Thursday, August 17, 2017

Sermon: Clean and Unclean Meats, Tom Hamilton

Sermon Clean and Unclean Meats
 Tom Hamilton

As I grew up, my father had a heart attack at about 50 yrs of age.  He was ordered onto a strict diet which banned all pork products.  When I first heard about the fact that the Bible teaches that only some animals were to be eaten, it was no big thing for me because I was already eating that way.  But for many people, the dietary laws taught by the Bible are a big change.

What does the Bible teach about clean and unclean meats?  Is it still applicable to Christians today?

Old Testament

Deu. 14:1-21 Goes through and lists the animals, birds, and fish that may or may not be eaten.  Lev. 11 also goes thru these in more detail.
Note v2 of Deu. 14, “For you are a holy people to the Lord your God…a special treasure above all the people on the face of the earth.  (V3) You shall not eat any detestable (abominable) thing.”  Ancient Israel was to be special to God.  This required them to go above and beyond what might be required of others.  Note v21 They were not to eat of anything that dies of itself but you could sell it to the foreigner, “for you are a holy people to the Lord your God.”  How much more special are we today to God as Christians? 

Going back to the beginning in Genesis, what did God say about eating?
Gen. 1: 28-30,  v29  “See I have given you every herb that yields seeds which is on the face of the earth and every tree whose fruit yields seeds to you it shall be for food.”  Clean and unclean
meats are not addressed here.  This is an indication that prior to flood of Noah, people may    have been vegetarians.  Note that even though the phrase “every herb that yields seeds” is used, some plants, such as poison ivy, poison sumac, holly, etc. were still not fit for people to  eat.  Acorns still had to be treated before becoming edible. (removing tannin).  Adam  and Eve were still in the Garden of Eden at this time.

Gen. 4:2 Able was a keeper of sheep.  This is after man no longer lives in the Garden of Eden and   indicates that the sheep were being raised for food.  Note that the Book of Genesis covers large           spans of history, often with only a few sentences.  We often end up with a just a glimpse of
what is going on.  While we can make some logical conclusions, it is not possible to know                 everything for certain. Perhaps they were being raised just for wool.

Gen. 7 This is the time God tells Noah to go into the ark.
   v2  Take 7 of every clean animal…2 of every unclean animal.  God talks to Noah in such a waythat assumes Noah already knows the difference between clean animals and unclean animals. This is long before the Levitical laws given to Moses, and while it is incorporated into them, likethe 7th Day Sabbath, it predates the “Law of Moses”.  This indicates men were meat-eating atthis time.

Gen. 9  v2  “fear of you and dread shall be on every beast….they are given into your hand.”
V3  “every moving thing that lives shall be food for you.  I have given you all things, even as     the green herbs” (yet poison ivy berries are still poisonous).  God now allows us to eat certain   of birds, beasts, and bugs as well as fish.  Perhaps animals were still not naturally scared of                     Mankind up to this point.  We have a snapshot into what is going on, but not the full picture.
It does not make sense that God would first teach man about clean and unclean meats in the time of Noah, and then tell man he can eat any creature that moves after the Flood, and then   once again restrict what animals one can eat in Lev. 11 in Moses day.  Heb. 13:8 tells us that         “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”  What is more logical here is that God        is reiterating to them that animals (clean ones), can be eaten as food.
V4  “do not eat the blood”.

Isa. 11:6-9  “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb…”
V7  “…the lion shall eat straw like the ox.”
V9  “They shall not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain for the earth shall be full of the
Knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”
This is a glimpse into the future and we see the whole world is at peace, even the animals. 
It may be that Mankind shall also become vegetarian once again.  Regardless, it will be a
wonderful time to be alive.

New Testament

Jesus :
Mat. 15: 1-20
“It is not what goes into a man, but what comes out that makes him unclean.”
The apostles and Jesus were not doing ceremonial washings before eating.  Jesus remained 100% compliant to God’s laws.  He did not always follow the customs of men that added to God’s laws, but he always kept God’s laws perfectly.
(Mark 7:14-23).

