David Rives – April 14, 2020
What if I told you that nearly EVERY influenza pandemic for the last 1,000 years would have been prevented if we had only taken the Bible more seriously?
It is scientific fact that the majority of the animals that God listed as “unclean” are scavengers, carnivores, or otherwise more prone to passing on diseases to humans. These scavengers and other unclean animals serve an important function in God’s Environmental cleanup systems. They are here for good reasons. Eating them is NOT one of those reasons.
Biblical definitions of clean and unclean animals sometimes give broad physical characteristics, and lump all having those features as either fit or unfit for consumption. Some unclean animals are given more attention, being mentioned specifically, such as BATS!
Do you find it even slightly curious that this pandemic—responsible for countless tens of thousands of deaths around the world—originated from what appears to be the consumption of BATS in China? I do!
So, what about the clean and unclean animals listed in Scripture—including swine, bats, and shellfish? What about God’s command to abstain from eating those things, which were never intended for food? Was God simply placing oppressive rules upon His people so that he could punish them when they broke His commands? Or do we believe that everything commanded by the Lord is not only just, but for our own good as well? Or do you, as the modern atheists claim, believe we have a vindictive spiteful god with lightning bolts in His hand, anxious to smite down those he isn’t pleased with?
As the majority of the Judeo-Christian world understands, we have a gracious God, Who only wants the best for His followers, yet is righteous in His judgement. A God of both grace and justice. And most importantly, an all-knowing God, who as the Creator of all things, has the ultimate knowledge of science.
Let’s talk about scientific facts. We now know that, genetically, some animals are remarkably adept in passing on deadly diseases to humans. Research into past pandemics indicates that there are only a handful of creatures other than mosquitoes and fleas which have actually posed a serious global threat:
- Pigs (Spanish Flu, Asian Flu, Swine Flu)
- Bats and certain other avian creatures (SARS, MERS, and Covid-19)
- Pangolins (possibly Covid-19)
- Chimpanzees (HIV/AIDS)
- Rats (Black Death, Great Plague of London, Third Plague)
- Camels (MERS)
- Dogs (Hong Kong Flu, Asian Flu)
- Civet Cats [mongoose-like creatures] (SARS)
Disease-stricken, unclean animals are sold in Chinese wet-markets and other wet markets around the world as delicacies. These include dogs, cats, mice, and bats, some containing viruses that have taken an untold number of human lives. Experts agree that the common practice of eating “exotic mammals” in China contributes heavily to pandemics, including the most recent, Covid-19.
Now, for any atheists who might be paying attention, indulge me for a moment. Be willing, just for a moment, to go out on a limb and assume that animal kinds did not evolve but were specially created. Now, let’s say that the Creator of those animal kinds utilized a common Information Language System (we call it DNA) for all life. Now, let’s say that the Designer knows the minute details of every genetic code, and that He used similar lines of genetic codes for certain mammals, including humans. This would have made some viruses more easily transmittable to humans from certain creatures than from others. Let’s say that this isn’t normally a problem; and that those creatures serve important ecological and environmental functions—as long as we stay away from them and let them do their job.
How, then, would a Creator let us know to stay away from those specific creatures? A very solid method of communicating this would be to dictate an inspired command that would be written down and passed on to generations for thousands of years. However, who He chose to dictate it to must not be a medical professional, or else it might be claimed that the medical expert simply deduced this on his own.
Enter: Moses. A brilliant man for sure, and a highly-educated leader—but certainly not a medical doctor. Let’s say that the Designer of the genetic code of all creatures decided to dictate instructions including important health practices to Moses. This all-knowing Creator listed animals that were scavengers, animals that were bottom-feeders, and animals most likely to transmit diseases to humans. He gave a simple command that anyone could understand: “THESE SHALL YE NOT EAT.”
Among this list?
- Bats and certain other avian creatures, mainly raptors and scavengers.
Notice a pattern? It gets even more profound: Other animals that would fall squarely in the “unfit for consumption” list? Dogs, Chimpanzees, Pangolins, and Civet Cats!
That encompasses nearly ALL of the animals responsible for Earth’s pandemics over the past 1,000 years. What I’m saying is that if a fortune-teller or magician could somehow “divine” the next few thousand years of disease, they couldn’t have made a better list of animals not to eat.
