Are there foods Christians shouldn’t eat?
We’re going to take a break from prophecy for a couple of posts to deal with some other controversial topics.
Today we’re going to look at God’s laws regarding food and if they have any effect on us as Christians.
Let’s go back to Daniel 1. Remember the story of Daniel and his friends and the king’s food? Daniel and his three friends are take from Jerusalem when the Babylonians conquer them, are force marched across the desert and told to eat the king’s food (Daniel 1:5). But, Daniel decides ahead of time that he’s not going to eat the king’s meat, or drink the king’s wine (Daniel 1:8). As a result, he and his friends improve 10 times better than the others (Daniel 1:20), and because of this, God grants Daniel knowledge, skill and wisdom (Daniel 1:17) which he uses in his later spiritual battles.
So, why these two things, meat and wine. Why did Daniel decide not to partake of them?
Daniel grew up studying the scriptures, he knew them well. In it he found God’s counsel against drinking wine, that whomever is deceived by it is not wise (Proverbs 20:1). He knew that he needed to be sober and clear headed to face the challenges ahead. He knew he was in a land where no one would respect God’s law, and if he was going to remember it, he would need to abstain (Proverbs 31:4-5).
But what about us? The bible counsels that kings and princes abstain for wine and intoxicating drink (Proverbs 31:4-5), and Christ has made us kings in His Kingdom (Revelation 1:5-6). We are heirs of God (our King), and co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17), the prince of princes (Daniel 8:25).
Is it not our duty to act as kings and princes? To abstain from intoxicating drink and wine?
Let’s look a the issue of the king’s meat. Daniel was an Israelite, and God had forbidden the Israelites from eating certain foods, considered unclean (Leviticus 11:2-10). This list would include things such as cats, dogs, rats, which most people would not even consider eating. But also animals like pigs, rabbits, clams, lobster, oysters, crab, shrimp, catfish and others. So, why does God prohibit this food? The Bible doesn’t say. However, we can get a glimpse of why with our understanding of science.
The animals that God listed as clean eat vegetables, and many also digest their food more thoroughly than others. By contrast, those deemed as unclean tend to be the carrion eaters of this world, apparently created for waste-management, not for human consumption.
So, Daniel, knowing that the king’s food would include unclean meats, asks to be served only vegetables and water (Daniel 1:12). After all, there are no unclean vegetables, and water isn’t intoxicating. Interestingly enough, this is the same diet Adam and Eve had in the garden of Eden (Genesis 1:29). It isn’t until the flood that eating meat is sanctioned by God (Genesis 7:1). It was at the flood that the distinction between clean and unclean meats was first mentioned (before that it appears they didn’t eat meat), so this was a distinction given not to the Israelites alone, but well before their time, and it seems to be something that continues well past the Israelites.
Christianity today has tried to do away with this distinction of clean and unclean meats. Let’s look at some of the passages they use to argue against God’s commandments regarding clean and unclean meat.
The primary text used is Peter’s vision of the unclean animals (Acts 10:9-17). It’s not long, a quick read. In short, Peter is hungry, falls asleep, sees a sheet come down from heaven filled with unclean animals. Peter hear’s a voice telling him to get up, kill and eat the animals. Peter responds saying he can’t because they are unclean, and he hears God telling him that what God has cleansed is not unclean. This happens three times. Notice that Peter never eats. In fact, the vision ends and Peter is trying to figure out what the vision means (Acts 10:17). He can’t accept that it was about food.
Now Christians who defend this “right” to eat anything they want stop here. They fail to continue on to where Peter explains what the vision was about. They use their own interpretation instead of the Bible’s, a very dangerous thing to do, especially when the Bible tells you the correct interpretation. Some verses down, Peter gives the interpretation of the dream. You see, up until this point, the gospel was only being taught to Jews. But right after this vision, Peter is confronted by a non-Jew who wants to learn. He tells this man, Cornelius, that God has shown him a vision that he should not call any man unclean (Acts 10:28). That is the meaning of the vision, right there. The next chapter, Peter reiterates this for his Jewish friends who are offended that Peter went to go eat with a non-Jew. He tells them about the vision, and the meaning, so there can be no doubt. After contemplation, they all understood the meaning:
Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life. – Acts 11:18
They understood the vision, what it meant, that it was not about food at all. Of course, most Christians are blissfully unaware that there is even a question about clean vs unclean food, but for those that do and don’t choose wisely, Isaiah prophecies a dire end when Christ returns (Isaiah 66:17), because it becomes an issue of obedience. If God says not to eat these unclean animals, and we continue to do so, knowing His counsel, how is that anything but defiance?
They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, and we sort of see this in the Bible. Adam and Eve were tempted by food (Genesis 3:1-6), as was Daniel, as we saw, and was Jesus (Matthew 4:1-4). Food is a huge issue, in fact, what we eat or drink should be chosen to glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31). After all, our bodies are His temple (1 Corinthians 6:19), we were bought with Jesus’ blood, and so what we do with our body should glorify God (1 Corinthians 6:20).
So, what about you? Do you need to make some changes to your diet in order to be more obedient to God?