The Diets of the Millennium Should Be the Diets of Today
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This is the second article of a two-part series in which the sad state of health in today's world is discussed. In last month's issue of Virtual Christian Magazine, the article "Take Responsibility For Your Own Health--Nobody Else Will" introduced this vital subject. This month's article contrasts today's sick world with the way the world will be after Jesus Christ establishes the Kingdom of God on earth.
Surprising as it may be to some, Jesus Christ promised to return to restore God's government on earth. Hundreds of scriptures speak of His return and the utopian conditions that He will bring about. We find some particularly clear and inspiring prophecies of a new world in Luke 1:31-33 and Isaiah 9:6-7.
What do we mean by "God's government"? We can summarize according to the three branches of government the free world recognizes--legislative, executive and judicial. God's government consists of His holy laws, the teaching and enforcement of those laws and judging the people of the world according to those laws.
The most important laws, of course, are the spiritual laws, summarized by the two great commandments (Matthew 22:36-40) and the Ten Commandments. To break any of those laws is sin (1 John 3:4). The laws this article addresses are called natural laws, physical laws or laws of science which were also instituted by the great Creator of all things. The breaking of those laws brings automatic penalties--the lawbreakers bring punitive consequences upon themselves (Jeremiah 2:19; 5:25). People reap what they sow (Galatians 6:7). Every curse has a cause (Proverbs 26:2).
Natural law includes laws or principles of health. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that breaking health laws brings health problems. Good health is the direct result of living in harmony with the basic laws of health. To be sick is to be out of harmony with natural law. Overcoming health problems is achieved mainly by discontinuing the breaking of the relevant health laws. But once a person is sick, getting well often takes a long time. It is much easier to prevent health problems from the start.
Your life is not your own
It is very difficult to understand why people in general don't do more to prevent health problems. Logic would tell us that people would educate themselves and apply that knowledge in order to get well and stay well. But those who respect the Bible as the divinely revealed Word of God should have an additional and stronger motivation to take care of their bodies and minds.
Yes, for those in the Christian community, vibrant health takes on additional importance. The apostle Paul reminded the Corinthian church of this important fact in 1 Corinthians 6:20: "For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's" (emphasis added). Our bodies and minds belong to God! Then we, as good stewards, are held accountable by God to "tend and keep" God's property (Genesis 2:15)! We are blessed to be made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26), so our bodies and minds are very special to God--they have a special purpose--and honoring them honors God.
While 1 Corinthians 6:20 refers primarily to using our bodies and minds in ways which are not spiritually harmful, the principle also logically applies to taking care of our bodies and minds in ways that promote physical health. Likewise, the principle of Romans 12:1 can be applied physically as well as spiritually: "I beseech [urge] you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable [rational] service." Certainly, our energy and effectiveness in fulfilling our spiritual calling is largely determined by our physical well-being.
Meaning of Feast of Tabernacles
The Bible commands us to observe seven annual sacred festivals in addition to the weekly Sabbath. Four of those occur in the fall, in September and/or October. One of those festivals is the joyous highlight of the year for God's people--the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles. Contrary to the idea that these days were nullified by God, they will still be observed, and even enforced, after Christ's return (Zechariah 14:16-21). God's Holy Days are not just for the Jews, but, also for people of all nations.
The purpose of the Feast of Tabernacles is for God's people to reflect on and, to some extent and in a very limited way, act out the prophecies of the millennial reign of Christ on the earth. What does that have to do with leading a healthful life now? It is this: The way of life that will be taught and practiced by people during the Millennium should be the way of life today's disciples of Christ should be practicing now. You see, we don't need to wait until Christ returns to earth to have His government over us as individuals. We can voluntarily submit to Christ's rule over us right now. In fact, how can we expect to be teachers in God's Kingdom when we are not willing to live by those same precepts now?
In Acts 3:18-19, Peter speaks of the necessity for people to repent of their sins and accept Christ as their Savior. Then he said, "...and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began" (verses 20-21). Christ will restore everything--spiritually and physically--to the condition that the world started out with in the Garden of Eden before Adam and Eve disobeyed and thereby rejected God's government over them (Isaiah 51:3). The Feast of Tabernacles celebrates this time of universal restoration.
