food buffet

What Does the Bible Say About Eating?

Mesu Andrews Featured Articles, Newsletter Articles 12 Comments

food buffet

One of our pastors recently preached on the topic of food. The Bible has lots to say about it. Can you believe it? What to eat. What not to eat. Feasting and fasting.

Let me confess up front: I’m a reformed food-a-holic. I come from a long line of southern-cooking, buffet-going, stuff-your-face kinda folks.

When my dad had a heart attack, I watched him reform his diet by eating the same menu every day. Cereal at breakfast. Chicken for lunch. A salad for dinner. Every day.

Yuck, right? I agreed – until I tried to lose weight. Then I realized the benefit of eating the same thing every day. No decisions to make. Less will-power involved. I began eating slaw every night for supper. Don’t ask me why I picked that. I stopped several years ago. Now, I eat/drink smoothies. Love ‘em. Much better than slaw.

The Trouble With Food

Food is all around us. When we celebrate, we eat. When someone dies, we eat. When we go to a friend’s house, a movie, or a ballgame—we eat. It’s woven into the fabric of every culture, and we even identify places by it. Asia is rice. Italy is pasta. Mexico is tortillas.

Is it any wonder that my friends who endure food allergies often feel ostracized? For others, food has become an enemy for other reasons. Nearly 38% of Americans are considered obese (stats from Sept. 2016)—while many in the rest of the world starve.

Spiritual Beginning of Food 

The Bible has much to say about food—both good and bad. Food was God’s idea in the first place. When the Creator placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, one of His first commands was a recipe for their meals:

“Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.’” Genesis 1:29

Can you imagine their smoothies? YUM! God walked in the cool of the evening with the beloved children He’d created in a garden full of food for them. Until…

The first sin entered the world through food. You remember, don’t you? That beautiful, awful fruit Eve tasted and then gave to Adam?

A piece of fruit—food that had been a source of nourishment—instead brought separation from the Creator.

Food Bites Back Again 

After Yahweh saves Noah and his family from the flood, Noah responds by planting a vineyard—food—and promptly gets drunk. More sin. The reasons for his sin are left to speculation (CLICK HERE to hear our REAL PEOPLE, REAL GOD podcast on that topic), but the point for today is—food, once again, is at the epicenter of sin.

When Noah and his family stepped off the ark, Yahweh expanded the menu for humankind.

“Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything. But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it.”  Genesis 9:3–4

Food Redeemed 

From Noah to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, we see feasts and sacrifices, stews and celebrations that carry God’s people through His redemptive plan. Go with me now to Egypt. The Israelites have toiled in slavery four hundred years, and on the night of the tenth plague—the death angel passes over every Israelite doorpost painted with the blood of a lamb.

Yahweh has warned the Israelites that the Egyptians will drive them out in haste come morning, but what does God ask of His people before they leave their bondage? “Let’s have a meal together.”

“That same night [you] are to eat the [lamb] roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast…This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s Passover.” Exodus 12:8,11

Our God knew the Passover meal would draw His frightened people together and turn their hearts toward Him. All three of Israel’s mandatory feasts included food as a crucial element of their celebration. Why? Because God would send His Son…as food for the soul.

When Food Walked 

Is it a coincidence that immediately after Jesus’ earthly ministry began, He was tempted by Satan—and the first temptation involved food?

“After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.’” Matthew 4:2–3

Food—that foundational human need that created the eternal chasm between God and man. Could it now separate God from . . . God? I don’t know the theological implications of what if, but I know that FOOD DID NOT WIN.

On a day when I look at the scales, and the number is very discouraging, I need to remember—food does not win. When food allergies rob the joy of going out with friends or accepting a dinner invitation—food does not win. On a day when chemo-therapy makes food more enemy than friend—food does not win.

When Food Died 

Jesus called Himself the Bread of Life (John 6) and miraculously fed multitudes with a few loaves and fish (Mt.14:13-21; 15:29-39). But more than that, He came to offer His body and blood as a sacrifice for sin, offering His disciples sacred reminders on the night before His death.

“And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’” Luke 22:19–20

Each time we partake of communion, eating and drinking in remembrance, let’s also look forward to a day when the Creator will restore food—that basic element of His Creation—to it’s beautiful and perfect purpose.

Food at Last 

In John’s Revelation, an angel tells the apostle of the eternal banquet in which we will finally realize the true joy of—among other things—FOOD.

“Then the angel said to [John], ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’” Revelation 19:9

What will the bread of heaven be like? The feast of eternity that God has prepared for the ages. It only took six days to prepare the Garden. What might He have “cooked up” for us by the time we meet Him face-to-face?

