Why an English summary
This English section of the website reflects a strong desire that my first book might be translated into English and a version be published for those who do not understand Dutch. It is my hope that this fish, on the digital highway, will be discovered by an English or American editor. Hence: the table of contents, a summary and a 'peek inside' one paragraph.
Dutch title: De Hemelse voedselbank -Voedingslessen uit de Bijbel
Translation: The human diet from heaven -Dietary lessons from the Bible-
Author: drs. E. Noordermeer ISBN: 978-90-5787-157-3, 192 pages
Publisher: Merweboek, Sliedrecht, The Netherlands
1st edition: 2011
2nd edition: 2012
3rd edition: 2013
4th edition: 2014
5th edition: 2017
Table of contents
1. Lessons from the Old Testament
1.1 The menu of Eden
1.2 Changes after the fall/the flood
1.3 Lentil soup and goat steak
1.4 The manna
1.5 Mount Sinai
1.5.1 Unique and impressive
1.5.2 Clean and unclean
22.214.171.124 The four categories of meat
1.6 The disaster of the quails
1.7 Daniel’s 10-day trial
1.8 Elijah’s room service
1.9 Famine and abundance
2. Lessons from the New Testament
2.1 Jesus’ words and acts
2.2 The Jewish traditions
2.3 Peter’s vision à see above
2.4 The assembly in Jerusalem
2.5 Paul’s epistles
2.5.1 The ‘things dedicated to idols’ in Corinth
2.5.2 The vegetarians and total abstainers of Rome
2.5.3 The gnostics of Ephesus
2.6 James’ complaint
3. Biblical food customs
3.1 Customs regarding meat
3.2 Customs regarding dairy
3.2.1 Mother’s milk
3.2.2 Lactating livestock
3.3 Separation of dairy and meat
3.4 Biblical fasting
3.4.1 Biblical fast days
3.4.2 Jesus and fasting
3.4.3 Fasting: how to fast
4. The Torah.. still relevant for our times?
4.1 General logic of the Torah
4.2 Logic of the Torah concerning laws on meat
4.2.1 The wisdom of the Torah
4.2.2 The righteousness of the Torah
4.3 The authority of the Torah regarding the new covenant
5. What can we do today?
This book takes the reader on a journey through the Bible. Every passage related to food is addressed in chronological order, and clarified as to its relationship to modern day society. Based on concern as to the practical applications of the Torah today, the writer devotes one chapter to the applicability of the Torah within the new covenant. This is an especially sensitive topic among Christians because it is in conflict with the dogma that ‘we are no longer bound by the Law’. The author devotes 192 pages to consider how by abolishing the Torah, the church has turned aside from many of God’s wise and righteous principles. This has had its consequences: Our society suffers from diseases that relate to the food we consume, and many social wrongs prevail in our system of food production and trade. The book relates these problems to the Bible and specifically the Torah. Many Christians will see this book as an eye opener challenging the reader to consider world problems from a biblical perspective.
Chapter 1 opens with consideration of what the Bible said first about what is eaten by man and animals. Man eats seeds and fruits, animals eat green plants. The diet of man is completely vegan and does not overlap with the diet of animals. After the fall, green herbs and animal products are added to the diet of man. Seeds and fruits however remain exclusively intended for the diet of man. Nowadays, we process highly nutritious seeds and pulses into animal food. This strongly conflicts with the distribution of food in the Torah. Food that was meant for human consumption being fed to animals is a precarious topic that explains certain injustices on earth. After the fall, man no longer had access to the tree of life and thus became mortal. With the introduction of green plants into the human diet, God gives man access to His pharmacy. This way God helps man deal with the consequences of the fall. Man uses food to manipulate, as the story of Jacob shows. Again the writer connects this story to the present: Today the consumer is manipulated with deceptive labels on packaging.
Provision of manna in the desert shows God’s involvement in our primary needs, and the event involving the quails sketches God’s attitude toward gluttony and insatiability. The theme of abundance and its consequences is strongly present in the book. In the Old Testament God warns His people that the abundance of the promised land will lead to spiritual deception (Deut. 32:15). In the New Testament James explains that the prosperity of the rich is based on exploitation of the laborers of the field (James 5:4-6) which constitutes a major iniquity here on earth. Such abundance obtained by unrighteousness will have negative consequences for the rich, physically and spiritually (James 5:1-4).
