In addressing the subject of the Bible’s dietary laws I have often been met with resistance from other Christians, even to the point of being called crazy, an extremist, pathetic, and so on. Yes, that’s right, other Christians have said these things and all because I adhere to the Bible’s direction on what to eat and what not to eat and recommend other Christians do the same.
In this study I want to set the record straight on why I choose to follow this path by addressing every argument from Scripture that people make to defend abandoning the Bible’s dietary restrictions and provide insights on why I believe that we, as believers in and followers of Yeshua, should be obeying these laws even as the “New Testament Christian Church”. For within the instructions of God’s Torah are contained the key to walking in divine health.
To start let’s take a look at the texts where the dietary laws were written in detail as recorded in the Torah:
Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying to them, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying, ‘These are the animals which you may eat among all the animals that are on the earth: Among the animals, whatever divides the hoof, having cloven hooves and chewing the cud—that you may eat. Nevertheless these you shall not eat among those that chew the cud or those that have cloven hooves: the camel, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you; the rock hyrax, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you; the hare, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you; and the swine, though it divides the hoof, having cloven hooves, yet does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. Their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall not touch. They are unclean to you.
‘These you may eat of all that are in the water: whatever in the water has fins and scales, whether in the seas or in the rivers—that you may eat. But all in the seas or in the rivers that do not have fins and scales, all that move in the water or any living thing which is in the water, they are an abomination to you. They shall be an abomination to you; you shall not eat their flesh, but you shall regard their carcasses as an abomination. Whatever in the water does not have fins or scales—that shall be an abomination to you.
‘And these you shall regard as an abomination among the birds; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, the vulture, the buzzard, the kite, and the falcon after its kind; every raven after its kind, the ostrich, the short-eared owl, the sea gull, and the hawk after its kind; the little owl, the fisher owl, and the screech owl; the white owl, the jackdaw, and the carrion vulture; the stork, the heron after its kind, the hoopoe, and the bat.
‘All flying insects that creep on all fours shall be an abomination to you. Yet these you may eat of every flying insect that creeps on all fours: those which have jointed legs above their feet with which to leap on the earth. These you may eat: the locust after its kind, the destroying locust after its kind, the cricket after its kind, and the grasshopper after its kind. But all other flying insects which have four feet shall be an abomination to you.
‘By these you shall become unclean; whoever touches the carcass of any of them shall be unclean until evening; whoever carries part of the carcass of any of them shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening: The carcass of any animal which divides the foot, but is not cloven-hoofed or does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. Everyone who touches it shall be unclean. And whatever goes on its paws, among all kinds of animals that go on all fours, those are unclean to you. Whoever touches any such carcass shall be unclean until evening. Whoever carries any such carcass shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening. It is unclean to you. ‘These also shall be unclean to you among the creeping things that creep on the earth: the mole, the mouse, and the large lizard after its kind; the gecko, the monitor lizard, the sand reptile, the sand lizard, and the chameleon. These are unclean to you among all that creep. Whoever touches them when they are dead shall be unclean until evening.
Anything on which any of them falls, when they are dead shall be unclean, whether it is any item of wood or clothing or skin or sack, whatever item it is, in which any work is done, it must be put in water. And it shall be unclean until evening; then it shall be clean. Any earthen vessel into which any of them falls you shall break; and whatever is in it shall be unclean: in such a vessel, any edible food upon which water falls becomes unclean, and any drink that maybe drunk from it becomes unclean. And everything on which a part of any such carcass falls shall be unclean; whether it is an oven or cooking stove, it shall be broken down; for they are unclean, and shall be unclean to you. Nevertheless a spring or a cistern, in which there is plenty of water, shall be clean, but whatever touches any such carcass becomes unclean. And if a part of any such carcass falls on any planting seed which is to be sown, it remains clean. But if water is put on the seed, and if a part of any such carcass falls on it, it becomes unclean to you.
‘And if any animal which you may eat dies, he who touches its carcass shall be unclean until evening. He who eats of its carcass shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening. He also who carries its carcass shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening. ‘And every creeping thing that creeps on the earth shall be an abomination. It shall not be eaten. Whatever crawls on its belly, whatever goes on all fours, or whatever has many feet among all creeping things that creep on the earth—these you shall not eat, for they are an abomination.
You shall not make yourselves abominable with any creeping thing that creeps; nor shall you make yourselves unclean with them, lest you be defiled by them. For I am the Lord your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy. Neither shall you defile yourselves with any creeping thing that creeps on the earth. For I am the Lord who brings 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 of the animals and the birds and every living creature that moves in the waters, and of every creature that creeps on the earth, to distinguish between the unclean and the clean, and between the animal that may be eaten and the animal that may not be eaten.’”
