Before we start, let me say that our bodies were made to be very resilient. We can survive on different diets and on different kinds and quality of food. You can even go years eating various things without seeing any degradation or effects. But the question is, do you want to merely survive or thrive? It is much better to trust the diet that the Creator of the universe has prescribed and not lean on our own understanding.
Everything that is alive was not made to be food. Creatures and plants were not all made for the same purpose, just as human have different skills, the creatures have different uses. In nature we see species that excel at certain applications. While we may never know the full purpose God intended for a certain plant or animal, we can still notice where species excel. For instance, camels and horses are excellent at transportation. Vultures are excellent at cleaning up dead meat. Roses are excellent at beauty and fragrance. Hevea brasiliensis are excellent trees that are used to make rubber. (Thanks Google)
Eating is an essential part of life. I personally eat 3 meals a day. Some people eat more, and some eat less. I honestly would call God irresponsible if he did not give me any guidance on something I do so frequently.
Lets see what He says…
Genesis 1:29 – And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.
God gave us herbs and seeds, and fruits and veggies for food. This was the original diet of man, and in Heaven this is the diet we will return to.
Isaiah 65:28 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord.
Isaiah 11:6,7 also hints at this.
When the flood came, Noah was instructed to bring 7 of every unclean animal and 2 of every clean animal. Whoa whoa whoa… This is interesting because when God told Noah what to do, Noah did not ask God what animals were clean and which were unclean… Genesis 7:2 Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female. 7:7 And Noah did according unto all that the Lord commanded him. This means that Noah knew the distinction.
Even the animals themselves knew since they lined up 2 by 2 and marched into the arch. This means the distinction between clean and unclean animals existed before the flood, and even before the Jewish nation.
If you look in Leviticus 11 it gives us details about what we can eat. Since clean and unclean animals existed before the flood and before the Jewish people, God is merely restating these laws.
What land animals are clean?
Leviticus 11:3 Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat.
Both characteristics are needed. They have to have split hooves and chew their cud. Now why did God choose these characteristics? Why not make the clean animals green and the unclean animals red? Who knows we will be able to ask him one day in Heaven.
Some clean land animals: Cow, buffalo, deer, ox, goat
Some unclean land animals: Pig, camel, rabbit, beaver
What sea creatures are clean?
Leviticus 11:10 These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat.
If a sea creature does not have both characteristics then we should not eat it.
Some clean sea animals: Trout, salmon, talapia, snapper, cod fish
Some unclean sea animals: Cat fish, lobster, crabs, shrimp, oysters, clams, muscles, shark
What birds are clean?
God takes a different approach here and lists the birds that we cannot eat.
Some clean birds: Chicken, Turkey, Quail, Sparrow
Some unclean birds: Heron, eagle, hawk, raven, swan pelican, bat
God once again was responsible and gave us guidance. This guidance still stands today.
God uses strong words regarding unclean animals. He calls them an abomination. And even mentions them again in Deuteronomy
Leviticus 11:13, 11:11, 11:23, 11:41
So what does the new testament and Jesus teach?
Matthew 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
A common reasoning I hear is that the Laws and requirement of God are nailed to the cross with Jesus. If that was the case then why do we strive to keep any of the 10 commandments or any of the councils in the old testament from God. Sin has consequences whether we believe it or like it. If I lie and steal I will face the consequences. Jesus came to show us a better way not to take away our consequences for breaking the natural laws of God.
What about Peter’s Dream
Acts 10:9 -10:16 On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending upon him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the eaatrth: Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.
And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.
And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.
In Peter’s dream a voice tells him to eat unclean meat and he refuses. This dream was shown 3 times. This dream cannot be taken literally and should not be read at face value. See verse 17
Acts 10:17 Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate
Peter, the person who experienced the vision first hand, who was filled with the Holy Spirit and did not know what it meant. This is because he realized that it should not be taken literally. In the bible, some dreams should be taken literally while others should not be. Dreams that should be taken literally have a straight forward message with no extra theatrics.
For instance Genesis 20: 1-7. God came to Abimelech in a dream and told him not to sleep with Abraham’s wife and that he should return her. There was nothing grand or perplexing in this dream.
See Matthew 1:20-24 where in the dream God told Joseph that he should not be worried about taking Mary as a wife. Those dreams were straight forward with clear instructions. Nothing repeated and no strange out of this world displays.
Now lets look at dreams where puzzling things happen.
Pharaoh dreamt that 7 skinny cows would eat 7 fat cows and remain skinny. Wait a minute… since when do cows eat cows, and also how could they eat something bigger than themselves and then look just as skinny as before. That’s just bizarre.
(Genesis 40:17-32) Nebuchadnezzar dreamt that a big statue of gold, silver, iron, clay would be would destroyed and turned into powder by a gigantic rock that hits it on the foot. (Daniel 2:31 -47). How does a large rock grind a metal as strong as gold into powder by simply hitting it?
