14 July 2013

A Survey of the Old Testament Law--Circumcision, Purification, Leprosy

Leviticus 12:1-81 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 "Speak to the children of Israel, saying: 'If a woman has conceived, and borne a male child, then she shall be unclean seven days; as in the days of her customary impurity she shall be unclean. 3 And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. 4 She shall then continue in the blood of her purification thirty-three days. She shall not touch any hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary until the days of her purification are fulfilled. 5 But if she bears a female child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her customary impurity, and she shall continue in the blood of her purification sixty-six days. 6 When the days of her purification are fulfilled, whether for a son or a daughter, she shall bring to the priest a lamb of the first year as a burnt offering, and a young pigeon or a turtledove as a sin offering, to the door of the tabernacle of meeting. 7 Then he shall offer it before the LORD, and make atonement for her. And she shall be clean from the flow of her blood. This is the law for her who has borne a male or a female. 8 And if she is not able to bring a lamb, then she may bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons—one as a burnt offering and the other as a sin offering. So the priest shall make atonement for her, and she will be clean.'"

That’s the whole chapter.

Eight verses.

When a male child was born, how long until anyone could be under the same roof with the woman? Seven days. How many days after that until she could come to the tabernacle? Thirty-three days. How many days total? Forty days. And here we have again another period of forty days. How many days did the skies open up and the fountains of the deep break forth for Noah? Forty days. How many days was Moses on the mountain getting the Law? How many days did Jonah warn the Ninevites until their city would be overthrown? Forty days. Forty days. How many days was Jesus fasting in the wilderness? Forty days. How many years did the people wander in the wilderness? Forty years. There is some symbolism to the number forty in God’s economy. In fact, one could not be beaten with more than forty stripes under the Law.

Now, let’s talk a little about the circumcision. We could talk at length about the Judaizers and their heretical belief that unless a Gentile was circumcised, they could not be counted as a Christian. But we won’t. Let me just point out a couple things here. This command for circumcision is not new to the Law. In fact, this was the outward symbol by which one was identified as a Jew. And when do we find the first circumcision? Genesis 17:9-139 And God said to Abraham: "As for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. 10 This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; 11 and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you. 12 He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised, every male child in your generations, he who is born in your house or bought with money from any foreigner who is not your descendant. 13 He who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money must be circumcised, and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant." God incorporates this outward sign into His Law, and commands that every male be circumcised on their eighth day out of the womb. Now remember, all the regulations contained in the old covenant pointed to Christ and the new covenant. That includes circumcision.

 Next, let’s look at the birth of our Lord. Luke 2:21-2421 And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called JESUS, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb. 22 Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the LORD"), 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, "A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons." Even in His birth and circumcision He fulfilled the Law. He was circumcised the eighth day, His earthly parents brought the prescribed gift. And it also shows the lowly means He came from. What gift do they bring? "A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons." They did not have the means to bring cattle, or a lamb, or a goat. The best they could do was a couple of pigeons. Point being, He was not rich, He was not (as John Avenzini so wrongly trumpets), “handling big money.” Where did He tell people He lived? Matthew 8:20“Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests. But the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Paul tells us in 2nd Corinthians 8:9For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor. He did not come and make Himself known to the rich and well-off. He did not hobnob with the rich and famous. He identified with the poor in material things, to show that we all are poor in spiritual things. And Mary, His mother, completed every command that was given to the childbearing woman in the Law.

But finally, let us talk about circumcision and the Christian. Are we, as Christians under the new covenant, still required and bound to be circumcised? No. It would be foolish to even try and argue that, since Paul writes at such great lengths—going so far as to even dedicate an entire letter to the church at Galatia—that no, we are not required to be circumcised. To say that one must be circumcised in order to be saved is to preach a different gospel. Galatians 1:6-96 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. In other words, if anyone tells you that in order to be saved you must do something in addition to what Christ did on the cross, then may God send that person to the fiery depths of Hell. Martin Luther, in his well-known commentary on this epistle, writes—

“Verse 8…Paul’s zeal for the Gospel becomes so fervent that it almost leads him to curse angels. ‘I would rather that I, my brethren, yes, the angels of heaven be anathematized than that my gospel be overthrown’…Paul maintains that there is no other gospel besides the one he had preached to the Galatians. He preached, not a gospel of his own invention, but the very same Gospel God had long ago prescribed in the Sacred Scriptures… Verse 9…Paul repeats the curse, directing it now upon other persons. Before, he cursed himself, his brethren, and an angel from heaven…Paul herewith curses and excommunicates all false teachers including his opponents. He is so worked up that he dares to curse all who pervert his Gospel. Would to God that this terrible pronouncement of the Apostle might strike fear into the hearts of all who pervert the Gospel of Paul.”

Later in that same letter, Paul unleashes this broadside against Law-keepers, Galatians 5:12I could wish that those who trouble you would even cut themselves off!  Circumcision was for the time being, for the people who lived under the first covenant. It was done away with when Christ established His church. It is not what makes a person a Christian. Romans 2:28-2928 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; 29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God. Now, I know what you may be asking. “But God tells Abraham that ‘My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.’ (Genesis 17:13). Doesn't that mean that circumcision is to be forever?” Yes—but with an explanation. Didn’t God establish the Passover as an “everlasting ordinance” (Exodus 12:17)? Yes. But is that “everlasting ordinance” continued in Christ, our Passover [who] was sacrificed for us? Absolutely. Likewise, circumcision—the sign of the covenant God made with Abraham—is kept by the circumcision of the heart, and we who are of faith are sons of Abraham (Galatians 3:7).