~Leviticus 11:1-47 (NKJV) (see also Deuteronomy 14)
Adonai told His people that if they would obey the instructions (Torah) given to them, they would not know any of the diseases they knew in Egypt (Deuteronomy 7:12, 15). The ancient Israelites spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness walking in divine health… and even their clothes and shoes did not wear out (Deteronomy 8:4. 29:5). The promise of divine health is sealed in obedience to Torah, instructions given by a loving God to the people He loves. All you have to do to walk in it is follow what the Bible says, including what it says regarding diet.
As you can see this goes into great detail in describing very specific animals and guidelines on what animals God says can be eaten and what ones cannot. Many today, however, feel that this does not apply to post-Resurrection Christians, which is what we will be looking at. The most prominent Scripture that this belief is based on is the account of Peter’s vision recorded in Acts 10.
The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour. Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again. Now while Peter wondered within himself what this vision that he had seen meant, behold, the men who had been sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate. And they called and asked whether Simon, whose surname was Peter, was lodging there. While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are seeking you. Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them.” Then Peter went down to the men who had been sent to him from Cornelius, and said, “Yes, I am he whom you seek. For what reason have you come?” And they said, “Cornelius the centurion, a just man, one who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews, was divinely instructed by a holy angel to summon you to his house, and to hear words from you.” Then he invited them in and lodged them. On the next day Peter went away with them, and some brethren from Joppa accompanied him. And the following day they entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them, and had called together his relatives and close friends. As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I myself am also a man.” And as he talked with him, he went in and found many who had come together. Then he said to them, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.
In this account we see Peter, one of the 12 original disciples of Yeshua and one of the founding apostles of the New Testament Church, has a vision that even he finds confusing. Three times God showed Peter this vision and all three times Peter questioned God stating that he had never eaten anything common or unclean. Historical records indicate that this even occurred at least ten years after Jesus ascended to heaven and left his disciple to build His Church.
Since the outpouring of the Holy Ghost came just weeks after Yeshua ascended, that means that the Church was established, folks were speaking in other tongues, miracles, signs and wonders were taking place everywhere God’s people ministered, and yet in all of that the disciples were still adhering to the dietary laws recorded in Leviticus. If God intended for these laws to be abolished under the New Covenant, wouldn’t that have been something that He would have made known prior to this? Well, as we can clearly see from this text in verse 28, the true meaning of this verse is revealed when Peter gives the revelation of the vision by saying that God showed him not to call any man unclean.
You see, a sort of racist mentality had developed among the Jewish culture of this time that said that Jews should not have anything to do with Gentiles. God had to make a point to Peter to show him that the Gospel under the New Covenant was for all people. The Gospel itself and the Laws that govern it had not changed, what changed was that now anyone, including Gentiles, could come openly to the Kingdom of God.
Here’s an interesting point about this whole thing. Where else in the Bible can we find a dream or a vision that is interpreted literally? When the Pharoah had a vision of 7 fat cows and seven skinny cows, was it talking about actual cows? No, it was about 7 years of plenty and seven years of famine. When Joseph had the dream about the sheaves bowing down to him was it talking about actual wheat? No, it was showing him that there was a day coming when he would be in a position of authority and even his own brothers would come to him for help. Even Yeshua used parables to teach His people, telling fictional stories in order to illustrate a spiritual principle. Why then is this one isolated account the only vision that seems to be taken as saying Peter was to literally start eating unclean things? It makes you wonder, doesn’t it?
Actually, while this would take a lot more time to explain in detail, there are two major problems with the interpretations of Acts 10 as permitting people to eat pigs and the abomination. First, if that is the correct interpretation then Peter got it wrong and he, as well as the rest of God’s people, should have maintained a racist attitude. This would mean that all Gentiles today are deceived and are not really saved. So, if you believe it’s OK to eat swine, shellfish, or other unclean things based on this verse, you literally cannot be saved because you void the true meaning of it.
The other problem is that every time Peter said he had never eaten anything common or unclean, God said not to call common what He made clean. God never addressed Peter’s refusal to eat unclean things, just common things. This is not understood unless you understand what the two words referred to in that time. Unclean referred to things that God said in His Word, in Torah, are unclean. Pertaining to animals as food, this is detailed in Leviticus 11 (above) and repeated in Deuteronomy 14. Common referred to a Rabbinical tradition that developed saying that if a clean animal touched an unclean animal it too was “unclean”, but since God didn’t call it unclean they labeled these animals as common. God never told Peter to eat a pig off the sheet, He was telling Peter to eat a sheep or a chicken that was touching the pig on the sheet. I will go into detail on this another time, I have to move on.
