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It is impossible for me to love God with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength without considering my relationship to food. My diet, taste buds, appetite, cravings, and digestive process were all created by God and originally declared “good” by Him. He made all this for a purpose; therefore, it behooves me to know why. “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
We can be certain all that God does is wise and is for an ultimate purpose. All things contribute to His overall plan of having Christ have the preeminence. Even what may be routine or mundane has a purpose in God’s plan. We need to heighten our awareness of God and see His sovereign providence in every moment, especially while eating.
It amazes me just how many references to food there are in Scripture. And why not, we do eat often and it is an essential element of our existence. Imagine the Bible being written without food? No fruit in the garden. No feasts for the Israelites. No bountiful harvests or famine for Joseph to discuss with Pharaoh. No fasting for our Savior in the wilderness and no temptation to turn rocks into bread. I could go on, but I think you get the idea. For the Bible to have no reference to food would give pause and doubt to its authenticity and authority.
I am certainly not the sharpest theological knife in the drawer, but it seems rather self-evident with all the mentioning of food in the Bible there appears to be a larger message here for us to grasp. Before you jump to conclusions and rattle my cage for taking liberties with hermeneutics, know that it is my foremost goal to give God glory in every area of my life. In doing this I must consider Him in areas seemingly mundane and ordinary. Is God not the God of my belly or my taste buds or my desires?
In previous posts on the doctrine of food we explored that food reveals the goodness of God, food causes us to remember and celebrate, and food choice reveals our sin. This post will illumine that Scripture shows that food gives us greater insight into spiritual truths.
Because of God’s design of food, we are able to practically describe Spiritual truths using physical means. Food allows for deeper understanding of God and His Word through physical analogies, metaphors, and descriptions. It allows for a universal description of the world because everyone knows what is sweet and what is sour. We use these same words to describe things around us that are not eaten. We know that being bitter is not pleasant, that a sweet person is good, and a painting with no taste is not worth observing.
Here are a few examples:
It is fitting to be reminded of how God has used food to describe our entrance into His heavenly kingdom. Our hope is built on nothing less than to be with our Savior. He has told us “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” Our reunion with Christ is going to be a feast where righteousness, grace, mercy, holiness, joy, worship, and glory will be the banquet.
Eat well today and then perhaps consider filling your belly afterwards.
Genesis 2:15-17 Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.”
Many things reveal our sinful nature, but we need to remember our sinful nature was founded in the Garden of Eden and it was the choice, eating what God had told them not to eat, that caused the fall of mankind and brought on our sin nature resulting in our falling short of the glory of God.
God made Adam and Eve with bodies. Our bodies are created with a central nervous system that signals us when our bodies are in need of food. The longer we go without food, the stronger the signal. When we are getting hungry, the craving increases and can become overpowering. We must eat. When we don’t eat, the hunger pains become unbearable. God made us as beings that have to eat to live. It is an absolute necessity. No eating, we die.
Along with the physiological craving for food, God gave us a delight in eating and provided us eyes, nasal passages, and taste buds to evaluate food. Then, God gave us a choice of all the items to eat, items that He had already declared as being good.
The stage was set. A physiological need for food was embodied in humans. The need was accompanied by an innate craving designed to ensure the need is met. The humans were placed by the same Creator that gave them the need for food in a garden filled with a plethora of food. The command of what to eat and not eat was issued.
How interesting that it would be a simple necessary daily act like eating that would begin centuries of sinful behavior. God chose a very basic, necessary elementary task, a task that related to a physical need, a task that fulfills the innate craving called hunger.
