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Sabbath School Lessons on Health & Healing
About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 37 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 12: Nutrition in the Bible *
Introduction: If you were asked about the key to a healthy and long
life, what would you say? Most would say "exercise, diet, good air,
and common sense." Common sense meaning to avoid dangerous
practices. The Bible says a lot about diet and common sense. Jesus
famously said in Matthew 15:11: "What goes into a man's mouth does
not make him 'unclean,' but what comes out of his mouth, that is
what makes him 'unclean.'" Does this make diet irrelevant? If so,
why does the Bible say so much about diet? Let's dive into our study
of the Bible and see what we can learn!
- Daniel's Diet
- Read Daniel 1:8-10. Did the king care about what Daniel
and his friends ate? (Apparently.)
- Why should the king care? (The king's representative
thought that the king's food would make these young
men healthy. It was a quest for health.)
- Did Daniel care about what he ate? (Yes.)
- Why did he care? (He did not want to be
- Read Daniel 1:11-14. What did Daniel want to eat?
(Vegetables - with water to drink.)
- Would that be your choice?
- Read Daniel 1:15-16. Ten days. Do you think the outcome
of this test was the result of diet or something else?
- Read Daniel 10:1-2. Daniel is now a very old man. This
text suggests that in his old age he ate meat and drank
wine. What conclusion are we to draw from the difference
in his diet when he was young and his diet when he was an
old and important man in the kingdom? Has he become lax
in his old age? When you get to be a certain age can you
say, "Guess it doesn't matter what I eat anymore?" (Since
God is still giving Daniel revelations, we cannot
conclude that Daniel has become lax and fallen into sin
in his old age. Instead, we get back to the word (Daniel
1:8) "defiled." Something about the King's meat, but not
Daniel's meat, was different.)
- What do you think was different?
- Read Acts 21:25 and Genesis 9:4. What do these
suggest about meat? (Acts tells us that it is as
much a problem to eat meat not properly prepared as
is sexual immorality! Genesis 9:4 shows us that this
was a concern of God from very early in human
history. The reasonable conclusion was that the
"King's meat" was not properly prepared and might
have been offered to idols. By the time Daniel was
old and influential, he could dictate that the meat
he ate was properly prepared.)
- Consider again Acts 21:25. Three of the four prohibitions
have to do with diet! Had the leaders of the early church
forgotten that Jesus said ( Matthew 15:11)that it does not
matter what goes in your mouth?
- How can you explain what seems to be a serious
conflict in the Bible? (Read Matthew 15:16-20. The
actual issue is unwashed hands, not diet. Although
Jesus is speaking in broad terms, it appears that
His point is that controlling your mind is more
important than controlling your diet. He is not
saying that diet is unimportant. Daniel and the
early church leaders teach us that diet is
important. Next, let's explore the history of diet
in the Bible.)
- Adam's Diet
- Read Genesis 1:29-30. What was Adam's diet? (Plants and
- What was the diet of the animals? (The same.)
- Why do you think God's original diet excluded meat?
(The most obvious reason is that before the entry of
sin in the world there was no death. No death = no
- Noah's Diet
- Read Genesis 9:1-3. How has Noah's diet changed after the
flood? (He can now eat meat.)
- Why did Noah's diet change? Is this because the
flood wiped out the fruits and vegetables? (That
seems an unlikely reason, since they also had a
limited number of animals. If God was worried about
a short-term problem, He could have given them manna
or limited the license to eat animals to a few
months. Something more fundamental has taken place.)
- Let's revisit our thinking about Adam's diet. If the
lack of sin and death was the reason for the "fruits
and vegetables" diet, why do you think that God
waited hundreds of years after sin to add animals to
the diet? (That delay suggests that the difference
between Adam's diet and Noah's diet was not confined
to the sin/death issue. God must have considered
Adam's diet to be superior independent of the
- Skim over Genesis chapters 5 and 11. What do you notice?
