Don’t Eat Blood Or Meat Sacrificed to Idols

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.

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Christian Holiday Traditions

Advent wreaths and Christmas trees are traditions that stir deep seated feelings and memories in the hearts of Christians and non-Christians today.  This year, many Christians are upset by atheists that attempt to rob them of the joy of the season.  America has changed radically over the last several years.  Atheists still see Christmas as a time to celebrate the winter solstice but there are more immigrants here who cling to other gods than ever before.  Christmas can’t mean that much to them.  I can only imagine what they really think of American Christmas traditions.  Still there are many who simply enjoy and/or detest the materialistic experience of the season.  I suspect that aspect of the season has probably been impacted greatly by the severe economic times Americans are facing.

Despite all of this, I want to point out something concerning the season many have never considered.   

Jeremiah 10:3-5 says, “For the customs of the peoples are futile; For one cuts a tree from the forest, The work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. 4 They decorate it with silver and gold; They fasten it with nails and hammers So that it will not topple. 5 They are upright, like a palm tree, And they cannot speak; They must be carried, Because they cannot go by themselves.  Do not be afraid of them, For they cannot do evil, Nor can they do any good.”  

I remember the first time these verses caught my attention as I was reading through the book of Jeremiah.  I thought to myself, this sounds like a Christmas tree.  At that time, these verses were planted as a seed in my heart.  From that point on, I became uncomfortable every time I saw a Christmas tree because I always thought of these verses.  This seed grew once I finally began to seek my Hebraic roots.

When I first discovered these verses, I emailed my friends to see what they thought about them.  One said, “It may sound like a Christmas tree but I don’t worship my Christmas tree.” 

The Christmas season is now upon us once again.  Trees and decorations are being sold like they are every year.  Even churches erect these trees in their sanctuaries…and it breaks my heart.  I know Christians don’t worship their trees and they are trying to celebrate Christ’s birth but celebrating Jesus’ birth involves worshiping the newborn King and a Christmas tree is a beautiful pagan idol that is in the way of that.

Have you ever considered Ezekiel 8?  The Lord appeared to Ezekiel and brought him in a vision to Jerusalem, to the north gate of the inner court, where the seat of the image of jealousy was.  The presence of this idol was causing God to be jealous.  The Lord asked Ezekiel if he knew what the people were doing here to make Him go far away from His sanctuary.  The Lord then showed Ezekiel greater abominations that were going on in the temple.

Deuteronomy 12:1-4 commanded the Israelites to observe God’s statutes and judgments their whole lives.  They were to tear down the places of idolatry and not worship the Lord our God with the things the idolaters worship their gods with.  These commands didn’t only apply to the Israelites but they apply to us as well.

Have you considered the practice of Advent?  For four weeks prior to Christmas, a candle is lit and Scripture is read to welcome Jesus, the Light of the world to come during the time of the winter solstice.  This is simply a pagan ritual that has been modified for Christian application.  According to Deuteronomy 12:1-4, God is not pleased with this.  This was originally the time when the Celts prayed for the return of the sun’s life-giving light.  This is sun worship.  That is the same abomination Ezekiel saw in Ezekiel 8:16.

How about the 40 days of Lent?  That’s in a different time of year.  Forty days of fasting and self denial prior to Passover is not required by the Lord.  That seems like a righteous thing to do but it is really linked with the 40 days of weeping for Tammuz.  That’s exactly what they were doing in Ezekiel 8:14.  The Lord called that an abomination.

What did God do about these abominations?  In Ezekiel 9, He called a man clothed in linen to take his writer’s inkhorn and instructed him to put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all of the abominations that are done in the temple.  After that he was commanded to kill everyone no matter how old they were who did not have the mark of the Lord on their foreheads.  Ezekiel was distressed by what he saw because he thought the Lord God was going to wipe out the entire remnant of Israel in Jerusalem.  The Lord explained that the iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah was exceedingly great.  It was full of bloodshed and perversity and that He would not spare them or have pity.  Just then the man dressed in linen clothes with the inkhorn came and reported that he was done as commanded.

This vision that Ezekiel saw is a picture of what will happen in the future.  An abomination of desolation will be set up in the temple to arouse God’s jealousy.  Other abominations will be taking place as well.  The 144,000 will be sealed with the seal of God and the wicked will eventually be destroyed by the plagues. 

What will happen to the rest of us when that time comes?  Will we fare any better?  How can we when abominations, bloodshed (abortions and other murders), and perverse sexual immorality reign in our midst?  Do you expect to be raptured before that?  Don’t count on it because there’s as much Scripture to support a post-tribulation rapture as there is a pre-tribulation rapture. 

If we don’t want to be destroyed for a lack of knowledge of God’s commands and lawlessness, we’ve got to study God’s word and get synchretized Christianity out of lives.  We must also get rid of the excessive materialism of this season and the abominable parts of our traditions and cling to the Lord and obey God’s commandments. 

