There was a recent article on www.livescience.com that reported “Teen’s Junk Food Diet Caused Him to Go Blind, Doctors Say.” The report speaks of a teenager who ate nothing but fries, chips, and other junk food for years because he was a fussy eater and the diet led to his slowly going blind and deaf. Research has shown, poor diets contribute to obesity, heart disease, and cancer,  and can permanently damage the nervous system, particularly the vision, according to the Journal Annals of Internal Medicine. There is an estimate on the mortality rate due to heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes, and cardiometabolic deaths that are associated with suboptimal intakes of 10 dietary factors in the USA. The suboptimal intake of specific foods are related to fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds, whole grains, unprocessed red meats. Those foods such as processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), polyunsaturated fats, seafood omega-3 fats, and sodium, are key to increased mortality.  This is illustrated in the 14-yo boy who experienced problems with vision and hearing due to years of eating unhealthy food. When going to the doctor, the examinations, MRI exams, etc all turned up normal, however the vision and hearing continued to worsen. Additional testing show he had developed damage to the optic nerve having low levels of copper and vitamin D. The doctors then asked questions about his eating habits, which revealed that his diet since elementary school consisted of fries, chips, white bread, and processed meat. Eating hot dogs, bacon and other processed meats such as deli turkey and beef daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer, with the more you eat the greater the risk, finds a new report by AICR and the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF). [2-3] These things reveal to us how there is great value to God’s dietary commands in the Torah. This teen was diagnosed with nutritional optic neuropathy that was the result of nutritional deficiencies. Vision loss from nutritional optic neuropathy is potentially reversible if caught early, however, the teen’s condition was reportedly so grave that his vision loss became permanent. He was however prescribed supplements to prevent his vision loss from getting worse. The researchers, said there is a lack of awareness among healthcare professionals and the public about the links between a poor diet and vision loss. The child’s mother stated that aside from vitamin supplements the teen’s junk food diet is “pretty much the same.” She also says, “When he was having counseling we managed to start him on fruit smoothies,” however now she says, “But he’s gone off those now.” The concepts of consistency and discipline are missing in his life that lead to many problems, especially when not being guided properly in how to take care of himself physically.
- Renata Micha, RD, PhD; Jose L. Peñalvo, PhD; Frederick Cudhea, PhD; et al, Association Between Dietary Factors and Mortality From Heart Disease, Stroke, and Type 2 Diabetes in the United States, JAMA. 2017;317(9):912-924. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.0947
- Larsson, S. C.; Wolk, A., Meat consumption and risk of colorectal cancer: A meta-analysis of prospective studies. International Journal of Cancer 2006, 119 (11), 2657-2664
- Chan, D. S. M.; Lau, R.; Aune, D.; Vieira, R.; Greenwood, D. C.; Kampman, E.; Norat, T., Red and Processed Meat and Colorectal Cancer Incidence: Meta-Analysis of Prospective Studies. PLOS ONE 2011, 6 (6), e20456.
This is a very sad story, especially when this was something that was preventable with a pretty easy lifestyle change in diet. The spiritual insights that we obtain from this study are pretty obvious, and are related to this being a warning for us to look at our spiritual diet, are we getting a daily diet of Scripture and study of God’s word, and how this relates to our relationship with God, our lifestyle, and truth. It is no secret that biblical literacy is on the decline. One of the most important things we must do, which parallels a healthy diet as described in the research above, is to develop our walk with God. As a faithful parent, it is important to help our children develop a relationship with God. A simple google search produces many studies that describe young people are drifting away from the faith because of culture, media, and parenting styles, etc. One of the major problems is not doing as we are instructed according to the Torah. Moshe instructed us in Devarim / Deuteronomy 11:19 You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up. (NASB) In fact, we are told according to Devarim / Deuteronomy 31:9-13 the following:
Devarim / Deuteronomy 31:9-13
