What, you donít eat pork? How many times have we heard that? We have heard about it from our family, friends, co-workers and even the new people at church.
This law is important because it is important to God. In fact, one of the tests of a true minister is they must make known the difference between the clean and unclean and reveal God's Sabbaths (Ezekiel 22:26)
Deuteronomy 14:2 (Summarized): You are the children of the Lord your God, you are a holy people to the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.
Verse 3: "You shall not eat any detestable thing... These are the animals which you may eat: the ox, sheep, goat, deer and several others." Here are the identifying characteristics which make an animal either clean or unclean: "You may eat every animal with cloven hooves, having the hoof split into two parts and chews the cud."
Animals must have both aspects to be considered as clean. Notice verse 8: Swine or pigs are unclean, you shall not eat their flesh or even touch their dead carcasses. Verse 9 states that the water creatures we may consume must have both fins and scales. Of course , this eliminates shrimp, lobster, catfish and shellfish. Just like meat there are two characteristics to look for. Verses 11 through 20 cover various birds that should not be eaten. Identifying those birds which are edible takes a little study. One must study the characteristics of the unclean birds listed and deduce which are clean and fit for food. Leviticus 11:20 through 23 explains about insects that are edible. Verse 24 through 47 should be read thoroughly to fully understand God's law regarding the clean and unclean foods.
Well, just how important are these laws anyway? Let's turn to Deuteronomy 28. The first 14 verses detail the blessings for keeping the law. Later, starting at verse 15, we see curses proclaimed for not keeping God's law. We should note that several of these curses are bad health. This is probably due to eating unclean meat.
In the 1980's quite a bit of attention was paid to healthful eating but people didn't get very healthy. They omitted the very foundation of healthy eating and that's God's revelation about unclean meat.
There are reams of information on how unhealthy unclean meat is, especially pork. Often there is a link to cancer! In the book "Bible Dietetics and Natural Agriculture" by Dr. N.S. Hanoka, Leviticus 26: 16 is quoted: the wasting disease, fever, and the botch of Egypt is none other than the CANCER of today! In a nine year study in Turkey, a predominately Moslem country where no pork is allowed, only 2.7% of hospitalized citizens were there due to cancer.
It's hard to argue against pork from a health standpoint because everyone has that relative who ate pork all their lives and yet lived to be 99 years old. The best motive for avoiding pork is because God said to avoid it. Sure you will stand out as strange because this country is accustom to the fact so many eat swine's flesh. I have been to countries where most eat dogs and cats. In other countries they eat mice and camels. So, all things are relative.
When I first came into this know-ledge, we just had a hog slaughtered and had 150 pounds of that "delicious" pork in our freezer. Well, it had to go. We gave a lot away even though we didn't want others to eat it, the dog ate rather well, and we just threw the rest away.
We then proceeded to change our diet and lifestyle. Those were the years before the public concern over cholesterol and it seemed lard, or hog fat, was in everything from bread to cookies. Unfortunately, all the wonderful turkey products were still a dream of Louis Rich. But we survived and learned that obedience to God takes some effort.
Some time after this in a seemingly unrelated event, my boys were selling raffle tickets for their baseball league. After we sold our quota, they had one ticket left, so we bought it as well. As it turned out, that last ticket was the one drawn for first prize! Why did I include this? Remember all the pork I wasted before? Well, that first prize in the raffle was a side of beef! So what it cost me originally was probably paid back several times over. We cannot out give God.
Like the Sabbath, God's dietary law is a real bone of contention, pardon the expression. The so called "Christian" churches of today do not have time for God's laws, especially food restrictions. The Bible has suffered much by well meaning copyists who felt the need to editorialize a bit to help others to come to the church's conclusion.
One such place is Mark 7, where the subject is ceremonial washing imposed by the pharisees and Jesus showing that man is spiritually defiled by what comes out of a man. Verse 19 reads (in the American Standard Version): "...because it goes not into his heart , but into his belly, and goes not into the drought? This he said, making all meats clean." The New International Version reads: " In saying this, Jesus declared all food clean." This sounds pretty conclusive on the surface. The only problem is that the words, "this he said making all meats clean" are not in the original text of the words spoken by Jesus!
