No living being should overlook the fact that in the beginning God said to the man: “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.” Gen. 1:29.
Yes, even after Adam fell in sin and was driven out of the garden, after the earth brought forth thorns and thistles, his “meat” was still the herb,” no longer that which grew in Eden, of course, but that which grew in the open field (Gen. 3:18). It was after the flood that he was permitted to use flesh food, and although he made use of only “clean” animal flesh (Lev. 11) the average length of life immediately dropped under the 200-year mark. Evidently flesh diet was permitted in order to shorten man’s life and thus the miseries brought upon him through increased sin, and also perhaps to make it possible for him to perform the typical ceremonial system. Now, though, that life is altogether too short and the sacrifices no longer operative, the use of the Edenic fleshless diet becomes to us, in our weakened condition, even more urgent.
Being mindful of this light, Daniel refused to defile himself with the king’s meat. He requested that he and his companions be given “pulse” (legumes) for their daily food. And a ten-day trial proved their simple vegetable meals to be superior to the king’s meat (Dan. 1:8-20).
Since we have seen that in the beginning the diet created for man’s needs was flesh-free, we may with certainty conclude that health can be adequately built and far better maintained without the use of flesh. History records that when man thus lived, he was able to attain super health and vigor and to endure almost a thousand years; and rather than dying of disease, he died of good old age. In fact, even as late as Abram, so rare was the death of persons before the death of their parents that Inspiration takes occasion to record that “Haran died before his father Terah.” Gen. 11:28.
The ox, as we know, is able to maintain vigorous strength and perfect health on an average of 20% grain and 80% grass, without the use of flesh. The elephant on even less grain maintains good health, gains gigantic strength, and reaches great age. On the other hand, the dog, though carnivorous, cannot maintain good health on flesh alone. Merely by instinct he knows that he has to help himself to grain and to some grass, too, while the herbivorous animal never even tastes flesh, — facts which prove that a balanced vegetarian diet is complete in itself, but that flesh diet is never complete alone. The only animal that can get by fairly well on flesh, though not altogether, is the one which eats the whole — hide, hair, bones, hoofs, flesh, and all. (How painful the realization that through continued sin, man’s God-given intelligence concerning his body’s needs has degenerated lower than that of the dumb animal!)
Besides these considerations, looking in retrospection down through the ages we see that those who were given special work, work of great importance, were also given special diet, diets equal to their task. For instance, John the Baptist, the Elijah of his day (Matt. 17: 11-13, 11: 14), being given the greatest task of all the prophets before him — not to predict, but to prepare the way of the Lord, to make the crooked straight, and the rough places plain (Isa. 40:3, 4) — was a strict vegetarian, living on locust fruit and honey (Matt. 3:4; Luke 1:15).
Is it not even more essential, then, that we who bear the Elijah message of today, the message just before the great and dreadful day of the Lord, should be strict vegetarians as was John?
Moreover, the diet of the Exodus Movement (the Movement which came into being to exemplify a second exodus — Isa. 11:16 — the one that is to come out of all the nations and to make up the Kingdom in the latter days — Mic. 4:1, 2), was strictly vegetarian to the very day it set foot in the promised land, forty years in all (Josh. 5:6). O, yes, they lusted after the flesh pots of Egypt, thinking that the restriction was due to adverse circumstances — that flesh, although very much essential, was not available in the desert. And it was then that to their surprise the great I AM brought the quails to them right in the camp, whereupon thousands of the people died even while the flesh of the fowl was yet between their teeth (Num. 11:33). What a rebuke! What an ensample to behold! Now, knowing full well that the Movement is a type of the one that is arising at this time, and that the failures of the former should be the stepping stones of the latter (1 Cor. 10:11), should we not be thankful and happy for having been given a better diet than that which angry beasts are still subsisting on?
And should we not gladly comply with this exemplified Divine request to abstain from flesh food, so that our strength and character be equal to our task? Only by so doing shall we be fitting ourselves for the work and for the Kingdom, where “the wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” Isa 1 1:6-9.
Should we not now as intelligent human beings, Divinely enlightened candidates for the Kingdom, privileged to prepare the way for such a happy and perfect day, give up flesh food before the lions and the serpents do?