Distinguishing Between Cleand Unclean Animals

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Question 1: Aren’t these lists of clean and unclean animals just for the Jews? Answer: Although the lists are recorded in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14, the first mention is in the time of the Flood. There were no Jews were on Noah’s ark. Only later, the descendants of Abraham become known as “Jews.” So in the early days, God instructed them in the concept of “clean” and “unclean” animals. The list predates the laws of Moses, therefore applying to all humanity, not just one particular group. Question 2: Didn’t Peter have a vision that told him to eat unclean animals? Wouldn’t this mean that the dietary laws were no longer in effect? Answer: Note the following facts about the Acts 10 story: A) Cornelius, a Gentile, received a vision instructing him to send for Peter. B) Peter also received a vision before Cornelius’s men came to his home. He “saw heaven opened” and a sheet descending “down to the earth.”ii It was filled with unclean animals, creeping things, and fowls (Acts 10:11-12). C) When Peter is told to “kill, and eat” he says, “Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean” (Acts 10:14). Peter was never taught by Jesus to eat anything “common or unclean.” He can’t believe the Lord would tell him to do this. D) “Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean” (Acts 10:17). If the Lord literally told him to eat unclean animals, why would he doubt? Wouldn’t the change in dietary laws be obvious? Peter doubted because he realized the vision was symbolic—not referring to literal unclean animals. E) When Peter came to Cornelius’ home, he realized, “God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean” (Acts 10:28, emphasis added). The Holy Spirit was given to Gentiles just as He had been given to the Jews on Pentecost. Peter learned that the Gospel message was meant for all the world,

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