The Old Testament Dietary Laws and the Christian Today
Are the Old Testament Dietary Laws Binding on the Christian Today? No.
Does the Bible Advise Christians Today to Use the Dietary Laws in their Daily Diet? No.
Were the Dietary Laws Given for Hygienic & Nutritional Reasons? No. (653)
For centuries Reformed Christians have not asked these questions because they knew the answer to them before they thought to ask them. Had they asked them they would have answered “No” to all three. Today, however, some Christians have different answers....Some Christians, desiring to be healthier by eating nutritional foods and avoiding substances harmful to the body, hold that the Bible teaches that the observation of dietary laws of the Old Testament will make one’s diet more nutritional, and that God either commands or advises us to keep them. (653)
"Their ethical, judicial, and geographical holiness was to be manifested by what they ate and did not eat: primarily at the Passover meal and secondarily by the dietary laws. This holiness or separation was ritually reinforced by the Passover meal and the special dietary restrictions.… With the abrogation of the Old Covenant order came the abrogation of the Mosaic food laws: Passover and “pork” laws. This abrogation ended with the abrogation of the Promised Land’s historically unique
position as an agent of God’s sanctions.… Prior to the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, the Promised Land was said to spew out evil-doers.… The Israelites would drive out the Canaanites; if they subsequently rebelled, other nations would drive them out. After A.D. 70, the land of Israel lost its special covenantal status. The Mosaic sacrificial system was cut off." 169 Gary North, Leviticus: An Economic Commentary (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1994), 345, 348, 349. (654-655)
The argument of those who hold the view that the dietary laws are still obligatory upon or advisory to the Christian today is based on their assumption that these laws were given to Israel by Jehovah for hygienic and nutritional purposes, i.e., unclean meats are hygienically unclean and therefore non-nutritional and unhealthy, while clean meats are hygienically clean and therefore nutritional and healthy. (655)
(1) When God allowed mankind to eat meat, He said that all meat may be eaten: “Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant” (Gen. 9:3)....This contradicts the view that the restrictive dietary laws were based on hygiene and nutrition. ....
(2) The dietary laws which distinguished Israel nationally were ceremonial laws that had no meaning apart from the sacrificial system of the Old Testament. ....
(3) If their purpose was hygienic and nutritional, in order for that goal to be achieved in a healthy diet for the Israelite, the list of clean and unclean foods would have to have been exhaustive and all-inclusive, and it is not. ....
(4) The Bible NOWHERE says that the purpose of the dietary laws was hygienic and nutritional. ....
(5) If the reason for the prohibition of certain animals to be eaten was hygienic, because they are so detrimental to one’s health that they should never be eaten, Jesus would never have pronounced all these foods clean in His day....
The New Testament clearly teaches that these Old Testament dietary laws have been disengaged since the death and resurrection of Christ, and therefore Christians are neither commanded nor advised to keep them for the purpose of good health or for any other reason. (659)
First, the dietary laws along with the rest of the Old Testament ceremonial rites in the Levitical sacrificial system were “shadows” that “foreshadowed” the glory of Christ and the New Covenant. Colossians 2:16–17 teaches us that the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament were “a mere shadow of that which is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ” (emphasis added). (660)
Jesus’explanation to His disciples of His comments to the Pharisees as indicating that the clean-unclean distinction between meats was no longer in effect.
"And He said to them, “Are you too so [uncomprehending]? Do you not see that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him; because it goes not into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?” (Thus He declared all foods clean.) And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man” (Mark 7:18–20; emphasis added)." (660-661)
Third, the temporary nature of the dietary laws is seen in God’s calling of Jewish Peter to bring the gospel of grace to non-Jewish Cornelius in Acts 10:9–16, 28. (661)
Fourth, these dietary laws symbolized God’s choice of Israel from the Gentiles as we have seen. (664)
Fifth, the apostle Paul refers to the passing authority of the Old Testament ceremonial laws in 1 Tim. 4:1–5, Rom. 14:14–15 and Col. 2:20–23. (666)
The threatenings and penalties of God’s Law show us what sin deserves and what we can expect if we disregard or transgress that Law (Ezra 9:13–14; Ps. 89:30–34)....Without these sanctions, i.e., a measure, either a threat or a promise, used to enforce it, law is mere suggestion.....When a Christian feels the power of indwelling
sin beginning to assert itself, he can reflect upon the threats and promises of God’s word and thereby be motivated to resist temptation.
God’s Law, when obeyed and enforced by the civil government, also restrains sin in a society, even in the lives of unregenerate people. (669)
Because God’s Law restrains sin in the believer and the unbeliever, although only in the unbeliever’s outward behavior, the enforcement of God’s moral law and its civil sanctions by the civil government are indispensable in the deterring of crime, lawlessness and immorality in a society. (670)
However, not only the state must enforce God’s Law (in its civil sanctions), the church must obey and enforce God’s Law in its ecclesiastical sanctions through the preaching of the Word, the administration of the Sacraments and the practice of church discipline (Matt. 16:19; 18:15–20; 1 Cor. 5:1–13). The family also has a
central role as it obeys and enforces God’s Law in all its relations and activities in the disciplining, training, instructing, and counseling of children (Eph. 6:4; Prov. 22:6; 29:15). (670)
The ORIGINAL PURPOSE of God’s Law was and is TO GUARD AND PROMOTE LIFE. (671)
Choose Christ and His Law and you have life. Choose His Law without Christ, or
Christ without His Law, and you have death. However it must be clearly understood that the Law does not and cannot give life, only Christ gives life; but the Law does protect and enhance life in Christ when obeyed by believers. (672)
...sin, which abuses God’s Law, that same law now promotes death in all those outside of Christ in that it gives occasion to sin (Rom. 7:9–12). But in Christ believers are restored to a right relation to God’s Law, so that it no longer condemns us or aggravates our sin; rather it now guides our living, thinking and loving in this world, and we gladly submit to its authority, since God has written His Law in our hearts by regeneration. (673)
Biblical Law “constitutes a plan for dominion under God.”187...In the New Testament God renews His covenant with a new people in Christ (Matt. 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:25)....They are called to subdue the earth and to have dominion over it under Christ. 187. Rushdoony, Institutes of Biblical Law, 8 (674)