I hadn’t read through Genesis for quite awhile. It’s easy to think that it’s all so familiar that I probably can’t squeeze much more out of it than I already have. But during my Sweeter Than Chocolate Hebrews 11 study, I started reading the original account of these heroes of the faith, and discovered something that I thought was interesting.
Recently I read or heard somewhere that humans were vegetarians until after the flood of Noah. That was a new thought to me, but I’ve found no mention of eating meat before that time, so it’s a plausible theory. I had always thought the reason Noah and co. took seven of each of the clean animals rather than only two, like the unclean, was so that they could eat the meat during the time they were on the ark, but that was very possibly incorrect. Up until that time, unless I’ve missed it, there is no specific mention of eating meat. When Noah emerges from the ark, rather than having a feast to celebrate, he offers the clean animals as a sacrifice to God, so perhaps that was the real purpose of taking along the extra animals? I don’t know for sure, because it doesn’t say specifically, but that’s a reasonable theory.
Now there’s another factor that led to my considering this issue. A Facebook friend of my husband’s recently posted that there is no doubt that a vegetarian diet is healthier. (No doubt? Sort of reminds me of the statement, “The science is settled.” ) We have a few friends who are vegetarian, and I think most of them consider it a matter of going back to the original plan, the way that God intended people to eat from the beginning, because obviously Adam and Eve were vegetarians.
That debate is part of the reason that I was particularly paying attention to this subject as I read about the flood, and I was a little startled when I got to Gen. 9:3, where God tells Noah, ” Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give it all to you, as I gave the green plant.” Well, that certainly does support the idea that no one ate meat before that point! God gaveit as a gift, so it doesn’t seem likely that it was something ho-hum and ordinary to Noah. But the part that amazed me was that God did NOT set up any boundaries about which meats were okay to eat and which weren’t. He said every moving thing, which would include grasshoppers, lobsters and pigs!
And yet, even more interesting, in Gen 7:2 it says that before the flood God had told Noah to take seven of every “clean” animal. Where and when did God deliver the info about which animals were “clean?” And what did it mean? Perhaps it only meant the animals that He wished men to sacrifice to Him? Because if they hadn’t been eating meat anyway, what else could it mean?
Since I’ve never studied OT sacrifices or food laws in great depth, I’m probably missing some valuable information here, but I must say that this verse really got my attention. Why would God say okay, now you can eat animals, then later say yes, but only these certain animals, and then later yet, in the NT, He told Peter, okay, you can eat these unclean animals, too? Why? It’s puzzling.
But anyway, back to the vegetarian issue and Gen 9:3, whyever would God have “given” man animals to eat if they were not good for him? I have trouble believing that animal products are harmful when God specifically gave them to be eaten. I’d be interested in hearing from Christian vegetarians (if any happen to read this) on their thoughts about this verse.