The Bible has a lot to say about food. It gives us insight regarding what God gave us as food. We can eat whatever we want, but not everything we eat is food! Believe it or not! The question to ask ourselves is not “Can I eat it?”, but “Is it food?”
The first diet God gave us was given to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden in a perfect ecosystem. He said to them, “I have given you every plant that bears seed and every tree which has fruit bearing seed, as food” (Genesis 1:29). So, we were originally vegetarians.
Then the Great Flood happened about 1 600 years later. After this flood, the atmosphere and ecosystem changed dramatically. Then God spoke to Noah and gave us a new diet which would be more beneficial to us in the changed ecosystem. He said to Noah, “Every animal is now also food for you, as well as the plants I have already given you for food. Only, do not eat meat with the blood in it.” (Genesis 9:3-4). Now God said that we should also eat animal meat. If you study it out, you will notice that the lifespan of man decreased dramatically after the Great Flood due to the changed ecosystem. Protein now became more of a necessity for our bodies.
Then, about 1 000 years after the Great Flood, the nation of Israel left Egypt. They had lived in Egypt for 430 years. During this time, they had adopted many of the Egyptian habits, including some bad ones. And on top of that, the ecosystem had further deteriorated. So, God gave them some new dietary guidelines for good health. He also gave them many other ethical and moral lifestyle guidelines. I am only going to focus on the dietary guidelines in this post. Here are some of the guidelines He gave them …
Leviticus 17:12. God re-iterates the fact that they should not eat or drink blood (even meat with the blood in it). Today, biological science will tell you that blood contains a substance called urea which cannot be digested properly. It was not meant for the digestive system.
Leviticus 11 & Deuteronomy 14:3-20. God tells the nation of Israel the difference between healthy (or clean) animal meat and filthy dirty (or unclean) animal meat. He tells them not to eat the filthy dirty meat, but to stick to the clean meat which is better for good health. Today, most Jews and some Christians still follow these guidelines. Basically, the clean meats are:
Fish: Generally speaking, those with scales AND fins have the cleanest meat. Some clean fish include bass, bluefish, butter fish, haddock, hake, halibut, herring, pilchard, red snapper, rose fish, salmon, sea trout, shad, sole and whiting. Some filthy dirty (or unclean) fish include blue marlin, catfish, dolphin, eel, lamprey, mackerel, octopus, squid, swordfish, tuna, whale, crab, lobster, shrimp, oysters, scallops and prawns. Today, science will tell you that shellfish have very high levels of iodine in their meat; much more than our bodies are designed to have. Some other predatory fish (and some shellfish) have high levels of mercury in their meat (not of the ones with scales and fins). We all know that ANY amount of mercury is not good for you.
Land animals: Generally speaking, animals that have split hooves AND chew the cud have the cleanest meat. Notably, these animals are all vegetarians. Some clean animals include beef/veal, lamb/sheep, buffalo, caribou, deer, elk, moose, antelope, gazelle, ox and goat. Some unclean animals include pig, dog, cat, horse, mule, armadillo, bear, beaver, opossum, rabbit, raccoon, squirrel and warthog.
Poultry and birds: Generally speaking, birds that eat grains, insects, seeds and plants are considered clean and good for eating. Some clean birds include chicken, dove, grouse, pheasant, pigeon, quail, snipe and turkey. Generally speaking, the meat of birds that are animal eaters, predators, scavengers or carrion eaters is considered dirty and not good for eating.
God was very clear about clean and what he called ‘unclean’, or filthy dirty animals. In layman’s terms (the ‘Delfina version’), He said to His people, Israel, “Don’t eat that trash. It’s filthy dirty and disgusting for you. I should know – I created them. I know what’s good for eating and what’s not good for eating. Trust Me!”
Fast forward about 1 400 years after Israel left Egypt, and Jesus comes on the scene. He sees that they have become very legalistic about food, believing that if they eat the filthy dirty animals, then they will become unholy. He corrects this by telling them that nothing that enters a man from the outside (like food) can make him unholy because it does not enter his heart, but his stomach, and then it is eliminated out of his body. However, that which comes out of him (like his thoughts, words and actions) can make him unholy because his thoughts, words and actions come out of his heart. Holiness has to do with the heart and not the body.
So, what’s the moral of the story? What you eat does not make you a better or worse person morally. You can eat whatever you want, and God won’t judge you for it. But you will have a far better quality of life if you eat real, quality food and avoid eating trash! And you’ll live longer!