You see, the Law was all about outward purity. The gospel, however, is about an inward change that abhors sin before it can even be acted upon. Should we abstain from evil? Of course. The same God who abhorred murder and adultery under the old covenant is the same God who abhors such things under the new. Although we are under grace, that is not an excuse to live wantonly as the lost. Romans 6:15What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Galatians 5:13For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh. So then, as with so many things contained in the Law, the physical has been fulfilled by the spiritual. As the writer of Hebrews tells us, He takes away the first that He may establish the second (Hebrews 10:9). Which is why, when a woman gives birth today, she need not be excluded form church service for forty days (80 if she has a daughter). Because it is no longer about the outward purification. It is no longer about the requirements of a Law that cannot impart life (Galatians 3:19) nor make one righteous.

OK, so, moving on to chapters 13 through 15. We’re gonna try to get through these rather quickly, because they concern just a couple areas: (1) leprous skin, discharges, garments and houses, and cleansing lepers; and (2) bodily discharges. Let’s begin by talking about leprosy.
Leviticus 13:1-81 And the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: “2 When a man has on the skin of his body a swelling, a scab, or a bright spot, and it becomes on the skin of his body like a leprous sore, then he shall be brought to Aaron the priest or to one of his sons the priests. 3 The priest shall examine the sore on the skin of the body; and if the hair on the sore has turned white, and the sore appears to be deeper than the skin of his body, it is a leprous sore. Then the priest shall examine him, and pronounce him unclean. 4 But if the bright spot is white on the skin of his body, and does not appear to be deeper than the skin, and its hair has not turned white, then the priest shall isolate the one who has the sore seven days. 5 And the priest shall examine him on the seventh day; and indeed if the sore appears to be as it was, and the sore has not spread on the skin, then the priest shall isolate him another seven days. 6 Then the priest shall examine him again on the seventh day; and indeed if the sore has faded, and the sore has not spread on the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him clean; it is only a scab, and he shall wash his clothes and be clean. 7 But if the scab should at all spread over the skin, after he has been seen by the priest for his cleansing, he shall be seen by the priest again. 8 And if the priest sees that the scab has indeed spread on the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean. It is leprosy.”
Swelling, scab, bright spot—take him to the priest. If the hair inside it is white, and the sore is deeper than the skin—leprosy. If the hair isn't white and the sore is only skin deep—isolate for seven days, check him again. If the sore is gone, it’s all good. But if the scab has stayed the same, isolate him another seven days, examine him again. If the scab is fading, it’s all good—if it starts to spread—leprosy. When the Bible talks about “leprosy,” it is more than likely not talking about the leprosy we think of today, which is known by the term Hansen’s Disease. The Hebrew word translated “leprosy” is צָרַעַת (tsara’ath) which is, according to Brown-Driver-Briggs, “a) in people, malignant skin disease (Lev. 13-14); b) in clothing, a mildew or mould (Lev. 13:47-52); c) in buildings, a mildew or mould (Lev. 14:34-53).” Whereas צָרַעַת (tsara’ath) could be transmitted pretty much by simple contact, Hansen’s disease is only contagious in close quarters, and only after prolonged exposure. If that sounds like what is common for tuberculosis, it should—they are both forms of Mycobacterium. Thus, the incubation period for both TB and Hansen’s is quite long, and requires a long time and close contact for infection to manifest itself in others—like in a prison or a homeless shelter. With צָרַעַת (tsara’ath) you would not get the numbness, the deformity in limbs and phalanges, and the prominent lesions you find with Hansen’s. However, for the sake of simplicity, we will use the terms “leprosy” and “leprous” and “lepers” for our studies.

What you would have would be “subcutaneous nodules…scabs or cuticular crusts…and white shining spots appearing to be deeper than the skin…Other signs are (1) that the hairs of the affected part turn white and (2) that later there is a growth of “quick raw flesh” (ISBE). And as you go through and read all the details about what to look for, and about white skin and white hairs and black hairs and what to do with their clothing and their house and what to do if you examine one of these people and you see your own hairs changing colors and your own skin develops scaly patches and… Well, I think you can understand why the ruling classes came to see lepers (as they were called) as being so troublesome. Not that they were troublesome, but because the priests had to devote so much time to memorizing what was leprous and what was not leprous. And if they missed one of these details, they could wind up defiling themselves, their family, they could wind up being infected themselves and being considered unclean, and suffering the stigma of having to walk through the streets declaring themselves “Unclean! Unclean!” and being barred from performing their priestly duties for the required time.

Now, in verses 9-46 describe other warning signs of leprosy: boils, and scaly skin, and raw flesh, and scabs on the head or the beard, and hair falling out—no kidding, the priest had to learn to differentiate between leprosy and baldness. Leviticus 13:40-4440 As for the man whose hair has fallen from his head, he is bald, but he is clean. 41 He whose hair has fallen from his forehead, he is bald on the forehead, but he is clean. 42 And if there is on the bald head or bald forehead a reddish-white sore, it is leprosy breaking out on his bald head or his bald forehead. 43 Then the priest shall examine it; and indeed if the swelling of the sore is reddish-white on his bald head or on his bald forehead, as the appearance of leprosy on the skin of the body, 44 he is a leprous man. He is unclean. The priest shall surely pronounce him unclean; his sore is on his head.”

