When the Jerusalem council met regarding what to require from the new Gentile believers, they basically summarized the requirements from Leviticus 17–18. Leviticus 17 deals with the sanctity of blood and idolatry (offerings to demons) while Leviticus 18 focuses on forms of sexual immorality. Today, we’ll only focus on Leviticus 17.
Leviticus 17:1-7 basically teaches that all clean animals must be brought as korbanot (offerings) and must be offered in the Sanctuary. The location of the Sanctuary varied in the early days but eventually, the only place sacrifices could be made was in Jerusalem. If anyone killed a clean animal and didn’t offer it to the Lord, he was guilty of bloodshed. Sacrifices could not be made in the open fields or somewhere in the camp other than the Sanctuary. These sacrifices were offered to goat-demons. Since the Temple was destroyed in 70 C.E., no sacrifices to the Lord have been made because of this commandment.
Deuteronomy 12:13-16 re-emphasizes this commandment but gives permission to slaughter and eat clean meat in a manner similar to gazelle or deer whereas previously, the Israelites had to offer peace offerings when they wanted to eat meat. From this point on, no matter where the Israelites lived they were permitted to eat meat whenever they wanted as long as they didn’t eat the blood.
Even though people could slaughter and eat meat where they lived throughout the Promised Land, offerings were still brought to the Temple in order to draw near to God. You may be surprised to know that as Jews became believers in Jesus Christ, they still offered sacrifices at the Temple and made pilgrimages to Jerusalem for the feasts until it was destroyed in 70 C.E. This was long after Christ’s death and resurrection. This is evident in Acts 21 when Paul purified himself and took the men into the temple so they could finish their period of purification.
As church history evolved, anti-Semitism sprang up and Constantine’s creed forced Gentile Christians to renounce and stop observing the new moons, Sabbaths and the Feasts of the Lord. Gentiles also had to stop performing purifications, saying the Jewish prayers, and fellowshipping with Jews. All of this did not end with the Reformation which was started by Martin Luther. His writings indicate he was anti-Jewish as well. This separation of Gentile Christians from Jewish practices has continued through the Reformation to the present.
Today, Christians have begun seeking their Hebraic Roots. God is moving His people to read the Scriptures for themselves so they will choose to obey them despite the errant teachings of Christian churches. Christian pastors can either find their Hebraic Roots and lead their congregations back to the truth of God’s word or continue to deceive their laypeople by continuing to teach what the seminaries and numerous commentaries have errantly taught them.
We should constantly seek the truth now because during Christ’s reign, God’s commandments will be regularly performed including sacrifices which will be offered only in the Temple. They will not be performed in vain but with a sincere heart full of love and devotion to the Lord while remembering the sacrifice that Jesus made for the sins of mankind. If you doubt this, read the description of the third temple shown to Ezekiel for more details.
As previously mentioned, the Israelites were commanded not to commit idolatry or offer sacrifices to demons (Leviticus 17:7-9). In Acts 15:29, the Gentiles were specifically commanded by the Jerusalem council not to eat meat which had been sacrificed to idols. In 1 Corinthians 8, Paul emphasized that non-believing Gentiles participating in idolatry were really sacrificing to demons and not to God. This was probably because the new Gentile believers were still somewhat ignorant of the Torah.
Paul said some people had the knowledge that idols did not have any real existence in the world nor could they affect the meat which was sacrificed to them while others believed differently. Paul suggested that believers should not eat meat sacrificed to idols so they won’t cause someone else with a weak conscience to stumble; however, this was not the primary reason to avoid meat sacrificed to idols.
Many Christians believe that believers are free to knowingly eat food sacrificed to idols when someone weaker in their faith is not around. This could not be further from the truth. Paul finally gives a better reason to avoid meat sacrificed to idols in 1 Corinthians 10. In this chapter, Paul equates eating food sacrificed to idols to having fellowship with demons. Clearly, we are not to eat at the table of demons.
Is this something we should be concerned about today? Some think not. Without the knowledge of the general public, meat packers in America are putting out meat that is ‘halal’ (lawful). What is this? This is meat that has been ritually slaughtered according to Islamic law – slicing the jugular vein with a sharp knife while reciting the name of Allah and allowing the blood to drain from the animal. Even though a portion the meat was not burned as a sacrifice, shall we consider this a sacrifice to Allah? It is obviously slaughtered in the name of Allah. You will have to decide for yourself. While you are at it, let me know what you think.
If you don’t know whether or not your meat was offered to idols (demons), don’t ask. Just eat it with thanksgiving to God. If you hear your meat was offered to idols, don’t eat it. Whatever you do, do everything to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:27-31).
Leviticus 17 also prohibits Israelites and foreigners living with them from eating blood. This is because blood sustains life and it is to be used to make atonement for sin. Blood is contained within our circulatory system. Normally, it is circulated through our bodies and is not eliminated. The cells carry oxygen to the cells to sustain life while the plasma carries other substances necessary for life. The kidneys filter the waste products from the blood which pass out of the body in urine while the clean blood re-circulates to continually give life to other parts of the body. Blood was not intended to be eaten and eliminated by our intestinal tract. When life-giving blood is destroyed and excreted from the body this way, it is a picture of blood-loss and death.
You might be surprised to know that ordinary people eat blood in various places around the world. Some people actually make sausage out of it. I understand that it tastes very good but I have never eaten it. Many eat blood without realizing God has forbidden it. On the other hand, those who are involved in demon worship drink blood as part of their Satanic rituals. Those who eat blood regardless of the reason will be cut off from the community of God’s people.
Remember, hunting and killing clean animals to eat is fine but the blood must be completely drained onto the ground and covered with dirt. I suspect this is because God formed Adam from the dust of the earth.
Leviticus says that if someone eats meat from an animal that died naturally or that was torn to death by wild animals, he will be unclean. Israelites or foreigners who became unclean because of what they ate had to be extremely careful to immerse themselves and wait for evening to come in order to avoid defiling the temple. If they didn’t they had to bear the consequences of their wrongdoing.
All of this comes down to the letter of the Jerusalem council to the Gentile believers which upheld the Levitical laws:
But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written and decided that [they should observe no such thing, except that (this phrase is not in the Greek text)] they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality (Acts 21:25).
Since the phrase “they should observe no such thing, except that” is not included in the Greek text, we should understand that since Paul kept Torah, Gentile believers should also be free to observe Torah (Acts 21:24), especially Leviticus 17-18 which is the core of Torah.