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May 13, 2012 in Chapters

God’s Instructions About Food from Genesis to Revelation

God gave information regarding His provision of food for man during every different time period in the Bible known as administrations.  Which information pertains to us?  An understanding of all of it’s occurrences will outline the context to clearly understand those bits of information given in the New Testament for believers after Pentecost.

Paradise Administration (In the Garden of Eden):

Genesis 1:29:
And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

Genesis 2:9:
And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

God originally gave Adam and Eve a vegetarian diet of fruits and vegetables with nuts and seeds.  The verse specifies that the edible plants were to have seed in them (which means that the seeds could propagate).  Since the context clearly defines vegetarian food was to be “meat” for them, the word “meat” can be biblically understood to include all food and not just animal flesh depending on the context.  The tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil were also available but were not specified as food even though they could be “eaten.”

God also gave the animals a vegetarian diet.

Genesis 1:30:
And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.

Like Adam and Eve, the other creatures did not eat other animals for food in the garden.  The green herb was their only food.

The Patriarchal Administration (After the Fall of Man and Removal from the Garden):

Genesis 3:17-19:
And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

After the fall, Adam and Eve were still told to eat of the herbs of the field even though the ground was cursed.  The word “cursed” means it was inflicted with evil or injury.  They were also told that in their difficult labor they would eat bread (used figuratively to include all manner of their food).

There were no other recorded instructions given regarding food until after the flood that occurred during Noah’s lifetime about 1,600 years after the fall.  However, there is evidence that Noah was aware of which animals were to be considered “clean” prior to the great flood.  This information was either given to Noah by God directly or passed down to him by the oral tradition of his fathers.  Whether “clean” was just a designation for animals that were acceptable for sacrifice or an indication that they could be eaten is unclear.  Just before the flood, God gave instructions to Noah about what animals he was to bring with him on the ark.

Genesis 7:1-4:
And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.  Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female.  Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth.  For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth.

After the flood waters receded, Noah offered a sacrifice of some of the “clean” creatures to God.

Genesis 8:20:
And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.

After Noah offered his sacrifice, God blessed him and his family and declared an omnivorous diet for them.

Genesis 9:1-4:
And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.  And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of  the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.  Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.  But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.

It is probable that after being on the ark for a little over a year the food provisions that Noah and his family brought with them had been completely consumed and there may have been limited vegetation available when they left the ark for dry land.  They likely partook of some of the clean birds and animals after the sacrifice.  Noah and his descendants were given a great deal of freedom in their food choices, however, killing any of the other animals aboard the ark before they had offspring would have meant extinction for that species and inability to fulfill God’s command to “replenish the earth.”

It is unclear whether people ate animal foods before the great flood since it was not specifically mentioned in the Bible prior to the instructions given to Noah in Genesis 9:3.  It is possible that some of the violence that troubled God and instigated the judgement of the flood was not only man against man but man toward the animal world.  However, after the flood, there are recorded meals containing animal foods.

This is just an excerpt from "Food in the Bible."  For the full chapter, you may download the book here.