Food for You and Me 

How does this Bible “food talk” translate into our lives? I’ve learned a couple of things while pondering these Scriptures. The first of which came from Jesus’ response to His temptation. When Satan challenged the hungry Savior to turn stones into bread, Jesus answered:

“’…Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4 (emphasis added)

No matter what food issues plague us—weight, allergies, other health-related challenges—a sizeable, daily portion of God’s Word empowers us to face whatever comes. I’ve also learned that whether feasting or fasting, food is meant to draw us into relationship with God and each other. It’s how the early church grew in number and maturity—a good example to follow.

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer…They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.” Acts 2:42,46


This Week’s Question: 

  • What’s your food challenge, and how do you overcome it?

Comments 12

  1. I have many food allergies. When I come upon some of those foods, and many of them I really like, I have to decide do I want to enjoy something for a few minutes or take my next breath. It becomes easy when I look at it that way. Some allergies don’t have the next breath factor but the other reactions are just about as bad. I have to decide what choice I have and make the correct one. I also have several foods I won’t eat just because I don’t like them.I get the picky eater label then. You’d think I would be a Skinny Minnie but not so. I try very hard to loose the weight but not so easy when I have trouble exercising due to my MS. Even when I was in the best shape of my life do to my eating and exercising I never lost pounds, just inches. Don’t know what to do about my food or my shape. I’m trying to go back to my ovo/lacto vegetarian diet but sometimes I just have to have a burger. Ya know?

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      You really DO understand this food thing, huh? Food is a HUGE part of your every-day existence with all the health and allergy issues, Connie. I’m sure it will be a wonderful relief to sit down at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb and taste a bite from every dish!

  2. I have had to cut out gluten and go low carb. It is challenging. Your post is very helpful and I need to turn to more plant based foods.

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  3. I’ve struggled with my weight ever since I hit puberty. That’s been at least 51 years now! I wish I had all the money and time I’ve spent on weight loss programs, products and books! Some were even Christian or Biblically based. I started a 40 day sugar fast on Jan 16 this year with a group on Facebook and it’s the best thing I ever did. So far I’ve lost around 30 pounds but this time I’m doing it different from any other time. I’m taking it very slow, not denying myself anything I want (just smaller portions) and weighing every morning. I know you are not supposed to weigh everyday but it helps keep me on track and keeps me from letting little gains grow into big ones. As Barney Fife would say I “nip it in the bud”!
    I’m curious about your dads diet. Did he lose weight and did the doctor deem it healthy? I’m impressed with his discipline.

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      Sugar is my biggest enemy! I went on a sugar fast for three weeks and lost almost 10 pounds! My dad’s “diet” was a lifestyle change that included much of what you’re doing. He began eating in smaller dishes, on smaller plates and smaller portions. More fruits and vegetables–all the same. Peaches, peas, and green beans with his grilled chicken (or tenderloin) for lunch. And a salad for dinner–with a cookie for dessert. He lost 60 pounds over a two-year period. He was well over 200 lbs when he started. My daddy could be a stubborn guy in good ways! ha! Love him dearly!

  4. Wow! Food is an important element in the Bible but a daily chemotherapy pill has curbed my appetite and desire for food. People think I’m picky but I don’t want to throw up on them, doubt they want that either! Anywho God is good and I just take each day as it comes. Blessings!

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      Bless your sweet heart. My MIL struggled mightily with food during her chemo treatments. Only a few foods sounded good to her, so we made sure she had plenty of those in the house. You be as picky as you want to be, gal! Hugs to you!

  5. I enjoyed your post. When I struggle with portion control and healthy choices sometimes I think what would Jesus eat at a church potluck. Somehow I think he would be interested in the people more than the food.

    It always seemed he ate only enough. We eat sometimes like we may not have food the next day. And I think Satan likes us overfwiodded because we get sleepy and our focus is off our heavenly Father.

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      Haha! I must admit, I’ve never thought of how Jesus would view a church potluck! What a great thought. I may never look at a pan of home-baked mac’n’cheese the same again! 😉 Eating “only enough” is something that I need to work on. I often eat until I’m overly full. Why do that? I get miserable… Ugh. Good thoughts, Daphne!

  6. I really enjoyed this article- interesting to note first food in Garden of Eden and Jesus first temptation involved food!! I am trying to eat more healthy foods but there are so many different “voices” or diets that claim health benefits and I find it challenging to know which is really accurate. I have been cooking for over 50 years and seen so many fads come and go so I tend to be cautious about the latest hype. I do agree that our culture & life style consumes way too much sugar and we tend to turn to food for comfort instead of the true bread of life, Jesus.

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      Isn’t it fun to become aware of a new overarching theme in Scripture? I love it when something like this is drawn to my attention! 😉 And yes, food fads come and go, but if we can see a golden thread that has remained steady through the years (like cutting back on sugar), that makes sense. And it ALWAYS makes sense to feast on the Bread of Life!

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