Acts 10 & 11  Peter’s dream “… now I see than no man is unclean in the eyes of God.”  This is what the dream was about, not you can eat anything that moves.  Note that Peter was still eating only clean meats at this point several years after Christ’s death.   Nothing in this scripture changes God’s dietary laws.   
Acts 10:17, 28, 34
Acts 11:8 & 9, 18

Rom. 14 : 17 “… for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”  (v2 vegetarianism seems to be addressed here)
Here we have an important pronouncement about what is important in God’s kingdom.  The emphasis is on spiritual not physical matters.

I Cor. 8:8  “But food does not commend us to God, for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse.”
(food offered to idols talked about here; Paul was having to deal with situations that weren’t as much a problem in Judea).  This is very important to remember, eating or not eating foods does not commend us to God.  God is concerned with character and righteousness.

Col. 2. 8-16  v16 “ …let no man judge you in food or in drink…”  (God judges you in respect to both.)

I Tim. 4: 3-5.    v4 nothing is to be refused - will you eat roaches, rats, poison ivy berries, etc. if set before you?

Mountain man diet : these men ate meat for breakfast, meat for lunch, and meat for supper with little else to supplement it about 10 months of the year.   For snacking : dried meat - jerky and pemmican.  There were times when game was scarce and the men were reduced to eating whatever they could find.  Twice the results of living on unclean animals was noted.  The men began wasting away/losing weight/loss of vitality.  The animals they usually ate were clean : buffalo, elk, deer, antelope, mountain goat, mountain sheep, geese, duck, turkey.  The unclean ones mentioned that they wasted away on were : squirrel, rat, rabbit, etc.  The results of eating a diet of strictly bear or beavertail (these were unclean meats they seemed to like) was not addressed.

There are some known dangers of Unclean Meats
Pork - tricinossis/tape worms, very fatty meat.
Rabbit -

You are to be a holy people to Me.  Not to eat blood.  Not to eat things strangled, dead, torn by beasts, etc.  We are to be set apart for God.

To obey is better than sacrifice I Sam. 8:7.
God doesn’t declare something an abomination and then changes His mind.

So you think you’re eating “kosher” do you?  Some items from the List (below) that contain unclean meats.


Mat. 5:17-18  “Think not that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets.  I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.
For assuredly I say to you, til heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”

Heaven and earth have not yet passed away.  The law of God therefore remains effective for us. This includes the knowledge of clean and unclean meats which even predates the law of Moses (Levitical law/priesthood).  It is still in effect and we should follow it.  Nevertheless remember that food does not commend us to God.  It is a physical thing.  We are to look to the spiritual, “… for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”  Do the best you can to follow these teachings but concentrate on the “weightier matters” of God (Mat. 23:23).

The List - obtained from “Clean and Unclean List Products” at “” website.  We do not know the accuracy or date of this information.  It is given as an example only. Companies are always changing products, so checking the ingredients yourself is always a good idea.

Guiness Beer - contains an ingredient from catfish
Marshmallows - most brands - pork gelatin
Pillsbury - all can refrigerated biscuits - beef or pork
Sarah Lee - classic french cheese cake - pork gelatin
Kraft - Planters Dry Roasted Peanuts - pork gelatin
Welch’s - fruit snacks - pork gelatin
General Mills - Lucky Charms - pork gelatin
Eckrich - Smoked Beef Sausage - pork casings
      - Turkey Sausage - pork casings
Sarah Lee - Ballpark - all products - made on same equipment as pork products - possible cross-contamination.

Note : one church member stated that Ballpark now cleans their equipment with pressurized steam.  The equipment is then meticulously inspected by a Rabbi before changing to turkey or beef products.  The likelihood of any cross-contamination would seem therefore to be limited to a molecular level at worst.

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