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

Zechariah, Elizabeth, Christmas, and the Law of God

It’s Christmas time!  (No, I don’t observe Christmas, but the telling of Yeshua’s (Jesus’) birth in the gospels is always fun to read!)

The gospel of Luke tells of the priest Zechariah, his wife Elizabeth, and how they became the parents of the one called “John the Baptist.”  (See Luke 1:5-24).  At the beginning of the story this comment is made about them.

“And they [Zechariah and Elizabeth] were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord.”  Luke 1:6 (ESV), [parenthetical comment mine].

I’ll admit that I had read this verse many times over the years before it hit me what it was saying.  ‘Blameless’ under “the law”???  That’s not possible, is it?  At least it isn’t possible according to most teachings.  But there isn’t any confusion about what the verse means.  They were walking blamelessly.

The confusion stems from a false idea that the law of God was given so that people could attain salvation.  But nowhere in the Bible is any such comment made or alluded to.  The law of God defines God’s standard of righteousness, and details His grace, mercy, loving kindness, and forgiveness.

Zechariah and Elizabeth could walk blamelessly because they walked according to how God said to live, and when they messed up, they sought His forgiveness and, if required, offered a sacrifice.

They were ‘blameless’ not because of perfection, but because they adhered to what God said in all aspects of life, including doing what He said when they did something intentionally or inadvertently wrong.

We need to get rid of this idea that the law of God can’t be followed.  That idea has been eroding the foundations of the church for long enough!

We can walk blamelessly, and Yeshua (Jesus) opened up that possibility to all people.  But to do so one has to first commit to completely following God and His ways.

I don’t mean that everyone has to suddenly learn and follow all the law of God upon “accepting Yeshua (Jesus) as Lord and savior.”  Paul addresses this in most of his letters, as does the council of Jerusalem (see Acts 15:1-35).

The walk in righteousness is a process.  Paul understood that to suddenly require someone to follow the entire law of God will lead to legalism every time.  (Legalism is the thought that one needs to follow God’s law to acquire salvation).

God’s law is perfect and is His unchanging standard of righteousness.  But there are really only 5 fundamental things required of new (gentile) believers.  Yes, I said ‘required.’  They are listed in the letter written to the gentiles by those at the council in Acts 15:1-35.  Well, they list 4 things, abstain from: blood; meat from animals strangled; from food offered to idols; and from fornication.  The fifth thing is assumed from the context: the regular hearing of God’s word.

So, walk can walk blamelessly.  And with joy knowing that Yeshua (Jesus) walks with.

Shalom!  – Yosef

 

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