WHEN the Lord brought Israel out of their Egyptian bondage, before taking them into the land of promise, He established them as a peculiar nation belonging to Himself. At that time, because they were to be a holy people, He gave them a series of laws governing not only their diet, but rules for good sanitation and social conduct. After having spelled out these rules to them, He gave His word that if they would adhere to the principles that He had given them and do all of His requirements, they would experience none of the diseases that He had brought upon the Egyptians (see Exodus 15:26); but this promise was given on conditions of obedience. Had the Israelites obeyed these laws, profiting by the advantages that were theirs, they would have been an object lesson of health and prosperity to the world.
At the time that God established Israel in Canaan, Palestine was the pivot of the known world. By having God guide them, He intended that His people should influence all nations for good. Israel, however, counted as of little value their high calling and chose, in the place of having God as their ruler and king, to be "like all the nations." (See 1 Samuel 8:20.) In following their kings, they not only became like the other nations, but they became even worse than the heathen. (See 2 Chronicles 33:9.)
As Israel frustrated God's purpose for them in the land where He had placed them, He fulfilled His purpose to enlighten the nations by scattering them among those nations. As Israel had lost the power to command the attention of all the nations, that the nations might consider God and His ideal for and goodness to the children of men, God now used them to enlighten those who had acquired the power to command the attention of the nations of the world. This is the whole philosophy of the captivity of Judah, of the position of Daniel in the court of Babylon.
Though Israel as a whole failed of receiving the blessing that might have been theirs, Daniel is an example of the results of the true plan of living. A similar faithfulness to the divine plan today will result in similar results. To us is written, "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." 1 Peter 2:9
Our Creator has arranged the living machinery of our bodies, and He has pledged Himself to keep this machinery in healthful action if we will obey His laws and cooperate with Him. Every law governing the human machinery is to be considered as truly divine as is the Word of God. Every careless abuse of our bodies by disregard of His specified laws is a violation of God's Law. "Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit Who is in you, Whom you have from God, and you are not your own?" "If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are." 1 Corinthians 6:19; 3:17
Connected to disease and untimely death, and running back through time, are the causative factors of wrong-doing. There can be no prevention of disease without first dealing with the cause. Whenever sin exists, it works itself out finally in sickness and death. When those who were sick came to Christ, He saw not only the one who was asking for help, but all who throughout the ages would desire to come to Him for healing. When He said to the paralytic, "Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you" (see Matthew 9:2), He was laying down a principle of health, not only for the benefit of the paralytic before Him, but for those who would live after him. There is health in obedience to God's Law. His Word says: "Do not forget My law, but let your heart keep My commands; for length of days and long life and peace they will add to you." "For they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh." Proverbs 3:1, 2; 4:22. Health is not only a gift, but an achievement gained and maintained by an intelligent obedience to the laws of life which God has placed within reach of us all.
When it is happy and at peace, the brain produces and secretes hormones into the sytem that invigorate and strengthen every cell of the body. True joy and peace come from a knowledge of God and trust in Him.
Many ask God for health, expecting Him to keep them from sickness with no particular effort on their part; but God will not work a miracle to keep us from sickness if we have no care for ourselves and are living in violation of the laws of health. When, however, we do all that we can on our part to have health, then we may have confidence that God will cooperate with us in keeping our bodies in health, and we can experience the health-imparting peace that trust brings.
In the story of Daniel, proper diet and God's blessing are closely linked. Brought to the court of the king of Babylon, Daniel and his three companions were to be favored with the best food and drink that could be obtained in Babylon—food from the king's table. Daniel, however, "purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself." Daniel 1:8
Approaching the steward in whose charge they had been placed, Daniel proposed a simple diet. "Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance be examined before you, and the appearance of the young men who eat the portion of the king's delicacies; and as you see fit, so deal with your servants." Verses 12, 13
The steward consented to a ten-day trial period. "And at the end of ten days their features appeared better and fatter in flesh than all the young men who ate the portion of the king's delicacies." Verse 15. This condition was not the result of a miracle but of God's blessing in following the divine plan. In choosing the food that we eat, we need to become educated as to the best foods for our bodies and shun those things that we know to be harmful or injurious.
