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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Complaining and God’s Provision Led to Greed for Meat

Numbers 11 begins with the mixed multitude complaining in the wilderness.  This made the Lord so angry that His fire burned some of them in the outskirts of the camp until Moses interceded for them.  Moses then named the place “Taberah” which means burning.

About that time, the people were giving in to their intense longing (greed, lust) for the food in Egypt.  The desert did not supply them with the endless supply of fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic that they longed for.  There was not much variety in their diets and they ate manna each day.  They desired meat to eat despite the fact there was plenty of animals from their flocks and herds that were used for sacrifices.  Certainly, they could have occasionally eaten the meat of peace offerings.  Moses was definitely frustrated by their complaining and brought this burden to the Lord because he couldn’t do anything about their situation. 

Before the Lord addressed the people’s lust for meat, He commanded Moses to select 70 of the elders of Israel and bring them to the temple of meeting so He could take some of the Spirit from Moses and distribute it to the 70 elders.  Moses did as the Lord commanded but 2 of the 70 were not at the tent of meeting.  When the Spirit came to rest on them they all prophesied at that time—even on the 2 who were somewhere else in the camp.  Joshua did not think this was right but Moses desired that all of God’s people were prophets.

Many believe this is prophetic of the Holy Spirit being poured out on both Jews and Gentiles and I have to agree but there could also be another explanation for this being inserted into this particular historical account.

God also told Moses to tell the people to consecrate themselves because He was going to bring them enough meat to eat for a whole month.  They would eat so much meat that they would hate it.  The Lord said this would happen because they had rejected Him and distressed Him with their grumbling.

After Moses and the elders went back into the camp, the Lord sent out a wind that brought many quails from across the sea into the camp.  Considering the enormous size of this multitude (600,000 men including their families), this was an incredible miracle.  The people collected quails for two days and the night in between.  It must have been quite tiring to catch as many quails as possible during that time and keep them contained all over the camp.  Some people were so greedy the Lord struck them with a plague before they finished eating what was in their mouths.

Strange as it may seem, it reminds me of something that happened in the New Testament.  Acts 6:1-7 says, “Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. 2 Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. 3 Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; 4 but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch, 6 whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them. 7 Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.”  NKJV

The first thing we notice in this passage is that the Grecian Jews were complaining against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.  Could it be that the original elders who had been filled with the Spirit in the wilderness were supposed to help with the distribution of the quails?  I think this is a strong possibility because this would have freed Moses from the complaining of the people so he could devote himself to the Lord and the task of leading the people in the wilderness.  Could it be that the Hebraic Jews mentioned in the book of Acts were being greedy and hoarding all the food for themselves?  There must have been enough food to go around since 7 men filled with the Holy Spirit, one of which was a proselyte were chosen to see that the food was distributed fairly.  Perhaps the people in the wilderness would not have died as a result of the plague if they had simply made their requests known to the Lord and trusted in Him to provide for their needs and desires.

I know it wasn’t always easy for the mixed multitude to live without the things they loved to eat and  took for granted in Egypt because I’ve lived in another country where I couldn’t get everything I liked and was accustomed to either.  There were days I longed for something special from home but I learned to improvise.  I even found things where I was living that were not available in America to enjoy.

I realized that if the mixed multitude had lived in the wilderness all their lives they wouldn’t have missed and longed for what existed in Egypt.  Even though that is not the case, they should have appreciated what they had in Egypt and looked forward to what was going to be in the Promised Land. 

As we consider their situation, we shouldn’t think the people didn’t have any food to eat.  They had their flock and herds as well as manna and other things that traders sold them along the way.  Don’t forget that God miraculously provided water for them too in addition to the manna.    

As we imagine what it was like to live in the wilderness, we should wonder whether or not we may be faced with famine at some point in the future and whether or not we will trust in the Lord to provide for our needs.  Actually, according to prophecy, this is a real possibility for those living in the last days.  Can we trust in the Lord without fear or complaining?  It won’t be easy.  It’s definitely easier said than done.  Just remember, there’s nothing wrong with desiring something or making our petitions known to the Lord because He already knows what we need and He’s the source of all blessings.  Just don’t complain because that gets on everybody’s nerves and it’s just as contagious as a plague.  When you see God’s provision, don’t become greedy.  Be willing to share and trust He will always provide for your needs.