In the beginning, God created all things very good.
(GEN. 1: 31) “31 Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.”
Many people claim certain animals were an abomination to God from the start, but that isn’t Biblically so. God proclaimed all things ‘very good’. This claim is to bolster the case that clean and unclean meats for food were known from the beginning.
Originally, both man and animal were only given plants as a food source by God.
(GEN. 1: 29-30) 29 Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground-everything that has the breath of life in it-I give every green plant for food." And it was so.
God gave Adam and Eve every tree that grew in the Garden of Eden to eat from, except one.
(GEN. 2: 15-17) 15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."
Because Adam and Eve did not obey, the ground’s productivity was cursed.
(GEN. 3: 17-19) 17 To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat of it,' "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return."
The error persists that God gave Adam animals for food. This is absolutely not determined from a reading of the Bible text. Three times God tells Adam that he may eat plants. He allows Adam to eat animals zero times. This persists until the day Noah came out of the Ark.
Why would Abel have flocks if not for food? We don’t know. Perhaps God allowed them to be milked and shorn and used as beasts of burden, but not eaten. It doesn’t say; except that the words of the Bible do not show that any animal was given to man for food at this time. Abel used the animals for sacrifice – that is shown. Abel sacrificed only animals, and only his best, and with faith. Cain sacrificed plants, but not his best, and without faith.
(GEN. 4: 3-5) 3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. 4 But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
Here, the word "flock" is Strong's 6629, which almost always refers to sheep/goats (as opposed to pigs or cows, etc). Notice that Cain’s sacrifice was otherwise acceptable to God. It was the lack of faith in his attitude that really caused the issue.
(HEB. 11: 4) “4 By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain”. It was a lack of faith that caused Cain to disregard the sacrifice.
Many people claim that Cain was not accepted because he did not sacrifice sheep. God doesn’t indicate that anywhere. Grain and wine were often offered as burnt sacrifices, for example in the Grain Offering, Peace Offering, Sin Offering, and the New Moon Offering. But this wasn’t a burnt sacrifice like we see being given by the Levitical Priesthood. This was most likely a freewill offering. All freewill offerings included flour and oil. Perhaps when we read that Cain brought the “fruit of the land”, we think “he brought fruit.” That is not necessarily so. He merely brought what the land produced. That could have been wheat and oil and grapes. We simply don’t know. Point being, to say “Cain didn’t bring sheep, so God was angry” is not Biblically sound.
God taught Adam and his family the ways God desired to be worshiped for that time, including what is right from wrong for that time, and those same ways were moved forward thousands of years later. This is completely in line with all Jewish understanding of the Torah. Even the Jews, who have studied and preserved the Torah for 4,000 years, say Noah had no meats law given to him.
The xCOGs often quote Romans 3: 2 when they wish to bolster a belief they hold. However, I doubt they will hold that verse up in this instance. I do not claim the Jews are always right by any means. But in this case, there is no evidence to doubt them with.
Why would Abel sacrifice the exact animal Moses was told to sacrifice over two thousand years later? We cannot know for sure. The logical answer is not that the laws of Moses existed at that time. Paul tells us the law was given 430 years after Abraham (GAL. 3: 17), and God tells us the sacrifice laws were added after that (JER. 7: 22). The logical answer is because God knows what symbol He prefers to use for Jesus Christ’s sacrifice.
The story of Noah displays the knowledge of clean and unclean animals prior to the flood.
(GEN. 7: 1-3) 1 The LORD then said to Noah, "Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. 2 Take with you seven of every kind of clean [ceremonially pure; Strong's 2889] animal, a male and its mate, and two of every kind of unclean [not clean; Strong's 2889] animal, a male and its mate, 3 and also seven of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth.
CLEAN [Strong’s 2889, Heb. Tahor, from 2891]: pure (in a physical, chemical, ceremonial, or moral sense):- clean, fair, pure (-ness).
