Getting back to the Garden – eating Vegetables
Gen. 1:29: Man was originally commanded to live upon fruits and vegetables only is clear. We do not know if there was any change made in the structure of our bodies after the flood to be suitable for other types of foods. It may have been incorporated when man was first created. We can see from Genesis, no animal was originally designed to eat another; nothing is given to any beast of the earth for food besides green herbs of the field. Some believe from Gen 9:3 that there is no actual evidence that animal food was ever used before this time. Others state of Gen 9:3 “These words do not affirm that man then first began to eat animal food, but only that God then for the first time authorized, or allowed him to do, what probably he had previously done in opposition to His will” (from Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament).
Mankind lost there length of life (600-900 years) not from a bad diet of eating flesh but from the consequence of sin. It also changed of the worlds conditions greatly, and more so after the flood. Before Noah we find that Lamech lived a few hundred years less than his predecessors (Gen.5:30). The sin factor would take time to decrease mans lifespan in each succeeding generation. The age of man was already in decline but the flood speeded the process up as the protective layer over the earth let the ultra violet rays and other detrimental conditions in, most believe that this is what decreased the life span. If age was directly reduced from meat, than those cultures who eat the most meat would always be the most diseased and have the smallest life span. But this is simply not true, what is most beneficial is moderation in what we consume.
In Noah’s day the unclean and clean animals were not referred to for food consumption as in Noah’s covenant but for sacrifice. The new command in Gen.9 to Noah extended to the animal kinds; with two restrictions - only use “that is alive.” This excluded animals that have died a natural death as food. Also “Flesh with its life, its blood, shall ye not eat.” The animal must be slain and the blood drained.
Gen. 8:20 tells us every clean animal was used for sacrifice, not for eating. This is not in reference to dietary laws as with the nation Israel. These were separated as unclean for the sacrifices that were to take place from the instruction of God to Adam. The reason is obvious, no one was told to eat meat before the flood. In Gen.9:3 God (specifically commanded) every living thing as food for them the only prohibition, don’t eat it with the blood. “Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.” This would be all animals, not some of them (as in Noah’s covenant).
Clean animals according to the Law of Moses were those that chewed the cud and had divided hooves (Lev. 11:3). Some forbidden foods did serve as health precautions. An example is Pork. It must be cooked at high temperatures or the deadly parasites would not be killed. The people at this time never heard of trichinosis, but they were protected from it as they traveled by adhering to their food. Animal fat was also forbidden as food (Lev. 3:16-17). We know fat is essential to good health, but when too much fat is eaten it becomes dangerous causing a buildup of cholesterol. Insects that had legs and leaped, such as the grasshopper, were allowed for food. Certain types of fish could be eaten (Lev. 11:9-12). A total of 20 different species of birds was rejected (11:13-19). The prohibition of “unclean” animals in Deut.14.2 in the Mosaic law were to separate Israel as God’s Covenant people from other nations “…Out of all the peoples on the earth…chosen…to be his treasured possession.” It was not that “unclean meats” are bad food, but are unclean to the Jewish people. God is not instructing the Jews to become healthy and the Gentiles to be sick. He gave them numerous instructions that would separate them from the other nations: in the way they dressed and conducted themselves. Israel was kept under the Law of Moses until the Messiah would come (Galatians 3-4). This was training them to be discerning and distinguish how they were to live, separate from how the other nations lived.
The debate on what foods we are allowed to eat can only be understood from a new covenant perspective.
Peter's vision in Acts 10: Notice the vision: Acts 10:9-17: “On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: And he became very hungry, and would have eaten; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: Wherein were all manner of four-footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air, And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, what God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. This was done thrice; and the vessel was received up again into heaven. Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon's house, and stood before the gate.”
Acts 10:13 And a voice came to him, "Rise, Peter; kill and eat."
V.15 And a voice spoke to him again the second time, "What God has cleansed you must not call common."
Do not call anything unclean. God used food but its meaning was applied to mankind (gentiles).
The message: The new covenant takes precedence over the old. Jesus is making it clear what happened to the old covenant v.17 what the vision meant.
Acts 10:34-45 Then Peter opened his mouth and said: "In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality.
And through v.36- 43 preaches Christ, the gospel and their witness of the events.
v.44-45 “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.”
Peter retells the story of what took place in Acts 11:9-19
v.12"Then the Spirit told me to go with them, doubting nothing. “They enter Cornelius’ house
v.15"And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. "Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, 'John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.' "If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?" When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, "Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life."
This clarifies the intention of the vision- God used what Peter knew of unclean food to communicate that he wants to reach the Gentiles which were considered unclean. He went from what is known to unknown.
