Why the Old Testament Diet?

by Terry W. Benton

Photo by Lily Banse on Unsplash

God "imposed" food and drink laws on Israel, not on us (Hebrews 9:10) until the time of reformation. The time of reformation is the New Testament age under Christ. Under Christ, the earthly food laws of the Old Law are not binding (you can go ahead and eat pork and shrimp, etc.). But why were they imposed on Israel to start with? They may seem arbitrary and meaningless to us at first glance but look closely. They had symbolic value pointing to a deeper spiritual reality that was coming in Christ. Now that Christ has come the symbolism needs not continue. The Israelite should have learned to be careful to distinguish clean and unclean foods (not that some foods are germ-ridden and others more healthy) but were categorized this way to keep the Israelite conscious of always being careful of what was ingested. Some things are designated clean and some things are unclean. Working with the physical and earthly foods this way was illustrative or symbolic of the more important food that endures unto everlasting life (John 6:27).

In Christ, we are to be discerning about what we ingest into our hearts and spirits. Our food is spiritual, but we are not to believe every spirit (I John 4:1f). We have to be discerning between clean and unclean thoughts, truth and error. Murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, blasphemy, etc (Matthew 15:19-20) starts with ingesting into the heart the unclean thoughts of anger, jealousy, envy, hatred, lust, etc. What you eat with your heart determines attitudes and actions. Unclean and clean thoughts are the food of the soul. They determine your life in Christ. There was symbolic value in the Old Testament pointing to the greater spiritual values in Christ. We don't have the earthly temple, animal sacrifices, earthly priesthood, nor the earthly food regulations of the Old Testament. Those things were imposed for symbolic purposes until the "time of reformation." When that time came in Jesus, beginning in Acts 2, the shadows and symbols, find their spiritual fulfillment in Christ. Eat what you want in terms of earthly selections in animals, but be very discerning and careful about what you ingest and digest into your mind and heart. Don't contaminate your heart with unclean things. Be careful of words, actions, and images that contaminate good and blessed thoughts. Those are the things that ruin your mind and your usefulness in Jesus' kingdom.

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