Don’t Eat That!

From Issue: Discovery 2/1/2007

Some mushrooms taste great—at least to some people. People eat grilled mushrooms on steaks, fried mushrooms in special sauce, and raw mushrooms on salads. But not all mushrooms are good to eat. Some are poisonous and can kill you. Mushrooms are not the only poisonous food. Some types of fish are extremely poisonous. Other foods such as pork, can be eaten, but need to be cooked well to kill parasites that might live in the meat. It fact, it is very important for us to “watch what we eat” so that we don’t eat things that may be poisonous or harmful.

In the Old Testament, God knew that the Israelites needed help determining which foods to eat and which ones to avoid. He gave them a list of animals they could eat called “clean animals” and ones they could not eat called “unclean animals” (read Leviticus 11). In this list, God helped the Israelites avoid foods that might make them sick. For instance, God told the Israelites that they could not eat pigs. Pigs are scavengers. That means that they eat just about anything. Because they eat most anything, they often carry parasites that animals like cows or sheep (clean animals) do not carry. People who eat undercooked pork can become infested by the parasites in the pig meat. Since the Israelites likely would not have been able to prepare pork safely, it was best that they simply did not eat it at all.

Also, God told the Jews that all fish with scales and fins were clean and edible. But He warned them not to eat any fish that did not have scales or fins. After studying fish, scientists have discovered that poisonous fish do not have scales and fins. God was protecting the Israelites from eating poisonous fish.

Even though the rules about clean and unclean animals do not apply today (Acts 10:15), they are still very interesting to study. They show us that God inspired the Old Testament. His laws helped the Jewish nation to avoid things that would harm them. God’s laws in the Old Testament show us that God always looks out for His people. And His ways are the ways that lead to life (Matthew 7:13-14).


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