Did Yeshua Approve Of Eating Unclean Things?
There are those who use Jesus teaching in Mark 7 to say that Jesus Himself declared all foods clean as meaning the dietary laws were abolished. In verses 18-19 it records Yeshua’s words “Are you thus without understanding also? 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?” There are several problems with this verse being used as an argument for eating unclean meats, however.
First of all, the most obvious, if Yeshua meant that His people could eat anything they wanted, why was Peter questioning God about it at least 10 years after He left the earth (Acts 10)? Then there is the context of this passage, where if you read through the entire chapter from the beginning you can clearly see that they were speaking about washing your hands before you eat. While a good practice that we know through modern science helps prevent the spread of disease (incidentally hand washing is one of the key discoveries that ended the black plague), there was never anything in God’s Law that prohibited eating with unwashed hands.
This was a rule that the Jewish leaders came up with and treated as equal to God’s Laws recorded in the Torah, similar to the “common” thing I mentioned above. The third problem is that you cannot say that Yeshua’s declaring ‘purifying all foods’ as referring to anything other than what He considered food. All indications would be that Yeshua, as a Jewish man living under Jewish culture, adhered to the dietary laws and Himself did not eat that which was called unclean.
Look at the historical accounts recorded in the Scripture. There are accounts where Yeshua fed multitudes and in them the food provided was fish and bread, things that were considered Scripturally clean. In another account He cast devils into pigs and caused them to commit suicide. If He was a man whose ministry included feeding multitudes, why would He waste so much food if He indeed considered pigs to be food?
Now then, let’s change gears a little bit and look at an interesting fact about the modern Pentecostal Church, particularly in America. It is no secret that the modern Pentecostal Church has returned to the Biblical guide of tithing as a means to finance the work of the Kingdom (although I do feel there are areas where the laws of tithing are being misinterpreted, still a model of encouraging people to give ten percent of their income in support of the ministry is not a bad idea and has a Scriptural basis). Let’s ponder on this for a moment. Tithing, just like the dietary laws, is a part of the Old Testament Law as recorded by Moses. Many justify this by saying that tithing was established long before the recording of the Law, as Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek (Genesis 14:20). If we look in the New Testament we see that Jesus commended the Pharisees and scribes for paying tithes (Matthew 23:23; Luke 11:42). So, if this is the case, we could argue under Pentecostal Theology that if a Law of God is established prior to the Law of Moses, this is a mandate that is eternal and therefore still required under the New Covenant.
Animals Were Unclean Before Moses
If we look at the account of Noah, we can find some insights on this regarding clean and unclean animals.
Then Adonai said to Noah, “Come—you and all your household—into the ark. For you only do I perceive as righteous before Me in this generation. Of every clean animal you shall take with you seven of each kind, male and female; and of the animals which themselves are not clean two, male and female; also of the flying creatures of the sky seven of every kind, male and female, to keep offspring alive on the face of the whole land.
~Genesis 7:1-3 (TLV)
Notice that Noah was given a specific command concerning clean animals and a completely different specific command regarding unclean animals. Let’s start by clearly seeing that Noah knew, long before the Law was recorded by Moses… long before Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek… the distinction between those animals that were clean and those that were unclean.
Let’s jump up now to Genesis 9:3 where it states, “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs.” This on the surface would lead most to believe that Noah was free to eat any and every animal on earth, clean or unclean, after the flood. An in depth study, however, shows that this may be a result of the original meaning being lost in translation. You see, the Hebrew used for ‘every moving thing’ in this passage is ‘kal-remes’ (כָּל־רֶ֙מֶשׂ֙). As it turns out this refers to a very specific type of animal. John H. Walton, a professor at Wheaton College in Illinois (which is the college where Dr. Billy Graham studied) offers insights on the use of ‘remes’ in this text. His conclusion is that the word refers specifically to animals that travel in herds and are commonly hunted. In giving examples of the kinds of animals that would be considered ‘remes’ in this passage, Walton lists wild cattle, gazelle, deer, antelope, fallow and ibex, all of which fit the description of clean animals in accordance with Leviticus 11.
More information about this can be found in John H. Walton’s The NIV Application Commentary: Genesis (Grand Rapids: Zondervan 2001).
