The Trouble with Eating Bats

I’ve never eaten a bat – at least not knowingly. But apparently some people in China like the taste. Hence the popularity of bats at the Wuhan wildlife meat market.

I’m a libertarian at heart, not usually favoring a lot of government regulation of people’s personal preferences. However, it turns out that eating bats is a very bad idea. Many experts have concluded that the bats or snakes sold in Wuhan are to blame for the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 80,000 people around the world have already died from this coronavirus, and the number is still rising.

In the midst of this horrific plague, someone needs to point out a few facts you’ll never hear from the news media…

First of all, there would be no coronavirus pandemic if people had heeded the Old Testament dietary laws in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. You see, bats were on the list of unclean animals the Israelites were forbidden to eat.

Many people today like to pooh pooh all of God’s instructions in the Bible. They act as if He’s a cosmic killjoy, eager to put us in a religious straightjacket and keep us from having a good time.

How dare God tell us we should abstain from eating bats!

Okay, at first thought, I might be tempted to agree that your dietary habits should be strictly your own business. If you want to eat bats, be my guest!

But wait a minute…

This is exactly the philosophy many people have today regarding other prohibitions in the Bible. Adultery? Homosexual acts? Lying? Stealing? Envying? Failure to take a day of rest? Dishonoring of parents? Instead of holding to these time-honored values, our culture promotes a mindset of “If it feels good, do it.” We feel justified in doing whatever seems right in our own eyes, without God or anyone else having the right to tell us what to do.

Not long ago, parents and schools taught kids the 10 Commandments listed in Exodus 20:1-17. These commandments were even prominently posted in our parks and public buildings. But now many people consider these to be antiquated precepts, outdated beliefs that should have no bearing on our lives in the 21st century. And if we choose to disregard the Bible’s instructions, why is that anyone else’s business?

However, there’s a major problem in this approach…

The person who first ate a bat infected with COVID-19 probably assumed it was no one else’s business. But now billions of people on the planet have been adversely affected by that decision, either by the virus itself or by the enormous economic fallout.

So let’s not forget, our actions have consequences, either positive or negative. Although it sounds incredibly old-fashioned to say so these days, we inevitably will reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7-10).

Even worse, our actions often have consequences for the well-being of other people – including innocent bystanders. If someone chooses to eat a bat or snake and dies as a result, that’s the consequence of their own behavior. But in the Wuhan case, billions of innocent bystanders around the world are paying the price for one person’s ill-advised decision.

Now is a good time to take a moment to consider: What kinds of seeds are you sowing by the choices you’re making? In what ways are you or others reaping the positive or negative consequences of those seeds?

He’s a Good Father

Ever since the Garden of Eden, the devil has promoted the lie that God’s instructions are meant to deprive us. Quite the contrary. They were given for our good! Just like a good earthly parent, our Heavenly Father gives us rules to safeguard us from unnecessary trouble and heartache. He certainly wasn’t being mean when He told us bats and snakes aren’t good for us to eat.

In addition to the Bible’s dietary instructions, it also provides a number of hygienic laws concerning such things as handwashing and quarantines. Sounds like today’s news headlines, right? Even though hand sanitizers weren’t available, the Israelites were given practical ways they could prevent the spread of infectious diseases like leprosy.

However, there’s a much bigger issue here than whether or not we should eat bats or wash our hands. The more fundamental question is whether Jesus is truly the Lord of our lives. Are we truly submitting to His guidance, or are we continuing to go our own way?

Although there are many lessons we can glean from the coronavirus pandemic, the question of trusting God’s wisdom and guidance is central. When I was growing up, one of the popular TV shows was “Father Knows Best.” Today we each must answer the question: Does our Heavenly Father truly know what is best for us in every situation?

When parents give rules to their children, the children often don’t understand the reasoning. Likewise, I’m sure there are folks in China who wouldn’t understand why the Bible warns about eating bats. Yet even when we don’t understand why God is warning us about something, we are wise to trust Him and obey His instructions.

Like the old hymn by John Henry Sammis reminds us, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.” King Solomon described the benefits like this:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and depart from evil.
It will be health to your flesh,
And strength to your bones
(Proverbs 3:5-8).

Notice that this issue of trusting the Lord ends with a promise that His instructions will be “health to your flesh, and strength to your bones.” In a similar passage, God promises to be our Doctor – but only when we’re willing to follow His prescriptions:

If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you (Exodus 15:26).

Paraphrasing this, we might say that even though the Egyptians might be free to eat bats and snakes if they like, they would do so at their own peril. God wants to be our Protector and Healer, but we need to listen to His voice and heed His instructions. During this strange time of “shelter in place” and “reset,” what is the Lord instructing you to do in the coming season?

One thing is for sure, my friend… If you ever had any doubt on the subject, I encourage you to abstain from eating bats.

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3 thoughts on “The Trouble with Eating Bats

  1. This is absolutely correct Jim! I agree and was also reading Leviticus and God’s dietary restrictions. It is true that we are not bound by the law anymore, but I believe God’s instructions still hold true. If we follow his commandments we will live long happy lives, just as he promised.

    Thanks for this encouraging word!
    Be Blessed!

  2. Great way to remind us that our heavenly Father has our best interests at hand and how much He truly loves us! Good insight Jim – you’re a wonderful writer, thank you for this!!

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