Almost every living animal is looked upon by at least one of this world's
cultures as a food source. What one culture may consider as disgusting, another
calls a delicacy. Are all animals fit for human consumption? Or are some
actually inedible poisonous time bombs? How can we know? Believe it or not, the
pages of the Bible reveal the answers to these questions.
Anyone who has spent much time around a baby will know that these little
humans will stick anything (if it will fit) into their mouths and try to
eat it. A cartoonist once depicted a couple with their toddler telling the
doctor something like, "He's eating solids now-coins, paper clips, pencils,
rocks, etc." Many adults outgrow very little of this childish tendency.
"You are what you eat," it has been wisely said. When you consume
good, nutritious food in proper amounts, your body will receive the vitamins,
minerals, and other necessary elements to promote good health. On the other
hand, eating junk (and other poisonous "foods") fouls up and
eventually can destroy the complex, intricate, and wonderful creation each human
POISON VS. FOOD
Just because something can be placed into one's mouth, chewed up, and
swallowed does not automatically categorize it as good food. It is well known
that there are several plants which are poisonous-some of which kill within
minutes. The same is true with some animals, but unfortunately animal poisons
act much more slowly-usually taking many years before displaying their effects.
Because of this usually long "incubation" (Cause & Effect)
period, the blame often gets placed on things other than the "food".
Granted, in many cases these "other causes" definitely contribute, but
are not alone to be identified as guilty.
Medical science is Just Beginning to discover the truth about
the slow poisons found in some commonly eaten animals. But God informed
us thousands of years ago that there were certain things which were unfit to
eat. He did not enumerate the poisonous plants, as at least one physician has
pointed out, because they work quickly and are easily identified. But the animal
poisons are so slow acting and subtle that they required special and individual
The March 23, 1985, issue of Lancet contained an article by Dr. Amin A. Nanji
and Samuel W. French entitled "Relationship Between Pork Consumption and
Cirrhosis" (pp. 681-83) which demonstrated not only the anticipated
correlation between alcohol consumption and mortality from cirrhosis of the
liver, but also a similar relationship between the eating of pork and the same
disease. The significant correlation was even greater where high consumption of
both were present. This study included beef consumption as well, but found no
correlation. On page 683 of the article it states, "We have shown that the
amount of pork consumed correlates strongly with mortality from cirrhosis."
Poisons may sometimes appear to be good and be very palatable. They may even
contribute some very useful components to the system. Just as a glass of milk
laced with cyanide has many useful nutrients, nonetheless the poison still has
its effect. God knew which animals were bad for the human body. After all, He
created them all. He also loved us enough to reveal to us which ones they
were. But He also left us free to turn our backs on Him and His instructions (Commandments
of Love). He gave us free choice to show our rebellion by feeding
ourselves poisons just to remind Him of our independence.
POISONS HAVE THEIR PURPOSES
Some may ask, "If some animals are really poisonous to eat, why did God
create them?" The answer is simple: they have other purposes. The
irrelevance of this question may be demonstrated by other similar ones, such as:
"If water wasn't meant to be breathed, why did God create it?" Or,
"If it is harmful to light fire to yourself, why did God create fire?"
Just because He created something, it does not mean that it was intended for
every single conceivable use that man's mind could conjure up. After all, He
created the poisonous plants and gasses also! Try eating some granite or marble
sometime and you will quickly conclude that neither was designed nor intended to
be used for food! Or maybe you'd prefer a poison ivy salad! Yet there will be
"nutritionists" somewhere who will extol the magnificent benefits to
be gained with such delights!! We may not always understand or comprehend the
full intent for the creation of any given creature, but God does not do things
without purpose or usefulness.
The argument that Paul pronounced all things as edible in 1 Timothy 4:1-5
needs to be dealt with. First let it be noted that the primary subject is
"seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils." One of these doctrines
involves abstaining from "meats which God has created to be received with
thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth." This states that
some will proclaim that good things will, by some, be called evil and wrong. But
those who "believe and know the truth" should despise such ideas. And
what is the truth? "Thy word is Truth," said Yahshua in John 17:17.
The Bible reveals the truth to all who will dilligently seek it, and, among
other things, it points out which animals are good and which are bad for food.
Yes, "every creature of God is good," but not necessarily for food! (He
created henbane too, you know.) "And nothing to be refused, if it be
received with thanksgiving." But again, it must be received with
thanksgiving for the purpose for which it was intended! And that is not
necessarily for food. All of God's creation is "sanctified"- made
Holy-"by the Word of God and prayer." But not all of it was sanctified
to be food. The Bible lists those which were sanctified-set apart-as being fit
UNCLEAN MADE CLEAN?
A favorite contention is that the "clean/unclean" distinction was
somehow "nailed to the cross" and the "terrible oppression"
laid upon the Israelites by God was lifted. Was there some sort of sudden
miraculous change in the physical structure of the previously
"unclean" animals which abruptly made them good food? There is no
scientific evidence of it, and most important, there is no biblical evidence for
In the minds of many, Peter's experience demonstrated such evidence. But a
careful inspection results in a different conclusion. This account begins in
Acts 10. The first point to be considered is the fact that this event took place
several years (probably about ten years) after the crucifixion and
resurrection of Yahshua. Had there indeed been a change in the approach toward
the eating of "unclean" animals, certainly it would have been well
known and long accepted by this time. Surely sometime during the forty days the
resurrected Yahshua spent with His disciples before ascending to heaven He would
have made such an important change perfectly clear. But this was not the case.
We will see from Peter's reaction that such was obviously not true.