There are a few other scriptures which could be twisted to make it seem the dietary laws are done away with, but a more careful reading will show the topic of discussion is: meat offered to idols, judging other people, vegetarianism and trying to get salvation by works.
The defiance of these laws is deeply rooted in church history, in particular, Catholic Church history. It's no coincidence that ham is a traditional meal at Easter and Christmas. That was started by the Catholic Church to distance themselves from the Jews.
Swine's flesh was a favorite of pagan nations. There is one account in Act's 12:23 where King Herod was struck down by God and he was eaten by worms. It is hard to imagine worms attacking a man. Probably, Herod ate so much pork during his life time he was full of tapeworms and trichinosis, so God allowed them to devour him from the inside out. Not a pleasant way to go.
Another reason the dietary laws have suffered scorn is because of the many additional restrictions added by Jewish leaders through the years, typified by the washings of Mark 7. In their zeal to be perfect in the eyes of God they took things a bit far.
Consider this section in the book: "The Jewish Festival Cookbook," on page 181 it tells how the Jewish family is to make their kitchen kosher or ritually correct. All animals and poultry are to be slaughtered according to ritual by a highly trained man known as a schochet or kosher butcher. The animal must be of the clean variety, not being mutilated nor having signs of disease or lesions . First the animal must be killed a certain way and then only the fore quarters may be used. After the meat is brought home further koshering is necessary: soak for half hour, then drain and rinse. Next, sprinkle with course salt, let lay on a slanted board for one hour, and then wash the meat. Afterwards, it lists the different things to be done if the meat is organ meat or poultry. Actually, I found this interesting but very restrictive to one's lifestyle.
Then it got into the restriction in regards to eating milk and meat products together. This was carried to the extreme of separate utensils, dishes, silverware, pots and pans, dish towels, wash basins, and even separate cupboards.
Once they made the separation of the milk and meat, then they had to make a list of food that could be eaten with either item. They call that food, kosher pareve. Eggs are pareve, but if there is a speck of blood in the yoke, throw it away. Fish is pareve, but must not be cooked with meat. Various cooking fats and oils are okay. Of course, you must have a separate set of pareve dishes and utensils. It goes on and on.
I quote all this not to ridicule our Jewish friends, because their intentions are honorable, in fact, they preface the chapter with this: "The kosher home is one of the cornerstones of the Hebrew faith. It has nourished and enriched the lives of countless generations. The selection and preparation of food according to the dietary laws, observed in kosher homes, have served to protect the health and welfare of the Jewish people since very early days. For the individual Jew, obedience to the dietary laws has ever been a satisfying discipline and a great source of strength, as well as a rich bond of kinship between himself and his fellow Jews." These are indeed quaint customs. But for Christians, we need not carry the restrictions men wish to place on us. The apostle Paul was a champion for that cause.
A kosher label on meat assures us it is Biblically clean and fit for food; but meat can also be eaten without that kosher label as long as it meets the biblical standards. I can still remember the look of dismay on my wife's face as she discovered the many items she had to permanently leave off her shopping list. I could just imagine telling her to salt and wash the meat, and all the stuff about the separate dishes.... yeah, right!
Mankind is the most precision and quality crafted thing on this planet. We were given a fairly detailed operators manual which is the Bible. If man would follow the instructions given, much of our ill health would be eliminated. I believe men are more careful in the care and upkeep of their automobiles than their own bodies.
I've read several books on biblical health laws. Possibly the best is "God's key to health and happiness", by Elmer Josephson. Mr. Josephson is an ordained Baptist minister.
Finally, Psalm 139 tells us: for you have formed my inward parts; you have covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are your works, my frame was not hidden from you, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
Until we are born again into a spiritual body in the first resurrection, we would do well to observe God's dietary law and care for this physical body we have now, so we may be in good health to carry on the work God has set before us.