do.

    You wrote, ” Why is it that we so readily accept (or not so readily any more) teachings about murder, stealing, marriage, etc., reject teachings regarding food?” I submit it is those who say we have to follow those teachings who are ignoring teachings from Christ and Mark and Paul concerning what is to be eaten. Again, I have no problem with people being convinced it is the right thing to do because they love God, or for health reasons.

    But I so far have been unable to see where God has not said we don’t need to do them, and in fact feel God was clear that we do NOT need to follow the dietary laws. I’m still praying to see if God will lead me otherwise, but I think scripture is clear about our heart attitudes being what makes us unclean. I think Scripture is also clear that we have no need to follow the law except where God has specifically spoken in the NT to indicate things He does or does not want us to do.

    In the passage of Mark 7, yes, Jesus was speaking to Jews, but it was being explained to Gentiles. Any explanation would have to be context of the audience to which it was being explained; it would make no sense to explain the cleansing of hands to Jews who were aware of the tradition. Gentiles were used to eating all foods (those considered clean by Jews and those considered unclean), therefore, for Mark to say that Jesus declared all food clean would indicate that this would include food (for the Gentiles) that had been considered clean and unclean (by the Jews). As I said, it makes no sense to declare all clean food is clean. By declaring that nothing that comes from outside makes one unclean, Jesus made a statement that was understood by Peter since Peter was eating with the Gentiles in Antioch (Galatians 2) until the Judiazers came.

    Paul was also clear in Colossians 2:16-17

    16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

    Food, drink, religious days are all shadows of what is to come and we are not to be judged for them – they do not matter. He said the things that matter in regards to behavior in Colossians 3:1-4:6.

    This is even more clear that as long as an unbeliever did not tell you it was from an animal sacrificed to idols, you are free to eat it, and this was only for conscience sake (that you not feel bad) and that the unbeliever not be led astray, in 1 Corinthians 10:25-28

    25 Eat anything that is sold in the meat market without asking questions for conscience’ sake; 26 FOR THE EARTH IS THE LORD’S, AND ALL IT CONTAINS. 27 If one of the unbelievers invites you and you want to go, eat anything that is set before you without asking questions for conscience’ sake. 28 But if anyone says to you, “This is meat sacrificed to idols,” do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for conscience’ sake;

    Again, thank you for all you write and I am still open to have to share in this area, or any other. God bless you and your family.

  10. When we look at Acts 10:12-16>Peter had a Vision Trance 3 Times and was shown all these different animals and creatures by the Lord and the Lord told him to Kill and Eat. Peter sort of Objected saying Not so Lord. For i have never eaten anything common or unclean. The Voice said back to him. What God has Cleansed. That Call NOT Common.
    In Acts 11:3 Peter did eat with Gentiles. Acts 11:6-9 Peter Explains why because of the Vision he had.

  11. You had mentioned:

    “The only versions I found which did not have it are Darby, KJV, 21CKJV, and Wycliffe New Testament.”

    but the phrases they use “purging all meats is just an old english way of saying purifying all foods. Thought you might want to make a quick edit to your blog in light of this?

    http://bible.cc/mark/7-19.htm

  12. I was just a little uncomfortable with your closing paragraph. perhaps you’d like to reword that?

    “If you think you can follow the dietary laws and not replace the grace of God with the following of these laws (Galatians 1:6-8), then feel free to do so. Paul didn’t think it was something you should do, but you should be convinced in your own mind. Likewise, those who are convinced that there is no requirement to follow said laws should show love to those who do.”

    I don’t know. This just seemed like a weak closing statement for an article that was very well presented! I can’t tell you how to end your blog but, maybe focus on the freedom we have in Christ and the fact that the dietary laws have wonderful advice for what foods are better for you because God loves us and wants us to live well and healthy lives? The last sentence is good.

  13. Reblogged this on 66 Books of the Bible in 66 days and commented:
    I was going to research this topic and present it myself… and probably still will, but thought this was so well done it deserved a reblog!

    • Thank you for your input. I finished with the closing paragraph the article has for a reason. This is a topic that some people find near and dear to their hearts. I was trying to be gracious while pointing out truth and trying to get people to be gracious to others, regardless of where they fall on the issue. I will consider your suggestions, and perhaps God will have me change then ending, we shall see. Certainly my position has not changed on the issue.

      I DO appreciate the feedback and the kind words. I look forward to your post on the topic.

  14. More blog articles I have written on the subject of Christians and the Law:
    https://wbmoore.wordpress.com/grace-law-and-the-christian/

  15. I understand the Vision peter had was to eat with Gentiles. Before Jews was given dietry, circumcision etc=cerimonal laws to seperste Jews who are clean from Gentiles who were considered unclean. If peter did eat with Gentiles did he not eat their so called unclean food ?
    What did the Lord mean when he said to Peter do not call unclean what i have made clean regarding all the creatures he had shown him in the vision ?

    • The vision was not intended to have Peter EAT with Gentiles. It was given to cause Peter to know that he should not call unclean anything God has called clean – meaning Gentiles.

      Acts 10:19-20, 28-29

      19 While Peter was reflecting on the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. 20 But get up, go downstairs and accompany them without misgivings, for I have sent them Myself.”

      28 And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean. 29 That is why I came without even raising any objection when I was sent for. So I ask for what reason you have sent for me.”

      He may have eaten unclean food – scripture is not clear. But we see in Galatians that Peter WAS eating with Gentiles in Antioch, which is prohibited by the Law. And prior to the vision, Peter would not have eaten with the Gentiles, but afterward, he had no problem with it. As I said, we dont know if he ate food that was unclean – but I’d guess he did, from the context.

      Galatians 2:11-14

      11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. 13 The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?

  16. Hey mate it’s you friend Harrison You know the one who had that massive disscussion with you about the 7 woes i just want to know is your wife better now buddy :) ?

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