I have recently been confronted with people who are telling me that Christians need to keep the Old Testament dietary laws. What they are saying is contrary to Peter’s statements of Acts 15:10, as well as many statements of Paul.
I had always been taught that people didn’t eat animals until after the flood. Most Christians point to Genesis 9:3 to say that this was the point when man began to eat the flesh of animals.
Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.
You can do an internet search and you will find many articles that state that man was vegetarian before the flood.
Indeed, man was created to be a vegetarian. In the Garden of Eden, Adam was told;
And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. Genesis 2:16-17
We all know the story of the fall of man; Shortly after this command was given Adam and Eve ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and were banished from the Garden.
As a result of their sin, God killed animals and made clothing from the animal skins for Adam and his wife.
Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them. Genesis 3:21
Now, God was teaching Adam something in this act, that most of his descendants have forgotten. No doubt Adam would copy this act of God for the rest of his life, whenever he or a member of his family needed clothing. They may have developed cloth at some point in Adam’s life, and thus would not have needed to continue killing animals all the time, but there can be no doubt that they did kill animals on occasion for their skins.
So what was God teaching Adam? Did He teach them to kill the animals to make clothing, and then bury the carcass? Did they burn it?
It has been said that the God of the bible is a “waste-not-want-not” God. He does not beat around the bush, wasting time. He does not waste resources, and He does not expect his creatures to be wasteful either. Does it make sense that God would teach the first couple to kill animals for their skins and to waste the rest of the carcass?
One of the principles of the law of sacrifice, given later in Leviticus, was that the sacrifices were to be eaten. See Genesis 31:54, Leviticus 7:15-21, Deut. 12:27.
Note that in Genesis 31:54 it does not say that Jacob and his brethren ate the sacrifice there, but the context dictates that they did. It was a feast! Notice also that this occurred long before the book of Leviticus was written. Yes, they did eat their sacrifices long before the Law was written! I think God had communicated this to man in the beginning.
The bible does not have to spell things out. God wants us to use our minds, that He gave us!
Do you remember the time when Moses was on the mountain for forty days and the people down below made a golden calf? You can read about it in Exodus 32.
In his righteous anger Moses ground the golden calf into powder, mixed it in water, and made the people of Israel drink it;
And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and strawed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it. Exodus 32:20
I think that in a similar fashion, God in His righteous anger, over Adam and Eve’s disobedience, made them eat the animals He had killed for their clothing. I think God did it to show them the consequences of their sin.
They sinned and someone had to die. Instead of them dying, it was a beautiful animal which they loved!
Have you ever eaten a pet? I have. It is not a good feeling. It is hard to enjoy such a meal when it has a name, (Andrei the goat) and along with it there is a sense of guilt. It is over thirty years since I had that meal, and I still remember it today.
Don’t forget that the God of the Garden is the same God whom Moses knew. I think He inspired Moses to do this! Making them drink the polluted water would bring home to them the horror of what they had done.
Do I have a verse to prove my point? Not really. I only know that God never changes, and the principles enshrined in the law of Moses were already in play thousands of years earlier. This can easily be demonstrated in the law of the Sabbath (see Genesis 2:3 and Exodus 20:11), and the rest of the ten commandments, and I see no reason why it should not be true of other laws. It is about the unchanging nature of God.
Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female. Genesis 7:2
When Noah entered the ark, they already had a concept of clean animals. Some have said that the concept was only for sacrifice. This may be true, but even this idea is not found in Scripture, (someone made it up) and I would contend that they ate their sacrifices. Meat should remind you that someone had to die for your meal, and they died because YOU are a sinner!
When Noah and his family got off the ark the world had radically changed from the day they had boarded her. In this new world God allowed man to eat any animal, not only the ones which were clean for sacrifices.
Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. Genesis 9:3
I think that what the Lord was saying is that “now, even animals that you formerly considered unclean, you may eat”. He is also using the past-tense in this statement, because it is already a done deal. He is letting them know that they can, but He never actually said that they can not! The diet before the flood was probably the same diet eventually enshrined in the Law of Moses.
Not every conversation that Adam had with God is recorded in Scripture, so there is ample room for Him to have given them instructions to eat the sacrifice during Adam’s life. God would never give instructions that are contrary to His nature, but we see from the Levitical law that it is NOT contrary to His nature for men to eat of their sacrifices.
In fact eating of the sacrifice is one thing that personalizes it. When you eat it the sacrifice becomes a part of you! It is this very principle that Jesus was referring to when He said:
Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. John 6:53
He wasn’t speaking literally, but figuratively. You have to read His words and make them a part of you. Nevertheless, the principle He spoke of here in John 6 is the very same principle that began with the first sacrifice. How do I know? Because all the sacrifices were about Jesus. Every one of them. None of them could ever take away sin (Hebrews 10:4), but all were anticipating the ultimate sacrifice of the Son of Man.
Jesus, or Yehoshua, said that we need to pay attention to every word of Scripture (Mat. 4:4, Luke 4:4). We are not to look at the “big picture” without taking notice of the details. Pay careful attention to the details of the sacrifice of the second child of Adam.
3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. 4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: Genesis 4:3-4
Notice that when Abel made his sacrifice he separated the fat from the meat. One need not do that if one is burning up the whole animal in the fire of the altar. The only way one would need to do what Abel was doing was if one was eating the meat. The fat was burned and the meat was eaten!
And he shall offer of the sacrifice of the peace offering an offering made by fire unto the LORD; the fat thereof, and the whole rump, it shall he take off hard by the backbone; and the fat that covereth the inwards, and all the fat that is upon the inwards, Leviticus 3:9
Abel was making the same kind of offering that was later enshrined in the law in Leviticus. He was separating the fat, and burning it. This is very strong evidence that he ate the meat of the sacrifice. He was anticipating the law of Moses which would not be written down for some 2,500 years! I expect that Abel didn’t make this up himself, but got it first hand from the Lord!
Please notice also that there is no command recorded in Genesis 1-4, for Cain and Abel to bring sacrifices and offerings to the Lord! None! So, did Cain and Abel just make it up themselves, to bring the offerings of Genesis 4? No! Very obviously they were following a verbal command, that was never written down. If one verbal command wasn’t written down, what is the chance that there were others? I would say that it is without question that there were many verbal commands given to the first family, and even to several generations of their descendants.
Those who tell us that Abel’s, and Adam’s, sacrifices were burnt offerings that consumed the entire animal, are not reading the words of Scripture. Their exegesis is sloppy! Careless! Really more like eisegesis! They are reading into Scripture their own preferences, and skipping that which the Lord placed there!
Proof that this is a very old custom can be observed all around the world; people in any religion that makes sacrifices and offerings, eat of their sacrifices. I am not saying that those sacrifices are acceptable to God, but only that the tradition they are following comes from way back in time, even as far back as the Garden of Eden.
No. The more Scripture I read the more I am convinced that man has eaten the flesh of animals since the Garden of Eden.