Questions From Readers
● Why did the Mosaic law prohibit the eating of fat?—U.S.A.
Under the Law given to the Israelites, both the blood and the fat were considered as belonging exclusively to Jehovah God. The Law stated: “It is a statute to time indefinite for your generations, in all your dwelling places: You must not eat any fat or any blood at all.”—Lev. 3:17.
The blood represents the life of a person or an animal. For this reason the Bible speaks of the “soul” as being “in the blood.” (Gen. 9:4; Lev. 17:11, 14) Since only Jehovah God can give life, life or that which represents life, the blood, rightly belongs to him.
The fat was regarded as the best or richest part. This is evident from such figurative expressions as the “fat part of the land,” “the best [literally, the fat] of the oil,” and “the best [literally, the fat] of the new wine and the grain.” (Gen. 45:18; Num. 18:12) Thus the prohibition against eating fat evidently served to impress upon the Israelites that the “first” or best parts belong to Jehovah, to be offered up to him in sacrifice. The eating of fat would therefore have been an illegal appropriation of something that had been sanctified to Jehovah. It would have been an invasion of his rights. However, in the case of an animal that died of itself or was killed by another beast, fat could be used for other purposes.—Lev. 7:23-25.
Many Bible commentators believe that the command about fat pertained only to animals acceptable for sacrifice. But there are indications that this prohibition against eating fat applied to the fat of all animals. The injunction respecting fat is linked with the one regarding blood. And the blood of all animals was prohibited for food. (Lev. 17:13, 14; Deut. 12:15, 16) Reasonably, therefore, the regulation regarding fat likewise embraced the fat of all animals.
It may also be noted that proper bleeding did not remove every molecule of blood from the meat, and yet the residue of blood remaining did not make the meat unfit for consumption. Similarly, the prohibition on the eating of fat did not render meat with traces of fat unsuitable for food.
Of course, the prohibition on fat did not rule out the feeding or fattening of sheep or cattle for the table. The Scriptures even mention “fattened cuckoos.” (1 Ki. 4:23) In view of the restriction on the use of fat for food, evidently the ‘fattening’ was not for the purpose of producing layers of fat, but that the animals might become full-fleshed, not skinny.
At Deuteronomy 32:14 the reference to the “fat of rams” as being given to the Israelites is figurative. It designates the best of the flock (similar to the English expression “the cream of the crop”). Hence The Jerusalem Bible reads, “rich food of the pastures.” The words of Nehemiah 8:10, “Go, eat the fatty things,” are to be understood similarly. The “fatty things” figuratively denote rich, luscious portions, doubtless including tasty items prepared with vegetable oil. The translation by James Moffatt says, “eat the dainty pieces.” Some things, such as cakes made from grain, were cooked in “deep fat.” This was not animal fat, but was vegetable oil, often olive oil.—Lev. 2:7.
Unlike the prohibition on blood, which has been in force toward the entire human race since the flood of Noah’s day, Christians today are not under the restrictions of the Mosaic law concerning foods. (Gen. 9:4) Under inspiration the apostle Paul wrote: “Let no man judge you in eating and drinking or in respect of a festival or of an observance of the new moon or of a sabbath; for those things are a shadow of the things to come, but the reality belongs to the Christ.” (Col. 2:16, 17) Nevertheless, the law concerning fat should remind Christians of the continual need to give their very best to Jehovah God. (Prov. 3:9, 10) This should be reflected in every aspect of the Christian’s life. The Bible’s counsel is: “Whatever you are doing, work at it whole-souled as to Jehovah, and not to men, for you know that it is from Jehovah you will receive the due reward of the inheritance.”—Col. 3:23, 24.
● Second Timothy 3:6, 7 says: “From these arise those men who slyly work their way into households and lead as their captives weak women loaded down with sins, led by various desires, always learning and yet never able to come to an accurate knowledge of truth.” Who are the men and women referred to in this passage?—U.S.A.
