Proverbs 23:21 For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, And drowsiness will clothe a man with rags.
Over the past century, the modern-day church has brought a large focus to eliminating drunkenness. Church groups were leading proponents of the prohibition. The bar after all is essentially the world’s counterfeit “gathering” as opposed to the church. What we often forget is that when the Bible preaches against drunkenness it almost always mentions gluttony in the same verse. We got so caught up in battling the leviathan of liquor that we ignored the behemoth of bread!
Although we would generally consider overeating to be a relatively minor offense, historically this vice was viewed much differently, being categorized as one of the seven most deadly sins. Our modern culture worships food and pleasure and gluttony could be considered the root sin of America. America’s rate of obesity among adults is 42.5% according to the CDC. Traveling to a restaurant in Europe, Americans are often very surprised at how small the portion sizes are compared to what they are used to. European restaurants typically serve only half as much food per portion as their American counterparts. For example, check out this video of a US vs. UK McDonalds restaurant.
The Romans were easily the most prosperous ancient culture. Never before had the world seen such a level of wealth, nor would it be seen for over a thousand years after. Hundreds of years after the fall of Rome, the medieval societies could still not come close to the level of wealth Rome had attained, despite the advances in science and technology. Whereas it was usually a struggle to survive in most nations, the prosperity of Rome resulted in a society which had plenty of food and enough free time left over to seek pleasure and entertainment. One particularly outrageous example is the Roman “vomit vats.” The legend is that the Romans would gorge themselves on an exotic feast until no more food could be fit in. The next step would be to vomit it into a vat to make room for consuming the next course. This binge-purge cycle would be repeated until the feast was finished.
In an early example of the welfare dole, the Romans began giving out free food to any citizen who would wait in line for it. The motto of the rulers was “bread and circus,” the idea being that if you kept the population well-fed and distracted by entertainment, they would ignore the nation’s oppression and inequalities and be less likely to revolt. Many have compared modern-day America to Rome. The capitol building is the same design. The government structure is the same with the house and senate. There is an overabundance of food and entertainment (“bread and circus”) to distract the population from seeking higher and more meaningful things.
Daniel 2:32-33 This image’s head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay.
In the image of nations seen in Daniel, Rome was considered the iron feet. This signified a debased nature combined with excessive strength. The least noble, but most physically powerful. Although gold is the most valuable of these metals, it is also very soft. The Babylonians had a culture which valued spirituality over simply material existence. The Romans on the other hand, were the most materialistic of ancient civilizations. Ancient Jewish Rabbi’s and authors often made the connection to Rome as being “Edom.” They were considered essentially the descendants of Esau. Although this is not true biologically, it can absolutely be true in the sense that Rome is the spiritual successor of Edom. Esau is the one who traded his inheritance to Jacob for a bowl of stew. That is gluttony at its finest. The name Edom means “red” and red is the signature color of the Romans, being used on their SPQR standard (flag) as well as the color of their god Mars whom they worshiped for military success for their numerous conquests.
The sin of Sodom
Usually when we speak of the biblical Sodom it is in relation to the topic of homosexuality and the judgement it brings. According to Ezekiel, it is somewhat more complex:
Ezekiel 16:49 Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit.
At first glance, it does not seem to mention anything about sexual perversion. Their sin seems to have been more related to gluttony and idleness with lack of compassion for the poor. There seems to have been a great inequality between the idle and gluttonous rich versus the starving poor. This was the origin and root of Sodom’s sin. If we keep following the passage, we find the fruit of their sin: they were haughty (prideful) and COMMITED ABOMINATION. The “abomination” is a reference to the sexual perversion and homosexuality. This only came when they opened the gateway to the more seemingly “minor” sins of overeating and laziness. We like to think that some sins are minor and it is “no big deal” as long as we stay away from the “major” sins. This begins the pathway just like Sodom in which they started off small, but this compromise attitude led them down the pathway to abomination and desolation. We can’t just brush aside the problem of gluttony as if it is some small issue that can be gotten away with. God takes everything seriously. Once we give the devil a small opening, he has a base to work with to pry open the door farther and bring in greater forms of wickedness as happened to Sodom. The attitude of compromise must be eliminated. In the book of Revelation, a prosperous and apathetic church called “Laodicea” is mentioned. This is often considered a symbolic picture of the modern end-times Western church. Their sin is one of lukewarmness. They want to obey God just enough to “stay saved.” The goal of the Laodicean is to find out where the “line” is of how much sin a person can get away with without crossing the “line” into damnation. Rather than being on fire for Christ and pursuing God with their whole heart, the Laodicean Christian wants to live selfishly, enjoying the pleasures of the world as much as possible, but without actually going to hell. How will Christ accept the Laodicean? “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.” As a wealthy Roman city, Christ’s mention of having to “vomit” them out would have brought an immediate reference to the “vomit vats” mentioned earlier, where the wealthy Romans would binge and purge their exotic meals. Christ was in a sense reminding the Laodiceans of their ridiculous abuse of prosperity. Rather than being generous with those less fortunate, they were following the utmost in selfish excesses. Just like they would have a gluttonous feast and vomit to make room for the next course, Christ would have to vomit the lukewarm Laodicean out of his mouth.
