Food—A Gateway Drug to Sin?

Numbers 21:7, We have sinned, for we have spoken against YHVH. The Jewish sages teach that Israel was punished with serpents because they acted in the manner of the serpent who spoke slanderously against Elohim when deceiving Adam and Eve. Likewise, the Israelites spoke malicious slander against YHVH when they criticized the manna he had sent them.

Both incidents involved food, which is a great area of human weakness and one to which humans are subject to temptation (The ArtScroll Baal haTurim Chumash/Bamidbar, p. 1608). Can you see the parallels here? Who created Adam and Eve and gave them instructions concerning the tree of knowledge? Likewise, who gave them the manna in the wilderness and later identified himself as the spiritual manna in the Gospel of John (see John 6:51)? Satan spoke evil against YHVH-Yeshua (in his pre-incarnate state), and later incited Israel to speak against the manna (a type of Yeshua, the Bread of Life). Satan also tempted Yeshua over the issue of food and manna in Matthew 4. What are the implications here? Consider the relationship between physical and spiritual food, physical and spiritual food that is forbidden of YHVH versus that which is permitted, and how Satan uses the issue of food to try to turn us away from the path of righteousness and obedience to YHVH.

Samson Hirsch in his commentary on the fiery serpents notes that the serpents had been there all along dogging the Israelites, but had been held back by the gracious hand of YHVH such that the Israelites were unaware of the serpents’ presence (The Pentateuch/Numbers, p. 381). The sin of doubt, unbelief and malicious slander against YHVH and his anointed servant, Moses, caused YHVH to remove his protective hand of grace—as a judgment to bring Israel unto repentance—allowing the serpents, who had been there all along, access to the malcontents. The same situation occurred when Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Set-Apart Spirit and they were struck dead (Acts 5). 

What are the implications here? 

When we have so grieved the Spirit of YHVH and resisted the Ruach’s entreaties to walk in right relationship with and obedience to Elohim, so that he can bless us, does he not sometimes withhold his hand of grace and allow the evil one to attack us to bring us to repentance? Are you repeatedly dogged by (demonic?) attacks in a certain area of your life? Is YHVH calling you to repent? On the other hand, how many would-be attackers are lurking in the shadows of your life waiting for you to sin, or waiting for you to step out from under the blood of Yeshua and to put down the shield of faith by which the fiery darts of the Evil One against you are quenched (Eph 6:16)? How often do you think that the gracious and merciful hand of YHVH protects you from the attacks of the fiery serpents in your life? Probably more than you realize. Give him praise and rejoice.


Seven Ways to Misuse the Mouth

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Numbers 12:1–3, Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses. This is slander! None of us are immune from this sinful proclivity of man’s fallen nature. Sadly, such activity is rife within our congregations! As long as we give in to gossip and slander we will grieve the Spirit of Elohim and will not advance spiritually. We’re all guilty of this. Confess your sin and repent now! What does YHVH say about those who sow seeds of discord among brethren? How does view it? (See Prov 6:16 and 16.) How did the apostles handle such individuals? (Note Rom 16:17; Tit 3:10; 2 Thess 3:6; 1 Tim 3:5.) What was the penalty that YHVH prescribed for Miriam because of the evil misuse of her mouth? (Read Num 12:14.) How does this penalty compare with that which Paul prescribes for those who cause division and strife with in the congregation? What does Paul teach about slandering or rebuking an elder in the congregation? (See 1 Tim 1:19.) What does he call such activity? (Read verse 20.)