Now if the person was found to be leprous, they were unclean. They had to separate themselves from the rest of the camp. Leviticus 13:45-46“45 Now the leper on whom the sore is, his clothes shall be torn and his head bare; and he shall cover his mustache, and cry, 'Unclean! Unclean!' 46 He shall be unclean. All the days he has the sore he shall be unclean. He is unclean, and he shall dwell alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp.” Just as God commanded the people to abstain from eating certain animals to teach them to differentiate between clean and unclean and between holy and profane, God used the exclusion of lepers to teach the people of Jesus’ day the inclusivity of the new covenant. Gentiles were excluded from the old covenant (unless they became Jews through circumcision). But when Jesus came, He came first “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24). But then something happened. A Gentile woman whose daughter was gravely ill threw herself down before Him and worshiped Him, saying, "Lord, help me!" But when He replied "It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the little dogs," she pleaded even more, saying "Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters' table." Thus, our Lord relented, and showed favor to us Gentiles, and has made both one, and broken down the middle wall of separation, and preached peace to you who were afar off.

Lepers were considered unclean, and had to go around trumpeting their uncleanness, enduring the scorn of the entire camp. By the time Jesus came to Jerusalem, lepers were hated perhaps even more than were Gentiles. And yet in the first chapter of Mark, a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, "If You are willing, You can make me clean." Knowing that Jesus is our High Priest, what should His response have been, according to the Law? He should have declared the man unclean and sent him out of the city. But not only does Jesus not do that, He actually touches the man! Mark 1:41 (KJV)And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean. And aren’t you glad He did that? Aren’t you glad He reached out and not only healed lepers, but made physical contact with them? If you're not, you should be. We are covered with something a whole lot worse than leprous scabs, scales, and white hairs. We are covered in sin. We need Jesus to touch us and make us clean—not from some physical deformity, but from the soul-damning effects of that spiritual death that our father Adam passed along to us. Of this, Charles Spurgeon once preached,

“You that feel as if you were possessed with evil spirits, and you that are leprous with sin, you are the persons in whom Jesus will find ample room and verge enough for the display of his holy skill. Of you I might say, as he once said of the man born blind: you are here that the works of God may be manifest in you. You, with your guilt and your depravity, you furnish the empty vessels into which his grace may be poured, the sick souls upon whom he may display his matchless power to bless and save. Be hopeful, then, ye sinful ones! Look up this morning for the Lord's approach, and expect that even in you he will work great marvels. This leper shall be a picture-yea, I hope a mirror- in whom you will see yourselves. I do pray that as I go over the details of this miracle many here may put themselves in the leper's place, and do just as the leper did, and receive, just as the leper received, cleansing from the hand of Christ. O Spirit of the living God, the thousands of our Israel now entreat thee to work, that Jesus, the Son of God, may be glorified here and now!”

Leprosy affected not only the skin of the infected person. It also found its way into their clothing. The condensed version of Leviticus 13:47-59“47 Also, if a garment has a leprous plague in it, whether it is a woolen garment or a linen garment, 48…whether in leather or in anything made of leather, 49 and if the plague is greenish or reddish in the garment or in the leather…it is a leprous plague and shall be shown to the priest. 50 The priest shall examine the plague and isolate that which has the plague seven days. 51 And he shall examine the plague on the seventh day. If the plague has spread in the garment…the plague is an active leprosy. It is unclean. 52 He shall therefore burn that garment in which is the plague…53 But if the priest examines it, and indeed the plague has not spread in the garment…54 then the priest shall command that they wash the thing in which is the plague; and he shall isolate it another seven days. 55 Then the priest shall examine the plague after it has been washed; and indeed if the plague has not changed its color, though the plague has not spread, it is unclean, and you shall burn it in the fire; it continues eating away, whether the damage is outside or inside. 56 If the priest examines it, and indeed the plague has faded after washing it, then he shall tear it out of the garment…57 But if it appears again in the garment…it is a spreading plague; you shall burn with fire that in which is the plague. 58 And if you wash the garment…if the plague has disappeared from it, then it shall be washed a second time, and shall be clean. 59 This is the law of the leprous plague in a garment of wool or linen, either in the warp or woof, or in anything made of leather, to pronounce it clean or to pronounce it unclean.”
Many times the Scriptures talk about being “clothed.” The covering a man puts on tells a lot about the man. And if his clothing is diseased, then it is likely that the man is also. The ordinances in the Law could not prevent a man from sinning. That is one thing we need to never forget. No amount of human laws, dealing with human situations, is ever going to stop crime. But what do we always hear, when some tragedy happens, we get people running around screaming “We need more laws! We need more laws!!” Or they will say something like “Oh, if we had only had a law against _____ this never would have happened!” Yes, it would have happened. Because laws do not prevent crime. In much the same way, this garment with the leprous discharge—was it just naturally leprous? Or was that the outward manifestation of the disease it covered? What we clothe ourselves in is the result of what we are inside. We don’t like a piece of clothing because we bought it—we bought it because we liked it.