Think about this now, Noah was commanded to take on seven pairs of clean animals, but only two individual unclean animals, one male and one female. What would have happened if Noah and his family had eaten the unclean animals post-flood? That’s quite simple, he would have caused instant extinction to any species that he chose to eat. If there was only one male and one female, they would merely have needed eat only one of the two and the species would be eradicated from the face of the earth. What would have been the point of taking these animals onto the ark in the first place if he was to just turn around and destroy the species by eating them.
When The Philistines And Moabites Ate Pork
He said, “If you diligently listen to the voice of Adonai your God, do what is right in His eyes, pay attention to His mitzvot, and keep all His decrees, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians. For I am Adonai who heals you.”
~Exodus 15:26 (TLV)
Something I want to take a quick look at is a comparison between the ancient Israelites and the surrounding pagan cultures living in the regions of Canaan, such as the Philistines and the Moabites. What I am about to show you is that there is historical evidence that these communities ate pork, that the Hebrew people did not, and that the swine-eating pagan people suffered some serious health issues. While it cannot be conclusively determined that the health problems are indeed connected to the diet of these ancient people (because there aren’t actual medical records like we have today), the pattern fits with modern studies and seems it should be considered more than mere coincidence.
In the book The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts by Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman it is stated:
The simple material culture left by the highland herders and farmers who became the first Israelites offers no clear indication of their dialect, religious rituals, costume, or burial practices. But one very interesting detail about their dietary habits has been discovered. Bones recovered from the excavations of the small early Israelite villages in the highlands differ from settlements in other parts of the country in one significant respect: there are no pigs. Bone assemblages from earlier highlands settlements did contain the remains of pigs and the same is true for later (post-Iron Age) settlements there. But throughout the Iron Age – the era of the Israelite monarchies – pigs were not cooked and eaten, or even raised in the highlands. Comparative data from the coastal Philistine settlements of the same period – the Iron Age I – show a surprisingly large number of pigs represented among the recovered animal bones. Though the early Israelites did not eat pork, the Philistines clearly did, as did (as best as we can tell from the sketchier data) the Ammonites and Moabites east of the Jordan.
What this shows us is that there is historical evidence through archaeological findings that show God’s people, the ancient Israelites, did not eat pork even though the surrounding communities of pagan people, what Christians today might called unbelievers, did. To go into this further I also want to look at three other resources, first a citation from the book Biblical Peoples And Ethnicity: An Archaeological Study of Egyptians, Canaanites, Philistines, and Early Israel, 1300-1100 B.C.E. by Ann E. Killebrew, from the chapter titled Early Israel: A “Mixed Multitude”, second from a book ironically written by an atheist named D.M. Murdock titled Did Moses Exist? The Myth of the Israelite Lawgiver, and third from the book The Philistines in Transition: A History from Ca. 1000-730 B.C.E. By Carl S. Ehrlich.
Killebrew’s book Biblical Peoples And Ethnicity states:
Sheep and goats, typical of traditional small-scale stockbreeding, comprise from 45 to 80 percent of the faunal assemblage from these sites. Evidence for cattle, oxen, and donkeys is also present, animal species that appear at most sites in the ancient Levant. One species, the pig, is notably absent. Much has been made of the scarcity of pig bones at highland sites. Since small quantities of pig bones do not appear in late Bronze Age assemblages, some archaeologists have interpreted this to indicate that the ethnic identity of the highland inhabitants was distinct from Late Bronze Age indigenous peoples (see Finkelstein 1997, 227-30).
Murdock adds to this with the statement:
Almost the sole marker distinguishing the “Israelite” villages from Canaanite sites is an absence of pig bones, although whether even this is an ethnic marker or is due to other factors remains a matter of dispute.
Now, I don’t know why there is a dispute over these findings showing ethnicity distinctions, as the Bible clearly records the ancient Hebrew people as a people who didn’t eat unclean things like pork despite its popularity among the surrounding nations. But I guess that secular scientists and atheists have to try and spin the facts any way they can to justify their rejection of a Creator.
In Ehrlich’s work this is what we find:
The emergence of a new cultural tradition in Canaan is most evident in a distinct change of diet identified at some Philistine sites. Faunal remains at Tel Miqne-Ekron indicate that in the change from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age the diet changed from one which mutton and goat were the meats most often consumed to one in which pork and beef were preferred. The phenomenon of a shift in the domesticated species, indicative of change both in consumption patterns and in the general pastoral economy, from sheep and goats to pigs and cattle as sources of meat in the diet, is also attested at Ashkelon.