Seven Ways to Misuse the Mouth

(From a book entitled Stop the Runaway Conversation by Dr. Michael Sedler)

The Backbiter: One who speaks against an absent individual. All criticisms and comments, as the name implies, are made without the accused being present or are behind his back. (Ps 15:2–3; Rom 1:30; Prov 25:23; 2 Cor 12:20)

The Busybody: One who seeks out information on a false report and spreads it by means of gossip, slander, backbiting, etc. YHVH takes this very seriously. In fact, he equates being a busybody with being an evildoer or even a murderer. (1 Pet 4:15; 1 Tim 5:13; 2 Thess 3:11)

The Complainer: One who finds fault. This type of person often uses a personal situation as a platform for his or her complaint. “I was treated unfairly.” “Do you know what this person did?” You think that’s bad, let me tell you what happened to me.” These are the types of phrases that will come from such a person. (Num 11:1; Jude 16)

The Murmurer: One who grumbles. We find that this person is usually complaining but only loudly enough for those in close proximity to hear. The murmuring person is seldom happy or pleased with the outcome of situations. Like the complainer, he looks for faults and then justifies a bad attitude with his comments. (Phil 2:14; Num 16:2; Jude 16)

The Slanderer: This is an individual who tries to injure someone’s reputation or character by false and defamatory statements. (Num 14:36; Jer 6:28; 9:4; 1 Tim 3:11; Prov 10:18; Ps 101:5)

The Talebearer (or Gossip): This is a person who elaborates and exaggerates so as to make a story more dramatic or “juicy”). (Prov 11:13; Lev 19:16; Rom 1:28–30; see also Prov 18:8; 20:19; 26:20,22; 1 Tim 5:13)

The Whisperer: This is an individual who talks about other people privately, secretly and covertly in order to hurt them. (Prov 16:28; Ps 41:7)


How does a red flag, sin and the mouth correlate?

Woman waving red flag

Leviticus 13:45, Cry, “Unclean, unclean.” A skin disease was like a red flag, which if a person had it was regarded as a judgment from Elohim for the sin of slander, gossip, murder with the mouth, false oaths and pride as well as sexual immorality, robbery, and selfishness. That person was considered to be physically and spiritually contagious and so was put outside the camp of Israel until the disease was gone. According to Samson Hirsch, quarantine was a means of shocking the sinner into recognizing his moral shortcomings and his need to repent (The ArtScroll Chumash, p. 613).

What if each time we sinned with our mouth we were quickly struck with a visible sin disease for all to see resulting in our being quarantined and shunned? Perhaps the incidences of lashon hara (the evil tongue) would greatly diminish. If you received heaven’s judgment each time you misspoke, how would you change your speech habits and heart attitude toward others? Now live your life from this point on as if the next time you spoke evil of someone (without a righteous and biblically justifiable reason) you would be instantly judged by YHVH in a visible and public way.

What is the connection between Leviticus chapters 11 and 13? Both involve the mouth. The former Torah passage deals with uncleanness that goes into the mouth through what we eat. This defiles the man from within. The latter passage deals with what comes out of the mouth and how the man with a defiled heart corrupts society through the wrong use of his mouth. What did Yeshua say about this in Mark 7:14–23? What were the penalties in the Torah for eating unclean meats? (Read Leviticus 11.) Though the Torah calls eating unclean meats an abomination and declares that doing so defiles a person, interestingly there are no stated penalties for doing so. Now what are the penalties for speaking gossip and slander? It is a skin disease and required excommunication from the camp of Israel. Both eating unclean meats and speaking gossip and slander are sins to be sure, but the penalties for the one is much greater than for the other indicating the seriousness YHVH places on the right usage of the mouth. Ponder this for a moment: How easy it is for us to overly focus on what goes into our bellies, while at the same time ignoring the raw sewage spewing out of our mouths at times.

In conclusion, lest anyone think that clean and unclean meats is not a serious issue, YHVH clearly states in Isaiah 66:17 that in the end times during the day of Elohim’s wrath (referred to as the great and terrible day of the YHVH), those who are found to be eating swine’s flesh and other abominable foods will be consumed by the fire and sword of YHVH Elohim. We can infer from this that by then (presumably, the Millennium or Messianic Age) if people still have not repented of their sins and are refusing to turn to YHVH and obey him, they probably will deserve to die because of the perennial rebellious state of their hearts. This all the more underscores the fact that the mouth—what goes in and what comes out of it—are difficult issues for humans to deal with, but YHVH demands that we take personal responsibility for the use of our mouths. Let us not forget the warning admonition of Yeshua,

But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.  (Matt 12:36)