If there is one thing that the Lord enjoys to do the most, that is for us to gather together to eat and rejoice in His presence.
Vegetation is one of the first few things that God had created.
Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so.
— Genesis 1:11, NIV
Vegetation is pleasing to the eye and good for food.
The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.
— Genesis 2:9, NIV
The first ever command ever given to humankind: eat.
The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
— Genesis 2:15-17, NIV.
After the flood subsided, the blessing for meat was given to all humankind through Noah.
Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.
— Genesis 9:3, NIV
And God loved food. And He enjoys watching us eat together too. He loved it so much that He instituted it as the only way He should be worshipped.
You must not worship the Lord your God in their (pagans) way. But you are to seek the place the Lord your God will choose from among all your tribes to put his Name there for his dwelling. To that place you must go; there bring your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and special gifts, what you have vowed to give and your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks. There, in the presence of the Lord your God, you and your families shall eat and shall rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the Lord your God has blessed you.
— Deuteronomy 12:4-7, NIV.
And when the Israelites offer a burnt offering, they are to offer the blood and eat the meat.
Present your burnt offerings on the altar of the Lord your God, both the meat and the blood. The blood of your sacrifices must be poured beside the altar of the Lord your God, but you may eat the meat.
— Deuteronomy 12:27, NIV.
Even tithes are meant to be eaten. Of course, not forgetting that it should also be a communal thing that involved the priests, the foreigners, the fatherless, and the widows. After all, it is through sharing with others that God will bless the land!
Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year. Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and olive oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the Lord your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere the Lord your God always.
At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year’s produce and store it in your towns, so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.
— Deuteronomy 14:22-23, 28-29, NIV.
You’ve got to admit, God loves to see us eat.
Build the altar of the Lord your God with fieldstones and offer burnt offerings on it to the Lord your God. Sacrifice fellowship offerings there, eating them and rejoicing in the presence of the Lord your God.
— Deuteronomy 27:6-7, NIV.
Coincidentally, when Jesus started His ministry, he used a food-related pun to describe the ultimate call of all Christian.
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.
— Matthew 4:19-20, NIV.
And Christ knew the concerns of the people – food. So He assured them that all these will be provided for.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
— Matthew 6:25-26, NIV.
In fact, Jesus loves to eat so much that eating becomes the central activity of His ministry. It is during these meals that Jesus touched the lives of “sinners and tax collectors”.
While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
— Matthew 9:10 -11, NIV.
Let’s not forget the physical feeding of 5000 and 4000.
They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
— Matthew 14:20-21, NIV
They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward, the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was four thousand men, besides women and children.
— Matthew 15:37-38, NIV
I mean, Christ even ritualized the last supper so all would congregate and remember Him.
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
— 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, NIV.
One of the first few things that Jesus had done to strengthen the faith of His disciples after the resurrection was to cook and eat with them. Barbecue fish and toasted bread, anyone?
When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.”
— John 21:9-10,12a, NIV.
And when we all gather in His presence in the future, there will be a great wedding supper waiting for us.
Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”
— Revelations 19:9, NIV.
And on top of the wedding supper, there’s another great supper of God.
And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God.”
— Revelations 19:17, NIV.
There are, in fact, a lot more verses about food and about eating together that are within the Bible. Too many that I think it is counterintuitive to list them all here in a blog post. Nonetheless, I hope this gives us a fresh perspective about food and how God loved us eating together.
Fellowship over food?