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

 

 

 

Deuteronomy 4 and 5: Hearing and Doing

In Deuteronomy 5, we have Moses retelling about both the giving of the “10 Statements” (10 commandments) and the 10 Statements themselves.  About the only time one hears about the “10 Commandments” in our culture now is when some people get upset that a government institution is removing them from public view.   Are they even important any more?  Should we pay attention to them?  Here are a couple points to ponder.

The 10 Statements themselves are the only words written by Yehovah (the LORD) Himself!

That fact should make them very, very important in your thinking.

How the 10 were given is also significant.  God’s voice was heard by several million people.  Group psychology would dictate that out of such a large group, if the event didn’t actually happen, someone would have said so.  Yet nowhere in any historical accounts is this episode doubted.  This is a powerful testimony to the truth of the Bible!

The 10 can be summed up, but not replaced, by this statement from Yeshua (Jesus). The 10 build on this statement.

“And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  Matthew 22:37-39 (ESV)

Further on in Deuteronomy 5 we see the Israelites responding with the comment, “we will hear it [God’s words] and do it.”  This is, unfortunately, a far cry from how Christianity looks at God’s word.  If this statement were to be uttered by many in the churches today, it would read like this:

We’ll hear it [God’s words], and if we understand it and agree with it, and we don’t consider it ‘law’, then we might do it if it fits into our “statement of belief.”

When did God ever say that we had to understand and agree with what He asks before we should obey it.  Every chance we have of doing something commanded in His word is a chance to worship and love Him!  Let’s start with obeying the 10 Statements.  Read them (found in two places, in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5).  Think about them!  Discuss them with others (comment in the blog)!

When we hesitate to ‘do’ the Word of God, or talk with others about it, we are robbing ourselves of a chance to worship God and of a chance to grow in sanctification. 

Nowhere in scripture, be it the “old” or the “new testament”, does God ever get upset with someone who is following His word!  Nowhere!  We do, however, find Yeshua (Jesus) getting upset at those who were ‘adding’ to His word.  What do you think Yeshua (Jesus) would say to those subtracting from His word?  Here is what God says:

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

I think Yeshua (Jesus) would be just as confrontational with Christian leaders who subtract from God’s word just as he was confrontational with the Pharisees who were adding to God’s word!  Christianity as a whole takes away from God’s word!  Am I wrong?  Think “Old” Testament.  Even that name, “old”, implies it should be disregarded.

… Oh, and to those protesting the removal of the 10 Statements (commandments) from public view, I ask, are they posted in your church?  Your house? Anywhere you abide?  If the answer is ‘no’, then you have no business protesting or being surprised that the government is removing them from public spaces!

– Yosef

(Okay, this post is a bit confrontational.  It’s not meant to offend, but to challenge!  If you have a different opinion on the topic, please share it!  Or if you agree, let me know!)

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

 

10 Commandments Series – 2: “You shall have no other Gods before me.”

“You shall have no other gods before me.  You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.  You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I Yehovah (the LORD) your God am a jealous God…” Exodus 20: 3-5 (ESV)

Without knowing who is speaking (see part 1) the above statement would be fairly useless.  But we know who is speaking because He just told us.  And it is followed by this:

“…visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.” Exodus 20:5-6 (ESV)

Well, there is a quite a bit in these verses.  This post will deal with the ‘have no other gods before me’ part.  The rest of the verse, in my opinion, deals with a culture and how it raises its children.  Back to ‘not having any other gods before me.’

If you have been in Christian circles for any length of time then you have most likely heard this verse quoted and then everyday activities listed that can become as ‘other gods’ in our lives.  That is not how I am going to approach the subject, though there is validity to much of what is said in those discussions.  Rather,

Tradition!  Tradition.  (pause)  Tradition!!! Tradition.  (think “Fiddler on the Roof” and the song “Tradition”.  If you haven’t seen the film, you are missing an excellent film.)

There is nothing wrong with traditions as long as they are honoring to God, either directly or indirectly by not going against His word.  God left us a huge amount of room to make our own traditions around His word.  If you study God’s “Appointed Times” (the “Feasts” – see Leviticus 23)), you will see only a few things that are required.  The rest we get to make up!  And boy have we!  (Unfortunately, much of what was ‘made up’ is ‘get rid of it all together – but that is for another post.)

When the Israelites were entering the promised land, God made it very clear that they were not to copy anything the peoples were doing.  They weren’t even to look into their practices (see Deuteronomy 12:29-32).  God repeatedly stated that He did not want the Israelites to copy anything the peoples of the land were doing, nor worship Him in that way.

“And you shall not walk in the customs of the nation that I am driving out before you… ” Leviticus 20:23 (ESV)

“Learn not the way of the nations…” Jeremiah 10:2 (ESV)

“… and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? – that I also may do the same.’  You shall not worship Yehovah (the LORD) your God in that way…” Deuteronomy 12:30-31 (ESV)

To put that in today’s language, the verse says,

Don’t bring any part of pagan practices into your worship or traditions, and then think that I’m okay with that simply because you put the phrase, “In Jesus’ name” on the practice; or think that I’m okay with it because I have been silent about it for generations.  It’s not okay. Time and phrases do not change the Word of God!

We need to check our own traditions and practices and, whenever it stems from pagan practices, get rid of it!  God gave us already a bunch of ‘holidays’ around which we can form all sorts of traditions, and when we do so, the nations will see that we are ‘set apart’ (holy).

Honoring God is also a form of worshiping Him.  Obeying is a form of worshiping Him.  Be like Yeshua (Jesus) and only follow those traditions that truly honor God the Father!

So, can you think of any traditions that are common in Christianity (or Judaism) that violate this command of God?  I can think of quite a few…

  • Yosef

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Sabbath, Creation, Guarding and Observing

The ten commandments are listed in two places in the Torah (Pentateuch).  They are listed first in Exodus 20, then again in Deuteronomy 5.  The lists are almost identical except when it concerns the commandment regarding the Sabbath.

First, I’m not going into whether or not one should still observe the Sabbath, or whether it is Friday night to Saturday night or Sunday.  That is a discussion for another day.  This discussion is about what God actually said – not how various people interpreted it later.

In one of the places where the Sabbath command is listed, God says we are to observe the Sabbath.  In the other place, He states that we are to guard it.  In one place it is because God created all in six days and rested on the seventh, and the other because He brought us out of slavery (see the earlier posts, “Creation” on Jan. 5th, 2017, and “Sabbath and Slavery” on Feb. 5th, 2017.

To guard and observe (or in some translations, “remember and observe”, or “remember and keep”.

The Sabbath was given not as a burden to us (none of the Torah was meant so), but as a sign of the relationship between God and us, and as a means for us to keep our walk with God straight.  It takes two things to do this.

We need to remember the Sabbath.  Remember both that God created all in six days.  In other words, He is the one who is in control of all things.  Not use.

We need to guard or keep the Sabbath.  We need to actively arrange our lives so that we can do as God commanded on the Sabbath.  Rest.  This takes work, and ritual helps towards this goal for most people.

When we don’t guard the Sabbath, our ‘remembering’ of it will also fall away, and we thereby lose one of the most beautiful aspects and visible elements of God’s love to us.

-Yosef