What is Clean and What is Unclean….Peter and His Vision

 

What is Clean and What is Unclean….Peter and His Vision – Halal Part 4
 
 I used to believe there were New Testament Scriptures, which removed all distinctions between clean and unclean meats.  I didn’t believe that because I studied it out for myself, I believed it because those over me preached it, to which I said, amen and thank you.
 
I took for granted to trust what other people said was correct. I assumed they had studied the Scriptures and had the correct interpretation for me, until the Holy Ghost took me on a guided tour through His Word.
 
When He began to lead and teach me, I discovered why my spirit was in such a tizzy regarding the Halal Food issues surfacing in America today. The Halal issue is important, but God was leading me to the root of the issue, not just the fluff on top.
 
Before I knew what was happening I was going back to the beginning and looking at what He said, instead of what man says or thinks. I find myself hearing the words of Jesus when He said, “It is written.” (Find what is written.)
 
So, what is written? If all the dietary laws are all gone, what else is gone? What about the Ten Commandments are they gone too? What do we keep?
 
Some people think the Ten Commandments are gone too, along with the dietary laws regarding clean and unclean meats. Hmm………Is that true? 
 
Are there Commandments in the New Testament from God?
 
As a matter of fact, YES!
 
There are 1,050 commandments in the New Testament for Christians to obey.
 
Because they are repetitious, they can be classified under 69 headings. They cover every phase of man’s life in his relationship to God and his fellowmen, now and hereafter. If obeyed, they will bring rich rewards here and forever; if disobeyed, they will bring condemnation and eternal punishment.
 
Ten Commandments in the O.T. and 1050 in the NT. Phew! Where do I start?
 
Well, because of what I am studying, I’m going right back to Acts 15 with the clean and unclean issues and see what I find.
 
The Bible clearly states in the New Testament Chapter 15, there are 7 Commands that we are to “abstain” from in Acts 15:19-20 spoken by James to the Gentiles.
 
“Wherefore my (sentence) is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God:  But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.”
 
There are several conditions required here. The last two are similar and can be put together and if you notice, they ALL have to do with pagan idol worship.
 
1.       Idols (Acts 15:20):
 
Abstain from foods sacrificed to idols
 
2.       Fornication (Acts 15:20-29: I Thess 4:2-3):
 
Abstain from sexual immorality. Often idolatry and fornication were related to pagan cults. It is a characteristic of Greco-Roman life. As with the harlot-priestesses of Aphrodite at Corinth and Paphos, prostitution was often a part of idolatry. The man who indulged himself in the temple expressed his supposed faith in the goddess thus worshipped.
 
3.       Strangled meats (Acts 15:20
 
Abstain from strangled animals (as all their blood is still in them) and from blood. The heathen were accustomed, at their sacrifices, to drink blood mingled with wine.
 
4.       Eating Blood (Acts 15:20)
5.       Meats offered to idols (Acts 15:29)
6.       All appearance of evil (I Thess 5:22)
7.       Fleshly lusts (I Peter 2:11)
 
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NOTE:  Point 1 above is based on the Ten Commandments:  Ex 20:2-6
 
2) I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 3) You shall have no other gods before me. 4) You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.
 
5) You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6) but showing love to a thousand [generations] of those who love me and keep my commandments.
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NOTE: Point 2 is based on the 7th Commandment:
 
Ex 20:14:  You shall not commit adultery.
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NOTE: Point 3 is regarding the eating and drinking of blood and of things strangled, which would still have blood in them  (This does not apply to eating meats that are cooked rare and etc., as even when the animal is slaughtered as required, there will still be “some” blood that remains in the meat)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
James confirmed three of the Ten Commandments, in the New Testament here. But does that mean the other 7 commandments are done away with? Is James saying that the Gentile Christians can kill, steal and bear false witnesses? Why are the other 7 commandments not mentioned or even, the unclean food not mentioned?
 
Simply put, those were not the issues causing the problems between the Jews and the Gentile Christians. All these recommendations were based on common practices among the Gentiles that they WERE doing. Remember that we are dealing with recently converted Gentiles.
 
Evidently there were some problems with the Gentiles former practices. Couldn’t they just eat the food and drinks with close friends and relatives? Couldn’t they continue with certain practices they were accustomed to do with their friends?
 
If you think back, there were similar problems when the Israelites were freed from the bondage of Egypt especially in “idol worship.”
 