So, here’s where things get rather interesting. I have established that God promised not to put any of the diseases they knew in Egypt on His people if they would obey His Torah, and also that the pagan people embraced eating pork, particularly upon the transition from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age. There are two unique accounts from Scripture that take place during this exact same time period in history where we see life-threatening sickness coming on two different pagan peoples who are likely, based on these archaeological findings, to be swine-eaters. Let’s look at the two passages and then I will explain the timeline.
Ehud made himself a double-edged sword, a cubit in length, which he girded on his right thigh under his cloak. Then he presented the tribute to King Eglon of Moab. Eglon was a very fat man. Then Ehud reached with his left hand, drew the sword from his right thigh and thrust it into his belly.
~Judges 3:16-17 (TLV)
Even the handle went in after the blade and the fat closed over the blade, for he did not withdraw the sword out of his belly—and the filth came out. Then Ehud went out by the porch, shut the doors of the roof chamber on him, and locked them. After he had gone out, his courtiers came and looked, but behold, the doors of the roof chamber were locked. So they said, “He is only relieving himself in the cool chamber.”
~Judges 3:21-24 (TLV)
Then the hand of Adonai was heavy upon the Ashdodites, ravaging them and afflicting Ashdod and its vicinity with tumors. 7 When the men of Ashdod saw what was happening they said, “The ark of the God of Israel must not stay with us, for His hand has dealt harshly against us as well as against our god Dagon.” But it came about, that after they had carried it around, that the hand of Adonai was against the city causing very great panic, as He struck the people of the city, from the youngest to the oldest, so that tumors broke out on them.
~1 Samuel 5:6-7, 9 (TLV)
I recommend taking time to read through the entire record in Judges 3:12-24 as well as 1 Samuel chapters 5 and 6 when you get a chance, but I want to draw particular attention to these two events and the health conditions described. On the timeline of Bible history the account of Ehud and King Eglon probably took place sometime around 1350 b.c. and what Samuel records about the worshipers of Dagon would be around 1070 b.c. The Bronze Age is estimated to have been from 3300-1200 b.c. in the Near East and the Iron Age from 1200-500 b.c.
When you look at the first account you have a Moabite king ruling during a time when pork may have already begun to be a major food source (late Bronze Age), and was likely already being consumed at least semi-regularly. This king is described as a very fat man and then when stabbed in the gut a nasty and pungent discharge came out, so awful that his servants assumed he was just going to the bathroom. The description seems to indicate that Eglon suffered from some type of bowl or colon condition, or perhaps his intestines were backed up. These are the types of things that can cause weight gain, explain the foul smelling discharge from his abdominal region, and are associated with an unhealthy diet, something that would be explained by eating a lot of pork.
In the second record it shows that the Philistines, now well into the Iron Age, were struck with tumors. Some may have an issue with associating their tumors to dietary practices since the record says Adonai struck them with the tumors, but I remind you that He told His people that if they obey His Torah then He would not put any diseases on them. So it is clear that God can and does inflict people with sickness and disease, which is plainly stated in Scripture. I also see no issues in having a natural explanation to events like this. There are a number of Scriptural events for which natural explanations have been proposed, including the plagues in Egypt.
Recently the World Health Organization has concluded that certain types of cancer are linked to eating pork products like ham, bacon, and sausage. There are plenty of known connections between eating pork and getting cancer or developing tumors. Can we really say that it is a coincidence that these pagan people had developed these horrible conditions at the exact time in antiquity that they more heavily incorporated pigs into their diet?
Smith Wigglesworth And Pork
Let’s look now at something a little more up to date. It is very likely that if you have been a Christian with a Pentecostal Theology for any amount of time you have heard the name Smith Wigglesworth. He was a pioneer of the early Pentecostal Movement and is considered by many to be one of if not the most important pioneers in the establishment of modern Pentecostal Theology. In an account recorded in Pioneers Of Faith (Harrison House, Inc. 1995) by Lester Sumrall, a unique event occurred at a banquet in the Southern United States where Wigglesworth was asked to bless the meal.
In the banquet there was a lot of good food, but in the middle of the table was a roasted pig. Sumrall records these as the words prayed over the meal by Wigglesworth, “Almighty God, if you can now bless that which you have cursed, bless this foul pig to their bodies.” After this Wigglesworth was asked if he would partake in eating a piece of the hog to which he replied, “I never touch the stinking stuff.” How is it that the greatest pioneer of faith in the establishment of the Pentecostal Church taught this and today Pentecostal Christians all over the world have abandoned this very thing?
