The reason to add an english part on this webstie, is my strong desire that this book "The banqueting table from above" will be translated into english. I hope that this fish, on the digital highway, will be found by a english or american editor. This part consist of the table of content, a summary and a 'look inside' of one paragraph.
ISBN: 978-90-5787-157-3, 192 pag.
Auteur: Drs. E. Noordermeer
Uitgever: Merweboek te Sliedrecht
1st print: 2011
2nd print: 2012
3th print: 2013
4th print: 2014
Table of contents
1. Lessons from the Old Testament
1.1 The menu of Eden
1.2 Changes after the fall/the flood
1.3 Lentil soup and goat steak
1.4 The manna
1.5 Mount Sinai
1.5.1 Unique and impressive
1.5.2 Clean and unclean
126.96.36.199 The four categories of meat
1.6 The disaster of the quails
1.7 Daniel’s 10-day trial
1.8 Elijah’s room service
1.9 Famine and abundance
2. Lessons from the New Testament
2.1 Jesus’ words and acts
2.2 The Jewish traditions
2.3 Peter’s vision --> this paragraph's translated below
2.4 The assembly in Jerusalem
2.5 Paul’s epistles
2.5.1 The ‘things dedicated to idols’ in Corinthian
2.5.2 The vegetarians and total abstainers of Rome
2.5.3 The gnostics of Ephesus
2.6 James’ complaint
3. Biblical food customs
3.1 Customs regarding meat
3.2 Customs regarding dairy
3.2.1 Mother milk
3.2.2 Lactating livestock
3.3 Separation of dairy and meat
3.4 Biblical fasting
3.4.1 Biblical days of fasting
3.4.2 Jesus and fasting
3.4.3 Fasting: how to?
4. The Torah.. still actual?
4.1 General motivation of the Torah
4.2 Motivation of the Torah concerning laws on meat
4.2.1 The wisdom of the Torah
4.2.2 the righteousness of the Torah
4.3 The authority of the Torah regarding the new covenant
5. What can we do today?
This book takes the reader on a journey through the Bible. It discusses and clarifies every passage related to food in a chronological order and relates it to our modern day society. Because of the practical applications of the Torah today, the writer devotes a whole chapter to the applicability of the Torah within the new covenant. This especially is a sensitive topic among Christians because it is in conflict with the dogma that ‘we are no longer bound by the Law’. The author needs 192 pages to show the reader that by abolishing the Torah, the church has lost many of Gods wise and righteous principles. This has had its consequences: Our society suffers from nutritional diseases and there are many social wrongs in our system of food production and trade. The book relates these problems to the Bible and specifically the Torah. Many Christians will see this book as an eye opener: The books challenges the reader to think about world problems from a biblical perspective.
Chapter 1 opens with the diets of man and of animals. Man eat seeds and fruits, animals eat green herbs. The diet of man is completely vegan and does not have any overlap with the diet of animals. After the fall green herbs and animal products are added to the diet of man. Seeds and fruits however stay exclusively available to man. Nowadays, we process highly nutritious seeds and pulses into animal feedstuffs. This strongly conflicts with the distribution of food of the Torah. Food that was meant for human consumption being fed to animals is a precarious topic that explains certain injustices on earth. After the fall man no longer had access to the tree of life and thus became mortal. With the introduction of green herbs into the human diet, God gives man access to His pharmacy. This way God helps man deal with the consequences of the fall. Man uses food to manipulate, as the story of Jacob shows. Again the writer connects this story to the present: Today the consumer is being manipulated with deceptive labels on packaging.
The manna in the dessert shows Gods involvement in our primary needs where the event of the quails sketches Gods attitude towards gluttony and insatiability. The theme of abundance and its consequences is strongly present in the book. In the Old Testament God warns His people that the abundance of the promised land will spiritually deceive them (Deut. 32:15). In the New Testament James explains that the prosperity of the rich is based on the exploitation of the laborers on the field (Jam. 5:4-6). This is one of the greater iniquities on earth. This unrightfully obtained abundance will physically and spiritually turn against the rich (Jam. 5:1-4).
God confirms His Laws with regard to meats in the revelations on mount Sinai. When the topics of slaughter and offering come by, the writer relates Gods principles to modern day slaughterhouse waste and preparation of meat. Modern topics such as game (usually strangled), modern slaughter, kosher and halal slaughter, the bio-industry and castration are discussed. The story of Daniel shows to what extent loyalty to the Laws concerning food can affect both body and soul.
Every passage from the New Testament that is used to explain that the distinction between clean and unclean is finished, will be discussed in chapter 2: Jesus’ conflict with the Pharisees, Peter’s vision, the assembly in Jerusalem and the epistles of Paul are placed into the right cultural context. Many readers will be astonished by the refreshing views to which knowledge of the Jewish traditions appears to be crucial. The lack of knowledge of the Jewish traditions explains why so many Bible passages are misinterpreted. In chapter 3 the writer discusses more modern topics such as more fish, less meat, breastfeeding, lactose intolerance and Lysteria contamination with regard to biblical customs. Fasting is also thoroughly discussed.
Chapter 4 “The Torah.. still actual?” is the most theologically oriented. The author makes an attempt to capture Gods motivation for issuing the Torah. This includes Gods motivation for making the distinction between clean and unclean animals.
The Torah is Gods blueprint for a society that rests on the pillars of wisdom and righteousness (Deutr. 4:5-8). All regulations in the Torah are wise and righteous, regardless of our understanding. The author explains why consumption of clean animals is wise and why consumption of unclean animals is unwise. Abstaining from unclean meats significantly lowers the occurrence of parasitic infections, intoxication and lifestyle diseases. Some christians are familiar with this. Then the author introduces a relatively new concept: the exploitation of clean animals is not only healthier(wiser) but also more justifiable provided that the animals eat from their natural diet only.