As this season continues, obey Ephesians 5:18-21:  “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.”

Instead of celebrating Christ’s birth during Christmas, consider doing so during the Feast of Tabernacles without all of the Christmas traditions.  After all, Immanuel means God “with us”…dwelling with us.  That’s the meaning of the Feast of Tabernacles anyway.

If you are one who already understands these things yet your spouse and the rest of your family doesn’t, this is obviously an extremely awkward time of year for you.  Take comfort in the fact you are not alone.  Maintain a quiet spirit and worship the Lord.  May the peace of the Lord guard your heart and mind during the winter holidays and always.

Mourning for the Dead

The Levitical priesthood had a higher standard of holiness than that for the common Israelite.  According to Leviticus 21, the Levitical priests were not to defile themselves for the dead among their people.  The only exception was for his closest relatives:

  • parents
  • children
  • brothers
  • virgin sisters

 If his sister was married she belonged to her husband’s family and they would be responsible for her dead body.  This seems like a harsh command for many of us today because we don’t see our sister as being the responsibility of her husband’s family; however, this is what the word of God commands. 

The priests were not permitted to make any bald place on their heads, shave the edges of their beards, or cut their flesh as a sign of mourning for the dead.  To do so would profane God’s name.  It was not acceptable for them to do that because they were the ones who offered the offerings of the Lord and they had to be holy to do so.

When we first read some of these prohibitions in Scripture, various things come to mind.  For example, when we read the command not to make bald places on someone’s head, we might think of the practice of tonsure which is practiced by certain Christian churches.  This is considered to be a sacred rite of being received into the clerical order of certain denominations and is not associated with mourning for the dead.  It is certainly not something that is of Hebraic origin either so it’s probably not appropriate at all as a sacred rite.

People-groups throughout the world practice various mourning rituals for the dead.  Normally, the Jews cried and tore their clothes as a sign of mourning for the dead among other things.  Shaving the edges of beards or cutting flesh were signs of mourning for the dead which practiced by the Canaanites and these are the only ones that the Lord specifically said were forbidden.  In fact, Deuteronomy 14:1 commands all of His people not to do these things and not just the priests.

Note that the key here is that these commands were forms of mourning for the dead.  Shaving the head was an acceptable and required part of the procedure for the Nazirite vow.  The separation to God is on the head of a Nazirite and the hair is a holy peace offering to the Lord.  Shaving the hair is acceptable in this instance because it is not part of a mourning ritual.  If a Nazirite came in contact with a dead body during his or her vow, their consecrated head became defiled and the hair had to be cut off as part of the cleansing process.      

I suspect one reason why the cutting of flesh was prohibited is because it is also somehow tied to demon worship and demon possession.  For example, this was a method the priests of Baal used to coerce Baal to send fire down onto the bull they had cut up on Mount Carmel.  According to Mark 5, the man in the country of the Gadarenes who was possessed with a legion of demons often cut himself. 

The High Priest was on a different level from the ordinary Israelite and was not permitted to mourn the dead by uncovering his head or tearing his clothes.  The High Priest was not even permitted to defile himself by going near his parents if they died.  He had to keep his head covered and not tear his garments because he was anointed and consecrated for the service of the High Priest.  He was not to go out of the sanctuary nor profane it because the consecration of the anointing oil of his God was upon him.

Leviticus 21 continues by commanding priests not to marry a harlot, a defiled woman, or divorced woman because they must be holy to God.  Instead, High Priests were held to a higher standard than the rest of the people because priests had to marry virgins.  To have children from these women would profane the posterity of priests.  Male children from such unions could not be permitted to serve as priests. 

One way that a priest could be profaned that is out of his control is what his daughter might do.  If she became a prostitute, she profaned not only herself but her father too. The penalty for doing this was being burned with fire.  This is a picture of the bride of Christ which must be presented to the Lord holy and pure as a virgin.  Those who do not choose to become the bride of Christ are harlots who will be burned in the lake of fire.

Priests who approached God in order to make offerings for the people had to be without any defects so that God’s sanctuary would not become defiled.  Defects included:

  • blind
  • lame
  • a marred face
  • any limb too long
  • a man who has a broken foot or broken hand
  • a hunchback
  • a dwarf
  • a man who has a defect in his eye
  • eczema or scab
  • a eunuch

This does not mean people with defects can’t come to know Jesus as Savior and Lord.  Jesus demonstrated that He is compassionate and desires to heal people with defects and wants to have a relationship with them.  It’s just that those who served closest to the Lord such as priests had to be free of defects. 

God is perfect and His priests had to be without defects so they would not profane the sanctuaries of the Lord.  Male descendants of priests who had defects could still eat the holy and most holy things as long as they were clean.

Even though the Temple is no longer standing, we must still have leaders who are blameless.  We must follow the guidelines of Titus 1:7-9:  “For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, 8 but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, 9 holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.”