James was giving instructions to the Gentiles regarding, some of the minimal requirements expected of them in Acts 15:20-25 concerning what they HAD been doing in regard to their lifestyle.
 
The disciples knew not to do all these pagan things and drink blood, because it is written in Lev 17:14: 
 
For it is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof: therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eatest it shall be CUT OFF.
 
This continues to point out that the administrative change from the Levitical priesthood to the ministry of Jesus Christ did not void God’s expectations that His people obey His law of clean and unclean meats (or any other law), as part of their sanctification or separation as people of God.
 
Leviticus 11:44-47
 
44) For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
 
[45] For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy
 
[46] This is the law of the beasts, and of the fowl, and of every living creature that moveth in the waters, and of every creature that creepeth upon the earth:
 
[47] To make a difference between the unclean and the clean, and between the beast that may be eaten and the beast that may not be eaten.
 
 
 
 
In Leviticus 19:2; 20:7, 22-26; 21:8:  Peter and Paul both spoke of the continuing need for God’s people to be holy.
 
Ephesians 1:4 Again speaks of holiness before the Lord: 
 
According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
 
1 Peter 1:14-16
 
[14] As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:
 
[15] But as he, which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;
 
[16] Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
See All…).
 
Being holy does not include eating meats sacrificed to idols in the Old and or New Testaments. Even scholars acknowledge that members of the early Church continued to observe the distinctions between clean and unclean meats even AFTER Jesus’ death.
 
However, because of the common misconception that the New Testament covenant abolishes much of God’s law, many assume these food requirements were “simply” Jewish cultural practices that continued, until the Church became more Gentile in composition and outlook, giving place to preconceived ideas and doctrines of men passed down through the years, which have influenced interpretations of many New Testament passages.
 
The process of reading one’s own ideas into Scripture is called “eisegesis.”
 
To me, this is when people say, I think this, my opinion is, or I believe this or that….and this and that, which could contain 95% truth and 5% guess. How many of you know being off 5% off can be dangerous.
 
In my search to examine the New Testament passages dealing with unclean food, I want to practice exegesis and be 100% right on!
 
“Exegesis” means to draw the meaning out of Scripture by thoroughly understanding the background of a passage, as we seek to apply it. I like that!
 
So I am going to exegesis when I look at the Scriptures where Peter has his vision in Acts 10 where so many believe the dietary commands from God regarding eating unclean and common meats are changed. 
 Peter’s Vision
  
 
Have all meats been declared clean?
 
One often-misunderstood section of the Bible concerns Peter’s vision in which he “saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth.
 
In this sheet “were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air.”
 
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Peter heard a voice tell him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat”
 
Acts 10:11-14
 
[11] 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:
 
[12] Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.
 
[13] And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.
 
[14] But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.
 
 
Remember in Part 3 we learned the difference in the words, “common” and “unclean.”
 
The word common here is “koinos” meaning common. This word is never used in reference to something that is unclean from nature (from birth/beginning). Common is made unclean by being dedicated to idols and/or by unholy practices, but not unclean from its creation. God made it as a food source for us and sanctified it.
 
In the case of a meat that is butchered according to the Muslim “Halal” required process, it is dedicated to Allah, which makes it food sacrificed to idols. There is only one God for Christians and His Name is Yahweh. He commands we shall have NO other idols or gods. He is a jealous God.
 
This meat sacrificed to Allah was not (common) from its creation by God, it was made common by the Gentiles or pagans when they dedicated it to Allah, other idols, or when people did unholy practices with it.
 
When Peter says I have not eaten anything unclean, he is using the word akathartos, which is used in reference throughout the NT to “UNCLEAN SPIRITS” and “ANIMALS,” classified by the Word of God as UNCLEAN. 
 
This word describes something that is unclean from the beginning of its creation.  When God made it, He said it was UNCLEAN from its creation, to clean up trash and junk from the earth, not as food for us! 
 
NOTE:  UNCLEAN MEATS (akathartos) were NEVER created to be a source of food for us. Think about the following passage:
 
“Then the UNCLEAN SPIRITS went out and entered the swine (there were about two thousand); and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and drowned in the sea.” (Mark 5:13)
 
In the natural, there are said to be 300 diseases in the blood of the pig and in some countries they use pigs to kill snakes.  If the snake bites them, the poison is absorbed into their flesh. Their bodies were created to be janitors of the earth, so what they eat, they were designed to digest with no problems.  When we eat the flesh of the pig, we get all that junk and according to the WORD, they were never created to be a food source for God’s people. Well, no wonder!
 
