David Down, an Australian Christian archaeologist presents a documentary on Mount Nebo and Health Laws.
Below is a transcript of the video documentary:-
In this program we visit the traditional Mt. Nebo from which Moses viewed the promised land before he died. He climbed this mountain shortly after he had written the book of Deuteronomy, which, by the way, contains some remarkable information on how to live longer, and how to enjoy a good life.
The hill over there, on which there is a church built, is Mt. Nebo, and it may not look very imposing from here, but from the Jordan valley where Moses ascended from, it’s 1,000 meters up to the top.
From the top we get a very fine view, of course. We can see right out over the Jordan valley. You can see on the left the Dead Sea, and in the distance, on a fine day, we can see the hills of Judea, and Jerusalem even surrounding the hills.
Would you like to know how to live longer and enjoy it? Well I’ve got good news for you. Moses, in the book of Deuteronomy, tells us we can live longer, and he tells us how to do it.
In Deuteronomy chapter 4 and in verse 40 he says, you shall therefore keep his statues and his commandments which I command you today, that you may prolong your days in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
So there you are; you can live longer. Well, what’s the secret of it? It says in chapter 7, It shall come to pass because you listened to these judgments, and keep, and do them, the Lord will take away from you all sickness, and will afflict you with none of the terrible diseases of Egypt which you have none.
There’s nothing arbitrary about this. It wasn’t that God was saying listen, I’m going to make all the other nations sick, and I’m going to make you good, and strong, and healthy. This was a case of follow the rules and you’ll reap the benefits. Don’t follow the rules and you’ll reap the consequences.
Let me just give you a few simple illustrations of this. You’ve heard of the proverb saying, cleanliness is next to Godliness. Heard that one? It’s not actually a quotation from the Bible. But, never the less, the Bible certainly does teach that we need to have cleanly habits.
For instance, in Exodus chapter 19, verse 10, Then the Lord said to Moses, Go to the people, and sanctify them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes… Well, you see, cleanliness is next to Godliness.
And if you are hygienic and keep yourself clean, well, naturally, you’re going to avoid some of these skin diseases which people get.
And there’s some other rules here, too. Now you listen to this very simple one in Numbers chapter 19, and in verse 15, “Every open vessel which has no cover fastened on it is unclean”. Now that’s quite important, you know, because if you leave a vessel, whether it’s a pot or a dish, and some food, and it’s uncovered, well, it’s not long before the flies sit on it, and it’s going to be contaminated. That’s the way disease spreads.
So God told the Israelites, follow these simple rules and you won’t have some of these problems.
Now here’s another very practical one, listen: in Deuteronomy 23, verse 13, “You shall have an implement among your equipment, and when you sit down outside you shall dig with it and turn and cover your refuse”.
Now there’s a lot of diseases in the East. I’ve seen the people of India, for instance, out in the morning, you know, out to the patty fields. They just go to the toilet there. They just leave it. The flies come swarming over it, and the next thing they’re back in the windows and sitting on the food. That’s why there’s so much cholera, typhoid, amoeba, dysentery.
Well, here’s some good instruction, practical instruction. And Moses told the people follow this instruction and you will avoid the diseases that are so rampant among the other nations.
Now what I have told you so far is probably nothing new to you. I’m sure you’ve all got nice, clean, hygienic kitchens. But you’ve got to remember, it wasn’t always that way. You know, people never dreamed that disease could be carried on the legs of flies. But, of course, we know that now. So we can see that this instruction just has to be inspired.
Moses certainly didn’t get it from the Egyptian doctors. It must have come from God! And that should give us a lot of confidence in the rest of the instruction that He’s passed on to us.
Behind me is a bronze serpent on a pole. This commemorates an incident in the wilderness wanderings. The people were being bitten by snakes, and they were dying likes flies. So God told Moses to make this metal serpent; put it on a pole, and whoever looked at it would live. They’d recover.
Now this indicates that God is very interested in our health, happiness, and recovery from disease. And, of course, especially prevention of disease is even more important. So we can have a lot of confidence in the instruction that is given here.
And let me give you a little bit more.
