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Saying "grace"

Query for the Month

of

December 2010

Next up-date: January 1st 2011 (God willing).

Previous "Queries" are available. Click here to access.

Some perpetual questions ....

Is there really an immortal soul?

Do you know the difference between the "love" that is of Christianity
and the "love" that is of the world?
Click here to find out!
 

Click on the link for a good book on the character of our God which you can download for free and share amongst your friends.   It's called "Light through Darkness" and is one of the best books on this subject that I have ever read! 

(when you get to the site just click "cancel" and it will let you in.  Then click "order" to obtain a copy. )

In the meantime, try this site.    And here's one where you can read it online.

 

Here's another great site on the character of God written in a way that's very easy to understand.


Some of the comments on this page are adapted from books in my library.  No recognition is given because they are not intended as authorities, but are used because they express my understanding clearly.

Query:

Where and why has the custom of “saying” grace arisen?  I cannot find any such thing in the Bible.

Answer:

I’m not surprised that you haven’t found any mention of humans doing anything like this in the Bible, for “grace” (unmerited favour) is required when we sin and ask for forgiveness, or when we are walking close to God.   It is an attribute of His and is associated with mercy.

Genesis 6:

8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. 9 These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just[ified] man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.   

Genesis 19:19:

[Lot said to the LORD through an angel,] “Behold now, Your servant has found grace in Your sight, and You have magnified Your mercy, which You have showed to me in saving my life . . .

Of course, we can show or receive that same attribute to or from one another as Jacob asked for from the brother he had sinned against. “And he commanded them, saying, ‘Thus shall you speak to my lord Esau; Your servant Jacob says thus, I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed there until now [21 years]: and I have oxen, and asses, flocks, and menservants, and womenservants [I don’t want any of your wealth]: and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find grace [forgiveness] in your sight’.”  Genesis 32:4-5. 

But it is not something needed at mealtime – UNLESS there is a certain situation.

God gave His people some rules about meat-eating:

Leviticus 17:

7 And they shall no more offer their sacrifices to devils, after whom they have gone a whoring [which is what they were doing when they slaughtered animals to eat without a thought].  This shall be a statute for ever to them throughout their generations.

[Devils, or rebel angels, like to see death, for it is a separation from God.]

8 And you shall say to them, Whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers which sojourn among you, that offers a burnt offering or sacrifice, 9 and brings it not to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer it to the LORD; even that man shall be cut off from among his people.

[He is a sinner, but refuses to be forgiven.]

10 And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eats any manner of blood; I will even set My face against that soul that eats blood, and will cut him off from among his people 11 for the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that makes an atonement for the soul.

[Eating blood is very dangerous to our health

because it carries with it many impurities.]

12 Therefore I said to the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourns among you eat blood.

13 And whatsoever man there be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, which hunts and catches any beast or fowl that may be eaten [but doesn’t need to brought to the tabernacle as an offering]; he shall even pour out the blood thereof [on the ground], and cover it with dust. 14 For it is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof: therefore I said to the children of Israel, You shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: FOR THE LIFE OF ALL FLESH is the blood thereof: whoever eats it shall be cut off.   

Deuteronomy 12:

13 Take heed to yourself that you offer not your burnt offerings in every place that you see [high places or mountains etc.]: 14 but in the place which the LORD shall choose in one of your tribes, there you shall offer your burnt offerings, and there you shall do all that I command you.

[Today we could do that by having the thought of the LORD’s mercy

in our minds as we sit down to eat.]

15 Notwithstanding [this rule] you may kill and eat flesh in all your gates [at home], whatsoever your soul lusts after [greatly desires], according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you.  The [ceremonially] unclean and the clean may eat thereof, as of the roebuck, and as of the hart [it was to be clean food, but that which was NOT required at the tabernacle].

16 Only you shall not eat the blood; you shall pour it upon the earth as water.   

Deuteronomy 15:

19 All the firstling males that come of your herd [beef] and of your flock [lamb] you shall sanctify [separate] to the LORD your God: you shall do no work with the firstling of your bullock, nor shear the firstling of your sheep. 20 You shall eat it before the LORD your God year by year in the place which the LORD shall choose, you and your household [as a religious feast at the tabernacle with your neighbours and friends].   

21 And [but] if there be any blemish therein, as if it be lame, or blind, or have any ill blemish, you shall not sacrifice it to the LORD your God [at the tabernacle]. 22 You shall eat it within your gates [at home]: the [ceremonially] unclean and the clean person shall eat it alike, as the roebuck, and as the hart [it is clean food].

23 Only you shall not eat the blood thereof; you shall pour it upon the ground as water.   

To fulfil the command, a system known as “kosher” (see note 1), was established in which the blood was drained from the animal until the flesh was grey.  (Red coloured flesh retains the blood.)

Before sin entered the world, the human diet was fruit, grains and nuts (the produce of the plants, Genesis 2:16), then after they left the Garden of Eden God added some of the plants themselves to their menu (Genesis 3:18).  It was after the Flood, when men showed their craving to eat to their own desires, that the LORD gave them permission to eat the flesh of others of His creatures, but with certain conditions. 

Those who eat flesh are eating grains and vegetables at second hand, for the animal receives from these things the nutrition that produces growth.  The life that was in the grains and vegetables passes into the eater.  Meat eaters receive it by consuming the flesh of the animal.  How much better to get it direct, by eating the food that God provided for our use! 

