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Does God care what I eat? Part 5. Celebrations and Food

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Does God care what I eat? Part 5

This year I am reading through the Bible, looking for any mention of food or eating or for any principles related to eating, to see what God has to say about this subject. I’m still studying the book of Genesis with some related scriptures, and this is what I’ve learned so far:

1. God cares THAT I eat and created food even before He created mankind.
2. God has said that there are some things that we should NOT eat. There are some foods that look enticing and satisfying but can, instead, be destructive to my health and well-being.
3. Man’s rebellion against God and our desire to have TOTAL control over our own lives, without dependence on God, has altered man’s relationship with food from what it was originally intended to be.
4. Temptation to use food in ways that are destructive can be overcome by obedience to and dependence on God.
5. Poor eating habits may be more an issue of the heart rather than an issue of hunger.
6. Being disciplined in regards to food and eating rather than giving in to instant gratification can bring long-term blessings and can protect me from disaster.
7. God gives me practical examples in His word, as well as giving me other support systems, to encourage me to trust in His plan rather than the “grass is greener” item of food that I foolishly think will give me a lift or will make me happy.

Continuing my exploration in Genesis I noticed several simple statements about feasting, celebrating and hospitality:

Gen. 18:1 Now the LORD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, while [Abraham] was sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day. 2 When he lifted up his eyes and looked, behold, three men were standing opposite him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth, 3 and said, “My lord, if now I have found favor in your sight, please do not pass your servant by. 4 “Please let a little water be brought and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree; 5 and I will bring a piece of bread, that you may refresh yourselves; after that you may go on, since you have visited your servant.” And they said, “So do, as you have said.” 6 So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah, and said, “Quickly, prepare three measures of fine flour, knead it and make bread cakes.” 7 Abraham also ran to the herd, and took a tender and choice calf and gave it to the servant, and he hurried to prepare it. 8 He took curds and milk and the calf which he had prepared, and placed it before them; and he was standing by them under the tree as they ate.

Gen.19:3 Yet he [Lot] urged them strongly, so they turned aside to him and entered his house; and he prepared a feast for them, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.

Gen. 21:8 The child [Isaac] grew and was weaned, and Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned.

Gen. 28:28 They [several Philistines] said, “We see plainly that the LORD has been with you [Isaac]; so we said, ‘Let there now be an oath between us, even between you and us, and let us make a covenant with you, 29 that you will do us no harm, just as we have not touched you and have done to you nothing but good and have sent you away in peace. You are now the blessed of the LORD.’” 30 Then he [Isaac] made them a feast, and they ate and drank.

So I began pondering this question: If we are to be disciplined in our eating, where does feasting fit into this lifestyle? If scripture speaks of celebration around a meal in positive terms, how do I reconcile this with eating only when hungry? Does eating birthday cake and ice cream at a party fall within the parameters of God’s eating plan? Is a potluck supper, with its over-abundance of food, sinful? Do we merit God’s disfavor if we have potato chips at a friend’s BBQ dinner party?

A feast or celebration, as well as hospitality, with good food is presented in a positive or neutral light in the above scriptures. In all these portions the Bible simply says that they ate or that a feast was prepared. We don’t read in any of these verses that they ate until they were full, that they ate until satisfied, they ate their fill, or even that the food delighted them. It just says, “. . . they ate.” I also know that Jesus shared in celebrations. A particularly notable one was at a wedding in the town of Cana where Jesus not only was an invited guest, but he also added to the celebration by turning water into wine when the original supply ran out. (John 2:1-11)

So, considering these things, I believe that God not only approves of feasting and celebrating, but He also has built into our very nature a proclivity to socialize around food. I think that God’s design for food and nutrition is a reflection of His nature. He created us for fellowship with Him; He is social and wants to interact with us. He created us in His image and, thus, we are social beings. Further, God could have created one “superfood” that we could just pop in our mouth first thing in the morning and be done with eating for the day. But He didn’t make us that way, and so we need a variety of foods several times a day to stay adequately nourished. Eating is an integral part of our daily life. God socialized us around food so we could enjoy the sensory pleasures of the food He created, in the company of others, which enhances both the eating and socializing considerably. For example, a meal in a restaurant shared with others is always more fun (and seems to taste better) than that same meal eaten alone.

So, does this mean that birthday cake and ice cream are OK? Do those chips and even the potluck supper pass the test? Well, yes and no. Yes, socializing and having fun around food seems to be fine according to the Bible. In fact, Acts 10 teaches us that ALL foods, even potato chips and pizza, are “legal” with God. (See Acts 10-11) However, scripture also teaches that sometimes the answer is “no”!

God surely warns against gluttony in His word. In fact, Proverbs 23:20-21 warns against even HANGING OUT with gluttons and heavy drinkers. When God supplied manna to the Israelites during the 40 years they were nomads in the desert, He warned them only to take enough to satisfy their needs for one day. (Exodus 16:13-36) and that any excess they took would rot, which it did, reinforcing God’s plan to eat ENOUGH, but not too much.

In addition, God warns us in His word to avoid those things which would cause us to sin. Jesus used an astonishing and very strong analogy to make this point:
Mark 9:47 “If your eye causes you to stumble (here, this means “sin”), throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell. . ."
He is saying to do ANYTHING to avoid sinning! And Paul reminds us in 1 Cor. 8:13 “Therefore, if [eating meat] causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.”
So, if eating birthday cake will send you on a binge where sugar becomes your god for several days, then it’s better to avoid even attending the party if being there will cause you to “stumble.” If you are striving to avoid certain foods in a quest for better health, it may be wise to not contend with the siren song of “Bet you can’t eat just one”! Perhaps this principle can best be summed up by the words of Paul in 1 Cor. 6:12 “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.”

This discussion covers a lot of material. I’ve just “hit the high spots.” My own personal answer to the questions I asked at the beginning of this discussion is that God loves us and has blessed us with food that is tasty. He also has blessed us with the gift of community. We are social animals. So feasting and celebrating with food are part of His plan for us within restraints. When food—or anything besides God Himself—becomes paramount, then we are out of control and out of the will of God.

As a bit of spiritual food today, I’d also like to offer the words to the song “Only You Can Satisfy,” written by Caleb Clements, which may encourage your thinking on this subject. You can also hear the song at

In all of my life Iʼm searching

For what can be only found in You

Only You can satisfy

Iʼve seen what the world can offer

In all that can sway me I have found

Only You can satisfy, only You can satisfy

To live for Christ, I first must die

To all the rivals in my life

Only You can satisfy

Only You can satisfy

In everything I have in You

I find, You satisfy

In all that now lies forsaken

Nothing can match Your love for me

Only You can satisfy

Forever my heart awakened

To worship the One who sets me free

Only You can satisfy, only You can satisfy
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    There is a lot to learn from the information you include here. I have my belief that God appreciates it when we eat in such a way that we continue to appreciate the nutrients, flavors and colors that are in the whole natural foods. I found it so rewarding when I get away from sugar and flour, and realize the sugars found in garden vegetables and fresh fruits bring not only better health, but a total satisfaction so the cravings are gone.

    2299 days ago

    Comment edited on: 2/3/2012 2:18:43 PM
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