A Question About The Biblical Food Laws And A Biblical Answer

A question came to us awhile back about the biblical food laws when a Christian contended with a believer in Yeshua, and went and talked with his pastor, and the pastor gave the following Scriptures to show that Christians are no longer under those laws and can eat whatever they want. The Scriptures given by this pastor are the following: Col 2.16-17; Mark 7.14-23; 1 Cor 8.12-13; 1 Tim 4.1-5; Heb 8.6-7, 9.9-10, 10.1. The pastor quoted these Scriptures completely out of context, so we are going to rightly divide the word and give some clarification on these verses from a Torah-based faith in Yeshua.

Many who believe that a so-called believer can eat animals not allowed in the Torah have perverted God’s word and have a false premise to begin with. They think that Yeshua and Paul ate pork and the unclean (meaning out of place) creatures listed in Lev 11, and so these verses are interpreted to fit that false premise. Yeshua or Paul or any first-century believer in Yeshua never ate pork, catfish, shellfish, lobster, or any creature that was listed as unclean, and they never taught anyone else to do so either. Here are two reasons why. First, when Yeshua’s enemies were trying to find fault with him by saying he broke the Torah commands, they could not find any evidence that he did so. If he was eating pork or whatever or was teaching others to do so, don’t you think they could have accused him of it when they had a chance? The pastor that was consulted by the Christian is accusing Yeshua of doing just that, or he would not have quoted the passage in Mark 7.14-23. Secondly, Peter said in Acts 10.14 that he has never eaten unclean (out of place) creatures. Now, if Yeshua taught Peter that it was acceptable to do so, because “the law has been done away with” like Christians are taught, why didn’t he obey Yeshua and eat them after the cross? Maybe he thought Yeshua wasn’t a very good teacher and Peter just didn’t get it, but we don’t think so. Or maybe Yeshua never taught it to begin with! The first century believers in Yeshua had a Torah-based faith and they were considered a sect within the “Judaisms” of the time. Paul himself said in several places he never departed from the Torah (Acts 21.15-26, 24.14-17). That means they ate “kosher.” The Christian and his pastor have a premise that is in error, and no knowledgeable student of first century history will tell you that they disregarded the biblical food laws found in the Torah. With that said, we are going to interpretthe above verses from the premise that the believers were Torah observant and ate the biblically allowed creatures found in Lev 11 and Deut 14.

In Col 2.16-17 the Colossians were living in a pagan society and were being criticized (like the Christian and his pastor) for eating biblically kosher and keeping festivals, new moons, and sabbaths (the Temple was standing at the time). Paul is encouraging them to ignore their criticisms because they were unbelievers, and believers are not to be judged by unbelievers for keeping the commandments, which are a shadow, pattern, blueprint of the substance. We are to be judged by “the body of Messiah” (v 17). The festivals, new moons, and the Sabbath teach eschatology and the end times and they point to Messiah (Rom 10.4- the word “end” there is “telos” and it means “the goal or target” of the Law is Messiah, not the “end” of the Law is Messiah).

Rom 14.3-8 tells us how the Roman synagogues were made up of unbelieving Jews (called “weak” because they have not come to faith in Yeshua yet), believing Jews and believing non-Jews (called the “strong” in Rom 4.19-20, 10.2). This chapter deals with Jewish “halakah” or how to walk in the commandments depending on who you were (male, female, outside the land, Jewish or non-Jewish, etc) in that synagogue that Paul was dealing with. Apparently, non-believing Jews would not eat meat or wine from believing non-Jews in that congregation, which was a common practice in the first century and is still practiced by some even today. We know of many Jewish believers and unbelievers and non-Jewish believers in Yeshua who will not eat “common” food, which is defined as not according to strict rabbinical standards. This chapter is NOT about someone eating pork and others are not to judge them, like the pastor says. It is about the Jewish practice of not eating meat or wine from a non-Jew because it was “common.” Peter said as much in Acts 10.14 and God showed him in the vision, using the unclean creatures to symbolize the non-Jews, that it was acceptable to associate with non-Jews who had a Torah-based faith in Yeshua, which was contrary to the 18 Edicts of Beit Shammai who ruled the Sanhedrin. Peter still had a problem with this concept in Galatia when he withdrew from table fellowship with non-Jewish believers when people from Beit Shammai came to Galatia (Gal 2.11.15. Paul is merely dealing with a related problem in Romans. He is telling them not to get upset over the issue or look with contempt on others over food or drink. That is their opinion (v 1) and if that is what they want to do, God accepts the actions of the “weak” (those who do not have faith in Yeshua yet) and the “strong” (those who have faith in Yeshua). Remember they did not eat pork or the creatures not allowed in Lev 11, so that can’t be the issue in Romans. We are commanded to say something when we see others doing wrong, and eating creatures that God commanded not to eat is something that should be pointed out. The issue in Romans is about kosher meat, vegetables, and wine.

