Old Testament ‘Unclean Food’ Restrictions: Do They Still Apply Today?

no-pigsIn the past year or so, I have been really convicted to examine the foods we eat. It all started with some health issues, but has since morphed into a complete overhaul in our diet. At some point in the process I began researching pork, because I was curious as to why the Bible considered it unclean. I have come across some pretty astounding and, quite frankly, disgusting information. But before I get into all that, let’s talk about “clean” versus “unclean” animals.

The first actual distinction in the Bible regarding clean and unclean animals appears in Genesis 7:2, when Noah was instructed by God to bring “seven each of every clean animal, a male and his female; two each of animals that are unclean, a male and his female” onto the ark. Later on in the Bible, in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14, specific animals were identified as being clean therefore acceptable for consumption, and unclean therefore unacceptable for consumption. You can click this link to read all the food laws laid out by God in the Torah.

My question, however, was very specific: why were certain animals considered acceptable, while others were off limits? In my mind it seemed, well, a tad bit unfair. Why did other cultures get away with eating whatever foods they want (hello?? BACON!), but God has to be all strict and limit our enjoyment of food? The answer actually surprised me.

Once I began researching the types of animals that were off-limits, I began to notice some common denominators. Generally speaking, God did not allow His people to eat scavengers; that is, animals that feed off the often decaying flesh of other animals or other decomposing organic matter. The sea creatures He forbade are the scavengers of the sea: bottom feeders that eat dead creatures off the sea floor, or shellfish that feed on decaying matter that sinks to the bottom of the ocean.

You see, these “unclean animals” are all creatures eating other creatures or decaying organic material that are far from ideal for humans to eat. God didn’t want His people to eat animals whose diets would render them too unhealthy for consumption. These “unclean” animals were indisputably created for a purpose: to clean up the environment by scavenging for food that “clean” animals would not eat – but their purpose does not include being used as food for humans.

The most popular animal that seems to spark the biggest debate on this subject is the lowly pig. If you take the time to research pigs, you will find that they are actually extremely filthy animals who do not properly digest their food or eliminate toxins from their bodies, making pork actually among the most unhealthy meat choices out there. Bacon may taste good, but it’s really, really not good for you.

The next big question I had was this: do these dietary restrictions still apply today? One of the biggest arguments for eating whatever one desires is 1 Timothy 4:4 which states, “For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving.” Any verse can be cherry-picked and manipulated into saying what we want it to say. We need to always be careful to take the Bible in FULL context, remembering that it does not contradict itself, lest we be guilty of what is referred to just three verses earlier in that same chapter. Please read and prayerfully consider these words from Gordon Tessler, PhD:

1 Timothy 4:4
For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving

Another example of Scripture which is quoted out of context in order to approve the eating of unclean things, is 1 Timothy, Chapter 4, verse 4. Those who quote this verse insist that God is telling us to eat everything that He created. In order to interpret 1 Timothy 4:4 in this way, we must reject the clean and unclean laws of God, as well as endorse cannibalism! If we believe that God is telling us to eat poisonous snakes, rats, worms, spiders and each other, then God would be contradicting His word and would not be the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8)! The Word of God is consistent and carries a continuity and therefore, 1 Timothy 4:4 must have another interpretation which is consistent with the clean and unclean laws.

THE FOODS OF GOD

Paul, is the author of 1 Timothy and he is not making a distinction between creatures God created and those He did not create, for God created every creature. Every animal, every fish, every bird and every creeping thing is good because it was created by God. But not everything God created was created to be eaten!

FALSE DOCTRINE

We can avoid the “spirit of error” (1 John 4:6) or false doctrine only by relying on the Scriptures as our final authority. The problem of false doctrine is the reason that Paul is discussing creatures we may eat in 1 Timothy chapter 4. In order to fully understand why Paul has brought up the issue of eating animals, 1 Timothy 4:4 must read in its context, starting at the beginning of the chapter:

1Timothy 4:1-3
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.

Some people in the church of the first century were “departing from the faith” teaching false doctrines. These people were advocating celibacy (forbidding to marry) and vegetarianism (abstaining from certain foods or meats). This teaching or doctrine was forbidding activities that God desires His children to do. The Lord certainly ordained for us to marry and He created certain clean foods “to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.” (Psalms 119:142) Those who believe and know the truth? The truth contained in the Scriptures which is our guide to correct doctrine. Being armed with the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17), we are not likely to be deceived by a doctrine of demons. Deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons will contradict the Word of God and 1 Timothy 4:1-5 warns us not to believe a doctrine which tells us not to eat foods that God has permitted for us to eat.