Now here is something that is, perhaps more relevant to our modern world. In Leviticus, chapter 13, verse 45, “Now the leper on whom the sore is, his clothes shall be torn, and his head bare, and he shall cover his mustache, or his mouth, and cry, Unclean, unclean. And he shall dwell alone, and his habitation shall be outside the camp.
Now anyone who has been inside a surgery, you know, when an operation is in progress. You see the doctors with all their coverings on their lips. And this is to prevent the spread of disease. We know that disease can be spread through what is breathed out of the mouth.
So here is some instruction that was along these lines. This lets us know that God knew what He was talking about way back there.
God’s Counsel Against Eating Fats and Blood
Here’s something else in our cholesterol conscious age: Leviticus 3, verse 17, “This shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations, and all your dwellings. You shall eat neither fat nor blood”.
Now we’re just waking up to that today. And here it was thousands of years ago: don’t eat fat! It just builds up cholesterol in your arteries, and veins, and it can bring on a heart attack. So, here’s some very up-to-date counsel, isn’t it?
What The Bible Says About Alcohol
Now there is something that a lot of people think is very important for their happiness, and that’s the use of alcoholic beverages. But, is it?
You know, I think I’ve had a little experience in this. My father was a good man. I was brought up in an affluent home, but he was a drinker. And I’ll tell you, whenever he came back, and had had some drinks, there was a lot of very unhappy scenes in the home.
And, of course, alcohol also causes accidents; even a little bit. And it certainly is a drain on the pocket. There’s a lot of reasons why we shouldn’t be using alcohol.
And it says over here in Proverbs 20, verse 1, “Wine is a mocker, intoxicating drink arouses brawling, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise”.
I think that is very relevant counsel, don’t you?
But there’s always somebody who will raise the question: didn’t Jesus turn water into wine at the marriage feast at Cana of Galilee? Yes, indeed He did. In fact this is one of two churches in Cana of Galilee that commemorate the miracle. And inside this particular church there is a stone jar and it’s standing in front of a little water cistern.
And so this church commemorates the incident. It really happened; sure. But the question is, which type of wine?
You see, there are two types of wine. We recognize that. You can either go into a liquor shop and buy a bottle of alcoholic wine, or you can go into a supermarket and buy a bottle of grape juice, which we sometimes refer to as unfermented wine.
Now in our society these are two separate and distinct things. One is alcoholic, and the other is non-alcoholic. But in biblical times, of course, they didn’t label them on bottles just as clearly as that.
When the grape crushing season came along they crushed the grapes, got the juice, and for a few days it was unfermented. And then if you didn’t do anything about it, then, of course, it became fermented.
However, they had a system of boiling it, boiling it, and boiling it until it became a thick, syrupy juice. That would keep for up until nearly twelve months. All you had to do was add water to taste.
So, there are two types of wines spoken of in the Bible. You have, for instance, in Isaiah chapter 65, verse 8, “Thus says the Lord, As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one says, Do not destroy it; for a blessing is in it”.
I like grape juice. It’s a good drink, and there’s a real blessing in it. But, of course, there is another type of wine which is condemned in the Bible.
Proverbs chapter 23, verse 29, “Who has woe? who hath sorrow? who has contentions? who has complaints? who has wounds without cause? who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long at the wine;… “
Now you don’t need to wonder very long as to just what type of wine is referred to there. Obviously, that is alcoholic wine causing the red eyes, and the wounds without cause, and so forth.
And so it says here, “Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup. At the last it bites like a serpent and stings like a viper”.
Not only don’t drink it, don’t even look at it. Don’t be tempted because alcoholic wine is harmful to the health.
Now let’s take a look at the physical effects of alcohol on the human body.
I want to talk to Dr. John Quinn of Sydney’s large West Meade Hospital. Dr. Quinn has a degree in Science. He has a degree in medicine. And he has a Ph. D. in Immunology, which makes him pretty well qualified to talk to us.
Dr. Quinn, what can you tell us about the effect of alcohol on the human body?
Yes, David, thank you. I’ll just start off by telling some of the statistics associated with alcohol in medicine. For example, it’s known that 85% of Australian men, and 75% of the women, drink alcohol in some form or another.
