Nutrition According to the Bible

This concern of God for our physical well-being doubtless results from the fact that He knows that health has an influence on our spiritual progress.

By OLA K. GANT, PH.D., Instructor in Therapeutics C.M.E., Loma Linda, California

This concern of God for our physical well-being doubtless results from the fact that He knows that health has an influence on our spiritual progress. His great love for us is also shown in the text, for only with buoyant health, plus peace with God and man, can com­plete happiness come. Our heavenly Father wants us to be happy and radiant with health.

The large part food plays in maintaining good health must have been recognized by Jesus. Why else would He have taught us to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread"? Wholesome, simple food is of paramount impor­tance in preventive medicine. Adequate nutri­tion has a definite role during convalescence as well. Shortly after the pulse of life beat again in the slight form of the twelve-year-old daugh­ter of Jairus, the Lord "commanded that some­thing should be given her to eat." Mark 5 :43. Apparently food was necessary for complete res­toration after the wasting days of her sickness.

"Give ye them to eat," said Jesus, for His heart was stirred with compassion as He looked out over a sea of heads. (Mark 6:37.) The five thousand men, plus women and children, had stood long hours in their eagerness to hear His message. They were weary and faint despite a spiritual feast, so Jesus ministered to their tem­poral necessities. They needed food to give them strength to continue their pilgrimage to the Passover at Jerusalem. We, too, are bidden, "Deal thy bread to the hungry." Isa. 58:7. Our own souls will be fed with such a procedure, and it may prove to be an entering wedge so that spiritual assistance will be accepted.

Our duty.—To study and learn how to eat so that we will have the best of health is not only our privilege but our duty. "Study to shew thyself approved unto God." 2 Tim. 2:15. There are those who feel that whether or not they care for their bodies, it is the concern of no one save themselves. It may be that Paul was speaking particularly to these when he said, "Ye are not your own." 1Cor. 6:19. Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Ghost. We have been purchased with a very great price—with the suffering and even the death of the Son of God. When this thought is fully understood, we will be more diligent in obeying the laws of health.

Our bodies, which are dedicated to His glory, will be preserved so that we can give Him the best. Sturdy bodies are essential for the work and hardships of the closing days of earth's his­tory. Without adequate nutrition it is impos­sible to attain this goal.

General Dietary principles.—A perusal of the Bible will reveal certain general rules to guide us in our eating. Regularity of meals is essential for the most effective functioning of the body. "Blessed art thou, O land, when...thy princes eat in due season, for strength, and not for drunkenness!" Eccl. 10:17. The sluggish feeling which results from a rich, heavy meal should be enough to tell us that with over­eating we cannot expect a special blessing.

Over-indulgence in eating was doubtless in the background of Paul's thinking as he made a striking comparison between the things necessary for attaining Christian perfection, and the restraints followed during the training period before the celebrated races of the Greeks and Romans. The laurels soon faded for the victor of these races, but those who are triumphant in the Christian race will have a crown of immortal glory. If men will deny their appetites for a perishable crown, how much more should those who are looking for an eternal reward be willing to eat in such a way that they will ever be physically and mentally alert. To be "temperate in all things" (i Cor. 9:24-27), which includes moderation in quantity of food, has more to do with our restoration to Eden than many realize. Too much concentrated sweet is to be avoided. For though the wise man says, "My son, eat thou honey, because it is good," a bit later he reminds us that "it is not good to eat much honey." (Prov. 24:13; 25:27.)

Doubtless this general principle applies to all sugars, and probably to an even greater extent to the highly refined sugars of today.

From Isaiah's advice to "eat ye that which is good" (Isa. 55:2), might be drawn the conclusion that anything deleterious should be eliminated from bur dietary program. Even though the spiritual application was foremost in the mind of the prophet, he must have recognized that soul development is greater when only health-preserving foods are eaten.

Exercise or work, especially in the out-of-doors, is an aid to the digestion and assimila­tion of food. This is portrayed in the sweet sleep of the laboring man as described in Ec­clesiastes 5:12. The ill effect of worry and anx­iety on digestion might also be read into this text.

History of Man's Diet.—When man in his perfect state was placed ution this earth he was given for his food "every herb bearing seed, . . and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed." Gen. I :29. The Creator, who understands man's every need, gave grains, fruits, and nuts for food, from which man could choose a balanced diet. After the fall, when man was driven from his Eden home and re­quired to gain a livelihood from tilling the cursed ground, he was given permission to eat "the herb of the field," or vegetables. (Gen. 3 :18.) It may be that vegetables were necessary after the tree of life was no longer available to man. There can be no question but that these foods contain all the dietary essentials, and in the most ideal form. An all-wise God would hardly outline a program for man that was in­adequate.

It was not until after the Flood that meat in any form was permitted. This was an emer­gency measure, and given only because vegeta­tion was destroyed during the Flood, and it would take a period of time for it to be restored. Certain definite restrictions were placed on its use then. It was not to contain blood. (Gen. 9:3, 4.) This specification is reiterated many times in the Old Testament. (See Lev. 3 :17 ; 17:10, 12, 13 ; Deut. 12:16, 23; I Sam. 14:32, 33; Eze. 33 :25.)

Many of the rituals of the Old Testament were made nonessential with the first coming of Christ and His death on the cross. Paul had many difficulties in this connection while he worked with the Gentiles. There was contro­versy over what things should be required of the Gentiles when they were brought into the church. Finally a general meeting, over which James presided, was held. Paul and Barnabas were allowed to present their problem. Under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, word was sent to the Gentile brethren that only the necessary things would be required of them. "These nec­essary things" (Acts 15:19, 20, 28, 29) include abstinence from blood as commanded when meat was first allowed after the Flood.