God confirms His Laws with regard to meat in the revelations on mount Sinai. When the topics of slaughter and sacrifices come up, God’s principles are examined in the light of modern slaughterhouse waste and how meat is currently processed. Modern topics such as game (usually strangled), modern slaughter practices, kosher and halal slaughter, the bio-industry and castration are discussed. The story of Daniel shows to what extent loyalty to the Laws concerning food can affect body, soul and spirit.
Every passage from the New Testament regarding the distinction between clean and unclean is examined in chapter 2: Jesus’ conflict with the Pharisees, Peter’s vision, the assembly in Jerusalem and the epistles of Paul are placed in their proper cultural context. Many readers will be astonished at the refreshing view available once a crucial knowledge of Jewish tradition is brought to bear on these issues. A profound lack of knowledge of Jewish tradition can explain why so many Bible passages have been misinterpreted for so long.
Chapter 3 turns our attention to additional subjects of modern concern, including those in connection with fish, meat, breastfeeding, lactose intolerance and Lysteria contamination and how these may relate to biblical customs. Fasting is also thoroughly discussed.
Chapter 4 “The Torah.. still relevant to our times?” In this chapter the author examines Torah from a more fundamentally theological perspective in an attempt to discern God’s motivation for issuing the Torah, including His distinctions between clean and unclean animals. The Torah is God’s blueprint for a society based on wisdom and righteousness (Deut. 4:5-8). All regulations in the Torah are wise and righteous, regardless of our understanding. The author explains why consumption of clean animals is wise and why consumption of unclean animals is unwise. Abstaining from unclean meats significantly lowers the incidence of parasitic infections, intoxication and lifestyle diseases. Some Christians are familiar with these principles. The author introduces a relatively new concept: the use of clean animals for human food is not only healthier (wiser) but also more righteous, in the sense that their natural diet does not compete with or overlap with the human diet, provided that the animals are fed on their natural diet only.
In chapter 5 readers are invited to humble themselves and change their lifestyles.
The clear structure of this book includes 64 brief quotations to summarize major paragraphs. There are text inserts containing extra information and five hand-drawn cartoons to illustrate the text.
· The first blood that flowed onto the earth was caused by God Himself.
· Those who left the vegetarian path and consume too little grain, and not enough legumes, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruit will have to compensate for their nutritional deficits by eating meat.
· BSE is a disease created by the hand of man.
· We do not currently make offerings to God, but rather, to various economic interests.
· The Bible does not ordain vegetarianism on religious grounds, but only periods of abstention from eating meat (vegetarianism) due to practical considerations and motivated by brotherly love.
· The rule of ‘consuming all meat the same day it has been slaughtered’ automatically gives rise to a consumption pattern of proper proportions.
· Fasting is a necessary custom during the absence of the bridegroom.
· Revelation is needed to deal with cumulative diseases because their causes are impossible to trace.
· ‘Unclean’ does not mean that an animal is useless. It just means that it is unsuitable for human consumption.
· Our works cannot save us, they can however make God smile or grieve Him.
2.3 Peter’s vision
Many Christians consider Peter’s vision to be the moment when God declares all meat to be clean. That’s strange because Peter himself states the meaning of the vision - so why would we explain it differently? The history of Acts 10 takes place ten years after Christ’s ascension. Three times God shows Peter a sheet depicting a mix of clean and unclean animals. Then He is ordered to kill and to eat. Peter replies as follows:
“Not so, Lord, for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean." (vs. 14)
His reply indicates that Peter never changed his diet after Christ’s ascension. That’s why the vision confuses him. He cannot imagine that God would order him to eat unclean meats. Still pondering the meaning of the vision (vs.17), Peter receives visitors. They ask him to go to Caesarea to explain the teachings of Jesus to a certain Cornelius. Behold, Cornelius, the last person to whom Peter wants to preach! First of all, Cornelius was a heathen. But not only that, he was a Roman heathen. And lastly, he was Roman centurion, a military leader of the enemy. Cornelius represents the oppressor. And exactly this man is hungry to hear the Gospel. To go to Cornelius, Peter had to overcome many negative feelings. But there was a bigger problem with Peter’s conviction, a problem faced by subsequent apostles as well: in Jewish tradition to visit and to eat with Gentiles was not condoned; they were unclean. The Torah indeed mentions that the Gentiles were unclean. Yet it does not condemn social interaction with them. On the contrary! The Torah dictates that strangers be treated respectfully (Lev.19:33-34) as those “who lived in their midst’. Together with the widows and the orphans they were a special social group that was to be looked after properly (Deut. 24:17). Strangers were even allowed to make offerings to God (Lev.17:9). The Jews were allowed to visit and eat with them (Deut.12:15) and under certain circumstances it was even acceptable to marry them (Deut. 21:10-13). However, one thing was strictly prohibited: The Jew must under no circumstances imitate their pagan religious practices. The Torah is very clear about this!
