I admit that I’ve never really given much thought to what I eat. Even with the warnings from the food police about movie theater popcorn and red meat, I don’t obsess about my meal choices. I eat what I like in moderation, get my five servings of fruits and vegetables every day (ok, sometimes), and don’t give it another thought.
That’s changed after reading Holy Cow by Hope Egan. In her book, Egan, a messianic Jew, raises the question, “Does God care about what we eat?”
She begins with a very simple explanation that the dietary rules God laid out in the Torah – or Old Testament – are not meant for redemption, but are given to a people redeemed and for their own benefit. They are instructions for a healthy lifestyle that is obedient to God’s Word.
I’ve been told many times that when Jesus came he fulfilled the law, and therefore we can eat whatever we want. But in the book Egan gently explains the difference between the sacrificial rules and the dietary rules. Christ fulfilled the sacrificial rules, but the dietary commandments apply just as much as commandments like obeying our parents, not worshipping idols and not committing murder. Besides, Jesus was a Jew and He followed the dietary rules of the Torah. What’s changed since then?
Egan discusses things like Peter’s dream with the sheet and animals in Acts (which is a lesson for Peter on fellowship between Gentiles and Jews, not carte blanche to eat everything on the buffet line); the FDA vs. kosher requirements for the proper butchering of meat (if there was ever an argument for kosher, Egan makes it with that chapter); and the notion that the Torah was given just to the Jews (it wasn’t).
She lists out the foods that would be acceptable to God and abhorrent to Him (yes, that is the word God uses) and why they might be the healthiest choices for us today. For example, did you know that shellfish are designed to help clean pollutants from the ocean? And then we eat the shellfish. Yum.
What’s important about this book is that Egan doesn’t force a right or wrong debate about eating meat or following kosher rules. Instead, she simply represents both biblical and scientific thoughts about why God gave those very specific dietary rules in Leviticus and asks us to consider how they apply to our lives today.
While I haven’t made a complete change in my diet, I do find myself considering more and more what I eat in light of God’s law. I can’t help but ask myself if God cares about what I eat, and if ignoring the dietary rules keeps me from a closer relationship with Him.
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