Now alcohol, even in minor amounts, can interfere with medications that many people take for minor illnesses. Now the problem with that is that the effects are unpredictable, and this can lead to sleepiness.
It can interfere with their ability to drive a car, and perform various skilled tasks.
Now even in moderate amounts alcohol can acerbate many medical conditions that people have. While in excessive amounts alcohol leads to a whole host of disease processes.
Well, when somebody puts the bottle to their lips, what actually happens when it starts pouring down their throat?
Yes, well, David, after they’ve taken a mouthful, obviously it goes down the main esophagus into the stomach, and there it goes on into the small bowel where it’s largely absorbed from. Now, on the way down through the esophagus, it irritates the lining of the esophagus. And also in the stomach it irritates the lining. And this leads to pain in the long term, and a condition called esophagitis, or gastritis, and bleeding.
While in the small bowel, the irritation of the wall can interfere with the absorption of many important nutrients, in particular the B group vitamins.
Is this a liver you’ve got there? What effect does alcohol have on your liver?
Well, because of the arrangement of the anatomy in the body, the substances that are absorbed from the small bowel in the stomach, first of all, are taken to the liver. Now the liver is a process, a storehouse, and a processing factory in the body. And because of this, as the alcohol is absorbed from the digestive system, it’s the liver that bears the first brunt, other than the lining of the small intestine.
Now even a single episode of binge drinking, such is very common on a Friday evening in Australian populations, can lead to a condition called fatty liver. As you can see in this liver here, this is what’s called the cirrhotic liver, which is a long term consequence of excessive alcohol.
But you can see these little fat globules, if I can point them out with my pen. The normal liver is sort of smooth and homogeneous. These little fat globulars have replaced the normal liver tissue.
As a result, the functions of the liver are interfered with, and in time this can lead to serious disease. The person ends up a rather pathetic sight with a swollen, bloated stomach.
They are unable to process many of the nutrients that are absorbed, and also, unfortunately, many of the toxins that come in from the digestive system from the breakdown of proteins in the bacterial products. When they get to the liver they’re dealt with, and detoxified. But if the liver doesn’t work, then they’re getting into the circulation and can interfere with many of the body’s functions.
It’s all pretty frightening. Now what’s this over here? Don’t tell me that’s a heart, is it? Alcohol effects the heart?
Yes, now, unfortunately, the heart, too, bears a large brunt of excessive alcohol intake. Now the normal heart is about the size of your clenched fist. And if I compare my fist with this heart, even though this heart is opened up to display the internal structures, you can see that this is a very large heart.
Now what happens is that the alcohol acts as a toxin on the muscle cells, and these muscle cells are unable to contract properly. And as a result, the heart tries to compensate by getting larger, and, therefore, allowing more blood to be pumped in and out.
Also the force of the contraction is better the larger the heart gets, to a certain extent. In time this heart becomes so large and dilated that the wall becomes very floppy, and it’s unable to pump the blood adequately through the body. The person ends up with a condition called alcoholic Cardiopathy.
Well, it sounds like the long term effects are pretty disastrous. What about the short term effects?
Yes, well, the short term effects are something that’s more relevant to the average sort of Australian, since we can consider only about 10% of males, about 3 to 5% of females eventually go on to become what we would refer to as chronic alcoholics.
The under aged; the under 17, and the under 25 year age group in Australia; they’re a very large proportion of drinkers in Australia. And, unfortunately, just looking at the male population, about 30 to 40% of these young men will eventually get into some trouble in their youth, and their early adulthood, because of excessive alcohol.
This may be in the form of a motor vehicle accident. And despite random breath testing in Australia, still about 50% of fatal road accidents are caused by excessive alcohol intake.
Then we have domestic violence. Alcohol is a significant contributor here. The person may be drinking and is unable to control many of their normal emotions. This can lead to violence, which is a rather dreaded, and unfortunate thing that we see in the Australian community.
So your advice, I presume, is keep off the bottle, aye? Even in moderate drinking? What do you think?