And when we try to clothe ourselves in our own righteousness—when we seek to protect ourselves from God’s justice by surrounding ourselves with “good deeds” and “doing alms” and whatever else man might call “good”—we are like the leper whose disease is showing forth through his clothing. And when those people teach others that they too must somehow “earn” God’s favor, they take that leprous garment, they place it on that person’s shoulders, and they transfer the plague to the unsuspecting person. The central accusation Jesus made against the Pharisees was that they were seeking to clothe themselves in layer upon layer of vile human works—seeking to be beautiful outward while they were dead inside. Yet even their outward “beauty” (so-called) they had turned to ugliness:
Matthew 6:1-2, 5, 16“1 Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward…5 And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward…16 Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.”
Matthew 23:15, 25-28“15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves…25 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence…27 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. 28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”
The leprosy of sin that dwelt within them had bled through and polluted their works. They did not do these works to display the glory of God—they performed these works to shame others, to lift up their own countenance above their countrymen and to exalt themselves over all others. Some more verses that talk about being clothed in shame. Job 8:22“Those who hate you will be clothed with shame.” Psalm 35:26“Let them be ashamed and brought to mutual confusion who rejoice at my hurt; Let them be clothed with shame and dishonor who exalt themselves against me.” When we are born, we are born with a spirit within us that is always set on doing what we want to do—whether it pleases God or not. In fact, we don’t even give a whit about whether it pleases God, just so long as we please ourselves. And we are born thinking that the songwriter was absolutely correct in saying that “learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.” But loving one’s own flesh is not the greatest love of all—in fact, we don’t need to learn how to love ourselves because it just comes naturally to us. It is just as easy for the natural man to love himself as it is for him to breathe. And that love manifests itself in the works of the flesh. Galatians 5:19-2119 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
When the life of a man lives itself out in lust and evil and sin, that is a sign that the person has probably not been born from above. For if they had been born from above, they would abhor these things, they would, as Paul warned us, flee sexual immorality (1st Corinthians 6:18) and would put to death [their] members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry (Colossians 3:5). These are the things which defile a man—not what one eats. But the Pharisees had long ago lost that notion, and so rebuked our Lord for not washing His hands before He ate. But Christ, foreshadowing the words Paul would write, said Matthew 15:17-20“17  Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? 18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. 20 These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.” We are clothed in this filthy rag we call flesh. But the skin and other tissues we are covered with are not evil of themselves. They are simply the covering, the vehicle, if you will, that the spirit inside us, called “the flesh”, moves and leads to commit our various acts of rebellion against God. Allow me to share a quote from Paul Washer—

“The greatest, most commendable deeds of men are nothing but a few filthy rags before God. One might clothe a leper in the finest, white silk to cover his sores, but immediately, the corruption of his flesh would bleed through the garment, leaving it as vile as the man it seeks to hide. So are the “good works” of men before God. They bear the corruption of the man who does them. When speaking about the moral corruption of man, special attention must be given to the heart. In the Scriptures, the heart refers to the seat of the will and the emotions. It represents the very core of one’s being. According to the Scriptures, the very heart of man is corrupt and from it flows every form of sin, rebellion, and perversity.”

However, when we trust in Christ, we are circumcised in our heart (as we saw earlier). And although we still walk around in these dingy bodies; even though we still have upon us this skin and muscle and tissues which the spirit called “the flesh” (which still resides within us) uses for its own ends from time to time, we are no longer covered in the filthy rags of our own vile human works. We have the very righteousness of Christ upon us. 2nd Corinthians 5:21For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. And because we are the righteousness of God in Christ, we are justified in the sight of God. Psalm 132:9Let Your priests be clothed with righteousness, and let Your saints shout for joy. We can say with Job, “I put on righteousness, and it clothed me” (Job 29:14). We can rejoice with the repentant sinner in Isaiah 61:10“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” We can thank God, as Paul did, that He has made us righteous and delivered us from the penalty we deserved for allowing our rebellious spirit to overwhelm our physical body and use it as a tool for our own desires. Romans 7:24-2524 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.

22 June 2013

"Blessed is the man"--Psalm 1:1

Psalm 1_1

There are at least 50 places in the Bible that use the word, “Blessed.” Or “Blessed be…” Psalm 128:1Blessed is the man who fears the LORD. Matthew 11:6“Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” And of course, all the Beatitudes begin with the phrase, “Blessed are…” Matthew 5:3-8“Blessed are the poor in spirit…they that mourn…the meek…those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.” 2nd Corinthians 11:31Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Revelation 20:6Blessed and holy is he who has a part in the first resurrection.

When referring to God, the word “blessed” means “glorified, revered.” When referring to a person, that word “blessed” can also be defined as one who is “happy,” or “to be congratulated.” Today, we’re going to look at what type of person is truly “blessed,” and is deserving of “congratulations.” We’re going to read the first two verses of the first Psalm, and look a little deeper at what the psalmist is saying here.

If we want to be blessed in this life—and especially in the life to come—there are some things we need to avoid. Some people just don’t get that. They think that true joy and happiness come from the things we do and the things we get right now, here in this life. But we’ll talk more about Joel Osteen some other time. And when things don’t quite work out the way they expected them to, and their lives start crumbling around them, and they wonder how it happened, and how they can fix it. And how many times, when we tell them that if they would just stop doing things the way they're doing them, and trust God, and follow His ways that they will be better able to deal with their situation. It doesn't mean that their lives will suddenly turn to sunshine and unicorns, but they’ll have a more lasting and true peace about those things.

But, they usually want to hear about how they can keep doing the same thing they’ve been doing, the same way they’ve been doing it—even if it’s the wrong thing to do, and the wrong way to do it—they want to keep doing the same thing, but get a different result. And that is the definition of what? Insanity. Instead of turning to the LORD. When we turn to God for answers—He may not FIX our problems, but He will give us the strength and the patience we need to endure until those storms pass. So, how does one find true blessedness?