Both dreams have significance beyond what we literally read. Pharaoh’s dream meant that Egypt would have a severe famine, and Nebuchadnezzar dream meant that kingdoms would rule after his Kingdom until the Lord’s kingdom is finally established.
So was Peter’s dream straight forward instruction, or some type of puzzling exaggerated occurrence that needs explanation? Let’s walk through the dream. First we see haven open up and a vessel descending. This already sounds out of this world and not very straight forward. Then there was some great sheet with all types of beasts, and wild beasts and insects and birds all in this huge sheet. How big and how strong would this sheet have to be to hold all these wild animals? This sounds pretty unreal and pretty dramatic and similar to the dreams Nebuchadnezzar and Pharoah. Then the voice says to him, arise kill and eat. Now.. where would Peter even begin to eat? We see all these wild beasts in a huge sheet and there is no mention of a stove or pot, fire, or utensils … was he supposed to kill them and eat it raw? Was he expected to kill raw beasts with his bare hands? The dream does not seem logical. Dreams that are illogical and have puzzling events in the bible need interpretation.
Also note, that this dream happened years after Jesus’ death. Peter says that he has never eaten anything unclean. That means the entire time he was in Jesus’ company and eating together with Jesus, that he never ate anything unclean. (1)
So what did peter’s dream really mean? In acts 10:28 we see that God says he should not call any man common or unclean.
Notice the highlighted words here and in the above paragraphs. The same words and concept are repeated. This dream had nothing to do with food, but dealt with how we should see and treat our fellow man.
What about Timothy?
1 Timothy 4: 1-5 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
This text says that we should receive meat with thanksgiving and not refuse it because it was sanctified by the word of God. So the question arises, which meat were sanctified by the word of God? The clean meat are the only ones that have been sanctified by the word of God for consumption. God’s word would not contradict itself.
This brings me back to my original point that God did not make everything that moves on the earth to be food. Plants and animals all serve different purposes. While food is pleasurable it should not take the ultimate place over following God.
Luke 12:23 – The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.
There are other verses that are used to say that God removed the dietary laws… but God made such a big deal about the dietary laws, he spent 2 chapters talking about it and made numerous references in the old testament. If God changed the law wouldn’t he also as clearly explain to us that we can eat whatever we want? Why would he leave us without council?
I used to looooove ham and cheese sandwich. Ham and cheese sandwich was basically my middle name. I would buy it from the deli, from fast food chains and from catered events. I would be first to grab a ham and cheese sandwich. Shrimp was also another staple in my diet. Once of my favorite dishes was shrimp fried rice.
When I started accepting God’s truth I decided to give up pig, and shrimp and lobster. I had to find substitutes for ham, like turkey. You could say I went cold turkey and haven’t looked back. I started to cook with more flavor and more spices like oregano, basil and pepper these things give more flavor to the food, This makes far more of a difference than the type of meat you are eating. About 2 years after I gave up pork I accidentally ate it at a friend’s birthday party. To tell you the truth I started to feel nauseous shortly after. It goes to shows you how God can change your tastes and appetites when you let him.
Ask God to lead and he can help you to overcome anything that holds you back.
Even though this post speaks of food, there is more to it than that. God wants your heart, the food you eat is only one part of it. God wants you to choose to obey him. He will never force you against your will. It’s amazing the most powerful being in the universe lets you do whatever you want to do.
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Peace and love.
1. Unclean Animals and Food Examined from a Biblical Perspective
4 thoughts on “Clean and unclean meat – are God’s dietary guidelines still valid?”
Wow! Nice article. Thanks for breaking it down and for sharing your story. It’s amazing how God does not leave the essential things up for us to keep guessing but always gives us clear guidelines. And He is gracious enough to transform us and give us desires that are in line with His will for us; which is very selfless of him because he wills for all to come to repentance and have life and have it more abundantly. (John 10:10 )
Really enjoyed this article! Just an observation though. The clean vs unclean sea creatures example is mixed up.
Whoops! Thanks so much B. I just fixed the list. I’m really glad to hear that you enjoyed reading it.
Back in Noah’s day, all the continents were megerd together into one huge continent. Centuries later, the continents split apart to become what we know today.It would not be too illogical to think that the animals were spread over the large continent and he could have taken animals with him that we would associate would be on today’s different continents .perhaps the animals when they left the ark moved out and settled in certain areas, and then when the continents split, they were still on that land.Also, God is all powerful, and God sent the animals to Noah Noah did not have to go and get them. God would have sent them signals that made them instinctively go to Noah and get into the Ark. One more point with the Ark being so big, it would have taken several years to build. Who is to say the animals did not travel for those several years to get to where Noah was.References :