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Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading:
Many Christians read Peter's vision from Acts 10 and interpret it to mean that Christians may (with God's blessing) set aside Heaven's Torah-given dietary restrictions. They believe this vision to mean that the distinction between clean and unclean animals, given by God, is no longer in effect.
But this is not how Peter and the early Christians interpreted this vision. When Peter saw the vision of the sheet descending containing unclean animals and was told to kill and eat the creatures in the sheet, he never for a moment believed that the vision was to be taken literally. He knew God does not change (Malachi 3:6), rescinding any part of the Law which He established.
This was why Peter was in such a quandary about the meaning of the vision. He knew what the vision didn't mean. But he couldn't figure out what it did mean... That is, until he went downstairs and met the Gentile people who were seeking God. Suddenly, the lights came on in his understanding. God had been showing him that the typical Jewish prejudice towards "heathen" people wasn't something God wanted Peter to keep. God's purpose was to save every lost person - not just the Jews.
We can be certain that this is how Peter correctly interpreted this strange vision, because when the believers in Judaea heard that he had started to fellowship with Gentiles, leading them to Christ, he cited this vision as the basis for his authority to do so:
Peter immediately shared the vision of the sheet filled with unclean animals. He told how the Spirit had instructed him to accompany the Gentile men who had come to get him in Joppa. Then he explained how the Holy Spirit had instructed him to go with the men. Ultimately, the Holy Spirit had fallen upon these Gentiles in the same way it fell upon the Jewish believers. After he finished this explanation, the believers in Judaea were satisfied.
Acts 11:1-3 - "And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them."
In other words, they all agreed with Peter's interpretation of the vision. It wasn't about food. It was about people.
What about you? Thinking all the dietary laws were ended, have you had no interest to know which foods God called "unclean" and commanded that we not eat them? When we eat unclean things, we become spiritually defiled.
Scripture tells us that Daniel, when taken captive into Babylon, wouldn't eat the king's meat. Why? He knew that by eating the king's meats he would become "defiled".
Daniel 1:8 "But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself."The word "defile" is translated from the Hebrew word ga'al, which means "to soil, pollute, or (figuratively) desecrate". The word "desecrate" in a figurative sense is to defile a spiritual place - as in to pollute the temple of God, through sin. Daniel understood that His body was the Temple of God. He also knew that partaking of the king's meats and wines would "defile" God's Temple - his body.
1 Corinthians 3:16 "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are."Daniel chose to risk the king's displeasure by abstaining from the king's meats. Why? It wasn't because Daniel was a vegan, as many have thought. We can know this for certain, because the Bible states that Daniel fasted from "pleasant bread" (desserts) and "flesh" (meat) for three full weeks as he mourned over a vision God had given to him:
Daniel 10:2-3 "In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled."In Daniel 10:3, the Bible plainly tells us that Daniel normally ate "pleasant bread" and "flesh", because he abstained from eating them until three whole weeks were finished. Clearly, in Daniel's Torah-based understanding of what to eat and what not to eat all meats didn't defile a man. Although this next point is only suggested it still bears mentioning, since Daniel was an Israelite, who kept the Torah, he would have kept the Passover (which back then involved eating the Passover Lamb). In conclusion, we can see that it isn't the eating of all kinds of meat which defiles someone.
But Scripture does state that some kinds of meats will defile our body temple, impairing the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives (1 Corinthians 3:16):
Leviticus 11:44 "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."So, if all meats aren't defiling, what "creeping things" (living creatures) do defile us? According to Scripture, the following info-graphic shows clean (Torah-sanctioned) meats and also identifies unclean (defiling) meats:
Let us be careful to not add to nor diminish anything from the Word of God.
Deuteronomy 4:2 "Ye shall not add unto the Word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the Commandments of the LORD your God which I command you."
It is adding to His Word to believe that all meats are defiling. It is diminishing from His Word to believe that we can eat absolutely everything with impunity. But the sure foundation upon which we may always safely stand is a "Thus saith the Lord."