What do Isaiah 66:17 and Isaiah 65:3-4 mean?  What are these passages about?  How should we understand these passages as Christians? How would you respond to someone who says Christians shouldn’t eat pork based on these verses and that Christians will be judged by God for eating pork based on these verses?  Those who sanctify and purify themselves to go into the gardens, following one in the midst, eating pig’s flesh and the abomination and mice, shall come to an end together, declares the LORD.’  (Isaiah 66:17) 3 a people who provoke me to my face continually, sacrificing in gardens and making offerings on bricks; 4  who sit in tombs,  and spend the night in secret places; who eat pig’s flesh,  and broth of tainted meat is in their vessels;’ (Isaiah 65:3-4)


It is well known that God forbade the Jews to eat the flesh of pigs, as well as carnivores, shellfish and other meats. The text of these commands are found in Leviticus 11.  We can debate why God commanded the Jews to not eat these kinds of meat.  It has been proposed that God banned these kinds of meat because they are far more likely to carry fatal diseases that the meats God allowed the Jews to eat.  As a rule, the meat of carnivores and shellfish is far more likely to carry food-born illness, as is pork. Pork is famous for carrying trichinosis, which is a fatal disease.  On the other hand, meats such as beef and fish with scales are far less dangerous in terms of food-born illness. Whether God banned these meats for health reason or for another reason, we do not know, because God did not give the reason for his prohibition of these meats.
What are Isaiah 66:17 and Isaiah 65:3-4 about? What do they mean?  They mean that God is serious about his commandments to his people.  The Jews were very well aware that God prohibited these foods.  Yet, some of them rebelled against God and chose to eat the prohibited kinds of meat.  The worst sins in Israel were idolatry and rebellion against God. For the Jew to eat these kinds of meant was to rebel against God, which is an abominable sin.
As for Christians, in Mark 7:19 Jesus declared all foods clean for Christians.  It is not a sin for a Christian to eat pork. Period.  That is the end of the story.  Besides, with modern food safety measures, pork is no longer particularly dangerous. However, even today, it is advisable to cook pork all the way through.  Those who say Christians should not eat pork need to explain themselves, as Jesus said that they can.  This amounts to bringing Jewish law-keeping back into Christianity.  This is a thing that God strongly opposes.  Proof of this is to read Galatians, in which Paul strongly condemns those who were trying to force Jewish practices on Christians.  He said “For those who rely on the works of the law are under a curse.” (Galatians 3:10) About requiring circumcision, Paul said, “If you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all.”  Paul does not oppose circumcision per se, but he opposes demanding it for the same of righteousness.  The same goes for the eating of pork.  If an individual believer chooses not to eat pork, that is fine, but to force this practice on all Christians is to deny Christ.
John Oakes

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