I’m talking about a man who was documented by the secular press of his day as raising the dead through the prayer of faith on multiple occasions. Perhaps it is best said that the reason why we don’t do what Wigglesworth did is because we don’t do what he did (if you don’t get that, the reason we don’t see the power of God in manifestation the way it was in Wigglesworth’s ministry is because we don’t obey the Word of God the way Wigglesworth did).
Eating Pork Is A Roman Catholic Thing
The question I have is: When did Christians actually decide that it was OK to eat things like pork and shellfish and everything God called an abomination in Leviticus 11 anyway? I have dug into this issue and while I have not conclusively found an answer for that, I do believe I have found some key facts that show Christians following the dietary laws of Leviticus 11 hundreds of years after the New Testament Church was established. One of the early Church fathers, Iraneaus (Bishop of Lyons), is recorded in his work “Against Heresies” as referring to the separation of clean and unclean meats. He uses them to illustrate another point, but it indicates that he may have himself found them still relevant at the time, which would have been approximately 180 a.d.
The Roman Catholic Church attributes the changing of the dietary laws to a Pope Eleutherius (who was posthumously named a Pope as his life predates the first living Pope, at the time of his life he was the Bishop of Rome). The Liber Pontificalis attributes the change to him for making a decree that, “no kind of food should be despised by Christians.” The Roman Catholic publication, however, also declares that this change may have actually occurred around 500 a.d., not at the time of Eleutherius, which would have been just prior to 200ad.
The Vatican has gone on record as stating that this publication has a habit of attributing certain key events with Popes. Eleutherius stood strongly against the Gnostics and Montanists, who taught that all forms of meat were forbidden. With that knowledge it is entirely possible that Eleutherius viewed food the same way we can conclude Jesus did in Mark 7, as we saw earlier. The Catholic Church may have later decided that his statement was what they needed to justify eating unclean things, so they used it that way. I have heard of records of Believers in the Early Church following the dietary laws established in the Bible as late as 500a.d., which further leads to the idea that Eleutherius was addressing specific teachings of the Gnostics and Montanists he disagreed with as opposed to actually teaching the abandonment of the Biblical dietary guide.
Isaiah And The Second Coming
I want to go now to a passage in the book of Isaiah that I believe may be the most important of this entire topic. Isaiah, of course, is one of the major prophets and is well known for prophesying events that occurred long after his own life. It was Isaiah, after all, that prophesied of the suffering of our Messiah at Calvary, describing the event in detail. It is no surprise that he also gives a specific prophesy at the conclusion of his writing concerning the Second Coming of Christ. I’ll not write out the entire chapter, although I do recommend taking the time to open your Bible and read it for yourself to help understand the full context. Instead I want to draw attention to a few key verses in the chapter.
For thus says Adonai: “Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream. You will be nursed, carried on the hip, and bounced on her knees.
~Isaiah 66:12 (TLV)
Reading through the entire chapter, and as we will see in a moment, this is an End Times Prophesy. Here in verse 12 we see the prophet declare this to be addressed to the Gentiles. In fact, if you look back at verse 10 he says to, “Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all you who love her.” The prophet is addressing Gentiles and all who love Israel. Aside from Messianic Jews you can’t really be a Christian without being a Gentile, and I truly believe that you can’t be a Christian and not love Israel. So in context this passage is clearly addressing Gentiles, and as we will see now it is addressing post-Resurrection Gentiles.
For behold, Adonai will come in fire, and His chariots like the whirlwind, to render His anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and His sword Adonai will execute judgment on all flesh and those slain by Adonai will be many.
~Isaiah 66:15-16 (TLV)
I really should not have to explain that this is an obvious picture of the second coming of Christ. It is almost identical Revelation 19:11-16 where the account of Christ’s Second Coming is recorded, take a moment to read it real quick. There is also not a time in history to date where the Lord has come in this manner. In His first coming, as we know, he came as a child and suffered as a criminal to pay the penalty for our sins. The only accepted theological time when Yeshua will come with fire and chariots like a whirlwind to render His anger and fury is at His Second Coming. Since this has not yet occurred and is believed to be the primary event that the Christian Church is awaiting, then it is clear that this passage is speaking about an event that is yet in the future.
Those who consecrate and purify themselves to enter the groves, following after one in the midst, who eat swine’s flesh, vermin and mice, will come to an end altogether.
~Isaiah 66:17 (TLV)
Now isn’t this interesting… those who eat pork and the abomination (if you recall, the word abomination was repeated over and over again in Leviticus 11 while describing the various unclean animals) will be consumed together with those who worship idols. If this is as it appears, an End Times Prophesy about the Second Coming of Christ and what He will consume together, then any reference to what Christians can and cannot eat throughout the New Testament must line up with this passage.