Now we understand that the purpose of the first part of 1 Timothy chapter 4 is to address a false teaching related to marriage and eating. If we believe and know the Word of God, such false doctrine would find no place in us. Paul finishes this discussion of the foods that the Lord created and sanctified (set apart) for us to eat by directing us back to His Word:

1 Timothy 4:5
For it is sanctified by the Word of God and prayer

Paul is actually confirming to us in 1 Timothy 4:5 that we should eat only those creatures God has sanctified in His Word. The “it” refers to those edible creatures that are “set apart” for us by God in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. God’s word is exact and precise so that the children of God may “distinguish between the unclean and the clean, and between the animal that may be eaten and the animal that may not be eaten.”
(Leviticus 11:47)

FOOD SANCTIFIED BY PRAYER

Since Yeshua (Jesus), a first century Hebrew, was eating only those foods that were clean, pure, and edible according to the Word of God; therefore, He never needed to ask God to bless His food. The food was already blessed by God. The only blessing required was to bless and thank God for His provision.

Deuteronomy 8:10
When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you.

At the Lord’s Supper, Yeshua (Jesus) took bread and blessed. He probably spoke this ancient Hebrew prayer that is still used today at mealtimes:

“Blessed Art Thou, Oh Lord, our God, King of the Universe, who brings forth food from the earth.” There is an important difference between this traditional Hebrew blessing and the modern Christian dinner prayer that says something like, “Bless this food to our bodies”. God’s Word does not sanction the eating of a cobra thingytail, a rat roast, or a pig pie and all the well-meaning prayers said at the dinner table cannot change the Word of God. On the contrary, our dinner prayers should bless God and be thankful to Him for setting apart (sanctifying) by His Word, foods which have been created to keep us healthy.

The other main argument I hear concerning eating unclean meat is that “we’re under grace now.” I blogged once before about just what it means to be “under grace” in this post. It’s true that we’re no longer required to follow the law for the sake of salvation, as our salvation comes through nothing other than Jesus Christ’s death on the cross and the acceptance of this free gift – but let us not forget that Jesus did not come to abolish the law, rather to fulfill it. He did not do away with it; He completed it. Jesus stated quite plainly in Mark 7:18-20, “Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods? What comes out of a man, that defiles a man.” What we eat does not make or break our salvation; it’s our hearts. We should strive to follow God’s commands out of love and obedience the Lord in response to His gift of salvation. We should strive to please God with our actions, and it’s my conviction that part of pleasing God is to research His commands and understand why He made the laws He did. He created food laws so that it may be well with His people (Deuteronomy 12:28). I do not believe it was ever God’s desire to be a big ol’ meanie and keep us from enjoying food; He made the food laws because He wanted His people to enjoy good health and long life. What this proves to me is that we have a loving God who wants only the very best for His creation. I don’t know about you, but I trust the food guidelines of the one who created us over any popular or cultural food trends, any day!

So, to sum it all up: no, we do not need to avoid pork for the sake of salvation; we should, however, avoid it because God said it was unhealthy, and because he did not create pork human consumption. And there, my friends, is the difference between legalism and simple obedience. 

Has Your Family Had “The Talk” Yet?

Have you had “the talk” with your family yet? And no, I don’t mean the birds and the bees talk; I mean the disaster preparedness talk. I know it’s not the most pleasant thing to think about, but it’s a conversation all families should have. So, my question for you is this: if some disaster struck tomorrow – say a blizzard, an earthquake, tornado, etc. – and you were left without electricity or running water and you had no way to get to the store for supplies, would your family prepared? How long could you survive based on what you have in your home right now?

areyouready

First and foremost, before we discuss a supply list, the most important this is to have a plan in place. Have a designated meeting place if something happens that requires you to get outside, such as a fire. (Our family’s designated meeting location is our mailbox out front.) Also have a “safe place” to go in your home in the event of a tornado or other such disaster. If you do not have a basement or storm cellar, your safe place should be a small room towards the center of your home on the ground floor, with no windows. Avoid large rooms as they are more likely to see structural collapse. If you have a small room under a staircase, this would be best because stairs require extra structural support. (Our designated area is a closet under our staircase.)

Now, on to the must-haves! I have spent the past couple of years slowly building up a stockpile of emergency supplies incase disaster strikes. With all the hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and other such phenomena going on in the world lately in what seems like increasing occurrence and severity, the necessity of preparedness has really been pressed upon my heart. I don’t consider myself a “prepper,” nor am I looking to stir up fear in others, but I do consider myself a realist, and as such, I can certainly see the prudence in preparing for what could very well happen to any of us. I decided to compile a list of all the items on our family’s disaster preparedness must-have checklist. I’ve came up with this list after reading numerous articles and books, as well as consulting various government agencies’ recommendations. I recommend keeping as many of these items as possible in a backpack, duffle bag or some other type of grab-and-go bag, in the event that you actually need to leave your home in a hurry.

