Because the peace offering resulted in a meal for Israel, and offerings such as the guilt offering resulted in meals for the priests, The Lord had to establish laws regarding those meals. We read yesterday that no unclean person could take part in the meal, it was a holy act. Eating the food of the offering was taking part with God in celebrating His relationship with the partakers. The word communion doesn’t really mean eating crackers and juice once a week. It means sharing unity with one another, celebrating the most intimate of relationships, a spiritual union. When we take the Lord’s Supper that is what we are doing, celebrating our spiritual oneness with God and with the body of Christ.
In the Old Covenant the Lord’s meal was one of meat and bread after a sacrifice had been made, and God had restrictions based on the sacredness of that meal. Verses 22-25 concern one of these rules.
“The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 23 “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, You shall eat no fat, of ox or sheep or goat. 24 The fat of an animal that dies of itself and the fat of one that is torn by beasts may be put to any other use, but on no account shall you eat it. 25 For every person who eats of the fat of an animal of which a food offering may be made to the Lord shall be cut off from his people.”
The Lord didn’t restrict all fat, just eating the fat of the animals that were acceptable sacrifices, sheep, goats, oxen, or cattle. Although they could use the fat of those animals that were not killed by their hands for other uses, they couldn’t eat it. The fat of those animals was for The Lord’s pleasure, burning it in the offering was an aroma pleasing to Him.
Although fat in meat has been demonized as unhealthy, research shows that it is not bad for us. It is appropriate to choose lean meats if one needs to increase protein and decrease calories but other than that there is no health reason to cut saturated fat from the diet. In fact the fat in meat is good for us. It is categorized as Omega-7 fat and can help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. That doesn’t mean go to town and eat all the steaks your heart desires. A healthy portion of meat is 3-4 oz about the size of the palm of your hand.
Fat adds flavor to meat. In general fat adds flavor to most foods. Fat is a necessary ingredient in many foods. When we buy a low-fat version of food, the fat taken out has been replaced with sugar or fake fats that are not good for the body. Are you asking yourself why did Donna just deviate into this strange lesson on fat? The answer is so you could understand that although we have demonized fat in today’s world it is a good and desirable component in our food (in moderation).
But The Lord restricted Israel’s fat from certain meats. Why? The meal from those meats was special, some like the peace offering meal were sacred. The fat from those meats were for Him. Denying oneself the richness that the fat offered honored The Lord and showed faith in Him to be the giver of joy, unity, provisions, and life.
God also said that no blood was to be eaten, ever. Not just the blood of sacrificial animals but all blood was off limits to His children. Blood is the life force of any animal or human. Blood gives life and carries with it the symbol of atonement and forgiveness. There is no forgiveness of sin without blood. During any sacrifice of an animal, the blood was splashed on the altar and door of the meeting place for atonement. Verses 26-27 say,
“Moreover, you shall eat no blood whatever, whether of fowl or of animal, in any of your dwelling places. 27 Whoever eats any blood, that person shall be cut off from his people.”
Later in Chapter 17 of Leviticus The Lord explains more about the prohibition of eating blood. Verses 11-12 of that chapter read,
“For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life. 12 Therefore I have said to the people of Israel, No person among you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger who sojourns among you eat blood.”
The restriction against eating blood still stands today. Although the many rules that were meant to make following the law easier do not apply to Christians. Even the important symbols of the Old Covenant such as circumcision and kosher eating no longer pertain to us, eating blood, idolatry, and sexual immorality do. Acts 15:8-11 read,
“And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, 9 and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. 10 Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”
And verses 19-20 read,
“Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, 20 but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood.”
From as far back as Noah before Moses and before Israel, eating blood was prohibited. We do not abstain from blood because it is part of the Law. We abstain from blood out of respect for life, out of respect for the Giver of Life, and out of respect for Jesus’ sacrifice of His life for which gave us new life.
We are already forgiven for sin. We don’t think of refraining from blood as a rule to follow, but as an act of loving The LORD and His creation. Loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength means that that love is manifested in tangible ways. Abstaining from blood is one of the ways we exhibit our love, and stand out from the world.