31:9 So Moses wrote this law and gave it to the priests, the sons of Levi who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and to all the elders of Israel. 31:10 Then Moses commanded them, saying, ‘At the end of every seven years, at the time of the year of remission of debts, at the Feast of Booths, 31:11 when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God at the place which He will choose, you shall read this law in front of all Israel in their hearing. 31:12 ‘Assemble the people, the men and the women and children and the alien who is in your town, so that they may hear and learn and fear the Lord your God, and be careful to observe all the words of this law. 31:13 ‘Their children, who have not known, will hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as you live on the land which you are about to cross the Jordan to possess.’ (NASB, ט וַיִּכְתֹּב מֹשֶׁה אֶת-הַתּוֹרָה הַזֹּאת וַיִּתְּנָהּ אֶל-הַכֹּהֲנִים בְּנֵי לֵוִי הַנֹּשְֹאִים אֶת-אֲרוֹן בְּרִית יְהוָֹה וְאֶל-כָּל-זִקְנֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל: [רביעי] י וַיְצַו מֹשֶׁה אוֹתָם לֵאמֹר מִקֵּץ | שֶׁבַע שָׁנִים בְּמֹעֵד שְׁנַת הַשְּׁמִטָּה בְּחַג הַסֻּכּוֹת: יא בְּבוֹא כָל-יִשְֹרָאֵל לֵרָאוֹת אֶת-פְּנֵי יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֶיךָ בַּמָּקוֹם אֲשֶׁר יִבְחָר תִּקְרָא אֶת-הַתּוֹרָה הַזֹּאת נֶגֶד כָּל-יִשְֹרָאֵל בְּאָזְנֵיהֶם: יב הַקְהֵל אֶת-הָעָם הָאֲנָשִׁים וְהַנָּשִׁים וְהַטַּף וְגֵרְךָ אֲשֶׁר בִּשְׁעָרֶיךָ לְמַעַן יִשְׁמְעוּ וּלְמַעַן יִלְמְדוּ וְיָרְאוּ אֶת-יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם וְשָׁמְרוּ לַעֲשֹוֹת אֶת-כָּל-דִּבְרֵי הַתּוֹרָה הַזֹּאת: יג וּבְנֵיהֶם אֲשֶׁר לֹא-יָדְעוּ יִשְׁמְעוּ וְלָמְדוּ לְיִרְאָה אֶת-יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם כָּל-הַיָּמִים אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם חַיִּים עַל-הָאֲדָמָה אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם עֹבְרִים אֶת-הַיַּרְדֵּן שָׁמָּה לְרִשְׁתָּהּ:)
Based upon this text, and reading through the Tanach, we learn the reading of the Torah was done at least three times in Israel’s history:
- Joshua 8:34 And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the law. 8:35 There was not a word of all that Moses commanded, which Joshua read not before all the congregation of Israel, with the women, and the little ones, and the strangers that were conversant among them.
- 2 Kings 23:1 And the king [Josiah] sent, and they gathered unto him all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem. 23:2 And the king went up into the house of the Lord, and all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him, and the priests, and the prophets, and all the people, both small and great: and he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the Lord. 23:3 And the king stood by a pillar, and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord, and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all their heart and all their soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people stood to the covenant.
- Nehemiah 8:1 And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded to Israel. 8:2 And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month. 8:3 And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law. 8:4 And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithiah, and Shema, and Anaiah, and Urijah, and Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, on his right hand; and on his left hand, Pedaiah, and Mishael, and Malchiah, and Hashum, and Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam. 8:5 And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people; ) and when he opened it, all the people stood up: 8:6 And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground. 8:7 Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place. 8:8 So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading. 8:9 And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the Lord your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law. 8:10 Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength. 8:11 So the Levites stilled all the people, saying, Hold your peace, for the day is holy; neither be ye grieved. 8:12 And all the people went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth, because they had understood the words that were declared unto them.
As we can see the Scriptures show the people hearing the Torah being read in its entirety three times. The purpose for this was to remind the people to fear the Lord, and to know his ways. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 4:3 “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions. (NASB) Paul predicted that many would find more entertaining alternatives to the Word of God in the last days than simply reading and studying the Bible! Moses instructed families to teach the Torah to their families every day and this concept of the reading of the Torah every seven years suggests that he knew that everyone needs a fresh restart every now and then.