In chapter 5 the writer calls the reader to humble themselves and change their lifestyles.
The book has a clear structure and has 64 short quotes that summarize the paragraphs. There are six frames containing extra information and five hand drawn cartoons illustrate the text.
2.3 Peter’s vision
Many Christian consider Peter’s vision to be the moment where God declares all meats clean. That’s strange because Peter himself explains the meaning of the vision so why would we explain it differently? The history of Acts 10 takes place ten years after Christ’s ascension. For three times God shows Peter a sheet with a mix of clean and unclean animals. Then He is ordered to slaughter and to eat. Peter replies as follows:
“Not so, Lord, for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean." (vs. 14)
This answer proves that Peter never changed his diet after Christ’s ascension. That’s why the vision confuses him. He cannot imagine that God orders him to eat unclean meats. Still wondering the meaning of the vision (vs.17), Peter has visitors. They ask him to come to Caesarea to explain the teachings of Jesus to a certain Cornelius. Behold, Cornelius, the last person to whom Peter wants to preach! First of all, Cornelius was a heathen. Second of all, he was not just aheathen, he was a Roman heathen. And lastly, he was not just a Roman, he was centurion, a military leader of the enemy. Cornelius represents the oppressor. And precisely, he is hungry for the gospel. Peter had to overcome many negative feelings in order to go. But there was a bigger problem in Peter’s conviction. The apostles after him had to deal with this as well. The Jewish tradition forbade to visit and to eat with the gentiles, as they were unclean. The Torah indeed mentions the gentiles to be unclean. It does however not condemn social interaction with them. On the contrary! The Torah calls to treat strangers respectfully (Lev.19:33-34). This concerning the strangers ‘who lived in their midst’. Together with the widows and the orphans they were a special social group to look after (Deutr.24:17). Strangers were even allowed to make offerings to God (Lev.17:9). The Jews were allowed to visit and eat with them (Deutr.12:15) and under certain circumstances even marriage was possible (Deutr.21:10-13). However, one thing was strictly prohibited: The Jew should under no circumstances copy their pagan religion. The Torah is very clear about this!
In return, the stranger had to be loyal to the commandments of the Torah (Lev.24:22). They were also not allowed to eat blood, unclean things, etc. For them, adaptation was a ‘must’, not an option.
The status of being unclean was not limited to the gentiles only, from time to time every Jew had to deal with it. For example, every man was temporarily unclean after every ejaculation (Lev.15:16) and every woman during her menstrual period (Lev.15:19). These people were not cast out but they had to take some precautions regarding to clothes, furniture and other people.
Based on the teachings of the Torah, uncleanness was no reason to avoid every social interaction. This attitude originated from the Jewish Traditions. Jesus Himself confirmed that the Gentiles were unclean indeed but He still interacted with them. Jesus calls the Canaanite woman a dog (see grey frame) but He speaks with her and even heals her daughter (Matt.15:26-28). Also in the encounter with the Samaritan woman Jesus proves that He meets people whom the Jews reject (John 4:9). Jesus breaks through the Jewish traditions. Back to the vision of Peter. God Himself explains the vision to him:
And the voice spoke unto him again the second time, "What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common." (Acts 10:15)
Then suddenly the penny dropped and Peter understood that God did not speak of food but of the gentiles! At Cornelius’ house Peter explained the rules of the Jewish tradition first (bold text) and then the meaning of his vision.
And he said unto them, "Ye know that it is an unlawful thing for a man who is a Jew to keep company with or to come unto one of another nation. But God hath shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean. (Acts 10:28)
Then Peter opened his mouth and said, "In truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons,… (vs.34)
With other words:
The once unclean gentiles are now declared clean and therefore they share in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Until that point it was impossible. The sacrifices offered by the Jews day and night only reconciled themselves. The sacrificial blood continuously cleansed the Israelite communion. The gentiles were not under the influence of the Old Testament sacrifices. But … the power of the blood of the Stainless Sacrifice has no limits. The blood of Jesus cleanses all nations from all times. That’s why the nations are clean since the Perfect Sacrifice of Jesus. This concept was new and God really had to persuade the apostles by revelation to mobilize them. Here Peter receives a vision, later the apostle Paul receives one:
… how by revelation He made known unto me the mystery (as I wrote before a few words on this, whereby when ye read this, ye may understand my knowledge of the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: (Eph.3:3-5)
And what is this mystery?
… that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ by the Gospel. (vs.6)
As the prophet Elijah had to be prepared to be nursed by the pagan woman in Zarephath (see paragraph1.8), so Peter had to be convinced to go to Cornelius and so Paul had to be persuaded to become the apostle of the gentiles. For us, it is a logical concept and easy to understand. For the Jews definitely not. The Jews always had trouble with sharing their God. The entire book of Jonah describes the aversion of the Jews towards sharing God’s grace with a gentile nation. Now, since the Perfect Sacrifice, the gentiles officially share in God’s grace. God’s binocular zooms and the whole world is visible. Until this point the holy scripture described but one nation. Occasionally the Old Testament mentions future times when the gentiles will partake. Now that era had come. Revelation was necessary because this was completely new!
It is regrettable that most Christians misunderstand Peter’s vision. In their explanation God declares unclean animals clean and thereby fit for human consumption. What does it bring me that I’m allowed to eat pork? Does that enrich my life? Isn’t it much, much better to be clean yourself?! Clean, fit to hear the word of God; fit to share in the inheritance. Then I really have something!