Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Yeshua HaMashiach, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Before even the end of the first century, non-Jewish believers reading Paul’s letters outside of their original Jewish contextual matrix misunderstood his letters and forsook the Torah’s dietary laws. Not only did they forsake the ideas of ‘food being ‘tahor’ or ‘tamei’, but also the idea of some animal species not being for consumption.
It is true that when read outside of their natural context, Paul’s letters seem to indicate that faith in Yeshua makes these elements of Torah observance obsolete. The same problem actually appears with any text and ruling when read outside of its original context. Even the American Constitution ideas of freedom of press and religion suffer from an ‘identity crisis’ when quoted outside of their original context and intent.
The Jewish community of believers on the other hand, had no issue with the whole idea of ‘tahor’ and tamei’. They continued reading the Word, including Paul’s letters, within a Jewish contextual understanding. They continued adhering to the injunction that sin is the breaking of Torah, and that a false prophet is one who teaches to disobey it. If it would have been clear from the beginning that the Master’s taught non-observance to these issues, Paul would not have needed to address them. The very discussion about it in the Apostolic Texts shows that there were concerns of obedience on that issue from the very start of the Nazarene Movement. Yeshua Himself rebuked two Asia Minor congregations for allowed the consumption of meat sacrificed to idols.
Actually, nowhere in the Apostolic texts is the issue of consumable or non-consumable food raised. Jews already knew these things and they were clearly defined in the Book of Leviticus. The only issue raised was the issue of ritual cleanliness. And what did both Yeshua and Paul say about it? That whereas these are legitimate Torah concerns, they are not above our obligations for fellowship, helping those in need, teaching the Word, and that they certainly do not require a spirit of self-righteous separatism, which was what was happening in the days the Master walked the earth.
The whole idea of wisdom rests on knowing how to apply God’s commandments with balance and the right spirit, especially when they cross path with each other. It is so easy to apply the outer letter of the Torah and forget its weightier matters of justice, compassion and mercy which Yeshua mentioned recalling the Words of former prophets (Matthew 23:23; Hoseah 6:6; Micah 6:8) !
May we not be guilty of the same. May Abba give the wisdom to apply His Commandments in His Sprit, not forgetting that from the realms of sanctified glory, the Mashiach came down. Of His own volition He put on the ‘Tamei’ garment of humanity, being ‘tahor’ made Himself ‘tamei’ so He could bring us to the ‘tahor-ness’ of the Father.