Psalm 1:1Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful. We are blessed when we avoid the ways of the world. What we see here in verse 1 is a progression. When we get caught up in sin, is it because we charge right into it? Do we wake up one day and say, “It looks so nice outside. I think I'll get hooked on meth today!” I can't imagine that sentence has ever passed through anybody’s lips. But how many times—especially for believers—is it very gradual, and very subtle? How many times have we wound up somewhere doing something that we were so absolutely sure “that would NEEEVVVER happen.” And then you look up one day and you think, “What the heck am I doing here!!”

It's a slow fade when you give yourself away
It's a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
It’s a slow fade
--Casting Crowns, “Slow Fade”

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly. We need to be really careful about who we look to for advice. There are many psychologists and psychiatrists, and therapists, that—they have all these years of school, and college, and you walk in and they have these fancy diplomas on their wall—and they don’t know a thing about how to help you get through your problems. Other than, “Here, take this pill! It will make you happy!” Many times, our problems—whether they are physical, or emotional, or psychological—most of the time, the root of that problem is spiritual. We may be looking at our problem through our own eyes, and the problem looks impossible—to us. But is anything impossible with God?

Another example: when somebody does something to us, what does the world say we’re supposed to do? Get even with them. What did Jesus say to do? Yeah, you know, that whole “Turn the other cheek” thing.

--“You don’t know what Naomi said about me!” They blasphemed Christ.
--“But Joseph’s been cheating with my girlfriend!” His people committed harlotry with other gods.
--“That drunk driver killed my baby daughter!” And your sins nailed Jesus to the cross.

And I guarantee you one thing: what you're fixin’ to do to that person is a whole lot worse than what they did to you. It’s never about “getting even”, now, is it? Isn't it always “get even—and then some”? Somebody does something to you, you have to do worse to them, right? No. Walk away. Don’t walk in the counsel of someone who says you need to “get even” with the one who offended you and hurt your delicate little feelings.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners. How many of y’all remember what high school was like? Not every school is the same, but in most, you’ve got your jocks over here, your cheerleaders over here, your science geeks over here, then you’ve got a group made up of kids who aren’t in ANY group. They’ve made their own group. “We are the ‘not-in-any-group’ group!” You could tell what type of person somebody was by the group they hung out with. The same when it comes to us, and which group we belong to—do we stand with saints or do we stand with sinners. There’s no neutral territory. Hebrews 3:12Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God. Unbelief is evil. I'm sure we've all heard someone say they know a friend who is “walking with one foot in the world, and one foot in the kingdom.” That is an absolute impossibility. One cannot walk with one foot in the world and one foot in the kingdom. They will either have both feet in the world or both feet in the kingdom. Matthew 6:24“No man can serve two masters…” James 4:4The friendship of the world is hostility with God. So which path do we stand in? Do we take sides with the world, or with God?

Now, does that mean we can't have friends who aren’t Christians? No, it does not. We are, in fact, encouraged to have non-Christian friends rather than friends who claim to be Christians, but are living an immoral lifestyle. 1st Corinthians 5:9-11I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person. Let me give you one example of this. I found a video while back from a ministry in Los Angeles. A woman from this ministry was talking to a couple of young men outside the BET awards. They wanted to see all the big-name rappers. These men said, “Yeah, we’re Christians.” And during the course of this interview, these men said (I kid you not) that these rappers were—quote—“God-fearing men.” Apparently, in some people’s eyes God-fearing men rap about going to clubs, having multiple sexual partners, drugs. And these men who claimed to be Christians were standing in the same path with them! Psalm 101:3I will set nothing wicked before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me. Philippians 4:8Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest…just… pure…lovely…of good report…any virtue…any praise, think on these things. We can have non-Christian friends—we should, so we can let our light shine before them, they can glorify our Father in Heaven—that doesn’t mean we should be imitating them.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful. This is the most dangerous of all. Because if you are walking or standing, you can look around and eventually you'll say, “What am I doing? I'm outta here!!!” But when you sit at someone’s table, you are making yourself comfortable with what they are offering you. When you see a friend—especially one who claims to be a brother—you see them doing something you know is sinful, and not only do you say nothing to him, but you take part in it, you are “sitting in the seat of the scornful.” Proverbs 23:6-8Do not eat the bread of [the greedy], nor desire his delicacies; for as he thinks in his heart, so is he. "Eat and drink!" he says to you, but his heart is not with you. The morsel you have eaten, you will vomit up, and waste your pleasant words. In other words, don’t partake of another’s evil, because they may act like they're your friend, but when it’s all said and done they don’t care about you, and you're going to be in worse shape than you were before.

Another thing to consider: think about how Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons go about their work. Do they just stand outside the Wal-Mart and hand out tracts? No. They knock on your door. They want to come into your house. And what do they want to do? They want to sit down with you. And they want you to be comfortable. And if you know what Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons believe, then you know Satan is coming through that door too, right? 2nd John 9-11He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds. When we lived in our last house, we lived about 3 blocks away from a Mormon church. And on 3 separate occasions we had some Mormon missionaries come to our door. And it was cold outside. And we stood at the door. And they tried to tell me all about their polygamous prophet. And I want you to know, they did not step one foot in our house. And they probably about froze. But I was not about to let them in the house. Why? Because I was not a good neighbor? No. Because God tells us not to! You want to preach your false god, you can do it from outside my door. But you ain't stepping foot inside.