Certainly the High Priest and other priests mourned the death of friends and loved ones; however, they were not permitted to mourn in the same manner as the Canaanites.  Today when people die, their friends and families mourn differently. 

  • If the deceased was a non-believer, non-believing family and friends mourn deeply in a variety of ways.
  • If the deceased was lost without Christ, mourning is a bit different because not only do we grieve their loss from this world, we grieve their eternal destiny. 
  • If the deceased was a believer, believing friends and family grieve their loss but rejoice and take comfort in knowing their loved one is with the Lord in heaven.
  • If a loved one dies and we don’t know if they truly had a relationship with the Lord, we still grieve the loss but wonder if we will ever see them again when we are with the Lord.

Where will you spend eternity?  Are you sure?

How will people mourn your death?  These are serious things to think about.

As you consider this, ask yourself how you serve the Lord.  Are you or your offerings defective?  Do you or your offerings represent death or life? 

Be blameless and serve the Lord in love and holy fear!

Law of Separation From The Holy Things

According to Leviticus 22:1-9, the Lord commanded the priests to separate themselves from the holy things when they are unclean.  The “holy things” include the priestly portions of the sacrificial offerings and the prescribed portions of crops that are given to the priests (second tithe) by the people of Israel.   

Conditions that cause priests to be ritually unclean include: 

  • Being a leper (a metzora; not a person with Hanson’s disease).
  • Having a seminal emission or other discharge such as what results from gonorrhea.
  • Touching someone who has had a seminal emission or other discharge.
  • Touching something that has come in contact with a person who has had a seminal emission or other discharge.
  • Touching a human corpse or a crawling creature that died as outlined in Leviticus 11:29-31.
  • Touching something made unclean by contact with a human corpse or a crawling creature that died as outlined in Leviticus 11:29-31—whether it died naturally or was torn by wild beasts.

In most of these instances, the priest must immerse himself in water and he will be unclean only until the evening.  After that he may enter the temple and/or eat the holy things. 

For those who’ve come in contact with the dead, they must follow the commands of purification found in Numbers 19:11-22.

These laws are important because they prevent the priests from ritually contaminating the sacrificial meat or disqualifying the offerings brought by the people.  In addition, they must avoid transmitting uncleanness to the Temple.

If you read the list of the forms of ritual uncleanness previously mentioned, it becomes evident that each one is somehow related to:

  • Physical or spiritual death or a picture thereof.
  • The lack of life or the lack of the potential to create life. 

In general, spiritual death is usually associated with a separation from God.

Having a discharge is probably the worst form of uncleanness on the list and is a result of sexual transmission.  It requires treatment and doesn’t go away within a day.  Since it results from sexual sin, it is shameful and a picture of being uncovered.  It is offensive to God and is evidence of a spiritually bankrupt condition.  It hinders personal ministry and separates us from God and from what is holy.  It is a picture of death.    

The Greek Septuagint specifically uses the word gonorrhea for discharge.  It can cause infertility and if it’s not treated, it can cause problems in the joints and can even be life threatening.  Drug resistant strains of the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae are not unusual today and are very concerning.  This disease is often accompanied by other sexually transmitted diseases so it is important to control the desires of the flesh.  A person in this condition who is unrepentant will be found guilty and judged.

Just as bad as sexual immorality is idolatry.  When someone commits idolatry, they are seeking an intimate relationship with demons.  This also leads to death and eternal separation from God.

The command to refrain from eating the holy things on penalty of death for doing so shows us a picture of Adam and Eve being hindered by the cherubim with flaming swords from eating from the Tree of Life which was in the Garden of Eden.  Those who can’t eat from the Tree of Life will suffer eternal separation from God.  They are already spiritually dead and physical death awaits them. 

According to Leviticus 22:10-16, those who may eat the holy things include:

  • Priests
  • Members of the priest’s household including his wife and children except for daughters who married someone out of the priesthood.  The only exceptions are those daughters who have returned to live with their father because they are widowed or divorced, and have no children.
  • Person bought by a priest and any children born to a gentile female slave in the priest’s household.

 Those who may not eat the holy things include:

  • Outsiders who dwell with priests
  • Hired servants

Anyone who unintentionally eats the holy things must restore the offering and add one fifth to it.  The one who must restore the offering must not make another one, he must simply replace the amount of food plus one fifth of the amount.

In our day and age, being free to eat the holy things may be comparable to eating the Lord’s Supper which represents the flesh and blood of Jesus as well as the Tree of Life which will be in the new Jerusalem.  God has always intended for His people to be a nation of priests and a holy nation unto God so that they can eat from the Tree of Life one day.

As a nation of priests, it is important that we live a life of holiness and remain faithful to the Lord.  We should not be unequally yoked or fellowship with non-believers so that we are not led away from our faith.  Instead we should bring others into a saving relationship with the Lord through the adoption process — by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.  We should be careful that people who seem to worship with us are true believers and sons of God otherwise they will not be able to eat of the holy Tree of Life and live forever.