Thus, we see that man has never been given permission to eat meat as it is ordinarily eaten today. The current methods for cooking meat call for a quick heat at the beginning of the cooking period, as this sears it over and pre­serves the juices. What are the juices if not the blood? In contrast, the orthodox Jew washes the meat thoroughly, covers it with damp salt for three or four hours, and again washes it thoroughly. The salt draws the blood to the sur­face, making the removal of blood more com­plete. This is done in addition to the special manner of killing and thorough drainage of blood at slaughtertime.

The people were to abstain from the fat of the meat also, as shown by Leviticus 3 :17; 7:23. The avoidance of blood and fat was ap­plicable to all flesh food. Besides these restric­tions, certain animals were never included in man's diet. The familiar listing of the unclean animals is found in Leviticus ix.

It is interesting to note some of the effects of the inclusion of meat in the diet. Consider the ages of the antediluvians.

Name

Age

Name

Age

Adam

930

Jared

962

Seth

912

Enoch               translated 

Enos

909

Methuselah

969

Cainan

910

Lamech

777

Mahalaleel

895

Noah

950

The average age in this group is 912 years. Compare this with the ages of the postdiluvians.

Name

Age

Name

Age

Shem

600

Rue

239

Arphaxad

438

Serug

230

Salah

433

Nahor

148

Eber

464

Terah

205

Peleg

239

Abraham

175

The average age for the ten generations fol­lowing the Flood was 317 years. After citing statistics which showed an increase in average height in young Americans the past thirty years, a certain university professor commented that people are coming closer to their genetic possibilities. They come nearer to what is in­trinsically possible for them. It is interesting to note that an increase in consumption of fruits and vegetables parallels this increase in stature. People have come nearer to the original diet, and thus regained to a slight degree their stat­ure and length of life. Then why should one who has dedicated his life to the service and glory of God deliberately do things that will shorten his years of usefulness ?

Appetite.—The fate of the world hung in the balance as Eve looked at the luscious forbidden fruit and contemplated the invitation of Satan. How tragic the results ! "She took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat." Gen. 3 :6. The struggle with appetite has threaded its way through the conflicts from that day to this. Esau bartered away his birthright because he had a special, strong desire for a particular article of food. (Gen. 25:27-34; 27:1-26.) The desire for self-indulgence seemed to veil the gravity of the situation, and he could not see the necessity of turning away from the tempting dish.

Probably the first nutrition experiment car­ried out on human subjects is reported in Daniel I:8-12. During the Babylonian captivity Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah had been chosen to receive special training. They were admitted to the royal palace and had ac­cess to all the bounties of the nation. However, these youth felt that they would be better off from every angle not to follow the dietary pro­gram of the palace. Melzar, the officer in charge, was concerned over the idea. He was certain that the apparently meager diet which these young men were requesting would leave them emaciated and weak. They must have meat and an abundance of food if they were to be strong. The king would be furious if these men were not up to par physically. Finally the ten-day trial period for which they pleaded was granted. And what was the result? At the end of the test the king found "them ten times bet­ter than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm." Was it easy for Daniel and his companions to be different? No. But we can be thankful that the Hebrew youth con­quered on the point of appetite. Thus we know that it is not only possible but profitable to fol­low the simple diet outlined by God.

Indulgence of appetite is not a thing to be toyed with. It is so very important to refrain from eating that which is not good that Solo­mon advised, "Put a knife to thy throat," if tempted in this line. (Prov. 23:1-3.) Those dainties which are so appealing may be "deceit­ful meat." They may be satisfying when eaten, and the temporary effect may seem beneficial, but in the final anarysis the results are harmful.

Jesus is our example in the control of appe­tite. His first great test was on the same point where Adam and Eve failed. His victory is as­surance for us. If we do our part relative to this pitfall and ask for divine power, we will come forth victorious. It is a fundamental step­pingstone in attaining that perfection which is the goal Of all. "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." / Cor. 10:31.

Note.—A series of short talks could be given by breaking the foregoing down and elaborating on the various points. Additional texts which might be used are: Eccl. 2 :24.-26 ; I Thess. 5 :23 ; Eze. 16:13; Heb. 4:11 ; Rom. 12 ; Num. is :4-5; Isa. 33 :16; Eze. 16:40; Heb. 12 :16 ; Ps. 23 :5 ; Deut. 4:5-9; Gen. 25 : 34 ; Gal. 523 ; 2 Cor. 6 :17 ; James 4 :19 ; 2 Peter :6; Prov. 23 ;20-21 ; I Peter 2 I ; Phil. 4:5.

Rural Living and Self-Supporting Work

The General Conference at the 1945 Fall Council recommended the organization Of an association of our self-supporting institutions. It was felt this would be a means of stimulat­ing and encouraging this type of layman's work, and bring about a stronger tie between the self-supporting work and the regular or­ganized work of the denomination. Fostered by the Commission on Rural Living, of which N. C. Wilson is the chairman, and -Dr. E. A. Sutherland is secretary, the Association of Sev­enth-day Adventist Self-Supporting Institu­tions is now a reality. Meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio, on March 4 and 5 of this year, delegates from some twenty-five institutions, largely medical, formed and adopted a constitution and by­laws.

The object of the association, as set forth in the constitution, is to foster and promote the interests of self-supporting missionary institu­tions operated by Seventh-day. Adventists throughout the North American Division. Elder Wilson called the formation of this asso­ciation "a great day in the history of the church." C. B. Haynes, assistant secretary of the Commission on Rural Living, spoke of the phenomenal response of our people to the recent compilation from the Spirit of prophecy on Country Living.

We can speak here of only one of the activi­ties sponsored by the association. It is well summed up in the following statement from the Spirit of prophecy:

—Please turn to page 46

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By OLA K. GANT, PH.D., Instructor in Therapeutics C.M.E., Loma Linda, California

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