The year 2020 will be recorded in history books as the year of the global Coronavirus pandemic. It is not the first pandemic the world has experienced, but consequences of pandemics are more disastrous today because of easy global travel.
Are such pandemics inevitable? While we may never find the exact origin of the 2020 pandemic, most pandemics in recent decades, if not centuries, seem to have a common denominator – they are zoonotic infections, i.e., viruses transmitted from animals to humans. The origins are not from just any animals, they are from the kind that we shouldn’t handle in the first place, let alone kill them for food. These pandemics happen as a result of direct violation of dietary and hygienic principles laid out in Leviticus 11.
When reading the book of Leviticus, one is in awe of the knowledge people had thousands of years ago. Yet here we are in the 21st century and we violate the basic rules of health left and right.
People point to some Asian countries with wet markets, which are breeding grounds for diseases of all kinds. True, the torture and slaughter of animals we shouldn’t even touch are happening there on a large scale. May these horrific places be a warning for our own violations of biblical health principles.
The Bible is very specific on how to avoid animal-borne diseases:
The beginning of Leviticus 11 clearly states which animals God allowed to be consumed: “You may eat any animal that has a divided hoof and that chews the cud” (Leviticus 11:3 NIV). The following verses clarify that both of these requirements are to be met, not just one. There are animals that have split hooves such as the pig, but it does not chew cud. And vice versa; there are animals that do chew cud, but do not have split hooves such as rabbit. Animals who do not meet these two requirements are declared unclean and unfit for human consumption. Their carcasses are not to be touched.
“Of all the creatures living in the water of the seas and the streams you may eat any that have fins and scales” (Leviticus 11:9 NIV). The same rules apply as in land animals: creatures that do not meet both requirements are not to be consumed and their carcasses not to be handled.
Consumption of all vulture birds is forbidden. Eagles, kites, gulls, ravens, owls, bats – all these are specifically named in the Bible as unclean (verses 13–19).
We are forbidden to consume all flying and crawling insects. Some may be surprised that consumption of some insects is permitted. The rule: those that have jointed legs for hopping on the ground, such as the grasshopper (verses 20–23).
Biblical Rules on Handling Animals
|There may be situations when people have to remove or handle a carcass of a dead animal. Whether the animal meets the definition of clean or unclean, in such case the person is to wash himself and his clothes and should quarantine himself for the rest of the day. This hygienic rule is not taken from any modern brochure on hygiene. It was recorded thousands of years ago in Leviticus 11:24.|
|Should any live animal categorized as unclean touch any object that people use, such object is to be thoroughly washed and is not to be used until the next day. The book of Leviticus specifically mentions rats and snakes. The biblical counsel goes to such details as clay pots. These can’t be properly cleaned because of their porous nature. Such pots are to be destroyed if any unclean animal touches them. Any food that has come into contact with such a pot or animal is to be discarded (verses 29–35).|
What more to add? These rules are so simple, yet most world inhabitants ignore them despite the fact that we have had this knowledge for millennia. We could have avoided the majority of diseases and pandemics if we stuck to these principles. Further chapters of Leviticus 12–15 provide simple principles on how to prevent contamination and infecting others if someone does get sick. These are very simple rules, yet we prefer to ignore them as well.
Most Christians eat creatures that the Bible explicitly forbids to consume. Just to name a few: pigs, shellfish, rabbits, lobsters, crabs, and all kinds of unclean fish (Leviticus 11;5–11). Nothing is off limit, depending on the particular culture of a country.
Christendom had to invent excuses why these principles are no longer binding. A common excuse is that these rules were only for the Jews. If these rules are for our health protection, does the Jewish population have a weaker immune system or perhaps some superior digestive system? It’s simple biology, not religion. All races of people are biologically prone to the same infections and diseases.
These unclean animals have a very important role in nature. They keep the environment clean, which prevents the spread of infections and viruses. While doing this dirty job, these animals carry all kinds of viruses for which they’re equipped. Subsequently these viruses don’t hurt them. By God’s design, these animals are not to come into direct contact with humans, let alone butchered and consumed! Once we violate this God-given principle, we can expect to be afflicted with diseases that our body is not designed to handle.
On land we often think of vultures as the cleaning crew. Think also about the seas. How does the ocean maintain its sparkling-clean water if large animals die and pollute it with digestive waste? Most oceans aren’t sparking clean anymore because we humans have dumped thousands of tons of garbage there. But the ocean is equipped with a self-cleaning mechanism to clean up its own carcasses and animal waste. There are creatures on the bottom of the ocean floor cleaning up everything that falls down. These cleaning crews can be animals as large as sharks or as tiny as shellfish. These animals are not to be consumed because they’re toxic. Shellfish are particularly very toxic. Even people who are used to consuming them often get sick. All restaurants in the United States have a mandatory warning on their menus: “Consuming raw seafood may increase the risk of food-borne illness.” These animals are clearly categorized as unclean in the Bible and unfit for human consumption. If we violate these Biblical dietary guidelines, disease will prevail.
Many people have in-home pets such as dogs or cats. These animals are categorized as unclean in the Bible. Despite thousands of years of domestication, they maintain their original nature and can carry dangerous pathogens. Therefore, we immunize and treat them for all kinds of infestations. We also don’t consume them in the western culture. Yet still, not everyone can keep a cat or dog at home. Some people develop health complications if in close proximity to them.
Especially in third world countries, large populations have parasites. How does it happen? They consume home-grown pigs who have been raised without drugs. The locals proudly say that their pork is better because it’s organic. Little do they know that such meat is far more dangerous for human consumption than pork from commercial farms. These naturally grown pigs are full of pathogens and parasites that easily transfer to humans via pork consumption. Entire villages are malnourished, not for lack of food, but because of the presence of parasites in their systems. Many people die once these parasites get into their brain. Entire populations in many sophisticated Latin-American cities are encouraged to de-parasite themselves on a regular basis. These are often wealthy, educated people, yet somehow consuming pork seems natural to them, even while being aware of the risks and being prescribed regular de-parasitation.
Despite being chemically treated, the domesticated pig still maintains its nature and easily consumes its own waste! No matter the chemical treatment, pork has to be cooked at high temperature to prevent health problems in humans. It is dangerous to consume pork, especially when undercooked. Yet most people think nothing of consuming pork chops, pork loin, bacon, or pork ribs.
It should be obvious that God gave these health laws to His people to keep them healthy, not just in their wilderness wanderings, but for all time. Note that these laws were given long before God’s people were called Jews. They were simply His chosen people.
Those who claim to be modern Israel today are “His people” in a special sense. As such, these health laws apply to them as well.
The question is, Are we observing them as God intended? If not, we must suffer the consequences.