Now, before I go on I want to point out something interesting about the book of Isaiah. If you are not familiar with the Dead Sea Scrolls, these are a series of ancient scrolls that were found at a cave in Qum’ran in 1947. Among these is a scroll that has been named the Great Isaiah Scroll. The Isaiah Scroll is the oldest of the scrolls found and also the most complete. It is estimated to be from around 125 b.c.e. and is said to be the closest record to any original Old Testament writing to the original. Until the discovery the oldest copy of the book of Isaiah is from the Masoretic Aleppo Codex which dates 935 a.d. The Isaiah Scroll contains all 66 chapters of the book of Isaiah and matches the Masoretic text an astounding ninety-five percent. In addition to this, the variances in the texts are said to be variances in penmanship and the way some words are spelled. Think of it like this, some may say ‘color’ and others ‘colour’ whether you are using American English or British English, but it’s the same word. In another way, some when writing freehand will dot their ‘i’ while others may not, and still others try to be fancy and use a star or smiley face to dot their ‘i’. These are the kinds of differences found between the Isaiah Scroll and the Massoretic text.
I find all of this quite compelling in light of the passage in Isaiah 66. First of all this all makes the book of Isaiah arguably the most verifiably accurate and reliable of any book in the Bible. The other reason I find it compelling is that it is this very book that God preserved all of those years in a cave without it being destroyed. This scroll literally was over 2,000 years old when it was discovered and somehow it was preserved to where the entire book of Isaiah could be verified accurate with the next oldest manuscript, which was itself a 1,000 year difference from the ancient scroll.
Other Alleged Pro-Pork Arguments From The New Testament
Before I go back into some of the other texts modern Christians attempt to use to justify eating pork and the abomination, I want to make another point on why I am so adamant about following God’s dietary laws. What was the very first manifestation of sin recorded in Scripture? Of course it is the fall of man in Eden where Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s edict to refrain from eating of the trees in the midst of the garden. Think about this for a moment, the very first act of sin was in eating something that God said, “Don’t eat that!” Do you see the point? Satan is using the EXACT same tactic to deceive people today that he did in the very beginning.
He doesn’t have to change his method if people are dumb enough to fall for the same thing over and over again. Of course, the drive for food is said to be the absolute strongest driving force in people. The need for sustenance overpowers every other human desire, including the drive for sex. Think about that, we know how much some people have a problem living holy in their relationships, even in the Church. So how much easier must it be for Satan to get people to eat things they aren’t supposed to be eating?
Now then, as I stated, any New Testament Scripture regarding what we can and cannot eat must line up with Isaiah 66, as it is an End Times Prophecy about the Second Coming of Christ and what He will bring judgment on, which clearly includes eating pork and the abomination. So let’s look at a few more of these verses.
Colossians 2:16 says to let no one judge you in food or drink. So, does this say that we are clear to abandon God’s Law? No, it says to let no one judge you about your choice and if we put it in line with Isaiah 66 it doesn’t stand up to the argument that it allows for eating unclean meats. I tell people all the time who present this as their argument, “OK, you don’t judge me for obeying what the Bible says and I won’t judge you for rebelling against it… we’ll allow God to be the judge.”
1 Timothy 4:4 says that every creature of God is good and nothing to be refused. So again, does this line up with Isaiah 66? No! Quite simply a creature of God in this text must be a clean animal or a plant, something that God created as food for people. Besides, if we are to take this verse as meaning we can eat anything and nothing to be refused, you had better start eating spiders, bats, cockroaches, worms, snakes, rats, maggots… I mean, they are creatures and the command is that they are not to be refused, right? In order for you to hold this interpretation and not eat those things would make you a hypocrite, wouldn’t it? If the text really means that EVERY creature is good and not to be refused, well, OK, enough of that, I am sure you get the point.
Let’s pause for a moment and take a closer look at 1 Timothy 4:4, as this verse tends to confuse a lot of people, particularly when looking at English translations such as the King James, which was translated during Medieval times in the year 1611, when the English language was much different than it is today. Even a lot of modern English translations are inspired by the King James, which is why verses like 1 Timothy 4:4 maintain the use of confusing words in them.
You see, the translation is correct, it’s our understanding of certain words that is different than it was 400 years ago. If we research a couple of key words through the original Greek language, which can be done using a Strong’s Concordance, we can find a much better understanding of this verse. The original Greek word used for “creature” is ktisma and it refers to something that was created. The Greek word for “refused” is apoblétos and refers to something that is thrown out, rejected, cast away, and so on. You see, a creature is a created thing or a creation (we are new creatures in Christ, or you could say we are re-created, or a new creation).