Revelation 3:14-17 “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,
‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked
Fat and famine
Generally in ancient civilizations, the struggle was simply to get enough food to eat. 90% of the population worked in farming and agriculture and acquiring food was a constant focus. “Fasting” was not always a religious choice, but sometimes a necessity due to lack of resources. Nations would fight to the death in competition over who could control the most fertile land, considering the possibility of death in battle preferable to death by starvation. We see the biblical famines as a common judgement sent from God against a rebellious land. The only biblical examples of obesity were in kings and priests.
A hilarious example is the story of the Israelite soldier Ehud, who was the one responsible for carrying his nation’s tribute to the Moabite king Eglon each year. Finally, he had had enough of his nation’s servitude to the Moabites and requested a private audience with king Eglon, so he could deliver a “message from God” to the king. Of course it turned out that the “message from God” was a sword to the king’s stomach! While trying the remove the sword, the king’s fat rolls had closed over it. This king was so fat, Ehud could not even retrieve the sword from his stomach. He had to leave his sword behind in the enemy king while making a dash for the exit. The sword represents our authority, ability to fight, and to achieve victory, and it being trapped in the fat is an allegory depicting that we can only access the ability to be victorious (our sword) after first dealing with the layers of fat (overeating, lack of discipline, lack of fasting). Many of us are like Ehud. Our fighting ability is stuck trapped beneath the rolls of fat.
Modern day clergy may not get much respect. But historically priests were considered among the upper-echelons of society. A priest was more than just a religious minister. They were the ones responsible for writing and recording events as well as guarding a nation’s collective accumulated knowledge and history. The king would rely on them for advice in various matters. Of course, in this path the work is more mental than physical and the lifestyle does not correlate to a large amount of exercise as a farmer’s would for instance. In ancient Israel, the tribe of Levi was responsible for carrying out the priestly functions and as such, they did not receive an inheritance of land like the other 11 tribes. The reason is that instead of working the land as farmers and cattle-herders like everyone else, they would be scattered around, teaching and training the 11 tribes in matters of wisdom and knowledge and most importantly in how to have a relationship with God. In exchange for this service, the 11 tribes would pay the Levites with the tithes and offerings to God. Anytime an animal sacrifice was made at the temple in Jerusalem, the priests would eat the flesh of the sacrifice as their daily sustenance.
The house of Eli, head of the priesthood, got complacent in their privileged position and started to abuse it. Eli’s sons were whoremongers and had a reputation for dalliances with the local women. They were not exactly showing a great example of proper priestly virtue. The sons of Eli were so greedy and impatient to eat, they demanded their portion before it could even be cooked properly. One of the signs of the glutton is to eat too quickly and being impatient with food. This can be seen when coming off of a fast, the glutton will break his fast by eating as much as possible without considering the health risks of this practice.
Eli’s sons also took some kind of perverse delight in eating the meat of the sacrifice raw, when it should have been treated with respect and cooked properly first. One of the first biblical commands given is to not eat meat without first draining and cooking out the blood.
Genesis 9:4 “But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.”
This command is given in Genesis before any of the elaborate priestly rituals were ever given. It is among the most basic expectations God has for the human race. When Paul was writing the basic instructions for Gentile converts as regards food, avoiding blood was one of the three items listed:
Acts 15:19-20 “Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood.”
Eli and his sons are the ultimate example of the gluttonous household. Eli set the bad example and his sons only increased in it.
1 Samuel 2:29 “Why do you kick at My sacrifice and My offering which I have commanded in My dwelling place, and honor your sons more than Me, to make yourselves fat with the best of all the offerings of Israel My people?”
