Monday, February 24, 2020

Aren't You Glad You Can Eat Bacon?

I like bacon! I am so glad Jesus “declared all foods clean.” (Mark 7:19)

Do you think that was God’s expected response, “Yippee! I like bacon!”?

(Probably not.)

The laws about food in the Law of Moses can seem puzzling, especially since Christians are not restricted in their eating choices, at least, not restricted morally or religiously.

Pages and pages have been devoted to explanations of God’s imposed food restrictions on the Israelites. Some have explained the health benefits associated with God’s laws of cleanliness. One scholar, reasoning that pork is the finest of all meats, suggested that it was a test that God devised to see if Israel could refrain from such a delicacy. He failed to recognize that pork was not the only prohibited food. Not only that, not everyone would agree with his subjective assessment about pork. 
It is really about food???

Perhaps we’ve missed something.

In many ways the Law of Moses seems to have been behavior-oriented while the teachings of Jesus were different. Yet...I wonder...

When Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount He would say, “You have heard it said...but I say to you….” Many people today have mistakenly thought that Jesus was teaching something new. That is not the case. He had just said…

Do not think that I came to abolish the Law of the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 
—Matthew 5:18
He went on to say that the righteousness that God expected was not like the teachings of the Pharisees. They were so exacting in the literal obedience to the Law of Moses they created more restrictive laws that were precise and incredibly demanding. They had missed the point.

Paraphrasing, Jesus then taught: You have been taught, ‘Do not commit murder,’ but I tell you that whoever is angry with his brother is guilty

Jesus was not creating a new ‘anger law’ in place of the old commandment about murder. Rather, He was teaching the people that anger was the root of murder in the first place. Had they stopped and pondered the command, “Thou shalt not murder,” they would have reasoned that to avoid murder they must first deal with the anger of the heart. Murder is the conclusion of something that began in the heart: anger. Deal with the problem of anger and you’ve solved the murder problem.

The same path of thought applies to the other laws that Jesus addressed in Matthew 5:21-47.

  • Adultery: Begins in the heart as lust. It is a desire in the heart that treats a person as a mere object of sexual satisfaction with little or no consideration for his/her humanity.
  • Divorce: Begins in the heart with an unwillingness to sacrifice. It is a desire in the heart that makes selfish demands without consideration for commitment and relationship.
  • Lying: Begins in a heart that fears or hates truth. It is a desire to manipulate circumstances by creating a false sense of reality. Lying is never sacrificial. Even when it protects another person, it is a purely selfish means of satisfying oneself.
  • Vengeance: Begins in a heart refusing forgiveness. It is a desire to exact justice, yet ultimately justice on one's own terms. It fails to consider others as souls in needs of a Savior. It fails to consider God's justice.
  • Hate your enemies: Begins in a heart of arrogant selective love. It is a desire to keep others out of one's own circle of acceptance. It fails to consider God's boundless (boundary-less) love.

Israel should have looked at the laws of God and found the core issue that made these things offensive to God, a heart in opposition to the very character of God

How do I know this?
Jesus taught that whatever comes out of the heart condemns a person. Go ahead and look it up. It is in Mark 7:20-23. It is right after Jesus “declared all foods clean.”

So, what about all the food laws and laws about cleanliness? God was teaching Israel about His own purity

To have a relationship with God, a person must be pure, just as God is pure in His divine character. And purity begins in the heart.

When you read the Bible, do you see God, or do you see rules...or just bacon???

Mark Stinnett
February 23, 2020