What’s all this about Blood in the Bible?

Just a cursory reading of the Bible and you’ll eventually read something about blood.

“…The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.” Genesis 4:10 (ESV) [God talking to Cain after Cain killed his brother Abel.]

“But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, the blood.”  Genesis 9:4 (ESV) [God telling Noah how to eat meat after the great flood.]

“Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin.”  Exodus 12:22 (ESV) [God’s telling the Israelites to kill a lamb or goat and put its blood on their doorposts prior to God going through Egypt and freeing the Israelites.]

“But you must not eat the blood; pour it out on the ground like water.” Deuteronomy 12:16 (NIV)

“and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7 (NIV)

It seems Yehovah (God / the LORD) puts importance on blood and gave people rules concerning it.

But what does this have to do with Christians, for, as I hear often, “we are no longer under the law!”?

Well, consider the following:

– Three of the above quotes are from before the “Law” was given (on mount Sinai).

– The apostles, including Paul, and the early Jerusalem church leaders, considered the issue of blood of fundamental importance to Gentile believers.

In Acts 15 we find what is called the “Jerusalem Council.”  They wrote to all Gentile churches the following, expecting all believers to obey:

“…that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality.”  Acts 15:29 (ESV)

So what? you may ask.  This doesn’t affect my walk with Jesus (Yeshua).

Our walk with Yeshua (Jesus), and his knowing us, is deepened when we do as He asks.  When we do as He asks, we are humbling ourselves and saying to him, “your way is the right way; not my way.”

What better way to get to know Yeshua (Jesus) better, and be known by him, then to walk as he walked and do what pleases him!

And obeying is training in righteousness.  How can we say that we will listen to Him when the spirit speaks to us when we won’t listen when His words are in black and white before us!  As we learn to do the easy things, and listen to the easy to hear words, we will grow nearer to Him and hear Him clearer in all things!

After this you may also ask, “what does it mean to abstain from blood?”  That is an important question as the Bible does not clearly spell it out.  Looking into this opens up a huge discussion on what it means, and what it implies.  But that is for a later post….

Shalom!  -Yosef

Peter and the Floating Pig

Most Christians have heard the story (in Acts chapter 10) about Peter having a vision of a large sheet being lowered from heaven; it being full of all sorts of animals and birds; and he being told to ‘rise and eat.’  And most Christians have heard that the vision was given to show Peter that he could eat anything, including pork.  And that is the end of the discussion.

But is that what the vision is really about?  Let’s look at the whole story.  (By the way, the vision itself is in Acts 10:9-16).

First, note that the story of Peter’s vision is given in the middle of the story about the Roman centurion Cornelius, and his vision.   In Biblical literature, this is a clue that the two stories have something to do with one another.

Next, take a look at Peter’s initial reaction to the vision.  Peter exclaimed, “By no means, Lord: for I have never eaten anything this is common or unclean.” Acts 10:14 (ESV).   Apparently, Peter was either never told he could eat anything, or he never understood that he had been told.

And what was Peter’s immediate reaction after the vision was over.  It’s written, “Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision … might mean.” Acts 10:17 (ESV).  In other words, he wasn’t immediately thinking that the vision had anything to do with food.

The Biblical narrative then relates that the servants sent by Cornelius are at the door.  This is another hint that the two stories are interrelated.

Then Peter, in talking with Cornelius and the people with him, states,

“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 10:28 (ESV)

When did God show Peter this?  The whole context of the story points to Peter’s vision.  Add to that the realization that the ‘law’ Peter is referring to is not one of God’s laws!

Lastly, take a look at Acts 11:1-18.  The other apostles and brothers in Christ had heard what had happened, that Peter had visited with, and even eaten with, Gentiles, and they asked Peter about it.  Peter then related the vision he had seen.

And what happens next?  Acts 11:18 states,

“When they heard these things they fell silent.  And they glorified God, saying, ‘Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.’ “

Not one of them thought the vision had anything to do with calling unclean animals now fit to be eaten.  It didn’t even occur to them that the vision had anything to do with food!

