As you get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving later this week, take a moment and consider the role food plays within the Bible. From the opening pages in Genesis, some of God’s very first words to Adam were about food. On day six of creation, God tells the newly created man, “See I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food” (Genesis 1:29, emphasis mine). This need of ours for sustenance is not a result of sin or a byproduct of the curse of Genesis 3.
The Bible mentions food many times. often as part of prominent events.. While this is not an exhaustive list, here are just a few special events around food as found in Scripture.
- Israel celebrated seven feasts and the details for those celebrates are rather elaborate as described in Leviticus 23 and other places in Scriptures. Some of those feasts lasted for over a week. What both Catholic and Protestant churches everywhere celebrate as Communion, came from one of those feasts, the Passover Meal.
- Many teachings of Jesus take place during a meal; including the call of Levi found in Mark 2:14-16, and the conversion of Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10. No less than four entire chapters of Gospel of John (John 13 through 16) take place around a table as Jesus and the disciples celebrate Passover together, what we traditionally refer to as the Last Supper.
- While the inclusion of food isn’t mentioned, how many weddings have you attended where there wasn’t any food present? His first miracle described in John 2:1-11 is at a wedding.
- Other than His resurrection, no miracle of His appears in all four Gospels except the Feeding of the 5000.
- Many would say one of the first events which occur when we reach Heaven is a meal! The Marriage Supper of the Lamb is mentioned in Revelation 19:9.
Three Observations About Food
Food is a constant reminder of the frailty of our bodies.
Our world quickly becomes out of balance when food isn’t included in our routine. Every four to six hours you can count on a reminder of how frail we are as we begin to crave food. While we all need oxygen, we don’t need to hunt, gather, grow, or store it. Eating is different as we must intentionally make a point to stop whatever task we are performing and take in food. The necessity of human beings to make the ingesting of food part of our daily tasks is a reminder of how we are to be looking to Him for provision and to be thankful. He provides a built in alarm for us to thank Him, multiple times every day. If you don’t already, get into the habit of thanking God every time you eat.
Food has a comforting and welcoming quality.
When we want to help a grieving family upon the death of a loved one, what is often our first response? Many times we provide food for them. It is the same if one experiences significant time in a hospital, often meals are provided. Providing food is a way we offer comfort to each other. We communicate to each other our sorrow, understanding and empathy by providing food for each other in times of stress. Many churches and communities use some sort of food as a welcoming gift. A small loaf of bread or a homemade pie are sometimes part of the opening gestures of friendship or gratitude.
Food creates closeness among people when we eat together.
We have a natural God-given desire to eat and engage in the task with others. It opens the doorway to conversations and brings people together. I cannot count how many times I have needed to talk to someone or someone needed to speak to me, and we met together. But we didn’t meet at a church, library, golf course, or a bowling alley. We meet at some restaurant for a meal.
My wife and I have been part of the same small group Bible study for nearly ten years. Yes, we always spend time studying the Scriptures and sharing prayer requests. But our best conversations take place around a dining room table at our host’s home. We eat, we laugh, we talk, and we grow closer to each other. While we do enjoy our Bible studies, I am convinced the closeness of those in our group has been built around that table as we enjoy each other’s company while we eat together.
So go ahead and have another piece of turkey! Celebrate God’s faithfulness and remember, every day – not just Thanksgiving Day – you have a built in reminder to thank God for His provision.