Nepaug Bible Church - http://www.nepaugchurch.org - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes - http://www.nepaugchurch.org/pm/pm20001004.htm
LEVITICUS: GOD'S CALL FOR A SEPARATED WITNESS
Part II: The Path Of Walking In Fellowship With God (Leviticus 11-27)
A. Israel's Testimony Regarding Idolatry By Way Of Her Diet
Lesson: There never has been any INHERENTLY holy or unholy DIET, but WHAT the believers in God eat must always glorify GOD in the SETTING or CONDITIONS under which they partake.
- Over the centuries of the Christian Church, there have been many questions regarding what diet God wants from His people for them to be seen as upright.
- This matter arises out of the fact that man's diet before God has been changed several times: (a) Adam and Eve were to eat vegetation only (Genesis 1:29) where (b) Noah and his sons could add meat to that diet (Genesis 9:3). Then, (c) under the Mosaic Law, there were restrictions on certain meats (Leviticus 11) where (d) under the Church era, the Noahic diet was restored, Acts 10:9-16; 1 Timothy 4:1-5.
- We resolve these questions by noting the reasons for the dietary changes, focusing primarily on the unique reason God had the meat restrictions on Israel in particular (as follows):
- Israel's Testimony Regarding Idolatry By Way Of Her Diet, Leviticus 11:1-47.
- At first glance, one might think that certain meats were unhealthy for man, and that God thus forbade these for His chosen people, Israel, Leviticus 11:7a, 10a: swine were largely infected with trichinosis and many scavenger fish without scales are readily infected with parasite-born diseases.
- However, God gave all animal life to Noah and his sons for food in Genesis 9:3, so health considerations cannot be at least a main cause for Israel's unique dietary restrictions.
- Hence, we look at the contexts throughout Scripture to understand God's reasons for altering man's diet:
- Apparently, before the Flood, the ground's universal irrigational properties supplied for plant growth all that man needed by way of earth's nutrients from a vegetarian diet, cf. Genesis 1:29.
- The Flood's arrival changed the earth's natural, global irrigation system mentioned in Genesis 2:5-6, making plant life apparently an insufficient source of the amount of nutrients man needed.
- This could have necessitated the need for man's use of meat in his diet after the Flood, Gen. 9:3.
- However, this idea does not explain the restricted animal diet under the Law that was removed in the Church era to that of Noah's era, cf. Gen. 9:3 with Acts 10:9-16 and 1 Timothy 4:1-5.
- Accordingly, we check the cultural and religious contexts of ANCIENT ISRAEL for an explanation on its dietary restrictions for an answer as follows:
- We note in Leviticus 11:13-23 that the birds prohibited for human consumption were birds of prey, The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament, p. 191. This meant these birds would partake of other animal life, eating the meat with the blood in it in opposition to the prohibition of God against Israel's use of blood for anything but atoning sacrifices, cf. Lev. 17:10-12. Since God wanted Israel to be a testimony as to the efficacy of the blood sacrifice, there would have been clear testimony reasons for their not partaking of these particular birds of prey!
- We also note the pagan communities around Israel worshipped certain animal life forms as gods, cf. Romans 1:23. Accordingly, it was necessary for Israel's diet to stand apart from that of the errant pagans around them so that no one would assume the Hebrews diet was formed by idolatrous considerations. Accordingly, for God to stipulate not eating all animals of the sea but those with scales and fins, or to allow Israel to eat only of those animals that chewed the cud and split the hoof would universally, clearly counter all pagan religious codes of diet as a testimony to them.
- Hence, the particular diet God selected for ISRAEL in her setting was given only for testimonial reasons, much like the Christian's practice taught in 1 Corinthians 8:4, 7-13.
Application: (1) The believer's diet should include what he needs to obtain the nourishment needed to live and serve God effectively. (2) The believer's diet should ALSO be that which aids and does not harm his TESTIMONY before those with aberrant beliefs or consciences regarding diets! This might alternately include restricting his diet, or even including new foods as the case may be, 1 Cor. 10:31-33.