[A follow-up piece to the sermon on Genesis 9:3-4.]

After the flood, God renewed the covenant of grace with Noah and his sons and the rest of creation. One provision God made for man had to do with food. “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.”

Prior to the flood, in the old creation, man only ate fruits and vegetables. But now, in this new creation, man may also eat meat along with fruits and vegetables.

This is taken as good news to many, yet bad news to some. Why? There is confusion over the differences between men and animals.

Take for example the people for the ethical treatment of animals movement. They are right to show concern for animals. They are right to seek ways to protect them and prevent their mistreatment. We share some of their concerns. As people for the evangelical truth of all things, we should live by the creation mandate that God gave man in the beginning (Genesis 2-3). That requires us to be more responsible stewards of God’s creation and his creatures. So, we have some things in common with each other.

However, when we evaluate the underlying presuppositions of people for the ethical treatment of animals, we soon discover that their ethics, values, and standards are not based on God’s revelation in nature or scripture, but on their own preferences and experiences. In other words, their ethics are rooted and grounded in creatures not in the Creator. But people for the evangelical truth of all things strive to live by every word that comes from the mouth of God. We seek to live by the covenant provisions God has revealed to us in scripture and nature.

In this gracious covenant, which remains in effect until the end of the world, God has given us all things for our enjoyment.

God gave us the gift of fruits and vegetables and meat. Although some people, in contrast to the Christian faith and in concert with non-Christian teachings, require abstinence from foods that God created, we hold that all these gifts should “be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.” (1 Tim. 4:1-4)

All of life is gift, all is grace.

Father God — not Mother Nature — sets the limits on what we can and cannot pick, kill and eat.

God grants man authority to eat meat and fruits and vegetables; liberty to eat all, some, or none of them, and responsibility to do all things for his glory and our good. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

The covenant states that man may eat animals, but animals may not eat man.

Someone might ask: Why is it wrong and evil for animals to take the life of image-bearers, and yet right and good for image-bearers to take the life of animals for food and clothing?

The short answer is because God said so.

The longer answer is that God the Father Almighty is the Maker of heaven and earth and all that is in them.

He established a hierarchy among his creatures.

Man was made a little lower than the angels, yet higher than the animals.

Man was made in the image and likeness of God, animals were not.

Man is not an animal of a higher order; man is God’s image-bearer, vice-gerent, representative in the world.

Man was crowned with dignity, authority, liberty, and responsibility. He is over the animals; animals are under him in the order of creation.

Man may sacrifice an animal to worship God, or slaughter an animal for food and clothing, but animals may not shed man’s blood, for man was made in God’s image and his lifeblood is sacred to the Lord. The same is not true, and cannot be said, of animals.

God alone establishes what is ethical and unethical for man and animals.

That is why it is wrong and evil for animals to take the life of image-bearers, and yet right and good for image-bearers to take the life of animals for food and clothing.

Now consider this: The Lord Jesus Christ echoed God’s covenant with Noah — and renewed it in his generation — by declaring all foods clean.

Unlike the Pharisees, a people for the empty traditions of their ancestors, Jesus understood that it’s not what goes in a man’s mouth and stomach that defiles a man, but what comes out of his heart. (Mark 7:18-19; cp Genesis 9:3-4)

The apostle Paul echoed Jesus and made it clear in his writings that food does not make anyone more right or more pleasing to the Lord God.

“Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do.” (1 Corinthians 8:8)

“The one who eats meat, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains from meat, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.” (Romans 14:6)

These are just some of the ramifications of the gospel of God’s grace that require much more reflection — especially for the true and better PETA, the people for the evangelical truth of all things.

Bottom line: whatever you eat or drink, do it all for the glory of God with gratitude in your hearts. (1 Cor. 10:31)

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Postscript –

On a related note, Jesus called his followers to eat his flesh and drink his blood.