38 Question 2

In the beginning of time, we have no indication that Adam and Eve, or anyone of that time ate meat.  It was after Noah’s flood that we read for the first time that animals were given to us to consume.  We read in Genesis 9:3, “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.”

However, when the Lord brought His people out of the land of Egypt, he instituted the law to guide and govern His people.  Among the particulars of the law there was certain dietary restrictions given.  Let’s read Leviticus 11:3-8, “Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat. Nevertheless these shall ye not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the hoof: as the camel, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. And the coney, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. And the hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you. Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcase shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you.”  It wasn’t enough that an animal chewed his cud or that it had a cloven foot.  It was required that an animal, to be considered clean, had to both chew his cud and be cloven footed.  The Lord required complete cleanness of the animals for His people.  It is very probable that these restrictions were instituted by the Lord to guard His people from diseases.

There were also restrictions for the kinds of seafood they were allowed to eat.  We continue reading in the same chapter, Leviticus 11:9-12, “These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat. And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you: They shall be even an abomination unto you; ye shall not eat of their flesh, but ye shall have their carcases in abomination. Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you.”  This would eliminate all shellfish and fish such as catfish, which have no scales.  This would also eliminate all creatures that live in the water, such as turtles, salamanders, and eels.  Here, too, the fish with scales and fins were considered to be more wholesome, and less likely to cause sicknesses.

Then we read in Leviticus 7:26, “Moreover ye shall eat no manner of blood, whether it be of fowl or of beast, in any of your dwellings.”  We see there was also a restriction against eating the blood of animals.  We can easily recognize that if an animal has any disease or sickness, the blood will bear that and anyone that drinks the blood will be affected by it.  Many sicknesses an animal might have can be removed by cooking it, but drinking the raw blood of that animal would pass that sickness directly along to the one drinking it.  While there are many good spiritual lessons to be learned from these restrictions, we also see there was a practical reason for these dietary restrictions.

What about today?  Do we need to continue to obey these restrictions?  First of all, we are not under the law, but under grace as we read in Romans 6:14, “…for ye are not under the law, but under grace.”  Let’s read of a remarkable experience that happened to Peter in Acts 10:9-15, “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 fourfooted 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.”  Here Peter was instructed to eat animals that he considered unclean.  Notice that Peter wasn’t told that these animals were not unclean.  No, he was told that these unclean animals had now been cleansed.  Did Peter break the law by eating these animals?  No, the restriction had been removed through Christ, who fulfilled the law as we read in Matthew 5:17, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.”

In the day we live in, there are no scriptural restrictions to our diets.  Many of us enjoy pork, rabbit, catfish, shrimp, oysters, turtles, and many other kinds of animals that were prohibited under the Old Testament law.  To eat blood, while it is not a common practice in many countries, is not prohibited today.  (38.2)