So why did God use all manner of unclean animals to show Peter that no person is to be called unclean?  I don’t know. Why does God so often compare people to sheep, or even sheep and goats?

Perhaps it is a subtle reminder that He is the one that has created all things, and He is the one who dictates which things are to be considered clean and which are to be considered unclean.

It is also a strong reminder to not put words in God’s mouth.   God said clearly,

“You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it…” Deuteronomy 4:2 (ESV)

God gave Peter a very graphic reminder through this vision.   God never called gentiles (as a whole group) unclean!

Shalom.  – Yosef

 

How many pigs were on Noah’s ark? Genesis 6 – 8

So how many pigs were there?  If you said “two”, then you were….  right!  There were two.  One male.  One female.  Now to the next question.

How many sheep were on the ark?  There were two of every animal, right?  Wrong.

Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and his mate…” Genesis 7:2 (ESV)

Okay, ignoring that there is a bit of uncertainty in the Hebrew as to whether the number is 7 pairs or 7 total, the point is that there was a category of animal known as ‘clean’!  Long before Yehovah (the LORD) gave the ‘Law’ through Moses, there was a distinction between ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’ animals.  And, it seems, that Noah knew the distinction even before this as God does not need to explain it to him (in my opinion).

You may say, “So what?  Just a bit further on God says, “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you.” Genesis 9:3 (ESV).  Doesn’t this show that we can eat anything?”  Many people take it to mean just that, but I wonder.

First off, God also said that “As I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.” Genesis 9:3 (ESV)  And yet there are many poisonous plants that should not be eaten (or not eaten raw).  There has always been exceptions to what can be eaten.  In the garden of Eden, the exception was the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  Today, just about any animal can be eaten (and are eaten).   But does that mean that we, as followers of Yehovah (the LORD) through Yeshua (Jesus), are to eat anything?

To me, the issue between clean and unclean animals is just another test.  Will we, or will we not, follow what God wants?   Will we (well, Adam and Eve) or will we not eat from the forbidden tree (in the garden of Eden) even though it is good to eat?  The question is the same today, will we or will we not eat only those things God has called clean?

So, instead of just accepting the doctrine that says ‘Christians can eat whatever they want; Jesus nullified the dietary laws,’ check it out for yourself.  If you have questions, send them in (see the ‘questions‘ page) and I (or a guest author) will address them soon.

To me, following God’s dietary law is an opportunity to honor Him everyday, and serve Him with all parts of my body.

Shalom!   – Yosef

The ‘Questions‘ page is new.  Check it out!

 

If Pigs Could Be Clean – Deuteronomy 14

In Deuteronomy 14 we are given a list of animals that God says we can eat and some general rules with which we can determine ourselves if an animal can be eaten.  This list gives rise to the ‘kosher’ food industry, but really the section is about clean and unclean animals.  Kosher takes in much more then that and isn’t the topic of this post.

In the passage, pigs are singled out as one of the animals that meet half the requirements needed to be clean (and therefore eatable).  And throughout history, eating pork has been one of the activities used as a measurement to show that one is not Jewish.  (Another is not keeping the Sabbath, but that is for a different post.)  And, judging by most Christian breakfasts or pot-lucks, I wonder if that isn’t still true today.  I digress.  Here are a couple comments on the topic of whether or not Christians should pay attention to the ‘kosher’ laws.  This is not meant as a counter argument against all the reasons Christianity has for eating pork.  Just a couple things to think about.

  • The idea of clean and unclean animals predates the giving of the ‘Law’.  Noah took on two of each animal and 7 (pairs) of each clean animal.  See Genesis 7:1-3.
  • In defense of eating anything, people like to point out that God gave ‘all things’ for food.  And this is true.  However, near the end of the ‘clean animals’ (kosher) lists (Deut. 14 and Leviticus 11), God makes the comments that we are to be holy for He is holy, and that the list is for us to learn to distinguish between clean and unclean.
  • Peter also tells us to be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:16).  One way of being holy is to only eat ‘clean’ animals.
  • Learning to distinguish between clean and unclean is training for leaning to distinguish between Godly and ungodly.

