POSTED 01 NOVEMBER, 2017
“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY’ [Leviticus 11:44, 45; 19:2; 20:7].”
Initially, within the themes encountered in the opening verses of the Epistle of 1 Peter, it would quantitatively seem that issues pertaining to the dietary instructions of the Torah are completely missing. Indeed, in writing to his audience mainly spread across Asia Minor (1:1), the Apostle Peter’s thrust is about their spiritual sanctification, attitudes, and behavior (1:2-3), with the future realities of their salvation in view (1:4-9). Peter’s audience is blessed to know who Yeshua the Messiah is, as there were many who preceded them in history who were unaware as to the specific identity of the Savior (1:10-12). Because of how blessed Peter’s audience is—in knowing the Messiah Yeshua, receiving His salvation, and being sanctified by the Holy Spirit—he will admonish them, “prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Yeshua the Messiah” (1:13). From this, he will proceed to tell them not to follow in their former way of living (1:14), and specifically insist upon a manner of holiness rooted within the Tanach Scriptures (1:15-16).
All interpreters of 1 Peter 1:14-16 agree that ethical and moral holiness, specifically related to a repentance from idolatry (1:18) and various sexual lusts (1:14), is what is principally intended in Peter’s admonition. However, given the Torah quotations from Leviticus 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7, appearing in 1 Peter 1:16, the question of what role, if any, the kosher dietary laws might play in Peter’s view of holiness for God’s people, is something that needs to be evaluated.1_Peter_1_14-16_KOSHER
When the subject of kosher, kashrut, or the dietary instructions of the Torah or the Law of Moses come up in various contemporary Messianic settings, there can be a tendency for some strong emotions to arise. The broad Messianic spectrum represents a diversity of views on “kosher”—ranging from the dietary laws being abolished and only to be observed as a part of Jewish culture, to people advocating a strict adherence to many Orthodox Jewish rulings and practices, to a kosher style diet where people mainly avoid pork and shellfish. At times, there has been an over-amount of attention given to the minutiae of keeping kosher, and not enough time given to some of the significant Biblical passages which either inform us about kosher or have been traditionally interpreted to say that kosher has been abolished for the post-resurrection era. And more than anything else, maintaining an appropriate, Messiah-centric attitude toward all of this, is most imperative. There have been far too many extremes represented regarding the issue of the dietary laws, at times, and not enough reasoned discussion. Too many people have issued accusations against others, and not enough have tried to inquire of both the Holy Scriptures and the Holy Spirit, what is perhaps important about this issue. Human beings have to all eat, after all!
The Messianic Kosher Helper includes a wide breadth of material, addressing a wide array of topics associated with the Torah’s dietary laws. This publication has been divided up into two main parts: The Significance of Kosher and A Theology of Eating and Kosher. You will be able to detect a progression of sorts, in our family’s own approach to the subject matter, as some things are addressed first more generally and then more specifically. In our experience, we ourselves have certainly had to move from a more elementary view of the issue of kosher, to a more developed view, and we recognize how the Messianic community needs to do the same.
It is important to remember how Leviticus 11:44 says, “For I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy” (cf. 1 Peter 1:16)—a concept which is directly connected to clean and unclean meats. But, if following this is not enjoined with a better appreciation and understanding of a steadfast mandate for all of us to have clean minds and hearts, imbued with the presence of God’s Holy Spirit, demonstrating the love of Yeshua to all—then outward holiness will not have been joined with the more critical inward holiness. If, however, we learn how to separate external things which are clean and unclean—then perhaps we can also learn, with God’s help, how to separate clean and unclean thoughts, ideas, and attitudes, being mature men and women in Him, and empowered on many different levels for service to His Kingdom!
This is a massive collection of material, well needed for every Messianic home and congregational library!