Can one actually lose their salvation by scarfing down a pork chop? For many, especially those who claim to be teachers of Yahweh’s word, the answer would be an emphatic “Yes!”
But then again, is this what Scriptures actually profess? Put another way, do Scriptures, in fact, reveal that in order to attain salvation and eternal life, one must adhere to the dietary regulations regarding clean and unclean meat/food as given in the Torah of Moses (the Law, Old Covenant)?
There have been many teachers purporting to be followers of Yahweh who have jumped on the traditional bandwagon, so to speak, proclaiming that one’s salvation is dependent on strict adherence to the clean/unclean dietary regulations as given forth in Scriptures.
What is the truth of the matter? When one closely examines what Scriptures really say, one might possibly come to a different viewpoint regarding this subject rather than the viewpoint he or she presently holds on to.
The following discourse might not be pleasant for some so it would be prudent of the Ranger to now advise anyone who is interested in gaining more scriptural insight to proceed on the “Trail of Truth” with diligence.
As the saying goes, “It’s a dirty job but someone’s gotta to do it.”
As will be demonstrated, clean and unclean designations of animals by Yahweh existed from the time of Adam and Eve. Also, there would be no argument that eating clean meat is both healthy and good for you. In fact, based upon the guidance of Scriptures and for health and symbolic reasons, there are many who follow these dietary rules.
Nevertheless, diet is not the issue. The real question to be addressed is whether or not eating clean meat is necessary for salvation. Indeed, most would agree that circumcision of the flesh, ritualistic bathing to become clean, separating diseased people from the main populace, and other various laws of cleanliness found in the “works of the Torah (the Law, Old Covenant)” have health benefits.
Yet, as a follower of the messiah, it is difficult to comprehend that one would advocate that, merely due to health benefits, these statutes should be required for salvation.
To fully understand this issue, one must be able to set aside their own prejudices and personal opinions, often born out of past practices and beliefs, and carefully listen to what Scriptures say and not to the interpretations from one’s heart.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jer. 17:9)
To begin, let us look at the issues of Genesis, 9:3, which allow mankind to eat all types of meat.
All moving things which are alive shall be food for you; and as I gave you the green plants, I give you all these things. (Gen. 9:3)
It is also clearly demonstrated that all animals were classified as clean or unclean from the beginning.
Then Yahweh said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation. Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals . . .” (Gen. 7:1-2)
But this scriptural passage cannot be used as an argument for what was proper to eat in the pre-Flood world. Notice that in the antediluvian world the command given to Adam and all mankind was to only eat green vegetation (Gen. 1:29-30, 2:16-17).
Therefore, all of mankind living during this period were instructed to be vegetarians! It naturally follows that eating any meat during that time, whether clean or unclean, was not allowed.
This prohibition is not to say that some of the rebellious descendants of Adam would not eat both clean and unclean meat. Archaeological evidence proves that they did. Rather, the point is that they were not yet permitted by Yahweh to eat any kind of meat. Neither can we conclude that just because they were commanded to be vegetarians that we are now under the same obligation.
It was after the great flood of Noah that mankind was given permission to eat “all things, even as the green plants” (Gen. 9:3). In order to justify the dietary rules regarding the eating of clean meat prior to and during the Great Flood, some state that the clean animals on the ark were “obviously” for food.
Yet, Noah could not have held this same understanding upon entering the ark, for permission to eat any animal had not yet been given. Remember, this permission was not granted until AFTER the flood had finished.
Some also state that it is a misunderstanding of Scriptures for those who would adhere to the view that mankind was given permission to eat “all things.” Furthermore, even if it were true, the words of Scriptures would have to be nullified for the reason that Gen. 9:3 is only one witness—two or three being required for Yahweh’s truth (Matt. 18:16).
Both conclusions are fallacies. The understanding of the passage as set forth by this study is not only correct but there are in fact multiple witnesses.
Let us consider the assessment that there is a misunderstanding of the phrase “all things” in the reference to what kinds of animals were available for food.
First, there is no alternate understanding of the passage that can be reasonably offered. This fact alone does not support even one scriptural witness backing up the traditional viewpoint requiring dietary rules for one’s salvation.