I realize that the whole issue of eating clean seems an anathema to Christians as Christians are ‘under grace, not under law.’  Well, that saying will be discussed later as it is a greatly misunderstood statement.  Mostly, though, I will just point out that neither Yeshua (Jesus) nor the apostles, nor anyone in the early Jerusalem church, ate pork or taught that it could be eaten.

However, before even discussing the ‘kosher’ laws with Christians, the question, “do you eat blood?” should be asked.  And when it is asked, a reply such as, “I’m not under the law!” is inevitably given.

There is a much ignored verse in the book of Acts.  In Acts 15 there is the account of the ‘Jerusalem council.’  The results of that council is a letter written and agreed upon by all apostles, elders (of the Jerusalem church) and Paul.  It is address to all Gentile churches.  Part of that letter states:

“…but [we] should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood.”  (ESV) Acts 15:20

So, before even wondering about clean / unclean, one needs to learn what is meant by not eating meat from a strangled animal and refraining from blood.

  • Yosef

 

 

 

Breaking News: Kosher Slaughter Outlawed!

Okay, so that isn’t an actual headline; at least not for this country (USA).  However, this is a headline that has appeared in several different forms in different European countries in the very recent past.  In fact, kosher slaughter was just in the news in regards to Austria wanting to require Jews to register before they can purchase Kosher meat (and also requiring Muslims to register before purchasing halal meat.)

What is ‘kosher’?  The word ‘kosher’ doesn’t actually appear in the Bible.  It refers to meat that has been raised and processed in accord with all Biblical (and traditional) commands.  God gives us a list of ‘clean’ animals to eat in the Bible.  These lists form the backbone of what ‘kosher’ is.

The root of the argument against allowing ‘kosher’ meat slaughter is the actual method of killing the animal.  Kosher requires the slitting of the throat with a very sharp knife.  Most nations, however, require the animal to first be ‘stunned’, usually by firing a large metal object into the animal’s brain, and then butchering it.  Those arguing against kosher say that kosher slaughter is inhumane.  Odd; – no animal ever survives kosher slaughter, yet it can and does occur that animals survive and are still conscious after being ‘stunned’.  However, I digress from the point I want to make.

Throughout history nations have started attacking the Jews by attacking the practices of not eating pork; circumcision; and kosher slaughtering (in old times, the normal practice was to slit an animals throat, but kosher requires a certain disposal of the blood whereas the nations use the blood).  The attacks on these practices have always been harbingers of full scale antisemitism to come.

Also, in Europe, as well as in this nation, the attack against the practice of circumcision is full blown.  (I remember many years ago when my oldest son was born.  There was no synagogue around, so we asked the hospital to circumcise our son.  This was in Germany.  I remember coming to visit my wife that evening after she saw the doctor.  She was basically in tears because of the way the doctor treated her, because ‘how could she request such a barbaric procedure!’  – I must admit, after I saw how the doctors did the procedure, I actually agree – what they did was barbaric!  As opposed to our second son who was circumcised by a Mohel (professional Jewish person who does circumcisions).  It was quick, clean, and not traumatic as it was when the doctors did it.)

Why should this concern Christians?  Aside from the point that nowhere in scripture is the command to eat Biblically clean rescinded, such attacks against Judaism are only the start.  Next is the attacks on Christianity… Oh, wait, that has already started!  If you haven’t noticed such attacks in the news over the last many years, then this post won’t help you.

So, wake up all!  Attacks against the Judeo-Christian belief are in full swing and only going to get worse.  Decide what you believe (hopefully according to God’s Word) and stand up for it!  And pray for others that we may all stand with Yeshua (Jesus) when trials come.

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”  Ephesians 5:15 (ESV)

“…praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.  To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints…”  Ephesians 6:18 (ESV)

And be thankful for all things, including that we live in a time where we have the Word of God; can blog about His Word; and can send help to others around the world easily.

  • Yosef