Welcome to EBible Fellowship’s Bible study in the Book of Genesis. This is study #2 of Genesis, chapter 9 and we are going to read Genesis 9:1-7:
And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat. And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man. And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.
In our last study, we were looking at Genesis 9:3:
Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you…
We saw that the Hebrew word translated as “moving” should have been translated as “creeping.” It is translated that way back in Genesis, chapter 1 and in other places. It goes on to say in Genesis 9:3:
Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.
By the way, here God indicates that man may eat animals. He could even eat “creeping things,” but that was modified later in the days of Israel and we will talk about that in a little bit. But for thousands of years this was true. The flood occurred 6,023 years after creation and there is no specific record of man eating animals between the fall of man in Genesis, chapter 3 and Genesis, chapter 9. God did not get into those specifics and we do not read anything about what man did eat, except for when they ate of the forbidden tree. When we read about Cain and Abel we saw that Cain brought an offering from the ground and Abel brought of the firstling of his flock, so Abel had to kill that animal. We also know that God killed an animal to clothe Adam and Eve after the fall and that was an early picture of the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus and the necessity for blood to be shed to cover our “spiritual nakedness” or sin. But other than the slaying of animals for sacrifice, we have no record of Noah and his family or Cain or Abel about what they were eating. However, we can gather since God did slay an animal to obtain a coat to cover Adam and Eve that animals could be killed after the fall and that man was permitted to eat animals, but this is the first time since the fall that we see God addressing this issue and allowing man to eat of every creature or creeping thing and God said it “shall be meat for you.” The herbs were originally created to be meat for man and man could still eat herbs or vegetation, but he could also rightly eat meat from animals. God made this provision and gave this allowance.
Occasionally we will hear someone say that we are not to eat any animals or any other creatures, but we are to eat only fruits and vegetables and things like that. If someone wants to eat only fruits and vegetables that is fine, but they have no Biblical basis to say that someone else is wrong for eating an animal. Later, in the days of Israel God gave divine revelation to Moses concerning the types of animals that could be eaten and for about 1,500 years this was followed. These Laws were given somewhere between 1447BC and 1407BC and these Laws continued into the time of the New Testament. Remember that God commanded Peter: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” Peter was a Jew and he would have been raised with the dietary restrictions of the Law of Moses and there were certain animals they could eat, but they could not eat creeping things. Let us look at that Law in Leviticus 11:29-31:
These also shall be unclean unto you among the creeping things that creep upon the earth; the weasel, and the mouse, and the tortoise after his kind, And the ferret, and the chameleon, and the lizard, and the snail, and the mole. These are unclean to you among all that creep: whosoever doth touch them, when they be dead, shall be unclean until the even.
Then it says in Leviticus 11:41-44:
And every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth shall be an abomination; it shall not be eaten. Whatsoever goeth upon the belly, and whatsoever goeth upon all four, or whatsoever hath more feet among all creeping things that creep upon the earth, them ye shall not eat; for they are an abomination. Ye shall not make yourselves abominable with any creeping thing that creepeth, neither shall ye make yourselves unclean with them, that ye should be defiled thereby. For I am JEHOVAH your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
For the first time in history God brought this revelation to the Israelites during their wilderness sojourn. Through Moses God gave instruction regarding specific foods the people of Israel could eat and many foods they were not to eat, indicating they were “abominable” and anyone that ate them would be “unclean.” It is interesting that God added that He is their God and they must sanctify themselves and be holy as He is holy. To be holy or sanctified means to be “set apart” and to be distinct, so in their diet the Jews were set apart from every other nation; no other nation had those kinds of restrictions placed upon them. As we saw with Noah and his family, they could eat anything and all the nations that later came into being came from Noah and his family. All the people that would populate the nations of the world are descendants of Noah and Noah did not tell them they could not partake of certain animals – even “creeping things” were allowable. In fact, they would have gotten their information from a good source as Noah would have told them, “Eat whatever you want.” The world had no dietary restrictions and we would have to say they came about that idea in a good way because it would have been handed down through Noah from the commandment given to Noah.