Our body is the temple of the Lord. Getting casual in taking care of this bodily temple results in a casualness towards the temple of ministry and the church. Eli gave his sons a soft rebuke for their actions, but was unwilling to strip them of their roles as priests. Eventually Eli failed to “check the oil level” allowed the sacred everlasting light of the Menorah to briefly go out. As the light was fading and almost out, God called Samuel as Eli’s replacement and cursed Eli’s house. Not long after this, the ark of God was captured by enemy forces. Upon hearing this, Eli fainted. His cause of death is said to be that he was “old and heavy.” Gluttony had him right up to the end. His two rebellious sons also died in battle in one day.
1 Samuel 4:11 Also the ark of God was captured; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died.
1 Samuel 4:18 Then it happened, when he made mention of the ark of God, that Eli fell off the seat backward by the side of the gate; and his neck was broken and he died, for the man was old and heavy.
Eli was certainly not the last overweight priest. Throughout the middle-ages, friars were well-known for their fat figures. Archeologists studying the excavated bones have discovered traces of diseases common among obese persons in the skeletons. For instance, friars were 5x more likely to have obesity-related joint disease and osteoarthritis compared to the general population.
A hilarious solution was developed by the Alcobaça monastery in Portugal which was being run by the Cistercian order. They could not get their priests to lose the pounds no matter what was tried. The obese monks were making a mockery of the gospel by going around fat while the peasants would barely have enough to eat. Eventually the order had to take a rather drastic measure. The doorway to the communal kitchen was made very narrow, like the “eye of the needle” in a city wall. The kitchen was kept full of food at all times and there was no prohibition to times of entry. If the friar was too wide to fit inside the door however….. well then he would have to fast for a while!
When a teenager, I used to be able to eat quite a lot. Rumor had it that when the Chinese buffet saw me walking their way, they would swap the “open” sign to “closed” so as to not be put out of business by this young man who was known to sometimes eat seven plates. Well, that was the past. Seven plates was way too much, even for a hungry male teenager. Anyways, there is nothing wrong with eating a lot if a person is exercising it off, or has a high metabolism, but it is not right to force oneself to eat just for the sake of trying to prove something or make a record. The pricing of the all-you-can-eat buffet encourages gluttony. Normally in a restaurant, we have to pay more to eat more so this helps encourage a natural restraint in appetite. With the buffet, the incentive is the opposite. Paying one flat fee no matter how much you eat, encourages a person to go to the maximum and stuff oneself as much as possible in order to capture the full value of the price paid. If you pay $15 for the buffet and eat three plates, that means you only paid $5 per plate, versus $15 per plate if you only have one plate worth of food. We have to be mindful of this pressure when presented with a buffet option and remember to honor Christ with our bodies at all times. Wanting to stretch and stuff oneself to the maximum just to save a few dollars is not honoring God.
Sometimes local news stations or restaurants will have a contest to see who can eat the most hot dogs or burgers in one sitting. Whoever eats the most before giving up is the “winner” and get some kind of prize. This is the equivalent of prostitution. Selling your body in order to make a quick buck. There are more honest ways to make money, being productive and selling something of value. To enter these contests is really disrespectful not only to yourself, but to Christ. You lose authority to pray for healing when you disrespect and abuse your body like this. Why would God bother sending healing if you are flagrantly misusing our body and just going to drive it straight back into disrepair? Anytime you have to “stretch” or “force” yourself to eat something, this is gluttony and sin.
Eating too much meat
Proverbs 23:20 Do not mix with winebibbers, Or with gluttonous eaters of meat;
In particular, we need to show respect for meat. In Bible times, meat was usually for special occasions. For instance, in the story of the prodigal son the father celebrated his lost son’s arrival by slaying the fattened calf and having a large feast. Abraham showed honor to his three special guests by killing and preparing one of his goats. Livestock were very valuable and had other uses besides meat. The oxen were used to plow fields and transport heavy loads and the goats to provide milk. To eat meat meant killing off a capital investment. Thus a gluttonous meat eater would kill too many of his oxen for the present pleasure of eating meat, which would result in less future productivity at his farm. Eating meat could also be a bridge-burning ceremony. When Elisha went to follow Elijah as a disciple, he killed his ox and used the plow as firewood. This symbolized there was “no going back” to his secular employment.