The preceding verse (2 Tim. 3:5) reveals that these corrupt men come from among persons “having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power.” They are like those described by the apostle Paul as “false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ” and ‘ministers of Satan who keep transforming themselves into ministers of righteousness.’ (2 Cor. 11:13-15) In the first century C.E. these false teachers threatened the Christian standing of the Corinthian congregation, prompting the apostle Paul to write: “I am afraid that somehow, as the serpent seduced Eve by its cunning, your minds might be corrupted away from the sincerity and the chastity that are due the Christ. For, as it is, if someone comes and preaches a Jesus other than the one we preached, or you receive a spirit other than what you received, or good news other than what you accepted, you easily put up with him.”—2 Cor. 11:3, 4.
Not only did such men seek to corrupt Christians by means of false teachings, but they also tried to involve others in immoral conduct. As the disciple Jude noted: “Certain men have slipped in who have long ago been appointed by the Scriptures to this judgment, ungodly men, turning the undeserved kindness of our God into an excuse for loose conduct and proving false to our only Owner and Lord, Jesus Christ.”—Jude 4.
Second Timothy 3:6 indicates that the apostate men direct their attention chiefly to “weak women.” This does not refer to women in general as being ‘weaker vessels’ in contrast to men, as at 1 Peter 3:7. Instead, it refers to women who are weak spiritually or morally, as the context indicates. The apostates do not openly advance their wrong views in a manly way, but “slyly work their way into households.” They curry the favor of such “weak women” and, through these, endeavor to influence the rest of the household. Not being well-grounded in Christian teaching, such “weak women” readily succumb to false teachers who perhaps by a graceful manner and flattering speech make themselves appear to be ministers of righteousness.
These “weak women” are also described as being “loaded down with sins” and “led by various desires.” This evidently means that sinful inclinations and desires weigh heavily upon them. They do not really hate what is bad nor do they have a genuine love for righteousness. Their sinful inclinations make them easy prey for false teachers, some of these women no doubt even allowing themselves to be talked into committing sexual immorality on the basis that God understands human weaknesses and is very merciful and forgiving.
It becomes readily apparent why such “weak women” would ‘always be learning and yet never be able to come to an accurate knowledge of truth.’ Not having the needed motivation to acquire a full understanding and appreciation of Christian truth, they never improve their spiritual standing. They may continue to learn things, but they never come to know and appreciate the sense of the entire body of Christian teachings so as to conduct themselves accordingly. They allowing themselves to come under the influence of false teachers, their situation only worsens.
There are, of course, many fine women, as there are men, who learn the truth of the Bible and hold onto it. But, especially in Christendom, women often have more leisure time and are generally less involved with the business world than men, and usually give more attention to religious matters. Women tend to look up to men who are prominent and who are ready and eloquent with words. So they can become victims of such men as the apostle describes. They may easily come under the influence of greedy or immoral men who pose as wise and knowledgeable. These men excuse their immoral course by saying that God knows we all are imperfect and that God forgives, but they are wickedly presuming on God to gain their ends.
Eve was an example of one who, though she knew God’s command, did not really come to know God through appreciation, love and loyalty to him. She became a weak woman led by her desire. Satan the Devil used her as a tool to reproach God and to induce Adam to sin.—Gen. 3:1-5.
Since corrupt men can also slip into a congregation of God’s people in these “last days,” Paul’s words emphasize the need for true Christians to be alert to discern false teaching and improper reasoning. (2 Tim. 3:1) A person who desires to maintain an acceptable standing before Jehovah God should put forth every effort to ‘go on walking in union with Christ Jesus, rooted and being built up in him and being stabilized in the faith.’ (Col. 2:6, 7) This calls for study of the entire body of Christian teaching as set forth in the Holy Scriptures and application of the things learned. Then, when individuals present thoughts contrary to God’s Word, one will not be deceived and ensnared by sinful inclinations.