Mark 7.14-23 is a passage about Jewish halakah also and it plainly tells us that in v 3-5. Some believed that you had to ritually wash your hands before you ate. Jewish and non-Jewish people who follow the strict dietary practices of rabbinical Judaism still do it today. What Yeshua is saying is that these regulations are man-made (v 8) and that the food is clean (in place) even if one eats it without ritually washing their hands according to the traditions of the elders. He is simply making a ruling on their halachic practices, not saying a person can eat pork or unclean creatures of Lev 11. If this pastor thinks he is saying that then the “messiah” he has is a false messiah. Yeshua’s enemies would have pointed that fact out at his trial because that would have violated the Torah and would have been sin, but remember “they could find no fault in him” as he never taught that a person can eat pork, shrimp, lobster or any creature disallowed in Lev 11.

1 Cor 8.12-13 tells us about eating meat sacrificed to idols, and one needs to read the whole chapter to understand what Paul is talking about. Some thought that the “meat” was defiled somehow if it was offered to an idol and therefore unlawful to be consumed (v 7). There is no “divinity” in an idol, but there is only one God, so there is nothing that one “carries over” from a so-called idol. However, if a weak (one who does not believe that Yeshua is the Messiah or just a weak believer) sees you eating meat he knows was sacrificed to idols, you may be “defiling” his conscience and encourage him to do likewise (v 10-12) and that is what is forbidden. It was decided in Acts 15.28 that non-Jewish believers were not to eat meat sacrificed to idols, and that is based on the Torah in Lev 17 and 18, and that is the reason he is saying what he is saying in this chapter (1 Cor 8).

1 Tim 4.1-5 is saying that many will abstain from food God already allowed us to eat. This is not saying that you can eat anything you want. The key verse to understand what food Paul is talking about is in v 5, “for it (the food Paul had in mind) is set apart (to eat and what was allowed; it had a “kedusha”) by the word of God (in Lev 11.1-47 and Deut 14.1-22 we have a list of acceptable creatures we can eat) and prayer (the blessings before and after meals).” The only word of God Paul could be talking about is the Tanak and it tells you what to eat and not eat. The pastor of the Christian asking the question apparently has another list.