While not as commonly used today, refuse is a correct word to use when describing trash or garbage. As we already saw in Genesis 9:3 ‘every’ doesn’t always mean ‘every’ when we are reading English translations of the Bible. A much more accurate way to translate 1 Timothy 4:4 in the context of Scripture, for modern American English readers, might be to say, “Everything God created (for the purpose of food) is good and should not be thrown away.” This also fits with the pattern of Jesus Himself, as we see that every time He fed multitudes of people He instructed His disciples to collect up the leftovers and let nothing go to waste (and as a side note, every one of those meals consisted of foods that are Biblically clean, such as clean fish and bread) [see Matthew 14:20; 15:37, Mark 8:8, John 6:12] .
1 Corinthians 10:25 says, “Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake:” Some will say that this means that Paul said it’s OK to eat pork because certainly the unsaved people of the society in Corinth sold every kind of meat there, as they had no regard for the practices of the Christians or Jews of that time. If you study the context of this passage, however, you will find that he was talking about meat sacrificed to idols and saying that the meat is not defiled just because someone used it in a ceremony of worship to a powerless false god and then decided to sell it in the market.
The Christians Paul was addressing certainly did not interpret his message as anything more or less than that, and they would have realized that, so long as it fit within the context of Scripture, they could buy the meat sold in the shambles. Once again, does this verse as an argument for eating unclean meats hold up against Isaiah 66? Of course not, none of these verses can hold up against Isaiah 66 if used to argue for eating what is unclean as it clearly says that at Messiah’s return those who eat unclean things will be wiped out by His wrath. Do you REALLY think God is going to tell you to do something that will have such devastating results?
Alternatives To The Abomination
In the end, it makes absolutely no sense at all to eat anything that the Bible calls an unclean abomination. I can tell you that every food product commonly associated with pork, from ham to bacon to sausage to pepperoni to salami to summer sausages and on and on, can be found made from either turkey, chicken or beef, all clean animals according to Scripture. Now you may want to make sure if you are buying these kinds of meats that they are free of chemical preservatives like sodium nitrites and sodium nitrates that can cause health problems, but even if you buy them with those chemicals in them you will be in line with God’s basic commandments of clean and unclean (although I don’t believe God wants you eating chemical poisons either and there is a Scriptural basis for that too, but I’ll cover that another time).
As far as things like lobster or crab, well, there are plenty of (clean) fish in the sea, and there are clean fish that have a good thick white meat that, while maybe a lighter texture, with a little fresh organic butter melted on top won’t be too far off of the lobster or crab. The point is there are Biblically clean alternatives to all of the “most desirable” of unclean meats, so there is really no good argument to eat what is unclean just because, “It tastes so good.”
Sure, we are living under Grace… so go ahead, do what you want, eat what you want. In the end there are good arguments for both sides of this issue, however, if the argument for abandoning God’s dietary laws under the New Testament is wrong, how will that effect your eternity? I mean, if my view is way off and it is in fact OK to eat these things it doesn’t change my eternal destination from choosing to follow them, and when we’re at the marriage supper of the lamb I’ll grab some pork chops, lobster tail and split a sausage and pepperoni pizza with you! But what if Isaiah 66 holds up and Jesus will indeed consume those who eat pork and the abomination? In other words, if you choose the view that says it is OK to break God’s Torah as a “New Testament Christians”, it presents the almost terrifying question: What if you’re wrong? There is certainly no risk of punishment for obedience to the Bible, but…
God surely will not cast away those who obey, but there is certainly a very, very strong basis in Scripture to say He will reject those who rebel. I mean, after all, with all of the information I have presented in this message alone, and considering what Isaiah 66:17 says, is the risk really worth it to eat something that you simply don’t need to eat?
END NOTE: I was first introduced to this information at World Harvest Church in Columbus, OH when Pastor Rod Parsley introduced a speaker by the name of Ted Broer, who visited on several occasions. Later another speaker was also introduced to speak on this topic as well, author of the best selling book “The Maker’s Diet“, Jordan Rubin. On Ted Broer’s health blog I found a great study titled The Adverse Influences Of Pork On Human Health. It is well worth reading. While the language is a little difficult with a lot of medical terminology, you should be able to get the gist of it. You’ll learn that bacon causes the fat roll you see on people’s neck, all of the parasites and diseases that come from eating pork, and how societies have stopped diseases by simply abandoning the practice of eating pork. It is very interesting that the very animals God said not to eat are the very animals that cause so much sickness and disease when eaten.
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