Now, Psalm 1:2 kinda gives us the other side of the coin. It shows us what we can do to find true blessedness. Psalm 1:2But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. What is the Law? It’s all those 613 commandments in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Which is the great commandment? Matthew 22:37-38“‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment.” This is what we meditate on day and night. Love the LORD our God with everything in us, and our neighbor as ourselves. Where does it teach us to do that? The Law. You can watch talk shows, read all kinds of books written by people who don’t know the LORD—and don’t want to know Him. You can get all kinds of advice from the newest, trendiest pop psychologist. But you will never know how to please the LORD if you don’t read His word.

Charles Spurgeon said,
“‘His delight is in the law of the Lord.’ He is not under the law as a curse and condemnation, but he is in it, and he delights to be in it as his rule of life; he delights, moreover, to meditate in it, to read it by day, and think upon it by night. He takes a text and carries it with him all day long; and in the night-watches, when sleep forsakes his eyelids; he [reflects] upon the Word of God. In the day of his prosperity he sings psalms out of the Word of God, and in the night of his affliction he comforts himself with promises out of the same book.”
He’s saying that “day and night” doesn’t just mean the sun coming up and going down. But the day can also refer to when things are going good, and the night when things aren’t so good. And in it all, we know that God is sovereign over it all, that nothing happens in our lives that He does not allow, and if He does allow it to happen it is so we can glorify Him in the midst of our trouble. Psalm 30:5Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

Blessed be Your name
In the land that is plentiful
Where your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's 'all as it should be'
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name
--Matt Redman, “Blessed Be Your Name”

When things look bleak, we have promises from God that He will see us through it. When we have joy, we can find countless ways to praise Him for His goodness! No other religion on earth gives any assurance that you are pleasing that particular deity. Not the Buddhist god, nor the Hindu god, nor the god of the Jehovah's Witnesses or the god of the Mormons. And especially not the god if the Muslims. But if we know Christ then we can know, without a doubt, that we are indeed children of the One, True, Living God. Let me finish up this quote from Spurgeon.
“‘The law of the Lord’ is the daily bread of the true believer. And yet, in David's day, how small was the volume of inspiration, for they had scarcely anything save the first five books of Moses! How much more, then, should we prize the whole written Word which it is our privilege to have in all our houses!”
Think about that for a second. When these Psalms were written, all they had was the Torah. They didn’t have the book of Romans. Or Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. They did not know about the cross. They did not know that the sinless Son of God would be made sin for us, so that we could be the righteousness of God in Christ. All they knew was “LAW”. Consider this also: there are some parts of the world where if you get caught with a Bible, you're dead! There are still other places that have never seen one! Yet how casually do we treat it, we who can go into any Wal-Mart or Target, without fear of prosecution—or persecution—and pick one up, and it’ll cost you 5 bucks. Some countries, it’ll cost you your life! But blessed are we when we take this book, and read it, and study it, and believe in the promises contained inside and understand that this is the perfect word of God, not just a bunch of stories. “Bunch of stories from old Jewish guys.” No, they are not. This beloved book is no less than a collection of 66 love letters from God to His people.

I'll close with an example of a man who did not walk in the counsel of the ungodly. In Luke chapter 23, after Jesus has given up the ghost it says in Luke 23:50-53
  • Now behold, there was a man named Joseph, a council member, and a good and just man—a good and just man, in the middle of that Sanhedrin that wanted Jesus dead.
  • He had not consented to their decision and action—a good and just man in the middle of a bunch of blasphemers—but he voiced his opposition, and did not walk in the counsel of the ungodly.
  • And he was looking for the kingdom of God—His delight was in the Law of the LORD and on that Law he meditated day and night.
  • This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever been laid—When it was all said and done, he took the Word of God, went to great lengths to care for it, and laid it in his own tomb—knowing that Christ’s body wasn’t going to be there forever. And three days later, it wasn’t.
We don’t need advice from the ungodly. We don’t need to imitate sinners and we certainly do not need to partake of and feel comfortable conforming to the ways of those who mock and scorn God. Let us meditate on the Law of the LORD, let it be our guide to living lives that please Him, knowing that our God and Savior Jesus Christ fulfilled all 613 commands contained therein, freeing us from its yoke and giving us life and life more abundantly! Praise Him for His indescribable Gift! (2nd Corinthians 9:15).

26 May 2013

A Survey of the Old Testament Law--Clean and Unclean Animals (part 2)

We’re gonna skip ahead a few verses and see God complete the list in Leviticus 11:27, 29, 30, 41-4227 And whatever goes on its paws, among all kinds of animals that go on all fours, those are unclean to you. Whoever touches any such carcass shall be unclean until evening...29 These also shall be unclean to you among the creeping things that creep on the earth: the mole, the mouse, and the large lizard after its kind; 30 the gecko, the monitor lizard, the sand reptile, the sand lizard, and the chameleon... 41 And every creeping thing that creeps on the earth shall be an abomination. It shall not be eaten. 42 Whatever crawls on its belly, whatever goes on all fours, or whatever has many feet among all creeping things that creep on the earth—these you shall not eat, for they are an abomination.’” Of those things that go upon their paws, of course, would be a wide variety of animals, such as dogs, cats, weasels, mice, rats, lions, tigers, bears—oh my! We discussed the case of Samson several weeks ago. That he would have been unclean indeed after removing the honeycomb from the carcass of the dead lion. One rather interesting note I would like to point out. The word that is translated “paws” in verse 27 is the Hebrew כַּפָּיו (qappiv). Literally, this word means “hands.” So if the skeptic really wants to push the whole “four-legged insect” thing, and argue that we Christians are trying to “make excuses” for the terminology used in verses 20-23, we can simply point to this text and show them that these are indeed cultural uses of the various words, for I am sure they would argue that dogs, cats, bears, etc. have “feet” and not “hands.” But again, it’s that whole professing to be wise they became fools thing we keep seeing over and over again.

