Cutting a Covenant — Another consideration is that in the OT times, covenants were made or completed by eating a meal together. If these foods were good for the heathen to eat but an abomination to Israel, then Israel could never cut any covenant with her neighbors. If the foods that Israel could eat were an abomination to the heathen nations around her, then the covenant could never be concluded. There could never be a marriage, business, political or military covenant because they could never finalize and complete it by eating a meal together especially when it was a parity covenant. If it was a suzerainty covenant, then the stronger party would simply dictate the terms and the weaker party had no choice but to accept it or face destruction. In Abraham’s case, God did not force Abraham to accept His suzerainty covenant.
The meal was also “eaten” but it depended entirely on God’s faithfulness and not Abraham’s (see Genesis 15). The list of clean or unclean animals or fowl or fish or creeping things for Israel had nothing to do with worship because it is the LORD that they worship and not these creatures. But for the heathen nations around Israel, the reason for not eating certain animals or fowl or fish is because these were their gods. They had a multiple of gods. For example, what was considered as clean for consumption to Israel was considered as an abomination to the Egyptians (see Gen 46:34; Exo 8:25-27). The Gentiles who worshiped creatures would not eat their own gods. In the case of Israel it was very different. The list of clean and unclean was not based upon their worship of them. God determined it to be a spiritual protection for His people, to keep them holy as He is holy. It was a matter of biblical separation rather than worship. How do we as a local church fulfill what the LORD required Israel to do as a nation?