WHAT ABOUT EATING BLOOD?
People of various cultures enjoy different types of food. A food item that you and I consider as a delicious treat may be counted as disgusting by those of another culture, or vice versa. To me personally, the thought of consuming blood has absolutely no appeal. However, others count it as a tasty item. In Taiwan, it is not uncommon to see signs hanging in front of shops that read “Famous Pig Blood Soup.” Such soup is not pure blood, but has cube-like drops of blood floating in it.
What does the Bible say about eating blood? In the first era of man’s history, God spoke to Noah and his sons about consuming blood: “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs. But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood” (Genesis 9:3,4). God restricted Noah and his family from eating the life of the flesh, that is, the blood. Remember that since Noah and his family (eight people in all) were the only survivors of the flood, God’s charge not to eat blood was universal in nature, meaning that it was for every person in the whole world.
The second time we read about God’s instructions to mankind relative to eating blood was a part of the Law of Moses, which the Lord gave to the nation of Israel at Mt. Sinai. There He told them, “And whatever man of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell among you, who eats any blood, I will set My face against that person who eats blood, and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul . . . Its blood sustains its life. Therefore I said to the children of Israel, You shall not eat the blood of any flesh, for the life of all flesh is its blood. Whoever eats it shall be cut off” (Leviticus 17:10,11,14). God was clear, was He not, in restricting the Israelites from consuming blood?
Third, consider the message of the New Testament. In Acts 15 we read that the apostles and some elders gathered in Jerusalem to discuss whether or not it was necessary to keep the Law of Moses, and in particular, whether or not God required a person to receive physical circumcision in order to be saved (Acts 15:1,5). At the conclusion of their gathering, they sent a written message to Gentile Christians (15:22,23). In part, that message read: “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality [fornication, KJV]. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well” (15:28,29).
Regarding this written message that came out of the discussions held in Jerusalem, note first of all that it was not the opinion of men. No, they plainly stated that such a message “seemed good to the Holy Spirit.” In other words, the Holy Spirit was the author of what they wrote, making it a divine message. And just what did the Spirit say about blood? That the Christians were to abstain from it. The reference is to abstaining from eating it, just as they were to refrain from eating foods offered to idols and eating animals that had been killed by strangling.
“But if God does not allow us to eat blood, that would mean that we are not even allowed to eat meat, because any time you eat meat, you are bound to eat some blood with it, even if it is already dried up.” The restriction is on eating blood, not on eating meat. Think about this. The Law of Moses required the Israelites to eat the meat of the Passover lamb (Exodus 12:4-9). At the same time, God forbid them to eat blood. Obviously, it was possible for them to eat meat without violating the Lord’s command not to eat blood. Jesus perfectly kept the Law of Moses, including the injunction to eat the Passover lamb. By eating the meat of that lamb, He did not violate the command not to eat blood. If He and the other Jews could eat meat, and in the process not transgress the specific instruction not to eat blood, then people today can do the same thing: eat meat, but not be guilty of eating blood.
So, what about eating blood today? It is forbidden by the instruction of Acts 15:28,29. As we have seen, the biblical record shows that in every era of man’s existence, God has commanded men not to eat blood. Eating blood was not allowed under the Patriarchal scheme, under the Law of Moses, or under the new covenant of the Christ. God even gave this reason for the prohibition: it is because of the fact that life is in the blood.
Some people have grown up in an environment in which eating blood was a common, acceptable thing to do. Those that have been blood-eaters or blood-drinkers will have to sacrifice such a habit if they want to serve the Lord faithfully. As far as Western food goes, I personally am not a steak- eater, but if I were, in view of the fact that God does not want us to eat blood, I would not want to eat my meat “swimming” in blood.
— Roger D. Campbell
TRUTH is published monthly by the Klang church of Christ in order to help educate, edify, encourage, and equip the saints of God.