A problem from not understanding what God was doing. (Lev.11) if this is still in effect than so are the other Old Testament requirements of the law. The ceremonial laws are done away with in Col.2, but some who keep the law from obligation bind them to their own people
Rom. 14:2 states “For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables.” (ALL means all just like in Gen.9:2). It was a matter of faith and practice as Paul gives the principle we live by. Little faith means little freedom.” Rom. 14:14-15 “I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died.” Vs.17 tells us” the kingdom of God is not food or drink.” Those who understand this freedom should not exercise it if it will stumble those who do not have faith for that freedom. But what of those who do not have that freedom being convinced the Bible says we can’t. They legislate the Old Testament law to others saying they are breaking God’s law? It may not have dawned on some, but a strict vegetable and fruit diet may not be good for some people.
Levitical law had forbidden certain foods to keep the Jews separate. But now the Gentiles were allowed to enter the Body of Christ. Paul applies this freedom in Christ to two Old Testament restrictions, worship days and food.
Rom 14:5-6 “One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.”
If someone thinks they may not be able to eat a certain food or worship on a certain day, it may not be for someone else. The Law of Moses tells us not to eat pork or shelled seafood. The Law of Christ gives us liberty to eat it all, as long as it is by thanksgiving. It was Peter's vision that gave him a revelation that all are clean, both the former foods and the Gentiles (Acts 10:9-16). It was this event that opened the Church to those outside Judaism and finally fulfilled what Christ taught the apostles in his great commission. The epistles do not record teaching the food laws anywhere; except in reference to having liberty to eat all and stumbling someone who does not have this faith. This would be more toward the Jews who were once under the Mosaic covenant.
1 Cor. 8:7-13 “However, there is not in everyone that knowledge; for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 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. But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol's temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols? And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.”
Paul’s solution eat whatever is put before you (that means all kinds of meats, even those dedicated to another god) if one has faith and it will prevent another from stumbling. We are not to be divisive on any of the foods we eat (or days we worship). All food is now clean, the principle left to us is that it would be wrong to eat or drink anything that causes someone else to stumble (this principle was implied in Acts 15:29 with the Gentiles relationship to the Jews). It is better to abstain from eating meat or drinking wine (the custom), if it will cause your brother or sister to stumble.
1 Cor. 10:24-32: “Let no one seek his own, but each one the other's well-being. Eat whatever is sold in the meat market, asking no questions for conscience' sake; for "the earth is the Lord's, and all its fullness." If any of those who do not believe invites you to dinner, and you desire to go, eat whatever is set before you, asking no question for conscience' sake. But if anyone says to you, "This was offered to idols," do not eat it for the sake of the one who told you, and for conscience' sake; for "the earth is the Lord's, and all its fullness." "Conscience," I say, not your own, but that of the other. For why is my liberty judged by another man's conscience? But if I partake with thanks, why am I evil spoken of for the food over which I give thanks? Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God”
What is written to the Church in the epistles after Peters revelation Paul expands in Col. 2:16: “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, … they are a shadow of things to come.” This is speaking of the Old Testament practices of Moses where they were judged. If the Colossians died with Christ they are not to be controlled by the elemental things of the world. Paul questions their keeping these regulations of food, since these things will perish -- why live as if you are still under them? V:19-23 “and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God. Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations--”Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” which all concern things which perish with the using-- according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.”
If you participated in the cross with Christ the law has no benefit for your spirituality. The observance of Old Testament Jewish ceremonies, which were the first elements, shadows of the substance, (the beginning of the spiritual alphabet of ABC’s), Christ is the alpha and the omega. He ALONE nourishes our spiritual life.
The fact is, Peter nor Paul did not separate one type of law from another. And from this vision and his meeting with Cornelius he understood all things that were once forbidden are now clean. As v.12 states the Spirit told him to go into the house doubting nothing that would happen. So Peter exercised faith in action and in understanding the new covenant. If the foods that were unclean are now clean, so are the gentiles who the Jews considered unclean. If they are not clean, then neither are the Gentiles.
“Do not be lead away by diverse and strange teachings; for it is well that the heart be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited their adherents” (Heb.13:9). The writer is teaching us that people who promote special diets as Bible doctrine, who go back to the Old Testament covenant are teaching divisive and strange teachings. It was the ascetics had renounced certain foods and pleasures for their spirituality.
Paul further states of what people in the church will do in the last days. 1 Tim 4:1-2 “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron.” V:3-4 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving.” (affirming Gen.9)
Notice the words ‘every’, and ‘nothing’ making the explanation as clear as possible. The element of faith is what gives one freedom to eat everything. Paul calls it a departure from faith to forbid people who want to eat these foods. It’s ones freedom of choice. Those who rely on the Old Testament in these areas forfeit their freedom and should not enforce this same prohibition on others in the church.
It was Moses' law that separated the clean from the unclean foods. Acts 13:38-39: “Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.”