May 19, 2008
Daniel 12:4 prophesies that “knowledge shall be increased” in the latter days. While this prophecy has obviously been fulfilled in the secular “knowledge explosion” which has occurred in recent decades, I think this prophecy also indicates that biblical knowledge will be increased among God’s people in the latter days.
A reader sent me the attached videolink below which I want to pass on to readers of this website. It is by Pastor Joel Osteen, who is speaking to a Christian mega-church audience on the subject of what meats are biblically-permissible to eat. I am aware of who Pastor Osteen is as I’ve seen him on the television, but I could not claim to be very familiar with all his religious views. In this video-clip, Pastor Osteen cites scripture as telling us that it is not healthy to eat pigs and shellfish. He points out that these creatures are scavengers who clean up “garbage,” but biblically-permissible animals such as cattle, lamb, buffalo, poultry and various fish have different diets and digestive systems which make their flesh safe to eat. Obviously, the Creator designed some animals to scavenge garbage and offal and others to serve as meat for humans. As a caring Creator, he has informed mankind what meats are best for us to eat in Deuteronomy 14:1-22 (check out the list for yourself!).
I’ve noticed that more and more people are discovering what the Bible instructs concerning which meats are acceptable to eat and which are not. Avoiding what God calls “unclean” meats is now increasingly common among Messianic believers, Sabbatarian Christians and some Evangelical Christians. All are doing so to base their dietary lifestyles on what the Creator has revealed as best for us. I have observed this biblical injunction on “clean an unclean meats” for all my adult life, so this videolink of Pastor Osteen’s message especially captured my attention.
It has long been common among Christians to think that New Testament scriptures permit the eating of any and all animal flesh. This is a misunderstanding. Peter wrote in II Peter 3:15-16 that even people in the early apostolic church were misunderstanding the meaning of some of Paul’s writings. Peter added that some of Paul’s writings were “hard to be understood.” Paul was an intellectual giant and his forms of communications were not always grasped accurately by his readers. I believe one of the subjects which has been misunderstood was (and is) Paul’s writings on the biblical meat laws. In some places, Paul is not writing on whether it is OK to eat unclean meats; he is rather addressing the subject of whether it is OK to eat clean meats which had been offered to pagan idols in the gentile cities where his readers lived. Let’ s examine one of his scriptural discussions on meats which actually affirms that Christians should avoid unclean meats even though it has generally been misunderstood to mean the opposite. This scripture is I Timothy 4:4-5.
In this scripture, Paul writes in verse 4 that “every creature of God is good and nothing to be refused if it be received with thanksgiving.” That sounds like Paul is giving Christians carte blanche authority to eat anything that moves, slithers, crawls, swims or creeps. However, verse 5 clarifies what Paul actually meant. He added that such meats were acceptable if they were “…sanctified by the word of God and prayer.” Prayer refers to eating with thanksgiving (the subject of verse 4), but Paul also says that meats must be “sanctified by the word of God” to be eaten by believers. At the time Paul wrote this epistle he was simply writing a pastoral letter. None of Paul’s writings had then been canonized and the New Testament did not yet exist. Paul was raised a Jewish Pharisee (Philippians 3:5), and he was very familiar with what Christians call the Old Testament. The only scriptures that Paul accepted as “the word of God” at the time he wrote I Timothy were the Old Testament books (the Hebrew Tanakh). This passage actually affirms that Paul was instructing his gentile congregations that they should eat only those meats which were “sanctified by the word of God.” In I Timothy 4:5, Paul is actually directing his readers to go to the books of the Old Testament to see which animal and sea creatures were acceptable for Christians to eat. Paul knew they would find that instruction in the book of Deuteronomy.
I think as we progress further into the latter days, believers will steadily “increase in knowledge” concerning biblical topics even as the world increases its fund of secular knowledge. I think Pastor Osteen’s message is indicative of that fact, and I applaud him for publicizing this biblical information.
Joel Osteen on Unclean Food