However, for some mysterious reason, the Lord suddenly added restrictions. From creation to this period between 1447 to 1407BC would have involved the passage of much history. Remember it was 6,023 years from creation to the time of the flood, so this 40-year span would have been about 3,500 years after the flood, so the history of the world was approaching 10,000 years old. For almost 10,000 years the people of the world ate whatever they wanted to eat after the fall of man. Before the fall, no animals could be eaten and after the fall any animal could be eaten. Yet, God made a dramatic and drastic change when He said they were to eat certain creatures and not to eat certain creatures. The reason given by God was this: “Ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy.” And it did serve to set the Jews apart and to distinguish them from the nations of the world. It is also interesting that that these dietary laws were in place from the time of the wilderness sojourn into the New Testament period when the incident with Peter took place in Acts, chapter 10. It was after the cross and it could have been several years after the cross, but these dietary laws would have been in place for about 1,500 years. This is also the time during which the Bible was being compiled, as God began to do so with Moses by giving him divine revelation. So, it is interesting that the Lord placed dietary restrictions upon His people that set them apart from the rest of the world and these restrictions were in place for pretty much the entire time the Bible was being written. We know the Bible was completed around 95AD. We get that from sources outside the Bible, so we cannot be sure of that, but it appears it was around 95AD when the Bible was completed in writing after about 1,500 years.
Just before the time the written Word of God was completed, this incident took place in Acts 10:9-14:
On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.
We can see why he would say that because Leviticus, chapter 11 said that if you ate a “creeping thing,” it was abominable and you would be unclean. Peter had been well instructed as a Jew and it was one of the things that had set the Jews apart from the Gentiles. You can be sure the Jews would have been very much aware that their neighbors would go to the sea and whatever they caught would be dinner – they would eat anything. Of course, the Jews could have taken on a superior attitude about that and thought more highly of themselves because they had a specific diet and they would not eat an abominable, creeping thing. They had very particular tastes. It was God who determined those tastes, but the Jews felt that keeping this Law was a matter of holiness. God had said, “Ye shall be holy; for I am holy,” so it was a matter of holiness to follow the Law of Moses regarding what you ate for dinner. If you ate something else, you would be unclean or unholy. That is why Peter responded, “Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.” It was a very serious matter to every Jew. Peter was a fisherman. It is not like he was a Pharisee and, as far as we know, he was not involved in religious service of any kind – that would have been the duty of the sons of Levi or the priesthood. Peter was just a regular Jew with the simple occupation of a fisherman, so we can see how important it was to all the Jews that they not eat unclean animals.
Then it says in Acts 10:15-16:
And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven. Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon's house, and stood before the gate,
Then an explanation is given that the unclean animals had to do with the Gentiles. They represented the Gentiles and God was making a change in His program and He was going to send forth the Gospel into the nations of the world. The word translated as “Gentiles” is the word translated as “nations.” God was going to send the Gospel to the Gentiles and God’s elect among them would be saved in the identical way a Jew could be saved and that was through the Word of God. The Lord was emphasizing that there was “no difference” or distinction between Jew and Gentile. God was finished with the nation of Israel. They had served their purpose in producing the “fruit” that was the Lord Jesus Christ, as well as being used by God to pen the Scriptures. Christ had come; He was the first of the firstfruits. He had demonstrated the things He came to make manifest and, very shortly, the Bible would be completed. The purpose for sanctifying Israel and causing them to be “set apart” from the nations of the world had elapsed. The purpose had been fulfilled and there was no further reason for God to deal exclusively with the nation of Israel. As a matter of fact, the veil of the temple had been rent in twain at the time of the cross and they were no longer God’s holy people. Now God would establish the New Testament churches and congregations and His people would be taken out of all nations, so the change in diet was used to illustrate a change in doctrine.
From this point in Acts 10 and going forward, God made a change in the Law. It is very interesting how God has operated throughout history regarding food. For a short time after creation, no animals were to be eaten. Then after the fall of man into sin, animals could be eaten, including any kind of animal, and this was in effect up to the period God gave restrictions in the 40-year period between 1447BC and 1407BC. All the people of God could eat any animal, just as the rest of the people of the world. Then the Lord set specific dietary laws for the people of Israel that were in place for about 1,500 years. Then in the 1st century AD God changes the Law and, at the same time, He made a major change in doctrine regarding the Gentiles. The Gentiles could come in. That is why when the ambassadors were sent from Cornelius, who was a Roman or a Gentile, Peter would go with them and he would not keep his distance and separate himself from the Gentiles because of the vision he had received. So, he did go to Cornelius’ house and he saw the Holy Spirit fall upon them as it had upon the Jews earlier and Peter realized that God had a program of salvation for all peoples of all nations. It was an important thing.
Back in Genesis, chapter 9 at this early stage of the “second earth,” which was 6,024 years from creation, there was no corporate body and there was no nation of Israel and no New Testament churches. God was dealing with individuals and He was dealing with one family, the members of Noah’s family. They will populate the earth and fill it with their descendants, so there was no reason for the Lord to establish any Law concerning what man could, or could not, eat.