For many people when you mention Hebrew Roots they get very defensive about their favorite foods. “Don’t ask me to give up my bacon cheeseburgers!” is what they’re often thinking. For people in North Carolina (my US home base) this means never going to another barbecue (AKA pig-pickin’) again. Food is probably the hardest thing for most people to surrender because food is so basic to human survival, but it’s also something that is extremely pleasurable.
Does God really care what we eat? I believe that He does, but let’s examine why. Here’s a puzzle: God gave Moses the laws of clean and unclean animals in Leviticus 11, but what about all the people who lived for the approximately 2500 years before the Law was given? Were they eating whatever they wanted?
The Lord then said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and one pair of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, and also seven pairs of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth,” (Genesis 7:1-3, emphasis mine).
How did Noah know about clean and unclean animals 2500 years before Moses? The answer has to be that God told mankind about clean and unclean animals.
Here’s another puzzle: two chapters later, after the floodwaters have receded, we read:
Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything (Genesis 9:3).
Then in Leviticus, God devotes chapter eleven—the entire chapter!—to clean and unclean animals. It might seem that God is schizophrenic until we remember that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8), that God does not change (Malachi 3:6), and that God does not change His mind (Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29; Psalm 15:4, 110:4; and Hebrews 7:21). So how do we account for these seeming contradictions?
Here’s what I think: people knew all along that you were not supposed to eat certain animals, so after many years of thinking this way, a person is not likely to suddenly decide that he wants to kill and eat a pig, a lobster, or a buzzard any more than he’s going to suddenly get a hankering to eat dirt, mold, or a dead body.
Think of animals as appliances in their function on the earth: some are food processors. They eat good things like grass and they produce good things to eat. Other animals are nature’s vacuum cleaners, pool filters, and undertakers. They eat filth, filter animal wastes from the water, and pick dead carcasses clean. Those animals produce dirt, filth, and disease. So when God told Noah “everything that lives and moves about will be food for you,” Noah knew that certain animals were still as unclean as they ever had been. He didn’t go out to barbecue buzzards any more than to butcher pigs.
After the Tower of Babel, when languages divided the people and they dispersed, some of them, being rebellious (having participated in Nimrod’s rebellion), had started eating unclean animals. Some of these rebels, like Nimrod himself, were Nephilim. Nephilim were the unholy product of fallen angels and human women. And these Nephilim were most likely descended from Ham, whose line had produced both Nimrod and Canaan.
Without going too much into Nephilim (perhaps in another post), there were reports from the whole of human history about giants that ate people. There are many fairytales about man-eating giants that remain in the culture even to this day. There is also good reason to believe that man-eating giants is behind the disappearance of the Anasazi, who abandoned their cliff dwellings, leaving everything of value behind. Man-eating giants could also be the literal meaning behind Numbers 13:32:
And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size,” (emphasis mine).
Notice this verse mentions both giants and people being eaten, and these giants were not just big fellas, like you see in professional sports. The Bible reports that King Og’s iron bed was 13 to 14 feet long and 6 feet wide—that’s almost as big as my first apartment. And giant skeletons have been found that were as much as 36 feet tall. A person 36 feet tall is 6 times the size of a 6 foot tall man. A normally big man needs about 3500 calories to maintain his weight. Six times that is 21,000 calories. In those days they didn’t have grocery stores or weight maintenance shakes. Somebody had to harvest or kill and butcher, and prepare all that food. A giant in those days would need someone working full-time just to prepare his food. So it’s not a stretch to imagine a hungry giant eating the people around him in a mania to consume the amount of calories needed to maintain a giant body.
Likewise, it’s not a stretch to imagine that when the people dispersed after the Tower of Babel, they began to eat unclean foods as they found themselves hungry in strange territory, with only unclean foods available to them. And let’s face it, bacon is delicious. So is lobster, shrimp, and clams. Soon those foods would become a regular part of their diet.
The Kosher practice of not eating meat and dairy in the same meal is a manmade law based on Exodus 23:19, 34:26; and Deuteronomy 14:21. This prohibition was because of the pagan practice of that day, in which the people would boil a suckling kid in its mother’s milk as a sacrifice to ensure a good harvest. This is also where the Kosher practice of keeping two separate sets of dishes came from. Keeping two sets of dishes and not mixing meat and dairy are manmade laws, and Jesus dealt with the issue of manmade laws when He declared that eating with unwashed hands didn’t make a person unclean (Matthew 15:1-20).
My conclusion on keeping Kosher versus eating only clean foods is that it’s a really good idea to eat only clean foods. Our Creator knows how our bodies are made, and He knows what foods are the best fuel for these bodies. But as for keeping Kosher, I believe that it is sufficient to eat only clean foods. Personally, I really like bacon, but it seems to me like a really bad idea to eat an animal that Jesus cast demons into.
So I say that washing your hands before you eat is probably a really good idea. It doesn’t make you better than anybody else, as the Pharisees thought, but it will help you to stay healthy. Oh, and that cheeseburger is OK, just leave off the bacon off of mine. God is good!
For a really in-depth study on the reasons to eat only clean foods, please see To Eat or Not to Eat.