And where was the last place the Prodigal Son was, before he went home and his dad cleaned him up…..With the pigs.
 
Could this unclean food source be the origin of where (unclean) demonic spirits and plagues of diseases enter people who were disobeying God’s Word and ate what they were told was unclean and/or common? Do we realize in America today we have
more sickness, disease and take more pharmaceutical drugs than any other country?
 
Of 30 times “akathartos” (unclean) is used, it is in reference to “UNCLEAN SPIRITS” most often and to UNCLEAN ANIMALS.”
 
“And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of “demons,” a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every UNCLEAN and hated bird!” (Revelation 18:2)
 
UNCLEAN SPIRITS will never be CLEAN at any point.
 
UNCLEAN ANIMALS are classified as such and, will NEVER BE CLEAN.
 
Peter differentiated between “koinos” (common) and “akathartos” (unclean) when he experienced his vision. He said he had NEVER eaten anything common or unclean. (Acts 10:14) 
 
Peter and his vision.
 
Notice this same vision came to him three times (verse 16). At this point many readers, without finishing the account, assume they know the meaning of the vision: that all kinds of flesh can now be eaten.
 
These scriptures, however, show that is not at all what Peter understood. On the contrary, he “wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant” (verse 17).
 
He studied and sought the Lord.  (We should take heed here.)
 
Later Peter realized the significance of the revelation, that “God has shown me that I should not call any “man” common or unclean” (verse 28).
 
Recognizing the true intent of the vision, Peter then baptized the first Gentiles (non-Israelites) called into the Church (verses 45-48).
 
This divine revelation, we see from reading further in the account, did not concern food at all. Rather, it concerned people. Because the Jewish religious leaders at the time of Christ had considered Gentiles to be unclean, this dramatic vision righted this common misperception that had come to affect Peter and other members of the Church.
 
It demonstrated that God was opening salvation up to members of any race; Gentiles whom God called, were now welcomed into the Church.
 
Far from abolishing God’s instructions against eating unclean meats, these verses clearly show that Peter, almost two decades after Christ’s death, had “never
eaten anything common or unclean.”
 
Nor is there evidence that he ate unclean meats after this experience. He obviously continued to obey God’s laws about meats that could and could not be eaten and saw no reason to change.
 
He realized that the vision could not be annulling God’s instructions, thus he “thought about the vision” until he understood its true meaning (verses 17-19, 28). Something for us to really think about!
 
Paul is consistent here with the trend that has been emerging. All things are lawful to him, but he would not give offence to another by eating something the other thought unclean, in the other’s presence. He would consider the other’s feelings above his own.
 
If invited out to a meal, he would show good manners by saying a blessing and cheerfully eating what was put in front of him rather than offend the host by rejecting what would probably be a carefully and lovingly prepared meal.
 
1 Corinthians 10:27-AV If any of them that believe not bid you [to a feast], and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake.
 
I would be giving thanks to God for any food I would consume in that type of event, which is also a great idea for anything nowadays that we put into our mouths, considering all the spiritual and natural contaminates floating around every where.
 
After I posted last weeks article on what Paul said about unclean and common foods, I went to church and they had a pot luck dinner.  These ladies really know how to cook and all of us got our plates and sampled all the wonderful dishes put on the table.
 
I sat down and began to eat and took a big bite of the green beans..As I looked down I noticed that they were cooked with the southern favorite….ham.
 
God surely has a sense of humor, because there I sat in the House of God, looking at pork.  So I thought, well Lord, Paul said if you go somewhere and they invite you to a feast then don’t as any questions, just give thanks for the food and eat.  So, that’s what I did.
 
However, I am going to be a little more careful and look at things closer.  No one would have said anything, if I would not have taken a portion of green beans. I think it is interesting my first dinner out and in the House of God, I was put to the test and shown how easily I can do the “very thing I don’t want to do.”  (smile)
 
The other question that keeps coming to me is why do we want to eat something God declared unclean, when we have so many things that are designated clean?
 

What is it with these food laws, which seem to make us so rebellious? Are they meant to deprive us of pleasure, nutrition and/or taste? Sometimes our choices or desires are not the best for us, even though we might have the right to have them.

People say to me I can eat anything now.  Everything is OK.  However, I sense I am like Paul here when he says:
 

You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is beneficial. I Cor 10:23   Selah
 
Blessings, bon
 
Next, Having the choice: To Halal or not to Halal. 
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