In return, the stranger had to be loyal to the commandments of the Torah (Lev. 24:22). They were also not allowed to eat blood, unclean things, etc. For them, adaptation was a ‘must’, not an option.
The status of being unclean was not limited to the Gentiles, for after all, from time to time every Jew had to deal with it. For example, every man was temporarily unclean after having ejaculated (Lev.15:16) and every woman was unclean during her menstrual period (Lev.15:19). These people were not cast out. But they had to take some precautions regarding clothes, furniture and other people.
Based on the teachings of the Torah, uncleanness was no reason to avoid every social interaction. This attitude originated in Jewish tradition. Jesus Himself confirmed that the Gentiles were indeed unclean, but He still interacted with them. Jesus calls the Canaanite woman a dog but He speaks with her and even heals her daughter (Matt.15:26-28). Also in the encounter with the Samaritan woman it is clear that Jesus interacts with people who the Jews reject (John 4:9). Jesus breaks through Jewish tradition when appropriate.
Back to the vision of Peter. God Himself explains the vision to him:
And the voice spoke unto him again the second time, "What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common." (Acts 10:15)
Then suddenly Peter understood that God was not speaking of food - but of the Gentiles! At Cornelius’ house Peter explained the rules of the Jewish tradition first (bold text) and then the meaning of his vision.
And he said unto them, "Ye know that it is an unlawful thing for a man who is a Jew to keep company with or to come unto one of another nation. But God hath shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean. (Acts 10:28)
Then Peter opened his mouth and said, "In truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons,… (vs.34)
In other words:
When the unclean is declared clean God was not referring to food, God was referring to the Gentiles!
The Gentiles, once unclean, are now declared clean and therefore they share in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Until that point it was impossible. The sacrifices offered by the Jews day and night only reconciled the Jews themselves. The sacrificial blood continuously cleansed the Israelite community. The Gentiles were not under the scope of the Old Testament sacrifices. But … the power of the blood of the perfect Sacrifice has no limits. The blood of Jesus cleanses all nations with retroactive effect: for all time throughout history. That’s why the nations are clean since the Perfect Sacrifice of Jesus. This concept was new and to mobilize the apostles God really had to persuade them by revelation. Here Peter receives a vision, later the apostle Paul receives one:
… how by revelation He made known unto me the mystery (as I wrote before a few words on this, whereby when ye read this, ye may understand my knowledge of the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: (Eph.3:3-5)
And what is this mystery?
… that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ by the Gospel. (vs.6)
As the prophet Elijah had to be prepared to be nursed by the pagan woman in Zarephath (see paragraph 1.8), so Peter had to be convinced to go to Cornelius and Paul had to be persuaded to become the apostle to the Gentiles.
For us, it is a logical concept and easy to understand. For the Jews
definitely not. The Jews always had trouble sharing their God. The entire book of Jonah describes the aversion of the Jews towards sharing God’s grace with a Gentile nation. Now, since the
Perfect Sacrifice, the Gentiles officially share in God’s grace. God’s binoculars focus and the whole world is visible. Until this point holy scripture described but one nation. Occasionally the
Old Testament mentions future times when the Gentiles will partake. Now that era had come. Reve
lation was necessary because this was completely
The vision of Peter has a very rich meaning for the Gentile nations:
We are declared clean by God Himself!
It is regrettable that most Christians misunderstand Peter’s vision. In their explanation God declares unclean animals clean and thereby fit for human consumption. What does it matter to me that I’m allowed to eat pork? Does that enrich my life? Isn’t it much, much better to be clean yourself?! Clean, fit to hear the word of God; fit to share in the inheritance. That is really something precious!