(That the life span of humans drops dramatically after
the flood - which is the point where Noah's diet was
- Read Genesis 6:1-3 and Genesis 6:5-6. Does this
suggest a reason for the change in diet? (It seems
that God may have decided that it would be best to
limit the life span of humans. I believe the "120
years" reference is to the timing of the flood, but
it suggests that God is rethinking the longevity of
- What lesson should we draw from this? (God's
original diet has an impact on longevity. We know
today that a diet which excludes meat has a clear
impact on longevity.)
- Does longevity have anything to do with sin?
(Imagine a world without books, but a world in which
you could talk with your great-great-great
grandparents every day. Longevity would increase
learning and the transmission of knowledge. If the
knowledge is about evil, then we can begin to see
why God might have thought a shorter life-span was
- Spirituality and Diet
- Read Genesis 7:1-3. On what basis does God distinguish
between the animals?(He makes a distinction between
"clean" and "unclean" animals.)
- Has this something to do with bathing? (No. Skim
over Leviticus 11 and read Deuteronomy 14:3-8. Clean
animals could be eaten and the unclean animals could
not - they should not even be touched when they were
- Read Deuteronomy 14:21. What is the rule about road-kill? (You could not eat it, but you could give it
to a foreigner.)
- What does this suggest about the nature of
God's rules about diet? (The unclean things
were not poison. Instead, they have something
to do with being in a proper relationship with
- Leviticus and Deuteronomy remind us of the sacrificial
system. Did this idea of unclean = unholy end when the
sacrificial system ended? (Some would argue that. But,
there are some very serious problems with that
conclusion. First, not every clean animal, for example
grasshoppers and fish with fins and scales, were
sacrificed. They had nothing to do with the sacrificial
system. Second, the distinction between clean and unclean
existed before the flood, before the sanctuary system was
formalized, and before humans were authorized to eat
meat. Third, the Acts 21:25 prohibition on eating meat
with blood (which certainly reminds us of the sanctuary
system) is imposed after Jesus' resurrection.)
- What are we to conclude from this? (I cannot explain
it, but God has recommended levels of diet. Best
diet practice is fruits and vegetables. Average diet
practice is clean animals, no blood. Alien diet
practice is roadkill!)
- Should a people walking the path to holiness strive
for the best dietary practices?
- Read Romans 14:2-4. Wait a minute! If holy people have a
holy diet, how can Paul describe them as those "whose
faith is weak?" How can the alien, road-kill diet people
be equated with those of strong faith? (This is a puzzle.
We need to further explore Paul's thoughts.)
- Read 1 Corinthians 10:1-5. What does Paul suggest about
diet and righteousness? (A spiritual diet and more does
not mean you are pleasing God.)
- Read 1 Corinthians 10:18. What is the answer? (Yes! Those
who brought their sacrifice to the temple participated in
the removal of sin.)
- Read 1 Corinthians 10:19-24. Should we eat meat offered
in a pagan sacrifice? (As a practical matter, we know
that the idol is nothing. But, it would be "beneficial"
to avoid eating meat sacrificed to idols.)
- Read 1 Corinthians 10:25-33. What does this teach us
about Paul's statement in Romans 14 about equating the
road-kill diet with strong faith? (Paul tells us the most
important aspect of diet is to use it to advance the
Kingdom of God. Although an idol is nothing, if you know
meat has been offered to an idol, it is not beneficial to
eat it - especially, if in the presence of someone else
has reservations about it. Thus, the "weak faith" person
in Romans 14 is someone who has recently exited idol
worship and does not have the faith to realize that idols
- What should be our "bottom-line" conclusion about faith
and diet? (God has consistently given humans instructions
about diet. There is little doubt that He has a dietary
recommendation that it would be "beneficial" to follow.
However, the most important issue about diet is how we
handle it in terms of the faith of others.)
- Friend, what about you? Will you reconsider your
attitude about diet and be sure it is in line with God's
- Next week: Social Support: The Tie That Binds.
* Copr. 2010, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.