With the population growth, it is not at all sustainable for everyone to gorge on meat. We are going to have to be disciplined and choose a more balanced diet. There are too many environmental effects for overconsumption of meat. For instance, it takes seven pounds of feed to produce each pound of beef. In the USA, 127 million acres of crops are grown for animal feed versus 77 million acres for human consumption. Forests must be cleared out for more pastureland and space for the crops intended as animal feed. There is also the famous though often scoffed at link between “cow farts” and global warming. The FAO has found that livestock production makes up 15% of all human-caused global warming. As the world becomes wealthier, poorer countries are beginning to demand more meat. Eventually, we are going to hit a point where something has to give. Its better we learn to enjoy a balanced diet now, rather than be forced to later. We need to show respect for meat when eating it. Not making oversize portions and then having to throw it away. Being wasteful is not good with any food, but far worse when it comes to meat.
Often meat-eating is associated with masculinity and there is a pride of wanting to prove one’s manhood by constantly eating too much bacon or too large of a burger. Industry is using the same tricks on men as the “diamonds are forever” campaign was to women. A man is someone who stands up to pressure, not someone who will just bow down and go with whatever the flow is. Bacon-worshipping is just doing what you are told and following the herd, thinking it somehow makes you a man. Let’s stand up for health and reject the trashy processed cuts of meat. In fact, processed meat has now been labeled as a carcinogen, meaning consuming these meats actually can cause cancer. Beans have a lot of protein and they are an excellent substitute for meat for those trying to cut back.
The book of Daniel provides a clear example of how avoiding junk and processed food is the right choice. Daniel and his friends were given an incredibly tempting offer by their foreign captors. The best food Babylon had to offer: the “king’s portion.” They were being offered the same quality of food the king liked to eat. There was probably baby-back pork ribs and shrimp rings, the type of food that was prohibited in the Old Testament for the Jews to eat. Pork in particular is often considered harmless by modern “enlightened” societies and yet pork consumption is one of the primary causes of multiple sclerosis, which devastates its victims. The correlation of pork eating and MS is 0.87 compared to the relationship of diabetes to sugar intake which is only 0.60; this is why Israel and India have almost no MS cases compared to western nations. Perhaps the ancients weren’t so dumb after all?
It would have been tempting for Daniel to have just given up on God and His rules and just switch over to the gods of Babylon to make life easier. Daniel did not make any special requests of the king for extravagant Jewish food. Rather he just asked for common vegetables to be served; the type of meal peasants would eat. At the end of the 10-day dietary trial their wisdom and understanding surpassed that of the Babylonian wise men. It seems vegetables have a way of awakening a person’s spiritual nature as opposed to meat and processed foods which traps our spirit back beneath the beastly flesh. When Daniel later went on a vegetable-only diet for three weeks, he was showed a vision of the supernatural angelic and demonic principalities battling for control of his nation. Apparently the vegetable diet awakened his spirit to the spiritual world. We should take vegetables more seriously, not just as a means for physical health, but as a way of opening the mind to the spiritual side of things. Vegetables also fill up your stomach so that you feel full and have less desire for junk food, yet the vegetables have very little calories themselves: the perfect solution for someone looking to lose weight without always feeling like they are starving. Always have frozen vegetables in the freezer, the small set: peas, carrots, corn, then also the larger set: broccoli, cauliflower, green beans. Anytime you feel tempted by trashy foods, unfreeze and boil a batch of these veggies and feel free to fill yourself with them. It will completely remove the hunger sense without adding almost any calories. Also it is advisable to replace any white bread with 100% whole grain, and use parboiled or brown rice instead of white. With white bread, they extract the nutrients and minerals and sell them seperately to health stores, meanwhile leaving you with the leftover empty calories! Only buy 100% whole grain products. These also leave you with a feeling of being more full and appease hunger so you won't keep wanting to eat. There are many good products now, whole grain pancakes, whole grain spaghetti, etc. Take advantage of the widespread selection!
Daniel 1:11-17 So Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, “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.” So he consented with them in this matter, and tested them ten days.
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. Thus the steward took away their portion of delicacies and the wine that they were to drink, and gave them vegetables.
As for these four young men, God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.