God, in His infinite wisdom could have just as easily said, “don’t pick that flower,” “don’t look inside that cave,” “don’t swim in that river,” or something else. Perhaps God didn’t say, “don’t go in that cave” because we can go our entire lives without going in caves. We don’t need to go in caves to live. Going in a cave is not a necessity. In contrast, Adam and Eve have to eat. It is a necessity to live. But, with their eating, they had a choice. Adam and Eve could eat anything else in the garden, freely, except from one tree. It was a necessity that Adam and Eve eat, but not a necessity to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
What does all this have to do with us today? Eve saw that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes. The fruit was enticing and appealed to the senses that God had given her and Adam to enjoy the goodness of what He had made. God meant the senses for good, but we often use them for evil. Every sin has its root in enjoyment. In fact, the Bible recognizes and tells us that sin is pleasurable, but fleeting in duration (Hebrews 11:25). Just as Adam and Eve were tempted to enjoy what looks good and pleasurable, we are tempted to enjoy what appears to be good and pleasurable. God, our Creator that loves us and wants the very best for us, tells us to obey Him and to avoid the enticements of the world that lead us away from Him. He says that we need to trust and obey. He says that He knows best and in the end, at His right hand are pleasures forevermore for those that are willing to obey Him. The question is, do we believe God? Adam and Eve did not believe God. They did not believe that He had their best interest in mind. Instead, they were thinking that God had His own interest in mind and that God was selfishly withholding good from them.
So, ask yourself this question, “Is God telling me what to do because He is thinking of Himself and His interests and because He wants to get His own way?” Or, “Is God telling me what to do because He loves me and has only good for me?”
For our fleeting pleasures of sin, Jesus Christ was willing to be treated as a criminal, flogged, crucified, and endure the wrath of His loving Father. Is sin that pleasurable? Really?
1 John 2:16-17 says, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever.”
Genesis 2:9 And out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food …
Thank you, God, that food tastes good. Food is delicious, scrumptious, tasty, yummy, and mouthwatering. Everything God made is good. Food is very good. I have yet to meet a person that doesn’t enjoy a good meal. All of us have seen the look of bliss in someone’s face when they bite into something they love; sheer joy! We are born with an appetite and a hankering for good-tasting, lip-smacking food. Around 99% of the time, I look forward to eating, and 100% of the time I look forward to eating when I know it is one of my favorite foods. We eagerly share our eating experiences with others.
God’s goodness gives us the ability to experience favorable things. Food teaches us that God cares about appealing to our senses. Things in the world are “sensational.” God wants us to observe and find that what He has made is good. He has given us tools and abilities to make observations and to evaluate the world around us and how He made it to be good. Food is one of those good things God made, and taste buds are what He gave us to realize that food is good. God made food good to eat. Imagine if food had no taste, and it all looked the same. Taste is known to have the ability to become an obsession. Ever have a craving for chocolate? Some of you reading this just did. People often overeat just for the taste. Even the mention of a food may cause the mouth to begin to salivate. People with the loss of taste have to force themselves to eat as the sense of taste is related to our appetite. People spend extra money on items that taste good. A real-estate investor from Hong Kong reportedly paid over $160,000 for a gigantic Italian White Alba truffle. Oh my!
God’s goodness has endless variety and imagination. When God made food, He made more variety than we could imagine. There is the rich delicacy of sevruga caviar and the New England favorite of baked beans and franks. I recall that my grandfather enjoyed eating pickled pig’s feet. God made such a variety of foods that it is impossible to taste all the different types of food that the world has to offer in our lifetime. There is variety in taste, color, shape, and size. In one meal you can have blueberries and an orange accompanied by black-eyed peas and yellow squash with green beans. We can eat tiny grains of wild rice or a large watermelon. Food can be a highly fattening donut or be tasteless and without calories. We can have an oblong eggplant, a flat tortilla, or a wedge of cheese. It is amazing to think of all the different types of food and recipes available to us.
It happened that my recent devotional reading took me through the book of Nehemiah. Toward the end of the book, the people were repentant for their sins which were drastically contrasted and highlighted by the backdrop of the goodness of God and His helping them rebuild Jerusalem, their great city. In their repentance, the Levites testified and praised God before the Israelite people. In their proclamation of praise, they told of how God had been with them throughout their history. When they recall the time period when the people of Israel entered and dwelt in the promised land and basked in the bountiful produce, they said this, “So they ate, were filled, and grew fat, and reveled in Thy great goodness (Nehemiah 9:25).“ In this sentence, I was struck by just exactly how the goodness of God was measured; by the abundance of good food.
God is good. His goodness is to be praised for its variety, plenty, beauty, and enjoyment. Taste and see that the Lord is good!