Not only will spiritual knowledge be restored, but so too will knowledge of the laws of health. Knowledge of how to maintain good health will dramatically change the lives of hundreds of millions of people.
You are what you eat
One of the most important keys to good health is nutrition. "You are what you eat" should be expanded to, "You are what you eat, drink, breathe and absorb through your skin." By what we take in, we determine not only the composition of our bodies, but how well they function.
Throughout the creation account God repeatedly said that "it was good" (Genesis 1:10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31). God knew what He was doing. He didn't make mistakes. He didn't make anything of inferior quality. He designed the human body, and He designed foods that are ideally suited to our nutritional needs. So it is ridiculous for humans to think that they can improve on God's creation!
Every time man takes away some component of a food or adds something artificial to it, he not only diminishes its health-giving benefits, but he often causes it to be health-damaging in some ways.
The standard American diet (SAD!) is woefully lacking in good nutrition. We need to understand so much about this big subject. How could people for hundreds of years be fairly healthy without having myriad books on health, much less the Internet? The answer is this: Almost all the food alternatives most people could choose from were healthful. Today, the majority of options in a supermarket are unhealthful. When we go shopping, we desperately need good knowledge to make good decisions.
How did we end up with so much junk on the store shelves and in the restaurants? The industrial revolution opened the door to our present-day abilities to manufacture things and alter our food. And most tampering of food is motivated by greed for greater profits. For example, the "refining" of flour from grains may make a finer texture and a more appealing appearance, but the motive for refining flour is to make it last longer and therefore more profitable to produce and sell. But tragically, the fine healthful qualities God put in the grains largely disappear.
Clean and unclean
The foregoing principle should be obvious--the more we alter food from the way God created it, the more we damage its healthful qualities. Many other keys to good health exist which human beings can figure out. The keys humans cannot determine for themselves, especially before the modern era of scientific research, are revealed in the Bible by our loving and merciful Creator.
One of those keys is the knowledge of which animals are edible and which are not. The animals that God created to be healthful sources of food He designates as "clean," and those that God did not intend to be eaten are designated as "unclean." The first mention of clean and unclean animals is found in Genesis 7:2: "You shall take with you seven each of every clean animal, a male and his female; two each of animal that are unclean, a male and his female." Apparently, God's instructions in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14:3-21 concerning which animals were fit to eat was a restatement of information once known by God's people but lost during their years of Egyptian slavery. (For a full explanation of what the Bible says about this subject, please read our free Bible study aids What Does the Bible Teach About Clean and Unclean Meats? and Making Life Work.)
Sadly, today humans cause much of their food to be literally unclean by the addition of or exposure to chemical fertilizers, pesticides, drugs and synthetic food additives. We pollute our water, soil, food and, in turn, ourselves. For example, in order to increase profits, ranchers and feedlot operators often feed chemicals to their livestock to speed weight gain. And man-made sex hormones and antibiotics are used to shorten the time necessary to prepare an animal for market.
Charles Moore states, "Meat contains about 35 times as much pesticide residue as grains and cereals, and about 20 times as much radioactive material. Residues of some 600 different chemicals are potentially present in supermarket meat--only 10 percent of them monitored [inadequately] by governments. Virtually all feedlot cattle are treated with medications like antibiotics (9 million tons of which are used annually in livestock feed in the U.S. alone) and/or synthetic sex hormones. Routine sub-therapeutic agricultural use of antibiotics has been linked to evolving drug-resistant disease bacteria like the so-called "flesh-eating" streptococcus..." (Bible Food, Charles Moore).
With such large amounts of man-made substances in our meat supply, federal authorities are questioning the wisdom of consuming large quantities of these substances in our diet.
God's Food Laws
"There is no clear statement as to when God first revealed the difference between those animals that are designated 'clean' and those that are not. The absence of a clear command on this matter should not be taken as proof that no instruction was given...