A lot of worthless liberals will try to defend obesity, just like they defend every mistake and problem in the world, making excuses that being fat is justifiable due to a person’s slow metabolism or emotional issues. There is always a reason and excuse to live in defeat. A person needs to fight back and accept a disciplined dieting regime. You always have the choice whether to eat the treat or put it away. No one is going to shove it into your mouth by force. Being obese should be embarrassing. It should be shameful. People should not just go around on beaches oblivious to the eyesore they are causing. Why not look beautiful? Why accept the hideous appearance of a fat bouncy ball rather than the nice figure God intended. Some will always be naturally thicker than others, but there is no excuse for letting yourself become obese and especially to not even seriously try to lose weight. Its true, emotional healing will have a profound effect in helping a person lose weight, but are you actually seeking that healing? Or if you are completely honest, have you given up on yourself instead? At the end of the day, it is calories in vs calories out; it is the laws of physics. Regardless of your metabolism, if you take in slightly less calories than your body burns, you are guaranteed to lose weight. There is no possible exception to this rule and it is true 100% of the time.
God’s temple was of certain specific and exacting proportions. Many very detailed chapters go into the temple construction. Much more than may be expected in comparison to Christ’s entire childhood only being given less than a few verses. Now with all this focus on the importance of the temple to God, our body is spoken of as being the temple of God’s Spirit. How dare we stuff our face with chocolate cake, soda, and endless processed foods while giving cheesy excuses such as “but but my metabolism!” Why would you look for an excuse to justify living in defeat rather than believe God for His power to overcome all things? Despite our excuses, God’s standard remains unchanged.
1 Corinthians 3:17 “If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.”
Having images of Buddha anywhere in your house can provide a gateway to the spirit of sloth and gluttony, which results in obesity. Whether it is artwork on a shirt or something received as a gift, it is an idol. It doesn’t matter whether you actually bow down to it. Just having an images as “art” or “cultural/historical blah blah blah” opens a portal. Just look at that false god’s big belly. No wonder Chinese buffet’s love to have an image of Buddha in their entrances so that the demonic spirits of gluttony will be empowered over the restaurants.
Exodus 23:13 “make no mention of the name of other gods, nor let it be heard from your mouth.”
Gluttony is more than just food. It is the lifestyle of wasting your inheritance and living above your means. The prodigal son is the ultimate example of the glutton. In ancient times, food was a large portion of a person’s expenditure so to eat large amount of food automatically meant living above one’s means. A person today can eat a normal amount of food but live the glutton’s lifestyle by always needing to buy the latest and newest, whether it be car, computer, or fashion. The glutton piles on the credit cards to go on exotic vacations and “live in the moment.” For the glutton, the future does not exist. They are all about enjoying the present with no discipline and planning for what could come next.
“Faith” is often used to justify a gluttonous lifestyle. For example, “I am going to buy this top-of-the-line car by faith and believe God to provide the payment.” The book of James speaks against this foolishness, saying “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:3). God did not give us faith for the purpose of having us live gluttonous wasteful lives which provides a horrible example of what a Christian is meant to be. We have to stop using “faith” as an excuse to live only for the present and ignore responsible decisions. Buying an oversized overpriced house and fancy car with high-maintenance parts is not God’s will for our lives. When he provides a blessing it will be a clear opportunity, not a reckless decision. If we are going to make reckless decisions by faith, lets at least make those ones that will benefit the ministry and step out in faith to save souls, not just to buy a high-priced toy or boat that one gets used once per year and is otherwise an expensive lawn ornament.
Flesh versus spirit
Christ mentioned “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” in regards to the disciples struggling to pray late into the night. The same could be applied to fasting and diet. It is a war of our higher nature, our true person: the spirit, against our lower beast nature: the flesh. Man was never meant to live in a fleshly body like the beasts of the earth. Due to Adam’s mistake, we went from a body of light to a body of flesh. The creation of a fleshly body for Adam and Eve is mentioned in Genesis 3:21, “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” Ever since we received the cursed fleshly body, our flesh was been in a constant war for dominance against our spirit. The human spirit is where discipline and inner authority comes from. Maintaining a proper diet is a sign of spirit over flesh, but especially fasting. Fasting is the death blow that shows the flesh who the real sheriff is in town. We are all intended to fast throughout our Christian walk. Fasting makes our spirit stronger and allows God to deposit spiritual giftings and authority in us. In Leviticus, God demanded all the fat from the sacrifice as his own portion. This is a symbolic revelation that as “living sacrifices” God demands we offer Him our excess fat through fasting and proper diet. Notice Romans says our BODIES are the living sacrifice, not the soul or spirit:
Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
Leviticus 3:16 “an offering made by fire for a sweet aroma; all the fat is the Lord’s.”