Old Testament Food Laws


Sung  Psalm 1

Read  Leviticus 11:1-23 (c.f. Deut. 14)

This chapter concerns the animals, fish, fowls and insects that the Jews were allowed to eat.

Previously there were none of these laws (Gen.9:3) although Abel and Abraham seemed to know what sacrifices were acceptable to God.

All cloven-footed and ruminant animals were allowed. They were called clean and notably were easily domesticated, common, available and used in divinely-ordained sacrifices. Whereas all carnivores (associated with death) were unclean.

It is important to remember that eating none of these foods is sinful today as Christ made clear (Matthew 15:11, Acts 10:28 (people), Romans 14:14). Christ abolished the food laws.

Why were these laws given?

There is no compelling Biblical basis relating them to hygiene or paganism but:

  1. Part of God’s multiplication of laws (necessary for children) Gal.4:3, 3:23-24 to increase transgression and make the people long for Messiah.
  2. Separation from Gentile nations.

Dangers associated with adopting laws like these today are asceticism and legalism (Pharisaism) and many follow pagan wrong views of creation (pantheism/Hinduism/vegetarianism/veganism) discounting the fact God made the animals for man, clothed our first parents with skins, demanded animal sacrifice and gave us many meats to eat. If one wants to be vegetarian Romans 14:2 make clear it is not sinful but the sign of being a spiritually weaker brother!



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