"The first statement in Scripture concerning 'clean' and 'unclean' animals is found in Genesis 7:2, where Noah is commanded to take seven (or seven pairs of) clean animals and only one pair of unclean animals. When God told Noah to build a giant ark, He gave explicit instructions on its size, composition and design, yet God saw no need to instruct Noah about which creatures were clean and which were unclean. God's instructions and Noah's response clearly indicate that Noah understood which creatures were clean and which were not...
"Whenever animals are mentioned in Scripture as a food source or in connection with sacrifice before Mount Sinai, they are invariably clean animals (Genesis 15:9--cows, goats, sheep, dove and pigeon; Genesis 22:13--sheep; Exodus 12:5--sheep or goat). The law of clean and unclean meats clearly predate the Old Covenant, regardless of what role they may have played within that covenant" (from the Bible study aid Fundamental Beliefs of the United Church of God an International Association, emphasis added).
What should be our focus?
In Romans 14:17, we are reminded that the Kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. This reminds us that Christians must keep their spiritual focus on God as their number one priority. But, it is also very important to make sure we properly nourish our bodies, the temple of the Holy Spirit.
God's Word teaches us that we should seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness first (Matthew 6:33). We show by our actions whether or not we really want the ways God intended for His creation. Are we truly seeking God's will to be carried out in our lives? Are we asking, "What would God have us do?" And then doing it? Doing all this requires moderation, self-control and diligence. It takes character to make right choices. This is true in every area of life, including our eating and exercising habits.
The purpose of this and the previous article on health has been to encourage you to educate yourself about this very important subject and then to take action. Knowledge of itself is of no value unless acted upon. As you study into this critically important subject, remember to strive for balance. Not everyone agrees as to what constitutes a healthy diet. However, what is important is to begin to become educated. Take the time and effort to study this subject, then make changes where appropriate.
Today's humanistic world tends to separate the physical and spiritual as if they aren't linked, which is not God's intent and it is not reality. They are intertwined. An even more important point is that we should look to God to rule over not only the spiritual side of our lives but the physical side as well.
We arrive back full circle to the subject of the Feast of Tabernacles. The Feast pictures the time when Christ will rule over the world--all aspects of the world, spiritual and physical. What kind of food will people eat then? That's what we should be eating now. How will they be living their lives? That's how we should be living our lives now.
Internet Site Listings for More Information
http://expertfoods.com/FAQs - Accuracy of Nutrition Facts Labels--you need to know just how far you can trust the numbers on those labels.
http://www.kidshealth.org/parent/nutrition_fit/nutrition/food_labels.html - Deciphering Food Labels.
http://vm.cfsan.fda.gov/label.html - FDA Food Labeling, an overview of the new food label and more.
http://www.nutri-facts.com - Nutri-Facts, a searchable database of nutrition label information.
http://www.truthinlabeling.org - Truth in Labeling Campaign, concerned that MSG is a toxic substance hidden in ingredients that are listed on food labels under more than 40 different names.
http://www.living-foods.com - Living and Raw Foods.
http://sgreports.nlm.nih.gov/NN/ - Reports of the Surgeon General.
Mayo Clinic Internet Health and Medical Resources.
http://www.hacres.com - God's Way to Ultimate Health.
http://navigator.tufts.edu - Nutrition Navigator.
http://www.acefitness.org - American Council on Exercise.
http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/addskava.html - Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Selected Federal Resources
Health and Human Services (HHS) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provide many sources of information on nutrition and health. Selected resources are listed below:
http://www.healthfinder.gov - Healthfinder, HHS's gateway to reliable health information, including diet, nutrition, healthy lifestyle, and physical activity.
http://www.nutrition.gov - USDA's gateway to nutrition information.
http://www.foodsafety.gov - FDA's gateway to Federal food safety information.
http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/topics/obesity/ - National Action Plan on Overweight and Obesity.
http://cis.nci.nih.gov - Cancer Information Service, National Cancer Institute, NIH, HHS.
http://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ - FDA: Food Safety, Nutrition Information & Campaigns
http://www.cdc.gov - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HHS.
http://www.usda.gov/cnpp - Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, USDA.
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov - National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, NIH, HHS.
http://www.niddk.nih.gov - National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, NIH, HHS.