I can already sense my fellow-Christians searching for the verse that goes: “Every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving.” Sounds like bats are an okay dinner item, as long as we pray over it, right? No. The verse immediately preceding this one places it in context. It says that some would come in latter times commanding people to “…abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving…” As far back as Noah’s day and all the way up to the time of the early Church, people knew that some animals were NOT to be eaten. This passage in 1 Timothy only deals with meats that God created to be eaten.
What about Romans 14:20? As a “stand-alone” verse it might seem to indicate that any meat we choose is perfectly fine. It says that meat doesn’t destroy the work of God: “All things indeed are pure.” Read in context, however, it is referring to food sacrificed to idols (a common point of discussion at the time). But for a moment, let’s take the most liberal (and eisegetical) reading of this passage and say that the author was indicating that bats are now sanctified by the Lord in the New Covenant. We should take the full council of the Scriptures, including Paul’s advice when he states in 1 Corinthians 10:23 that all things are lawful, but all things are NOT EXPEDIENT. Eating things that our Creator warned us about throughout history should not be classified as “expedient.” There is great deal of evidence that first century Christians did not eat unclean animals.
Our Creator’s commands regarding clean and unclean animals appear to hold future implications as well. Consider Isaiah 66, which, in reference to future events, lays out a bleak and frightening scenario for those who eat unclean foods. It specifically mentions pork and even mice.
But, wait, if the specific lists of clean and unclean animals are found in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, then surely it is only a “Jewish” custom, not to be even considered by Christians in the Church? This couldn’t be further from the truth! Once again, we find mention of clean and unclean animals all the way back at the time of Noah. Noah clearly knew the difference between clean and unclean, since God Himself caused only two of each unclean kind to enter the ark, but called 7 pairs of each clean animal. Noah, following the detailed instruction of the Lord, didn’t halt the proceedings, nor did he claim that God’s math was somehow off! Not only did he see the animals boarding the ark, he had already made provision for the correct size and number of stalls or holding areas for each kind of animal. To reiterate, Noah was well familiar with the concept that some animals were not to be considered clean a thousand years before the first Jewish people stepped on the scene.
In addition, we find the early Christian Church following the Lord’s commands regarding unclean animals. Peter was confronted by a vision which he initially could not understand—I dare say, a vision that still today very few Christians actually read in context. Peter was shocked to the core, since he had interpreted the vision as an instruction from the Lord to eat unclean foods—“Not so, Lord, for I have never eaten anything common or unclean!” Peter didn’t understand the vision immediately until a Gentile who wanted to learn from Peter asked him to visit his house. This was a cardinal sin according to Jewish tradition, but not according to God’s command to go into all the world and share the Gospel. As the Gospel message Peter shared was received by Gentiles, Peter then understood the meaning of the vision. It was not that meats God had declared unclean had somehow become healthy and clean, but that “God hath shown him that he should not call any MAN common or unclean.”
So, what are we to learn from this pandemic and others in the past?
Conservatively-speaking, 280 MILLION human lives have been taken by pandemics originating from unclean animals. Allow me to restate that number. 280 million. That is even higher than all of the murders of unborn humans that have ever taken place.
Is it possible that we’ve been ignoring the practicality and Divine instructions regarding health practices? Instructions which prohibit the eating of bats as food, and encourage washing our hands under running water, and practicing distancing and isolation from people who have diseases?
Perhaps we have failed to recognize that the eternal Creator always knew best, thousands of years before the scientific genius of these commands would be understood and revealed.
Just a few chapters before the list of clean and unclean animals in Deuteronomy 14, we find the Ten Commandments, including the prohibition of murder, stealing, and adultery. Is it possible that, just as the Ten Commandments are for the good of society at large, God also gave His people instructions on health and eating practices that were for our own good? He plainly told us how to prevent global influenza pandemics.
I’m not judging anyone regarding their eating preferences. I have merely stated scientific facts that confirm what the Bible teaches. What I am suggesting is that, once again, the Bible knows best.
David Rives (@TheDavidRives) is a speaker and researcher on origins science, president of David Rives Ministries, host of TBN’s Creation in the 21st Century, and author of Bible Knows Best. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on the ministry’s active Facebook page.