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
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
- The Passover meal drew the frightened Israelites together and turned their hearts toward Him.
- No matter what food issues plague us, a sizable portion of God’s Word empowers us to overcome.
- Whether feasting or fasting, food is meant to draw us into relationship with God and each other.
This Week’s Question:
- What’s your food challenge, and how do you overcome it?