A Diet of Distinction (Part One)

July 13, 2016 at 2:43 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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And the LORD spake unto Moses and to Aaron, saying unto them, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, These are the beasts which ye shall eat among all the beasts that are on the earth. Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat. Nevertheless these shall ye not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the hoof: as the camel, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. And the coney, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. And the hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you. Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcase shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you.

Leviticus 11:1-8

Although the Old Testament law is in the Bible, and although it was given by God, not all of the Old Testament law is binding upon Christians today. A misunderstanding of the relevance, context, and application of Old Testament law breeds common claims of inconsistency among Bible skeptics, but we understand that there were different categories of law under the Mosaic Covenant.

Some of the laws were moral laws, such as the Ten Commandments. These laws are written upon the conscience of every human being, and they have applied at all times in all places for all people.

Some of the laws were ceremonial laws. These dealt with the Aaronic or Levitical priesthood and Tabernacle (later Temple) worship.

Some of the laws were civil laws. These were casuistic, or case law principles and precepts for governing relationships between people. They were “if, then” type laws.

Some of the laws were dietary laws. They promoted cleanliness and practical holiness, but they are no longer binding under the New Covenant.

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 earth: 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.

Acts 10:9-16

The ceremonial and sacrificial and dietary laws of the Old Covenant pointed to Christ and were fulfilled in Him.

Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God. Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?

Colossians 2:16-22

Only the moral laws are considered binding under the New Covenant. The law of Christ is the law of love. True love never encourages, condones, or tolerates immorality, much less celebrates it.

However, the dietary laws, and the reasons for them, have much to teach us even to this day. These laws protected God’s people from uncleanness. They commanded purity. To some extent they were laws promoting good health and hygiene, but, more importantly, with so many laws stressing what not to eat, what not to touch, where not to go, what not to wear, God’s people would have a constant awareness of the ubiquity of sin.

If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.

Genesis 4:7

In a fallen world, we need to be reminded of sin’s constant presence. In fact, as New Testament Christians, it would be good if we were even more conscious of, and afraid of, sin than the Old Testament Israelites were.

Furthermore, regardless of the “science” or the “common sense” behind the Old Testament dietary and hygiene laws, they were to be obeyed because “God said so,” and, for the Jewish people before the time when Christ fulfilled and did away with the ceremonial and dietary laws, it was sin for the people to break them.

In Part Two we will look at the role that the Israelites’ special diet played in God’s required for them to be “holy.”

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  1. […] Part One we saw that the Old Testament dietary laws are no longer binding on New Testament Christians (Acts […]

  2. […] Part One, we considered God’s dietary laws under the Old Testament and their fulfillment/abolition […]

  3. […] 103. A Diet of Distinction (Part One) (Leviticus 11:1-8) […]

  4. […] Pharisees had taken God’s Levitical laws about cleanliness, which God had given to separate the Jewish people from the Canaanites, and also for health […]


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