The vision (verse 12) included "all manner" of things-the
description making it quite clear. The creatures clearly turned Peter's stomach
and the meaning of the vision (verse 17) escaped Peter. He did not
interpret it as showing that all animals were fit to eat! It was not until he
reached Cornelius that he understood. The message had nothing whatsoever to do
with food, but rather with people. Verse 28 reveals this. You see, Cornelius was
a "dirty" Italian Gentile, looked upon by proper Jews as"unclean".
God was telling Peter that Cornelius and the other Gentiles were to be treated
as equals--brothers--and not looked upon or treated as garbage. The remainder of
the chapter follows this train of thought and reinforces the plain message of
Another scripture often quoted to "prove" that all animal flesh is
proper for human consumption is Romans 14:14. The first point to be made clear
is contained in the marginal reference found in many Bibles. The word
"unclean" is improperly placed here. It should be "common"
instead, a different word with an entirely different meaning. Notice that both
occurred in Acts 10:14, signifying that they refer to two separate
Classifications. "Unclean" [akarthatos] mean unclean or impure
naturally, whereas "common" [koinos] means polluted.
Romans 14:14 uses the word koinos and is therefore referring to pollution.
"Clean" meat is made "common" (polluted) by
strangulation and/or by leaving the blood in it (Acts 15:20). It can also
become "common" through disease. With this understanding clear, it
becomes a simple matter to perceive the message of Romans 14:14. Nothing is
polluted of itself (although it can be "unclean") but if
anybody thinks it might be polluted, he should treat it accordingly. This
approach is further explained in verse 23: if one thinks something may be
sinful, one should not do it, even if it is, in fact, right and proper.
CLEAN" AND "UNCLEAN" IN THE FUTURE
The fact that the animals which are "clean" and those which pointed
out in one particularly clear prophecy. Had there been a change (or had one been
anticipated), it would be extremely clear. Such is not the case, so the
conclusion becomes inescapable. Were there to have been a change, there is no
reason for the distinction to be made clear as existing in the Last Days
period-the time of now and on until Yahshua's return. This prophecy is found in
Isaiah 66:17, showing that God will slay those who eat "swine's flesh, and
the abomination, and the mouse." If all animals are now clean, this becomes
an empty, meaningless threat. And you can rest assured that God does not make
such shallow threats!
WHAT IS "CLEAN" AND "UNCLEAN" ?
There are two places where the distinctions are found: Leviticus 11 and
Deuteronomy 14. The creatures are placed in three categories: animals, fish, and
fowl. The animals are "clean" if they part the hoof (split hoof)
AND chew the cud. If an animal possesses one attribute but not the other, it is
"unclean". Examples are the camel and rabbit which chew the cud, but
don't part the hoof. Also, the swine which parts the hoof but doesn't chew the
cud. "Clean" animals include the cow, deer, sheep, goat, etc.
"Clean" fish have BOTH fins and scales. If a water creature does
not possess BOTH, it is "unclean". This very quickly eliminates such
things as catfish, eels, sturgeons, and swordfish as they have no true scales.
"Clean" fish include the anchovy, barracuda, bass, bowfin, buffalo,
carp, cod, darter, flounder, grayling, haddock, halibut, herring, jack,
mackerel, minnow, mullet, perch, pike, salmon, sardine, shad, snapper, sole,
sunfish, tarpon, trout, tuna, and whitefish. (This is by no means an
exhaustive list, but a representative list of some more common "clean"
The clean fowl are more difficult to pin down. By taking the characteristics
of the listed "unclean" birds and comparing them with the
characteristics of the known "clean" birds (dove and pigeon as they
were acceptable for sacrifice), it becomes more clear as to what to look
"Clean" birds possess six definite characteristics:
1) They are not birds of prey (As Hawks, Eagles, Vultures, etc...).
2) They can catch food in the air, bring it to the ground, divide it (when
possible) with their beaks, and then eat it.
3) They have an elongated middle front toe and a hind toe (As
Chickens, Turkeys, etc...).
4) They spread their toes with the three front toes on one side of a
perch and the hind toe on the other side.
5) They have craws or crops.
6) They have a gizzard with a double lining which can easily be
If a bird possesses All Of The Above, it is "clean".
If it lacks one or more of these characteristics, it is "unclean".
Additionally, "Clean" birds include the chicken, duck, goose, grouse,
partridge, pheasant, quail, turkey, and all song birds.
In addition, to the eating of "unclean" meats, the use of even
Parts of them in food preparation is wrong. This eliminates the use of (Pork)
lard as a cooking or frying oil or shortening. There is, also, an injunction
against the use of blood, and the fat of even the "clean" animals (Leviticus
3:11, 7:23 27). Therefore, even beef fat (Tallow) should be avoided
not only as a frying and cooking material, but also as an ingredient, as it
often is, in ground beef. The cheaper versions of ground beef as usually found
in the grocery should be avoided since they are commonly high in added fat
POISONING YOURSELF IS A SIN
Although (in a few cases) it may not necessarily be a spiritual sin to imbibe
in "unclean" foods, it is nonetheless damaging to the body. However,
if it is eaten out of lust, it then even infringes on the spiritual sin realm.
For the True Believer, though, there is more involved. A deeper meaning,
commitment, and application brings the matter into a much sharper focus. True
Believers are to present their bodies as a "living sacrifice" (Romans
12:1 2) and should therefore keep that body unpolluted. That body is God's
Temple and God will destroy the ones who willfully pollute it (1 Corinthians
3:16 17)! The True Believer's body is no longer his/hers; it is bought and
paid for, and is now the property of Yahshua; and is to be taken care of as the
owner (Yahshua) dictates (1 Corinthians 6:20, 7:23). The choice is
yours: keep yourself unpolluted or face the consequences of His wrath.