Leaving out of our diet those things which are potentially unhealthful is a good start, but it is not the whole sum of our responsibility. Intemperate eating is often the cause of sickness. In many cases of illness, the very best remedy would be to miss a meal or two so that the overworked organs of digestion might have an opportunity to rest. A fruit diet for a few days has often brought relief, especially to those whose work requires more mental than physical activity. While our dietary habits have a direct bearing on our physical well-being, they also have spiritual implications. The apostle Paul likened the Christian life to the athletic games of his day. He said, "Everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown." 1 Corinthians 9:25
After they returned from their first missionary journey, Jesus said to the twelve disciples, "Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while." Mark 6:31. It is not wise to always be under the strain of work and excitement, even in productive and worthwhile employment. Intemperance in working depletes the body's vital reserves.
Rest does not always mean a complete end of activity. It can come from a change of pace; from active, physical work to quiet enjoyment; from a desk job to vigorous exercise in the fresh air. The body was designed for activity, and excessive sleep or rest can be harmful. As a rule, men over 50 who sleep more than nine hours a night double their chances of death from cardio-vascular causes. One way to relax is to exercise vigorously. Following exercise, though you may be physically tired, you will often be mentally relaxed.
Exercise is not only helpful in preparing the body to enjoy a good night's rest, but it helps freshen the mind, giving it the ability to think more clearly. In a time when life is full of pressures and most employment is more mental than physical, it is especially important that we make time for exercise. Exercise has the added benefit of increasing our body's endurance, leaving us less subject to fatigue. An important benefit of exercise, especially for older women, is its tendency to improve calcium metabolism in the bones, increasing the bone density and making it less liable to fractures.
All life requires sunlight. Even creatures that live so deep in the ocean that they never see the sunlight depend for food on those that do receive sunlight. Most of the energy on the earth comes from sunlight. The sun provides the energy for plant photosynthesis, which is the transformation of the elements into plant growth. Just as the sun provides the heat and energy for plant growth, it also gives life and health to our bodies. While an excessive amount can be unhealthful to the skin, in moderate amounts it not only helps the body to produce vitamin D, but helps to increase our resistance to infections. Every person, young and old, should have some sunshine on a daily basis. It will not only improve many body functions, including digestion, but it adds vigor to the life.
One of the greatest healers that nature provides is air. "In order to have good blood, we must breathe well. Full, deep inspirations of pure air, which fill the lungs with oxygen, purify the blood. They impart to it a bright color and send it, a life-giving current, to every part of the body. A good respiration soothes the nerves; it stimulates the appetite and renders digestion more perfect; and it induces sound, refreshing sleep." The Ministry of Healing, 272
When the body does not receive a sufficient supply of oxygen, "The blood moves sluggishly. The waste, poisonous matter, which should be thrown off in the exhalations from the lungs, is retained, and the blood becomes impure. . . . the brain is clouded; the thoughts are confused; gloom settles upon the spirits; the whole system becomes depressed and inactive, and peculiarly susceptible to disease." Ibid., 273
Water is one of our greatest blessings. It not only supplies the needs of the system, but it assists nature in resisting disease. The external application of water is one of the most effective and easiest ways to regulate the circulation of the blood. A warm bath opens the pores and thus aids in the elimination of impurities and is an excellent way to soothe the nerves. A cold or cool bath, or shower, is an excellent tonic, increasing the body's resistance, especially to colds.
About 6–8 glasses of water a day are needed to properly meet the body's needs under normal circumstances. Heavy exercise, or being exposed to warm temperatures, can, of course, increase the need. Common constipation, some backaches, and headaches can all be relieved by drinking enough water at regular times.
If we utilize the remedies that God has provided us in nature, combining them with a trust in divine power, God's blessing will be evident in an improved physical, mental, and spiritual condition.
Copyright 1995 by Jack Kendall
Brought to you by Champions of Truth