Heb 8.6-7, 9.9-10 and 10.1 tells us that this pastor does not understand the book of Hebrews. Hebrews is a contrast between this present age called the Olam Ha Zeh (of 7000 years) and how it has limitations, and the coming age called the Olam Haba. The things in the Olam Ha Zeh will pass away, but the things in the Olam Haba are eternal. Yeshua’s priesthood is according to the division or course of Melchizedek in the Olam Haba, and supersedes the Aaronic priesthood and is eternal, whereas the Aaronic priests die and have to be replaced, Yeshua doesn’t. So let’s deal with Heb 8.6-7, “But now (in the Olam Ha Zeh) he has obtained a more excellent ministry by as much as he is also a mediator of a better covenant (meaning “new” or “renewed” and this renewed covenant is associated with the Olam Haba, the renewed covenant in its fullness and perfection, as we see in Jer 31.31-34; we can only experience this covenant in part in the Olam Ha Zeh, but we will experience the fullness in the Olam Haba). For if the first (the covenant in the Olam Ha Zeh) had been perfect (this is not talking about the Torah because the Torah was perfect-Psa 19.7-10; Jam 1.25) had been faultless (with the people obeying it) there would have been no occasion for a second (the renewed covenant in the Olam Haba; God was going to circumcise the heart and people will be born from above).” The pastor stops there, but had he gone on to v 8, he would have seen that the problem was not the Torah, but it says, “But finding fault with them” (the people; they did not have a circumcised heart and the Torah was not written on their heart like it will in the Olam Haba. A true believer will have a desire to want to keep the Torah if they are truly born again). Heb 9.9-10 says, “which is a symbol (a tavnit or pattern) for the present time (the Olam Ha Zeh, this present age; the sacrifices and the offerings are the symbol of something greater). Accordingly, both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience (spirit, soul, mind, heart, intentions, thoughts), but only on food and various washings (of the priests at the laver; the sacrifices, etc) and regulations (ceremonies) for the body (the korbanot were ceremonies) imposed (in the Olam Ha Zeh) until the time of reformation (a new heavens and earth; the passing of the Olam Ha Zeh into the Olam Haba-Acts 3.19; a “reformation” means a reform, an amendment, a renewal, as in a renewed or reformed covenant in the Olam Haba, which simply is the Torah will now be written on a person’s heart or intentions). Heb 10.1 says, “For the Law (Torah) since it is a shadow (a tavnit, pattern, blueprint-same thing as in Col 2.17 above; Rom 10.4 says the Torah is the “end of the Law” in most translations, giving the impression that it has been done away with, but the word for “end” is the Greek “telos” meaning “goal or target of the Law”-Psa 40.7; John 5.39-47; Luke 24.27) of the good things to come (in the Olam Haba, the “fullness” or “perfect” of 1 Cor 13.9-13), not the very form of things (the substance), can never by the same sacrifices year by year which they offer continually, make perfect (to be restored to the original like we will be in the Olam Haba) those who draw near (Hebrew “korban” where we get the word sacrifices from; it means to “draw near” with “karav” meaning “near” as the root). In other words, the writer of Hebrews (who some believe was Paul) is making the case that the Torah is a shadow, blueprint, pattern, or picture in the Olam Ha Zeh of the spiritual (substance) in the Olam Haba. That doesn’t mean the shadow (pattern, blueprint, picture) has been done away with. If you did away with the shadow (Torah in the Olam Ha Zeh) there is no substance. You can’t have a shadow without the substance. They both exist at the same time! I know there is the substance in the Olam Haba because there is a shadow in the Olam Ha Zeh! The Temple, the sacrifices, the priesthood, the festivals, the services, and the prayers there are valid. The Scriptures never taught they took away sin. The first-century believers went to the Temple daily because that was what God told them to do in the Scriptures. Paul offered animal sacrifices and came out of a Nazarite vow thirty years after Yeshua’s resurrection, and after he wrote the book of Galatians (Acts 21.15-26, 24.14-18). Hebrews was written to Jewish believers (that’s why it is called “Hebrews”) as a homiletic midrash (teaching) on Psa 110 as a basis to show that Yeshua as the Messiah is superior to angels, Abraham, Melchizedek, Moses, and any other biblical character or entity. It also contrasts the superiority of the Olam Haba (world to come) and the Olam Ha Zeh (this present world) and that the New or renewed covenant is superior in the Olam Haba than the covenant at Sinai because it was limited in its application, function, and priesthood, but it was not done away with. Paul validates the Temple and its services in his writings, and Hebrews was written in the context of Yom Kippur, and he was advising the Hebrews not to forsake the believers (10.19-25, and to not forsake Yeshua (10.25-39) despite all the pressures and persecution they were experiencing, and to remember all the sufferings Yeshua went through (12.1-7). This book is written in the present tense in Greek when talking about the Temple and the priesthood, so they were valid in the first century. This book does not nor did it ever teach that the Torah was done away with because the author went out of his way to talk about the validity of the festivals, sacrifices, and services. Even the elementary principles of the faith in Heb 6 are connected to the Temple, the services, and Jewish eschatology and concepts. If this Christian and his pastor believe that Yeshua did away with all this, Yeshua himself doesn’t believe it because when he returns he is going to build another Temple, with animal sacrifices, restore the Sabbaths, the priesthood, and biblical festivals in the Messianic kingdom (Isa 66.19-21; Ezek 40-48; Zech 14.16-21) and a proper walk in the Torah. The Christian who went to his pastor is blind and the pastor is a “blind leader of the blind” and they should not be followed or listened to. We are not to “toy around” with false teachers and prophets that tell us that the “law has been done away with” when it comes to trying to obey the Lord or eating non-kosher meats and creatures. We are to “contend earnestly for the faith (body of doctrinal truth found in the Torah) which was once for all delivered (past tense) to the saints (this completely rules out Christianity because this faith or bodily truth was already in existence when this was written, so it preexisted Christianity).”

Posted in All Teachings, Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Festivals of the Lord, The Tanak, Tying into the New Testament

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