“And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” (Genesis 2:8–9, ESV)
Our fallen nature seems to always be seeking a reason why God gave us a particular set of commands in the Torah. One such area is is regarding food. In Genesis 2:8-9 the Torah tells us that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was good for food, but just a few verses later he says this to the man:
“The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:15–17, ESV)
There is no explanation, no reason, no argument, just what the consequence will be if it is not obeyed. Is it possible that maybe God just wants to see if we will just walk in obedience by faith alone without reason?
When we get to Leviticus we see this instruction given:
““Every swarming thing that swarms on the ground is detestable; it shall not be eaten. Whatever goes on its belly, and whatever goes on all fours, or whatever has many feet, any swarming thing that swarms on the ground, you shall not eat, for they are detestable. You shall not make yourselves detestable with any swarming thing that swarms, and you shall not defile yourselves with them, and become unclean through them. For I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. You shall not defile yourselves with any swarming thing that crawls on the ground. For I am the Lord who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.” This is the law about beast and bird and every living creature that moves through the waters and every creature that swarms on the ground, to make a distinction between the unclean and the clean and between the living creature that may be eaten and the living creature that may not be eaten.” (Leviticus 11:41–47, ESV)
Here in Leviticus we are given a reason for why God tells us not to eat certain animals, He wants us to consecrate ourselves and be Holy because He is Holy.
Then man steps in and says why? We come up with all kinds of reasons and speculation as we ague with God. We may say he was protecting us from disease, or some other problem related to eating those animals.
Maybe God just wants to see if we will walk in obedience to him by faith. And if we do, did not our Lord say something about that as well to His people:
“And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God.” (Deuteronomy 28:1–2, ESV)
So, in obedience to the Lord (as His already saved people) he desires to bless us.So what happens if we are not obedient?
“But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you…….“The Lord will send on you curses, confusion, and frustration in all that you undertake to do, until you are destroyed and perish quickly on account of the evil of your deeds, because you have forsaken me.”(Deuteronomy 28:15–21, ESV)
Seems that as God’s people, when we disobey the Lord (which He says is forsaking Him) we will then experience curses. Curses and not some magical incantation or God zapping us. They are simply resistance in what we try to do and accomplish. It is confusion and frustration in what we undertake to do, until the day we die, or until the day we REPENT!
So, we come to the apostolic writings and try something new. We translate certain passages with a bit of bias towards our theological position, or we take passages out of context or infer meaning onto a passage to make it fit the way we want it to. Let’s take a look at just a couple examples:
“And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.)” (Mark 7:18–19, ESV)
The assumption here is that Jesus declared all foods clean. But, is that really what the passage says? It is also a passage that needs to be kept in the context of the entire dialog of Mark chapter 7.
“Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?”” (Mark 7:1–5, ESV)
The question that Jesus is answering is a question on not washing hands based on TRADITION. The problem that the Pharisees had was if your hands had touched something unclean and you did not wash them, then when you ate and touched the food with your unclean hand, then the food which you ate would make you unclean. This was not what was in the Torah, but was a FENCE that the Pharisees had put up.
Now, that is not the end though. Seems that some of our translations have tried to help us with our theology. Let’s take a look at the first passage from the KJV and Young s Literal translation:
“and he saith to them, ‘So also ye are without understanding! Do ye not perceive that nothing from without entering into the man is able to defile him? because it doth not enter into his heart, but into the belly, and into the drain it doth go out, purifying all the meats.’” (Mark 7:18–19, YLT)
“And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him; Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?” (Mark 7:18–19, KJV 1900)
This passage simply does not say “(Thus he declared all foods clean.)” Jesus is just showing that food touched by our hands does not make us unclean.
Another verse that is used to say we can eat any food we want is in Peters dream in the book of Acts. I am not going to have a long discussion or argument about it, but if we truly believe that scripture interprets scripture then why do we infer our own interpretation into Peters dream when Peter himself tells us what the dream was about:
“Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon’s house, stood at the gate and called out to ask whether Simon who was called Peter was lodging there. And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.” ………And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean.” (Acts 10:17–28, ESV)
The text has many opportunities to tell us that not only has God declared Gentiles clean, but food as well. For Peter seems to remain perplexed until the arrival of Cornelius and the understanding that the TRADITION that Jews not associate with or visit anyone from another nation was not of God’s will and that he should not consider them unclean or common.
In the Apostolic scriptures, God through His writers still asks us to be Holy, and still asks us to be obedient. The question we must ask is are we willing to walk in obedience by faith and faith alone? Or do we need God to explain to us why?
Lord, Help me to put away pride and self deception and give me a heart that desires to follow you in faithful obedience to all you teach and show me. Amen.