These Scriptures (Joshua 8, 2 Kings 23, and Nehemiah 8), the peshat (plain meaning) is that “The Law” refers to the Torah, the five books of Moshe (Bereshit / Genesis, Shemot / Exodus, Vayikra / Leviticus, Bamidbar / Numbers, and Devarim / Deuteronomy). These Scriptures are the foundation stone upon which all of Scripture stands. These words were given to Moshe directly from God, and specifically states the Creator’s instructions for living for His people. It is interesting how some people who profess to be believers in the God of Israel make the claim that they obey Him, however they have never read and expounded upon the Torah. Not even once in seven years. Obedience to the Torah of God is what made Abraham a man of faith (Bereshit / Genesis 26:5 “Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”) King David wrote according to Tehillim / Psalms 119:97 “O how love I thy Torah! it is my meditation all the day.” David understood the foundation of the Torah stating that righteousness is defined by the commandments, Tehillim / Psalms 119:72 “My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness.” Paul wrote to the Romans that the Torah is good, just, and holy (Romans 7:12-14) and that it is spiritual, it is how one walks according to the Spirit. Paul also wrote that to fulfill the Torah of God, Romans 13:8-10, “Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” James spoke of the Law of Liberty stating something similar to Paul in James 2:8 If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing well. 2:9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 2:10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. 2:11 For He who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not commit murder.’ Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 2:12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. (NASB) John wrote that sin is the transgression of the Torah (1 John 3:4) and only those who keep the commandments will have eternal life. Revelation 22:14 states “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” Yeshua said that the law must be kept to enter into eternal life and how loving God and loving your neighbor all of the commands, and the prophets, and the writings, hang upon these two commands (Matthew 22:36-40). Yeshua did not come to destroy the law or the prophets (Matthew 5:17) but to fulfill them. In Isaiah 42:21 the prophet states “The Lord was pleased for His righteousness’ sake To make the law great and glorious.” (NASB) Why the Lord does this is because the Torah is the Gospel Message! The gospel of the kingdom of God concerns four things, (i) the king Messiah, (ii) the subjects of the kingdom (its people), (iii) the territory of the kingdom on earth, and (iv) the laws of the kingdom (commands, statutes, and judgments found in the Torah). The Gospel of the kingdom of God is not confined to only Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John or to just the NT. The book of Hebrews 4:2 states that the Gospel was taught to Israel in the wilderness (see Hebrews 3:16-4:2). The tragedy of Christian history is that the Torah is the most misunderstood, maligned, and neglected portion of the Scriptures in all of the bible. It is the most neglected portion of the Gospel Message! Since there is such a great neglect we are seeing today on a massive scale a departure from the truth of Scripture! Paul wrote the end purpose of the Torah was to direct us to the Messiah. (Romans 10:4) He also wrote to Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:5, “Now the end of the commandment is charity [love] out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned.” Solomon wrote according to Ecclesiastes 12:13, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” Let us not be like the young man who lost his eyesight and hearing due to the issue of poor nutrition. Our spiritual nutrition is also of utmost importance! David wrote, “Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord! Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways!” (Tehillim / Psalm 119:1-3, א אַשְׁרֵי תְמִימֵי-דָרֶךְ הַהֹלְכִים בְּתוֹרַת יְהֹוָה: ב אַשְׁרֵי נֹצְרֵי עֵדֹתָיו בְּכָל-לֵב יִדְרְשׁוּהוּ: ג אַף לֹא-פָעֲלוּ עַוְלָה בִּדְרָכָיו הָלָכוּ:) The Word of God is like a tall tower, no part stands alone. All of the prophets, the writings, and the NT, all of the words of Yeshua stand firmly upon the Torah. Tehillim / Psalms 119 is a masterpiece on the subject of God’s holy Word and its importance for our lives! The Scriptures are God-breathed, and give insight into how to live our lives, and gives reasons why we should obey the Lord as opposed to what happens to those who disobey the Lord. The report on this boy who lost his eyes and ears due to nutritional deficiencies is a warning to each and every one of us. Just as our bodies weaken when we go without food, or as the report stated having nutritional deficiencies, so to does our soul faint and our spirit get weak when we go without God’s Word. In fact, neglecting regular time with Scripture, especially the Torah, can lead to being unable to spiritually discern the truth, and this causes and increase in our struggle of battling sin. This also causes an increase in struggle to find comfort and strength in the Lord God because of sin in our lives, sin separates us from God. Pursuing the Lord, serving Yeshua, and loving God’s Word all become much more difficult if we do not give ourselves to regular time studying the Scriptures. If we do not do these things, we become deafened to the times, to this world’s ways, and begin to adopt an alternative lifestyle that is contrary to God’s Word (i.e. accepting LGBT, or gender fluid concepts). The Scriptures grant us greater knowledge of our Creator and brings us into a more intimate relationship with our King and Deliverer, Yeshua the Messiah, in whom dwells all joy and peace. Take just a little bit of time each day to read God’s Word and try to apply it, and your life will greatly benefit!