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Bible studies

Bible studies from Healthy eating – a Pillars guide

Group discussion guide with six Bible studies about food and health

2005 Available in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese

Pillars magazines on a desk

From: Pillars guides

Practical, discussion-based learning on community development for small groups

These Bible studies are designed to use in small groups. They may provide a useful introduction to a meeting where different topics from the Guide are being discussed. Choose a study that will be linked to the topic you plan to study or that is relevant to your situation. During the studies, encourage people to think about what they read, to discuss the meaning and the implications of what they learn and, finally, to pray together about what they have learnt.

BIBLE STUDY 1: Food traditions and customs

All cultures develop a variety of traditional beliefs and customs concerning food. Sometimes there are certain foods that people eat at special festivals. Some foods may be avoided on certain days. Certain foods that are avoided in one culture may be valued in another. Most of these beliefs have little effect on nutrition. However, sometimes certain taboos or customs may have a considerable impact on health.

Read Acts 10:9-16

  • Why did Peter refuse to kill and eat the animals and birds shown to him?
  • What was God’s answer to Peter?

The Jewish tradition considered certain foods unclean and for Paul these taboos were part of his life. But then God challenged him on this. God is able to make all things clean and to change people’s way of thinking.

  • God showed Peter that He could make all things clean. He used ‘unclean’ foods as an example, to challenge Peter about his refusal to have any social contact with non-Jews. Do we have similar unhelpful beliefs about certain groups of people? Is God challenging us about these beliefs?
  • Do we have any unhelpful customs and taboos concerning food?  · How could we try and change people’s thinking about these?

BIBLE STUDY 2: A wise choice of diet

Read Daniel 1:1-7

This story comes from a time when Judah was invaded and captured by the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar. He wanted to teach people in the country he now controlled about his own culture and religion.

  • Why did King Nebuchadnezzar want to train some young Israelites to become officials in his service? Discuss how he planned to do this.
  • Who was chosen for this training?  Despite his young age, Daniel wanted to make it clear he did not want to lose his own beliefs and traditions as a Jew.

Read verses 1:8-17

  • Why do you think Daniel and his friends did not want to eat the royal food and wine? Can you think of any problems that come from eating rich food and wine?
  • How did Daniel deal with the official who was unhappy with his refusal to eat the King’s food?
  • What were the long-term results of the decision made by Daniel and his friends that we read about in verse 17?

BIBLE STUDY 3: Sanitation

Read Deuteronomy 23:12-14

There is very little teaching in the Bible about sanitation apart from these verses. The Israelites were given these clear instructions thousands of years ago. However, a huge number of people still lack access to good sanitation.

Verse 14 talks about how this command was given to keep the camp holy, but the practice would also have kept the camp healthy. God was aware of the need for good sanitation long before people understood about the diseases caused by poor sanitation. Physical cleanness is linked to moral holiness.

  • Do our sanitation practices and personal hygiene show that we care about our own health and the health of our families?
  • Does our way of life cause others to suffer illness because of lack of hygiene in and around our homes?

BIBLE STUDY 4: The good wife

Read Proverbs 31:10-31

In these verses we read about a model wife. Many bible scholars believe that rather than being about an ideal wife, this story is really about wisdom and how we can learn to be wise. This lady’s behaviour is wise and worthy of praise in every way. She sets an example that we can all learn from, even if we do not manage to meet all these characteristics!

Read verses 14-17

  • From where does she get food for her family? What does this mean?
  • How does she prepare food for her family? When does she do this work?

Read verses 20-31

  • Does she care about others as well as those in her immediate family?
  • What is her reward from her family for all her hard work?
  • What does it mean to ‘fear the Lord’ in verse 30?
  • What can we learn from this lady?

BIBLE STUDY 5: God’s provision of food

Read Genesis 1:11-13 and Genesis 1:29-31

  • Discuss the main foods that are eaten in our area. How many of these come from seed-bearing vegetables or trees?
  • Who does God make a covenant with regarding food?

Read Genesis 9:1-5  God makes a new covenant concerning food, this time with Noah and his family.

  • What has changed from the time when the first covenant was made?
  • What new food was available? Why do you think there has been a change?
  • Why do you think God told people not to eat meat with blood in it?

BIBLE STUDY 6: Our bodies as a temple of the holy spirit

Read I Kings 8:12-21

In old testament times, the temple was thought of as a building where God lived and it was set apart for His worship.

  • How did Solomon describe the temple he had built?

Read Psalm 51:16-17  Old Testament worship placed an important emphasis on the need for animal sacrifice in order for sins to be forgiven.

  • What kind of sacrifice does God want?

Read John 2:12-22  In New Testament times Jesus teaches that there are other ways of thinking about the temple.

  • What are these new ways of understanding the meaning of the temple?

Finally, read I Corinthians 3:16  The role of God’s temple was to bring inner spiritual cleansing. Christ’s sacrificial death has now made this possible for each one of us, through faith in Him and he sends us his Holy Spirit to guide us.

  • What is meant by the temple in this verse? Who lives in this temple?
  • How should this affect the way we care for and feed our bodies?

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