Will God judge people for eating unclean meats?

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By BibleAsk Team


The question of whether God will judge people for eating unclean meats is rooted in the dietary laws outlined in the Old Testament, particularly in the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy. These laws categorize certain animals as clean and suitable for consumption, while others are deemed unclean and forbidden.

Understanding the significance of these dietary laws and their relevance for believers today involves exploring biblical principles and theological perspectives. The Bible provides numerous references that shed light on this topic.

The Dietary Laws in the Old Testament

The dietary laws found in the Old Testament are primarily outlined in Leviticus chapter 11 and Deuteronomy chapter 14. These laws categorize animals into clean and unclean categories based on specific criteria, such as their characteristics, habits, and anatomy.

Clean Animals Leviticus 11:1-3 (NKJV): “Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying to them, ‘Speak to the children of Israel, saying, ‘These are the animals which you may eat among all the animals that are on the earth: Among the animals, whatever divides the hoof, having cloven hooves and chewing the cud—that you may eat.'” This passage introduces the dietary laws to the Israelites, specifying which animals are permissible for consumption.
Unclean Animals Deuteronomy 14:3-21 (NKJV): “You shall not eat any detestable thing…the swine is unclean for you…And whatever does not have fins and scales you shall not eat; it is unclean for you…you shall not eat: the eagle, the vulture, the buzzard, the red kite, the falcon, and the kite after their kinds…Also every creeping thing that flies is unclean…” This passage includes the animals that are not permissible for consumption.

Animals that are considered clean include those with cloven hooves and that chew the cud, such as cattle, sheep, and goats. In contrast, animals that do not meet these criteria are: hogs, squirrels, rabbits, catfish, eels, lobsters, clams, crabs, shrimp, oysters, frogs, and others. These animals are unclean because they are not fit for human consumption. God made our bodies and He knows what is healthy for us to eat.

Spiritual Significance

The dietary laws in the Old Testament served multiple purposes beyond mere dietary restrictions. They were intended to distinguish the Israelites as a holy and set-apart people (Leviticus 11:44-45) and to promote physical health and hygiene. Additionally, the distinction between clean and unclean animals had symbolic and spiritual significance, representing purity, holiness, and obedience to God’s commands.

“For I am the Lord your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy. Neither shall you defile yourselves with any creeping thing that creeps on the earth. For I am the Lord who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:44-45, NKJV). This passage emphasizes the call to holiness and obedience to God’s commands, including the dietary restrictions.

Promises of Health

The Lord gave us His health laws that His children may enjoy long life and optimum health. “And the Lord commanded us to [a]observe all these [b]statutes … for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is this day” (Deuteronomy 6:24, NKJV); and for keeping these laws, He promises, “I will take sickness away from the midst of you” (Exodus 23:25, NKJV).

When Daniel was in Babylon and was offered unclean meats, he “purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies” (Daniel 1:8, NKJV). And because of his obedience, the Lord blessed him and the king “found them (Daniel and his friends) ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm” (Daniel 1:20, NKJV). Daniel honored his body as God’s temple (1 Corinthians 3:16). And as a result, God honored him.

The Bible states that those who eat unclean animals and defile His temple will be judged. “For behold, the Lord will come with fire and with His chariots, like a whirlwind, to render His anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire… The Lord will judge all flesh; and the slain of the Lord shall be many. “Those who sanctify themselves and purify themselves, to go to the gardens after an idol in the midst, eating swine’s flesh and the abomination and the mouse, shall [b]be consumed together,” says the Lord” (Isaiah 66:15-17, NKJV). The Lord calls His children to “eat what is good” (Isaiah 55:2).

Check out our Bible Answers page for more information on a variety of topics.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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