Then God prohibits reptiles—snakes, lizards, etc. These of course would be related to the serpent. Why would God want to prohibit His people from defiling themselves with things related to the serpent? Might it have something to do with a little episode that occurred right after the dawn of human history? Genesis 3:1Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?" The serpent, inhabited by the one whom Jesus described as being “A murderer from the beginning…a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44), was eventually cursed by God for his actions, Genesis 3:14-1514 So the LORD God said to the serpent: "Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. 15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel." Do we want to be handling the thing that God has cursed more than any other creature on earth? Did God want His people to associate with that creature that symbolized the thing that brought sin and death into the world?

And finally, just to avoid any loopholes, He commands the people not to eat anything that goes upon its belly, or has four legs, or has many legs. This would be worms, any kinds of four-legged animal, or anything that had any number of legs (spiders, centipedes, scorpions, etc.). He says if you touch the dead body of any of these things, you are unclean.

Now, what were the injunctions? You could not eat them; you could not touch their carcass. Does this mean you could not handle them while they were alive? No; you could indeed come into contact with these animals while they were still alive. But once they were dead—hands off! So what was the punishment if you handled one of these carcasses? You were unclean until evening. Leviticus 11:24-26, 32-40, 43“‘24 By these you shall become unclean; whoever touches the carcass of any of them shall be unclean until evening; 25 whoever carries part of the carcass of any of them shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening…32 Anything on which any of them falls, when they are dead shall be unclean, whether it is any item of wood or clothing or skin or sack, whatever item it is, in which any work is done, it must be put in water. And it shall be unclean until evening; then it shall be clean. 33 Any earthen vessel into which any of them falls you shall break; and whatever is in it shall be unclean: 34 in such a vessel, any edible food upon which water falls becomes unclean, and any drink that may be drunk from it becomes unclean. 35 And everything on which a part of any such carcass falls shall be unclean; whether it is an oven or cooking stove, it shall be broken down; for they are unclean, and shall be unclean to you. 36 Nevertheless a spring or a cistern, in which there is plenty of water, shall be clean, but whatever touches any such carcass becomes unclean. 37 And if a part of any such carcass falls on any planting seed which is to be sown, it remains clean. 38 But if water is put on the seed, and if a part of any such carcass falls on it, it becomes unclean to you. 39 And if any animal which you may eat dies, he who touches its carcass shall be unclean until evening. 40 He who eats of its carcass shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening. He also who carries its carcass shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening…43 You shall not make yourselves abominable with any creeping thing that creeps; nor shall you make yourselves unclean with them, lest you be defiled by them.’” Not going to go into the various details in this passage, because I think you get the idea. If you, or anything you may come into contact with, comes into contact with the dead body of any of these prohibited animals—or even the carcass of an animal that you are allowed to eat—then you and/or that thing are unclean until evening. And in verse 40, if you slaughter an edible animal, and come into contact with its carcass, you are unclean until evening. In all of these cases, you wash your clothes, you are unclean.

So what is the lesson here? Simply this: that there are things God considers to be evil, unclean. And God associates these unclean things with death. If you're climbing through a rocky crevice and a lizard jumps on your shoulder, are you unclean? No. If that lizard dies and falls on you, are you unclean? Yes. If a fly is buzzing around and lands in your sandwich, do you have to throw that sandwich out? No. If that fly dies and lands in your sandwich, do you have to throw it out? Yes. And we are not to have anything to do with these dead things. That’s what the word “sanctify” (or, “consecrate”) means—to separate one’s self from those things which God calls unholy, profane, vile, etc. God will command His people in that very thing later on in Leviticus 20:7-8“‘7 Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am the LORD your God. 8 And you shall keep My statutes, and perform them: I am the LORD who sanctifies you.’” To consecrate or sanctify literally means to set apart for one’s own use.

Now, to bring this into the New Testament writings, what word does Paul use to describe those who do not know Christ? Dead. Ephesians 2:1And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins. Ephesians 2:5Even when we were dead in trespasses, [God] made us alive together with Christ. Our Lord Christ, when He was praying the night before His crucifixion, begged in John 17:19“And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.” He kept himself separate from sin, so that all who believe in Him might be separate from sin. Another theme Paul picks up on, a verse I have already mentioned, Ephesians 5:11Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. So that when we do sin, 1st John 1:9If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. That is, when we do come into contact with the works of the flesh—the flesh in which Paul says dwells no good thing (Romans 7:18)—we do not have to wash our clothing, and go around shouting “Unclean! Unclean!” until evening. Because we are already clean. John 13:10“He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean.” From birth, we are all dead—all unclean. We can try to pretty ourselves up, make ourselves look more attractive to God, but what does He see? A dead man. No matter how many “good works” we try to do to bathe ourselves, we will always be dirty, dead, unclean. But when Christ saves us, according to His mercy…through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, we are clean. Completely clean (see again John 13:10). We will, however, come into contact with a world that is wholly unclean. And we must always seek His washing, that He may keep us clean. Not as though we need to be rebathed—but washed from the filth of the world. He has bathed us—we need only to wash. We wash by confessing our sins, that we may continue to be a vessel worthy of being used. Adam Clarke— 

“Sin exists in the soul after two modes or forms: (1.) In guilt, which requires forgiveness or pardon. (2.) In pollution, which requires cleansing. Guilt, to be forgiven, must be confessed; and pollution, to be cleansed, must be also confessed…As the blood of Jesus Christ, the merit of his passion and death, applied by faith, purges the conscience from all dead works, so the same cleanses the heart from all unrighteousness. As all unrighteousness is sin, so he that is cleansed from all unrighteousness is cleansed from all sin.”

