The Bible Diet

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Are Old Testament instructions on the kinds of animals and fish God does and does not want in our diet no longer VALID? Did Jesus change his Father's laws to allow us to eat pork and shrimp? Was the vision given to Peter God's way of communicating a CHANGE in His will regarding what is an acceptable diet? Did the apostle Paul encourage a church to eat whatever they like in spite of what others may think?

Exactly what are CLEAN and UNCLEAN foods?

In Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 God states the principles that are to be used to determine which animals would be beneficial to man's diet (called 'clean' animals and seafood) and which would not (designated as 'unclean'). Clean meats allowed in the Bible have the following in common.

3. Whatever divides the hoof and is cloven-footed, chewing the cud (Leviticus 11:3)

Animals that fulfill the requirements to be considered clean, and therefore edible, include cattle, deer, goats and sheep to name a few. Birds such as chickens, ducks, pheasants, turkeys and more can be consumed. The only insects that are permitted to be used as food are some found in the Locust family. Animals that are BAD for man's health and therefore should be avoided entirely in his diet include pigs, horses, rabbits, squirrels, cats and others.

Fish and other seafood that, according to the Bible, are fit for the human diet have the following characteristics.

whatever has fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, those you shall eat. (verse 9)

God's designation means that fish like Tuna, Bass, Salmon, Cod, Herrings, Red Snapper, Smelt and a whole bunch others can be safely enjoyed by humans. Popular seafood that should NOT be in our diet include shrimp, lobster, catfish, squid, crabs, oysters and others.

For a more comprehensive list of foods God says are edible and which are not please see our article on which foods are clean and which are not.

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Did Jesus do away with God's law?

A common scripture used to support the notion that Jesus abolished his Father's laws on diet is found in Mark 7. Many people take these verses to mean that eating unclean foods like shrimp, pork, lobster, etc. are acceptable because Jesus says they do not harm us.

Don't you perceive that anything that enters into a man from outside is not able to defile him? 19. For it does not enter into his heart, but into the belly, and then passes out into the sewer, purging all food." (Mark 7:18-19)

Is Jesus, however, talking about the laws concerning diet found in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14? We find our answer in the parallel account of this event in Matthew 15.

1. Then the scribes and Pharisees from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, 2. "Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread." 3. But He answered and said to them, "Why do you also transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?

Jesus and the disciples are criticized by some self-righteous religious leaders regarding the CEREMONIAL washing of hands before eating. This practice is not of God, nor did God command it. It is strictly a tradition of men, as Jesus stated, that religious leaders over the years falsely elevated to the status of being MORE IMPORTANT than the commandments and judgments of God. A few verses later Jesus tells the crowd who overhead his exchange with the Pharisees,

"Hear, and understand. 11. That which goes into the mouth does not defile the man; but that which comes out of his mouth, this defiles the man." (verses 10-11)

Jesus made his comments to the crowd in the context of discussing how human traditions can take the place of truly obeying the words of God. The physical, ritualistic traditions of men are, according to Christ, no where near as important as a person's character. In short, its not what goes in the mouth that truly defiles, its what comes out of it.

Did Peter's vision permit eating pork and shrimp?

Another well-worn argument regarding the diet God approves of revolves around the vision God gave to Peter in Acts 10. In the vision Peter sees a sheet full of many animals whose flesh was "unclean" to eat (Acts 10:11-12). Three times he is offered the opportunity to kill and eat the animals on the sheet. His response to God's offering is direct and to the point.

'In no way, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.' (verse 14).

God's response was that what He cleansed Peter ought not to call 'common.' Does this somehow entail a new ruling by God that what HE HIMSELF had designated as unclean to consume was no longer valid and could be ignored? Was this rare vision given for the sole purpose of allowing church fellowships to have shrimp, pork and catfish at their potlucks? Hardly! Such an interpretation would be ridiculous to Peter. He tells us, while talking to who would become the first Gentile convert to Christianity (Cornelius), what was the REAL meaning of his vision.

But GOD has shown me (e.g. I did not conclude this myself or have someone else tell me) that no MAN should be called common or unclean. (verse 28).

In short, Peter's vision had NOTHING to do with changing God's commands regarding diet or with annulling ANYTHING in his law. The vision was not God's way of communicating a change in his will, rather, it was meant to change PETER'S biased and bigoted view regarding non-Jews!

Did Paul teach unclean foods could be consumed?

16. Therefore, do not allow anyone to judge you in eating or in drinking, or with regard to a festival, or new moon, or the Sabbaths (Colossians 2:16)

Much of Christianity will tell you that the laws concerning clean and unclean meats, God's annual holy Days, etc. were abrogated or done away after the death of Jesus. The Bible does not teach this. A review of church history shows that false teachings concerning the law, the change of Sabbath to Sunday, the change from Passover to Easter, and others were brought into the Church during the period from about 100 to 300 A.D.

The majority of believers in Colossae were, prior to their conversion, Gentiles and not Jews. They had not grown up learning about the law of God or trying to put in practice God's commandments like someone with a Jewish background. In their lives they had eaten all kinds of unclean foods like pork in their diet. Paul was actually teaching the church to observe the laws of clean and unclean foods, to keep the Sabbath and so on. Christian gentiles were likely being judged and condemned by their unconverted friends and relatives regarding what they were doing. Paul was encouraging this mostly Gentile background church to not be influenced or swayed by those who were judging them.

In Conclusion

There is absolutely no Biblical basis for the teaching that God's laws of clean and unclean foods have been abolished and therefore can be ignored in the diet of a Christian. The distinction between what is clean and unclean will still be extant in the End Time when Babylon the Great is judged by God.

"Babylon the Great is fallen . . . has become a habitation of demons . . . and a prison of every UNCLEAN and hated bird; (Revelation 18:2)

The Bible tells us God's dietary laws will be upheld in the Millennium. When Christ returns to rule the earth to rule as King of Kings he will PUNISH those who disobey his Father's laws regarding what is a proper diet based on Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 (Isaiah 66:16-17). If the New Testament does not nullify God's dietary laws, and we know Jesus will enforce the same laws when he returns, it is therefore correct to conclude that such precepts are still in force TODAY.

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