Yes, even in moderate drinking, particularly in females, for example. I mean it’s been shown that in a woman that is pregnant, even one or two standard drinks a day can lead to a condition called the fetal alcohol syndrome in which the poor unfortunate newborn child is mentally and physically handicapped for the rest of their life just because of their mother’s excessive alcohol during the pregnancy.
The Bible on Root Bearing Bitterness of Wormwood.
There is something else that Moses wrote just before he climbed Mt. Nebo. You’ll find it in Deuteronomy 29:18; listen: “And that there may not be among you a root bearing bitterness or wormwood”.
Some translations put it that there may not be a poisonous herb. Now there’s quite a few poisonous herbs growing in the world today, and, unfortunately, some people are using them to their detriment. For instance, there is the tobacco leaf.
And you’ve only got to look at a packet of cigarettes and read it here: WARNING smoking is a health hazard. And according to the latest government regulations, the tobacco companies have to be even more specific than that. It is a deadly poison, and it’s not wise to use it.
I talked with Dr. Russell Butler who is a consultant physician about the effect of smoking on the human body. Tobacco has a lot of effects on the human body which we’ve been aware of for, oh, maybe 30 years, since the first reports were made of an association between smoking, particularly smoking cigarettes, and lung cancer.
You know, a cigarette is really very much like a chimney. And if you were to get on the end of a chimney and inhale the smoke, you’d expect it to be fairly nasty on the body. Now if you look here at this picture of a normal lung you’ll see that it’s pink with a few specks of black on it, just from the normal dust that we see in the air.
But this specimen I’ve got in the bottle here shows the blackening which happens when someone smokes regularly over a protracted period of time. Now the person who did this had the consequences that they eventually developed a lung cancer.
And this pale patch of tissue here is the cancer which eventually led to them having to have this lung removed. Beyond that they have a patch of pneumonia because the air passages in the lung have been obstructed by the development of this cancer.
It’s been well known for a long time now that people who smoke, particularly people who smoke cigarettes, are likely to have something, about a twenty times increased risk of developing lung cancer.
The other effects of smoking, however, are perhaps not so evident, and not apparently statistically so great. For instance, people also develop heart disease. We’ve got some pictures here of the inside of blood vessels which show the deposition of cholesterol and other material which tends to block up the arteries.
Now, statistically, the increase in risk of developing heart disease due to smoking is only about two or threefold. But when you think that nearly a third of the population eventually dies of heart disease, it’s very much more common than these with lung cancer. So the influence of smoking in accelerating heart disease is, in fact, much more important as a public health problem than is lung cancer.
But there are other poisonous plants around besides tobacco leaves, you know. I want to talk to Don Bain, who is the Director of the Health Department of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific region.
Don, what can you tell us about marijuana?
David, I guess we could tell you a great deal about marijuana because this is a very old drug that’s been used in Eastern countries for thousands of years has in recent decades been discovered by people in Western society.
Many people think that this is a very innocuous substance, but it’s not. It’s actually a very subtle drug. It appears to be virtually harmless, but its effect upon the body is really only starting to be understood now as we’re doing more research.
Marijuana is a mood altering drug and it effects our concept of time and space, and our judgment. And for people who drive or engage in any activity where they might be using machinery or flying aircraft, or doing things like that, marijuana can be a very serious drug.
So the advice is, leave it alone, aye? Don’t even experiment with it.
I would say definitely so; that this is not a drug to be played with. I think we’d be much better in our society without it.
What about the plants that produce caffeine?
Well, caffeine is an interesting substance, too. It’s been around for a long time, and it’s probably one of the drugs that is most used in the world actually.
Now you find caffeine in a variety of substances. Coffee, of course, is a major source of caffeine for millions of people; tea also. The cola drinks have quite a lot of caffeine in them. And there are alkaloids which are similar to caffeine Theobromine, etc, which you will find even in chocolate.
But caffeine is a drug that people used for a stimulate, to give them a lift. And again, people may think that this isn’t dangerous, but again, evidence shows that too much caffeine can have a very deleterious effect upon the body.