So, why all these injunctions against eating certain animals? Well, apart from their connection with filth, their symbolizing sin and darkness, there is what lies at the heart of said injunctions. Really, when you get right down to it, God gives us the reason for these discrepancies in the last few verses of the chapter, Leviticus 11:44-47“‘44 For I am the LORD your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy. Neither shall you defile yourselves with any creeping thing that creeps on the earth. 45 For I am the LORD who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.46 This is the law of the animals and the birds and every living creature that moves in the waters, and of every creature that creeps on the earth, 47 to distinguish between the unclean and the clean, and between the animal that may be eaten and the animal that may not be eaten.’” Quite simply, God tells the people that the reason for these rules is so that they may be separate from all the peoples they will come into contact with. He is giving them these most basic rules for separating themselves from things that God calls unclean. Stay away from those large beasts that simply eat anything they seize upon. Among the things that live in the water, avoid those things that feed off the silt and soil of the murky bottom and become hosts for all kinds of disease. From among the flying things—whether birds or bats or insects—only the locust and its kind, for the excluded birds are birds of prey, and feed on death. Do not eat dogs, or anything that goes on four paws, since they too dine on death. And as far as the lizard, the mouse and rat—these are vermin, and are to be distasteful to the people. And as far as the snake is concerned: is it any surprise that God would forbid the eating of the flesh of that which convinced our first parents to rebel against God?

Now, let’s bring up a couple of subjects that need to be addressed. First, let’s talk about Noah. When he was gathering animals into the ark, what did he gather? Genesis 7:1-21 Then the LORD said to Noah, “Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation. 2 You shall take with you seven each of every clean animal, a male and his female; two each of animals that are unclean, a male and his female.” How did Noah determine which animals were clean and unclean? Had God yet made the distinction between clean and unclean? Well, obviously He had made the distinction. But how did Noah know which animals he was to take by twos and which he was to take by sevens? That is a very good question, and one for which we do not have a clear answer in Scripture. So all I can say is that God must have communicated this distinction to him somehow, without commanding the writing down of the communication of these facts. But why seven of the clean animals? Why an odd, rather than an even number of the clean beasts? Easy. So that he may have three pairs to propagate said species, while having one specimen left to offer as a sacrifice to God (see Genesis 8:20).

Now, on the other side of things, are we still bound by these regulations concerning what we can and can't eat? Well, no…and yes. Allow me to explain. We are not forbidden from eating any animal. This is clear (no matter how hard the legalists want to say otherwise) from a simple reading of Peter’s vision while on a rooftop in Acts 10:9-159 The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour. 10 Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance 11 and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. 13 And a voice came to him, "Rise, Peter; kill and eat." 14 But Peter said, "Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean." 15 And a voice spoke to him again the second time, "What God has cleansed you must not call common." God has now cleansed those things which He once called “unclean.” This was not the first time Peter had heard God say something along those lines. For he heard our Lord Jesus say Matthew 15:11“ Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.”

Guess what all that means? We can eat pork chops! And venison. And we can even eat rattlesnake! And shrimp—Boiled shrimp, broiled shrimp, shrimp kabobs, baked shrimp, sautéed shrimp. Shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried—and any other way that Bubba came up with. And calamari, too!! Because you see, the injunctions that separated the Israelites from eating certain animals was meant to point us to the One who would separate us as sheep from goats. That even as the distinction between clean and unclean animal had been removed, the middle wall of separation between Jew and Gentile had been dismantled (Ephesians 2:11-14). And now that Christ has come, He has fulfilled the Law, and having the substance of which the Law was only a shadow (Colossians 2:16-17). Romans 14:14I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself. And we can now eat even something that was sacrificed to an idol—just so long as we do not cause a weaker brother to stumble.

The Jerusalem council, called to answer the question of circumcision, came to declare that there are still some prohibitions on what we can eat. Acts 15:28-2928 It seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: 29 that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell. The implications of this letter are so far-reaching, concerning the Jehovah's Witnesses’ forbidding of blood transfusions, as well as the abomination of the Catholic Mass, that to devote time to either of them would be to take away from the subject at hand. What things are we still commanded to not eat? Things strangled, things offered to idols, and the eating of blood. So while we can eat pretty much any animal without fear, there are still some limits on our diet.

That said, let me simply conclude with this. Colossians 2:20-2220 If you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations—21 "Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle," 22 which all concern things which perish with the using? Life in Christ has nothing to do with eating pork, or any other animal for that matter. Are we to be different from the world around us? Yes. But that difference is not summed up in our diet. Food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse (1st Corinthians 8:8). That was the Law. We are no longer under law, but under grace (Romans 6:14). We do not fulfill the law by avoiding the flesh of certain animals, rather If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you do well (James 2:8). He who loves another has fulfilled the law…Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law (Romans 13:8, 10). For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Galatians 5:14). So grab a hot dog and enjoy it!

Jesus Christ is Lord.