1 Timothy 4:4

Saturday, 30 December 2017

For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; 1 Timothy 4:4

As stated in the analysis of previous verse, the dietary laws of Israel had a set purpose. They were both limiting on them, and they were instructive. Their intent was to maintain separation from the nations, and it was to lead the people to understanding the Person and work of the coming Messiah in a more perfect way. In reality, however, Paul says that “every creature of God is good.” This does not mean that every creature can be eaten. Anyone who is looking for a quick trip to glory can eat a creature bearing poison, and that trip would be arranged. The same is true with poisonous plants, and yet Genesis 9:2, 3 says –

And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs.”

Context is always important, and such is the case with both plant and animal life when preparing a meal. An example of this is found in 2 Kings 4 –

And Elisha returned to Gilgal, and there was a famine in the land. Now the sons of the prophets were sitting before him; and he said to his servant, “Put on the large pot, and boil stew for the sons of the prophets.” 39 So one went out into the field to gather herbs, and found a wild vine, and gathered from it a lapful of wild gourds, and came and sliced them into the pot of stew, though they did not know what they were. 40 Then they served it to the men to eat. Now it happened, as they were eating the stew, that they cried out and said, “Man of God, there is death in the pot!” And they could not eat it.

41 So he said, “Then bring some flour.” And he put it into the pot, and said, “Serve it to the people, that they may eat.” And there was nothing harmful in the pot. 2 Kings 4:38-41

The Lord said in Genesis that all of the greenery was given to man as food, and yet, a prophet of the Lord took some of that greenery for the preparation of a meal, and it was poisonous. However, there was nothing stated in the law forbidding the consumption of such plants. The purpose of the dietary laws was not to “promote the health” of Israel, as is so often claimed. It was also not to show that certain animals were actually “not good.” These laws were given for the reasons stated earlier. When those reasons had met their fulfillment in Christ they were set aside (annulled along with the law), and they are now obsolete.

What God has created is good, as is attested to in the story of Peter in the heavenly sheet full of previously unclean creeping animals found in Acts 10. God cleansed them (made them acceptable), and thus they are clean. The symbolism of those animals is that the unclean Gentiles are cleansed through the work of Christ – Gentiles whose stomachs were full of every unclean animal of the Law of Moses. Their dietary habits were not expected to change in their conversion to Christ because the Law of Moses is no longer in effect. Instead of turning away such tasty treats, Paul says, “and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving.”

The word translated as “to be refused,” apoblétos, is found only here in the Bible. It signifies “worthy to be cast away, worthless, regarded as vile” (Strong’s Concordance). Paul selected a word which beautifully takes a stand against what would have otherwise occurred by someone adhering to the strict confines of the Law of Moses. Instead of casting such food away as vile and unclean, the opposite is true. It is to be “received with thanksgiving.”

Life application: The words of Paul are plain, obvious, and perfectly clear in their intent. All foods of all kinds are acceptable to the faithful. However, this does not mean (as noted above) that all things are actually acceptable as food in content. So, please refrain from a hemlock adorned fugu fish this evening.

Lord God, surely the foods that are available for us to eat show how caring You are for Your people. We have tastes too innumerable to imagine, and in mixing in spices and herbs, we can produce countless more. Instead of just filling the world with one thing and with one taste, You have given us delights galore. Each meal we partake in is a testimony to Your kind care of us. Thank You, O God, for such pleasures! Amen.

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