Emergency Supply Checklist

  • Water (one gallon per person, per day, for at least 3 days). I also recommend keeping some water filter straws in your emergency bag.
  • A supply of non-parishable food (enough for each member of your family, for at least 3 days), including extra formula/infant food if applicable. (We keep canned food, as well as long-lasting survival dried food and survival food tabs.) Be sure to routinely check expiration dates and change out before items expire.
  • A manual can opener for canned foods.
  • A pan in which to cook food as well as a means to heat food, if desired. (We use this collapsable camping stove and stocked up on extra fuel.)
  • Paper cups, plates and plastic utensils.
  • Extra food and supplies for pets.
  • Radio. If battery powered, be sure you have extra batteries on hand. (We have this hand-crank radio/flashlight/phone charger combo so we don’t have to worry about running out of batteries.)
  • Flashlights with extra batteries.
  • A well-stocked first aid kit and first aid procedures book or manual.
  • Blankets and pillows. (In addition to standard blankets, we also have these mylar blankets in a grab-and-go bag.)
  • Maps of your area and any area you would attempt to reach in the event of an emergency.
  • Personal hygiene items.
  • Garbage bags, wipes (we have baby wipes), toiler paper and paper towels for sanitation. (We actually keep a potty training toilet in our safe room, in case we get trapped in there.)
  • Feminine hygiene supplies for all applicable family members.
  • Vitamins, prescription medication, and over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol, Motrin, Benadryl, etc. Benadryl is especially important if anyone in your family has allergies. Always include an EpiPen and inhalers for those who need to keep them on hand.
  • Extra glasses, for those who wear glasses and/or contact lenses.
  • Wrench, pliers, or another such tool for turning off utilities. (We have this 4-1 tool for gas and water shutoff.)
  • Cash and change, and/or traveler’s checks.
  • At least one warm change of clothing for each family member, including sturdy shoes.
  • A “fun bag” filled with games, puzzles, books, etc. to keep children entertained.
  • A notebook and pen/pencil. The notebook should contain the names of each family member and pet, important personal information, and a list of important contact information of relatives, friends, local agencies, etc.
  • Matches in a waterproof container, or stormproof matches.
  • A good blade or hunting knife. (We have this knife with flint-and-steel tool for starting fires.)
  • An extra set of house and vehicle keys.
  • Fire extinguisher.
  • Plastic sheeting or a tarp and duct tape in the event that your safe room needs to be sealed.
  • Dust masks for each family member, in the event that the air becomes contaminated.
  • A whistle to signal for help.
  • Power cords for cell phones and other electric devices. I also recommend keeping car chargers in your grab-and-go bag.
  • Rags and/or towels for spills, hygiene, and other miscellaneous uses.
  • Disposable and work gloves. You can also keep hard hats if you wish.
  • Household chlorine bleach has many survival uses in the event of an emergency, from sterilization to sanitizing drinking water to make it safe for consumption. (Read more about bleach uses and cautions here. I recommend printing the water-to-bleach ratio table and taping it to the outside of your emergency bleach bottle.)

While this list certainly seems like a lot of stuff, most of the items are small and we have found that all we need fits perfectly into 2 duffle bags. Keep in mind that this is by no means an exhaustive list, but it includes all the emergency supplies that we have amassed. If you have any ideas of items to add to it, please share in the comments section below.

In the event of an emergency, be prepared so you can stay safe!

Cleaning Supplies I Can’t Live Without: Pampered Chef Scrapers

Assorted Cleaning Products Without Labels --- Image by © Royalty-Free/CorbisWhen you have little ones in the home, it seems like the days are spent cleaning up one mess after another! I don’t know about you, but I am always on the lookout for tips, tricks and tools that help make the task of constant cleaning a little easier. With that in mind, I decided to start a new series on cleaning supplies that I can’t imagine living without, because that are just. that. awesome.

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of cleaning supplies or tools that I can’t imagine life without is, without a doubt, these Pampered Chef Pan Scrapers. They were created to help effectively scrape off baked-on food from their cookware without scratching up the pans. What I didn’t know when I bought these is that they would become cleaning life savers in our home! They work amazingly well at removing so much more than just food from pans! I use them to scrap dried messes off my tables, counters and wood floors, plus they help quickly remove sticker residue from furniture, and so, SO much more! We own about a dozen of these amazing little things, and my husband and I both have come to appreciate them more and more. Here are some before and after pictures to show you just some of the messes these little beauties have helped us with:

This was a sticker one of my children stuck to the table in our school room. It came up with very little effort!
Collage1

This one shows some yogurt that my 2-year-old so artfully decorated our coffee table with. I hadn’t realized she did it until after it dried. I dampened the yogurt with a rag, then a little scraping took it right off!
Collage 3

Here’s some lovely dried peanut butter on our countertop. It took all of about 2 seconds for the scraper to remove this mess.
Collage 4

Shown here is some some super sticky residue on our hardwood floors left from a sticker one of our kids had put in the floor. This took a tad more elbow grease than the previous messes, but the scraper still managed to get it off!

Collage 2 Seriously, I just can’t say enough about these. I speak highly of all Pampered Chef products, but these are hands down my favorite. (For what it’s worth, I am not a Pampered Chef consultant – just a satisfied customer!)