Does it have any relationship to stress? Well, people will take caffeine, as in fact they will take a lot of drugs, to overcome the stresses of life. You know, people are always looking to chemical crutches. If you’ve got a problem let’s open the medicine chest and find a pill or potion. And that’s why people tend to be into alcohol, into marijuana, into caffeine, into many of these things to try and either block life out or make life a little more exciting, or something like that.
And I really think that when people are looking to chemicals to solve their problems, they’re really fooling themselves. And even with caffeine, that this could have a serious effect actually upon oxygen levels to the brain, and can effect our motor performance.
So I really think that if people are looking for drugs to help them with stress, they’re looking in the wrong direction. People would do much better looking to a balanced lifestyle, getting a balance in the social, mental, physical, and spiritual areas.
These are the sort of things that people should be concentrating on.
Now medicines and drugs in that area have some place in society, but they’ve got to be governed. They’ve got to be controlled by competent people. That we’ve gotten into this habit of self medication, and people are taking so many pills, potions, drugs, and all sorts of substances to try and help them cope. And I really think that this isn’t a positive way to behave.
So it’s best to keep away from the regular cup of tea.
Well, I think even that, you know, people may get some comfort from it, but even the cup of tea that people think is quite harmless, that drug authorities, from instance, New South Whales, and health authorities have shown that beyond five cups a day, for instance, that’s been considered, even by the health authorities in this state, to be a health risk.
So I think that we need to be very careful taking these sorts of substances into our body.
The Bible on Diet
Now let us talk about what we eat. You know the Bible tells us to look after our bodies. In I Corinthians, chapter 6, and in verse 19, it says: “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were brought at a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s”.
So not only your spirit, but your body belongs to God, and God expects you to look after it. And, more specifically, it says in I Corinthians 10, and in verse 31: “Therefore whether you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God”.
Carolyn Laredo is an officer in the diet office of a leading Sydney hospital, so she’ll be a good one to talk to about dietary matters. Carolyn, just how important is diet to health?
Well, there’s an adage that’s very appropriate to answer that question, David. “We are what we eat. ” Diet is extremely important to our health. Really, what we put into our bodies is what determines what we can get out of them.
And what are the principles of a good diet?
Well, there’s a lot of things that contribute to us having a good diet. It’s important that we have regular meals; that they be set at a time suitable for each particular individual. We need a lot of variety.
And we need to be aware of things like obesity; particularly because that is a very big problem in our society today. We need to decrease fat, sugar, alcohol, and salt. We find that a lot of people that might have high intake of these things
We need to increase our dietary fiber, and have a lot of fruit and vegetables. Fresh fruit and vegetables are really the best things that you can eat, I’m sure. We need a variety which is the big thing in a vegetarian diet. It cannot be emphasized enough because without variety you are not including everything that your body needs.
But the vegetarian diet, with that variety, does include everything. But, of course, good health is not only a matter of abstaining from what is harmful, it is doing what is good. And that not only involves having a good, solid diet; a good, healthy diet, everything is involved.
You should have good rest at night. You should breathe plenty of fresh air, drink plenty of fresh water, and I think that exercise is also an important element for good health.
Beautiful game for an old fellow. Well, my son beat me again, of course. He usually does these days, but I got my exercise. I really enjoy a game of tennis. And I think the reason I can keep up with my boys is because of my lifestyle. I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I don’t use tea or coffee. I’ve got a wonderful wife who turns on some great vegetarian meals.
And I really get the most out of life. Well, what about you? Do you have something there that should go?
I think we’ve all got to get a good lifestyle, you know. And if there’s anything that you need to get rid of, well, why not get rid of it now? You’ll not only live longer, but you’ll get far more out of life.
Unbelievable! Now I’m going to let you into a little secret. David’s into his 70th year! So maybe that healthy lifestyle really does pay dividends! Have you ever noticed that our Jewish friends are usually quite prosperous folk?
Well I don’t know the secret of their prosperity today, but I do know the secret of the prosperity of Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation.
In our next program we’ll be visiting Ur of the Chaldees, Abraham’s hometown. We’ll be investigating his finances and revealing the exciting story of Ur; how it was lost, forgotten, and found again recently by archaeologists. It’s a really interesting story. Why don’t you join us then?