[Strong’s 2891, Heb. Taher]: to be bright, i.e. (by implication) to be pure (physically sound, clear, unadulterated; in Leviticus uncontaminated; morally innocent or holy): be (to make, make one’s self, pronounce) clean, cleanse (self), purge, purify (-ier, self).
Everyone knows Noah took the animals two-by-two, but what’s usually omitted is that he took 7 pairs of “clean” animals but only 2 pairs of “unclean” ones. These animals on the Ark may have been filthy with mud and what not, but that isn’t what God was referring to here by “clean”. Obviously it was a condition of un-holiness, or rather ceremonial un-cleanliness, in which they existed. There was indeed the knowledge both of ceremonially clean and unclean animals before Sinai, but they were for sacrifice (although the purpose of the sacrifice is not specified). The Bible simply does not give animals for food yet.
These animals are not to be understood as unclean for consumption; no animal is given to man at this point in history for food, clean or otherwise. What Noah ate – his food law – just as it was for Adam, was plants. This indicates that the ceremonial impurity of animals for sacrifice existed before the Law was given to Israel, but after Adam sinned.
(GEN. 6: 21) “21 And you shall take for yourself of all food that is eaten, and you shall gather it to yourself; and it shall be food for you and for them.”
Now pay close attention to the very first thing that Noah does when he steps off the Ark:
(GEN. 8: 20-21) 20 Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 And the LORD smelled a soothing aroma. Then the LORD said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done.
These animals were not clean for food, they were clean for sacrifice! And they pleased God’s heart.
Still yet, up to this point, God had only given plants to eat. This was the law for both man and animal. When the flood receded, Noah left the Ark and sacrificed clean animals to God. Only then did God give animals to man for food.
(GEN. 9: 1-4) 1 So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. 2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand. 3 Every moving thing7431 [from 7430 a reptile or any other rapidly moving animal: - that creepeth, creeping (moving) thing.] that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs. 4 But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.
God gives “everything that lives and moves” as food to mankind, except that nothing with its blood still in it may be eaten. Many argue, “Everything… except the unclean animals.” There are no such exceptions here. “Moving thing” comes from a root word that specifically includes reptiles – all of which are forbidden in Mosaic law. The clean animals were clean for sacrifice; clean for food does not factor in here. He clearly says “everything”. The original Hebrew word for “everything” really means “whole”, meaning the total sum, and is often translated “all” and “every”. Anyone who says otherwise is not letting the Bible interpret the Bible. God makes certain in the next verses that a misinterpretation cannot be made here, that perhaps someone might think this includes the right to cannibalism. Man, therefore, is the only exception.
The xCOGs would never fail to argue, “God didn’t mean everything when He said ‘everything’. Obviously He didn’t intend Noah to eat Black Widow spiders. God gave all the green herbs, but did He mean poison ivy?” Perhaps not. Do we know those terrible things even existed back then? In all honesty, that’s not an apples to apples comparison. Comparing pigs which do not so much as have a poison gland to something poisonous which undoubtedly will kill you if you ingest it is not a fair comparison. But this is all human reasoning, not relying on the Bible. If we want to be semantic about it, the Bible says “as the green herbs”. Were there clean and unclean green herbs? No. So when Armstrongism argues we shouldn't eat poison ivy, don't forget that poison ivy is not unclean!
Before the flood, no animals were given to man as food. Now, ALL animals are given to man as food. No exceptions are mentioned by God but man himself. This was done by necessity, as there were few plants to eat. It should be pointed out, however, that a few pairs of the clean animals would have been eaten first, since there were enough pairs to spare, until the rapidly-mating unclean animals could multiply. Don’t forget that predatory animals would also need those clean pairs (they can’t eat the unclean ones or if they did you wouldn’t ever know they existed). And 7 pairs, minus one pair used in sacrifice, minus one more pair that must survive, leaves 4 pairs of animals to last them and all the predatory animals. That’s not a lot. Eating unclean meats would have been a necessity. This does not affect the ceremonial status of “unclean” animals for the purposes of sacrifice, however.