Second, Scriptures, in fact, state that men were allowed to eat כָּל־רֶ֙מֶשׂ֙ (kal remes), ”all things“ or ”everything“ that “moves on the ground.” The Hebrew term רֶמֶשׂ (remes) means, “to glide swiftly, i.e. to crawl or move with short steps . . . a reptile or any other rapidly moving animal” (Strong’s, Hebrew. #7430, 7431).
The Greek Septuagint (LXX) translates כָּל־רֶ֙מֶשׂ֙ (kal remes) at Gen., 9:3, as πᾶς ἑρπετόν (pas herpeton; all creeping things), the Greek word ἑρπετόν (herpeton) more precisely meaning, “beast or animal which goes on all fours . . . creeping thing, reptile, esp. snake” (Strong’s, Greek. #2062).
Therefore, רֶמֶשׂ (remes) literally refers to something that “moves” on the ground and refers to both mammals and reptiles.
The passage in Genesis accordingly, reads:
כָּל־רֶ֙מֶשׂ֙ (kal remes; ALL MOVING THINGS) which are ALIVE shall be food for you; and as I gave you the green plants, I give you ALL THESE THINGS. (Gen. 9:3)
This view was also held by the ancient Jews. The works of the first century Jewish priest Josephus, for example, also confirm this understanding. Paraphrasing Gen. 9:3, Josephus reports that Yahweh told Noah:
You may make use of ALL THE OTHER LIVING CREATURES as may meet your desires and APPETITES, for I have made you lords of them all. (Jos. Antiq. 1:3:8)
The ancient book of Jubilees gives an even more detailed account. It reports:
And behold, I have given you all of the beasts and everything which flies and everything which moves upon the earth and in the water, the fish and everything, for food like the green herbs. And I have given you everything so that you might eat. (Jubilees 6:6)
The command in Gen. 9:3 is applicable to all mankind. No distinction is made for any particular group of people to eat any particular class of living things.
For instance Yahweh does not say, ”Every clean moving thing that lives shall be food for you.” Mankind now had permission, with no restrictions, to eat all types of meat and not just green plants!
The evidence so far proves that the antediluvian world was under the command to be vegetarian, while the post-Flood world was permitted all types of meat for consumption.
Clean and unclean classifications continued in existence after the flood but were not enforced as a dietary requirement until the “works of the Torah (the Law, Old Covenant)” were established.
Scriptures prove that the written command to “abstain” from unclean foods is contained only in the Torah of Moses and was specifically directed toward the Israelites (Lev. 11:1-47, 20:25; Deut. 14:3-20).
The Torah of Moses (the Law, Old Covenant) along with the included dietary and other similar laws were attached to the Abrahamic Covenants of Promise due to transgressions against the very same Covenants of Promise made previously with Abraham as noted in Galatians:
Why then the Law (Torah of Moses, Old Covenant)? It was augmented (to the Abrahamic Covenants of Promise) because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the (plural) seed would come to whom the promise had been made. (Gal. 3:15-19)
It must be noted, there was a particular point in time when Yahweh told the Israelites that they were to be a priestly nation (Exod. 19: 3-8). No doubt they were to be a prophetic example to the nations and the dietary restriction of eating only clean foods, was a prophetic type of taking in clean knowledge (Jer. 15:16; Ezek. 2:8, 3:1; Prov. 18:8; 1 Cor. 10:3).
Therefore, the augmented dietary regulations were given for a priestly diet meant for symbolic meanings and not a requirement for salvation.
Based upon the above, would we then draw the conclusion that the Old Testament patriarchs also ate unclean foods knowing that it did not affect their salvation? Not at all.
It should be recognized that the Old Testament patriarchs may very well have abstained from unclean foods for various good reasons, one such reason being that it is a priestly function. At the same time, one should admit that this practice ultimately would have little to do with salvation. Additionally, it must be remembered that we simply have no evidence one way or another.
The question really should be: Would anyone have lost their salvation by eating something that was unclean? So far, the evidence points to Scriptures giving a resounding NO!
For those who would say that this study has offered only one witness from Scriptures which supports the claim that what one eats has no effect regarding their salvation, it is advised that you check out our next installment titled “Salvation and the Pork Chop Files-Pt. 2”.