TO EAT OR NOT TO EAT?
Lord, teach me to eat right.
Read LEVITICUS 11:1–12,41–45
Clean and Unclean Food
11 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 2 “Say to the Israelites: ‘Of all the animals that live on land, these are the ones you may eat: 3 You may eat any animal that has a divided hoof and that chews the cud.
4 “‘There are some that only chew the cud or only have a divided hoof, but you must not eat them. The camel, though it chews the cud, does not have a divided hoof; it is ceremonially unclean for you. 5 The hyrax, though it chews the cud, does not have a divided hoof; it is unclean for you. 6 The rabbit, though it chews the cud, does not have a divided hoof; it is unclean for you. 7 And the pig, though it has a divided hoof, does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you. 8 You must not eat their meat or touch their carcasses; they are unclean for you.
9 “‘Of all the creatures living in the water of the seas and the streams you may eat any that have fins and scales. 10 But all creatures in the seas or streams that do not have fins and scales—whether among all the swarming things or among all the other living creatures in the water—you are to regard as unclean. 11 And since you are to regard them as unclean, you must not eat their meat; you must regard their carcasses as unclean. 12 Anything living in the water that does not have fins and scales is to be regarded as unclean by you.
41 “‘Every creature that moves along the ground is to be regarded as unclean; it is not to be eaten. 42 You are not to eat any creature that moves along the ground, whether it moves on its belly or walks on all fours or on many feet; it is unclean. 43 Do not defile yourselves by any of these creatures. Do not make yourselves unclean by means of them or be made unclean by them. 44 I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy. Do not make yourselves unclean by any creature that moves along the ground. 45 I am the Lord, who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
How important is food to you—what you eat and how you eat?
Recently revised and brought up to date by his grandson, who is also a doctor, None of These Diseases: The Bible’s Health Secrets for the 21st Century was written by Dr. S. I. McMillen in 1967. The title derives from God’s promise in Exodus 15:26, and the book provides scientific pointers to the health benefits of obedience to the Law. It is not difficult to understand, for instance, that pork would be a health hazard in the desert where there is no firewood for thorough cooking.
God cares for the health of his people. Indeed, he cares for every aspect of our well-being. Rather than focus on the wisdom of not feeding on bats, geckos or carrion birds, therefore, the focus should be on God’s interest in separating the clean from the unclean, the holy from the profane. Israel as a nation is set apart from the other peoples. These food laws undergird that distinction.
The Pharisees failed to understand that visible practice serves only as a pointer to inner purity; Jesus rebuked them for this on more than one occasion. God still cares about what we eat or what we do not eat. The early church came to understand this in a new way when they agreed not to compel Gentile converts to a strict observance of Judaic Law. In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he gives us an altogether different motivation for deciding what to eat or not to eat: the welfare of my brother and sister in the Lord.
Food habits are very much a cultural matter. In which ways does our Christian faith make a difference?
Lord, I recognize the importance of dietary considerations. Give me the discipline to please You in what I eat and drink.