It is a mistake to suppose that muscular strength depends on the use of animal food.  The needs of the system can be better supplied, and more vigorous health can be enjoyed, without its use. The grains, with fruits, nuts, and vegetables, contain all the nutritive properties necessary to make the good blood by which we live and enjoy good health.

Genesis 9:

1 And [after the Flood was over] God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. 2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moves upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.

3 Every [clean] moving thing that lives shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given [added to] you all things. 4 But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall you not eat [what we call “red meat”].

[But there was a death penalty associated with the shedding of blood.]

5 And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man. 6 Whoso sheds man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made He man.

The covenant was not just with men, but also with the animals, whom God loves.

Genesis 9:

8 And God spoke to Noah, and to his sons with him, saying, 9 And I, behold, I establish My covenant [of peace] with you, and with your seed after you;

10 and with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth . . . 15 AND I WILL REMEMBER MY COVENANT, WHICH IS BETWEEN ME AND YOU AND EVERY LIVING CREATURE OF ALL FLESH; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.   

There was danger not only with the blood, but also with the flesh of many creatures, and God’s people were warned against this because of the effect it has upon the human body.  “Every moving thing that lives shall be meat for you” was modified to exclude the dangerous ones.

Leviticus 11:

1 And the LORD spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying to them, 

2 Speak to the children of Israel, saying, These are the beasts which you shall eat among all the beasts that are on the earth. 3 Whatsoever parts the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and chews the cud [basically vegetarians], among the beasts, that shall you eat.   

4 Nevertheless these shall you not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the hoof: as the camel, because he chews the cud, but divides not the hoof; he is unclean to you. 5 And the coney [something like a rabbit], because he chews the cud, but divides not the hoof; he is unclean to you. [Proverbs 30:26; Psalm 104:18].  6 And the hare, because he chews the cud, but divides not the hoof; he is unclean to you. 7 And the swine [pig], though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he chews not the cud; he is unclean to you.

8 Of their flesh shall you not eat, and their carcase shall you not touch; they are unclean to you.

[Their dead flesh is dangerous even to touch!]

9 These shall you eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever has fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall you eat. 10 And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination to you [a cause of early death] . . .

13 And these are they which you shall have in abomination among the fowls; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the osprey, 14 and the vulture, and the kite after his kind [they eat dead and rotting bodies] . . .

44 For I am the LORD your God: you shall therefore sanctify [separate] yourselves [in your diet], and you shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall you defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creeps upon the earth. 45 For I am the LORD that brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: you shall therefore be holy, for I am holy. 

46 This is the law of the beasts, and of the fowl, and of every living creature that moves in the waters, and of every creature that creeps upon the earth:

47 to make a difference between the unclean and the clean, and between the beast that may be eaten and the beast that may not be eaten.   

But when men began to break with the God-given ideas of clean and unclean foods they developed a liking for red meat because of the taste, so they stopped draining the blood.  They also added pig meat in large quantities to their diet.

Among the non-meat eaters there arose the emphasis that eating vegetables was better for our health (which is rather selfish), and the sacrifice of the life of the animal was largely diminished in their minds.  Meat-eaters, of course, had no such scruples.  So God tried to bring back that realisation to His people when He required them to bring their animal to the sanctuary and ask His forgiveness for its death which was just to satisfy their appetite.  

That’s when they needed grace!

They didn’t “say” it, but “asked” for it. 

They needed forgiveness for the murder of their food!

Today, because we no longer personally kill the animal, but leave that to the butcher, we are largely removed from the horror of it, and “saying the grace” has often overtaken the thanks.                            

Conclusion:

"Saying grace” is a tradition.  It has no foundation in the Bible – rather, we should thank God for His blessing of the food before us.  “And it came to pass, as He sat at meat [dinner] with them, He took bread, and blessed [thanked God for] it, and broke [it], and gave to them”. Luke 24:30.  Asking for grace is in the Bible, “saying” it is not.


Who wants to add (or subtract!) from these thoughts? I won't argue as I have stated, but I will publish your Scriptures so that we may review all the words of God on the subject.

Next query. To be discussed from January 1st 2011,

Revelation 7:

4 And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed a hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel . . .

9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands . . .

Some believe that these two groups pass through the same experiences in the last days.  Is this true?

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Note 1.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kosher_foods#Slaughter

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Since the Bible prohibits eating meat from animals dying from natural causes, and all animals killed by beasts, traditional Jewish thought has expressed the view that all meat must come from animals which have been slaughtered according to Jewish law. These strict guidelines require that the animal is killed by a single cut across the throat to a precise depth, severing both carotid arteries, both jugular veins, both vagus nerves, the trachea and the esophagus, no higher than the epiglottis and no lower than where cilia begin inside the trachea, causing the animal to bleed to death.  . . .

To avoid tearing, and to ensure the cut is thorough, such slaughter is usually performed by a trained individual, with a large razor-sharp knife, which is checked before each killing to ensure that it has no irregularities (such as nicks and dents); if irregularities are discovered, or the cut is too shallow, the meat is deemed not kosher, and is sold to the non-Jewish public.  Rabbis usually require the slaughterer, known within Judaism as a shochet, to also be a pious Jew of good character, who observes the Shabbat, and believes that the slaughter victims are sacrificing their lives for the good of the slaughterer and their community.  BACK

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