By Charles Wages
There is much in scripture about eating. Since eating and drinking was God’s mechanism for sustaining natural life, you would expect a lot of instruction concerning this “natural” function of existence. This experience would be expected to become a spiritual part of God’s plan for His creation. The creation of the earth involved God’s plan for His highest creation—man. How was natural life to be sustained? God provided food and water! So, eating and drinking became very important. In fact, life depended on it! However, God gave instructions and warnings such as, eat to live, and even, “eat and die.”
The dietary laws that God placed upon His people Israel, after the call of Abraham in Genesis 12, become a major part of God’s instructions to His “chosen” people. They were instructed what, when, where, and how to eat! This should let us see eating and drinking had a major role in God’s plan for humankind.
This leads to a very pertinent question. What does all of this have to do with us today? Well, naturally, we still have to eat and drink to live.
The apostle Paul’s instructions in 2 Timothy 4:4-5 are appropriate in this age of God’s grace.
“For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.”
In God’s dealings with the Church, the Body of Christ, today, (not Israel, naturally or spiritually), there are no “religious” requirements concerning food in our worship and relationship to and of the Lord. Various religious groups have imposed traditional sacraments and rites to and in their practices of worship concerning “eating and drinking.”
These are declared and defended on the basis of “customs and traditions” of men, not on the Word of God, rightly divided.
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15)
When the Lord Jesus was preparing to leave this earth, He told his disciples to prepare for the last supper, or the Passover. The instructions as to this supper were explicit as to where, when, and what they were to eat. These passages are found in Matthew 26:17-29; Mark 14:12-16; and Luke 22:7-13. The significance of this time and purpose of eating was of extreme importance to His people, Israel, and the apostles. The “Passover” involved eating and was the “last supper” the Lord would observe “until that day that I drink it new in the Kingdom of God” (Mark 14:25).
The great and important question for all believers today could be: “Are we to not eat and drink of and with the Lord today? If so, when, what, and how are we to commune and eat with our Lord? The use of the word “sup” and “supper” used in the Word refers to the chief meal of the day and is given special emphasis in John 13:1-4 that tells us of the “feast of the Passover.”
In verse 2 of this chapter, we read, “And supper being ended,” and in verse 4 we read, “He riseth from supper.” The feast of the Passover was also called “supper,” and satisfied God’s great plan for Jesus’ earthly ministry. Later, Jesus washed the disciple’s feet! The “cleaned” disciples could then go forth and do their earthly ministry for their Lord. This was truly a “satisfying supper.” It is interesting and informative to think of another “supper” that will introduce God’s literal kingdom on earth. It is called “the marriage supper of the Lamb.” We need to understand when this will be, who is invited, what will be served, and for what purpose? It will certainly fulfill God’s great plan for the ages in His dealings with His people, Israel, and the nations.
No doubt, the most informative, yet difficult meal to understand is found in John, chapter six, the beautiful account of our Lord feeding five thousand souls. How familiar! However, this chapter contains some of the most mystifying truths concerning eating found in scripture. The feeding of the people brought a ready response from the Jewish people who observed. They said, “Our fathers did eat manna from heaven.” Jesus said unto them, “Moses gave you that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven” (John 6:32). Then, later in John 6:50, our Lord said,
“This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof and not die.”
The Lord Jesus is that bread! We partake of Him, when we partake of the Word of God! God’s Word is often spoken of as food, such as meat, milk, and bread. In Hebrews 5:11-14 we are admonished and instructed that we shouldn’t be as “babes” but we should be of “full age” and “exercise our senses” to discern both good and evil.”
The lesson is obvious. We need the proper food in order to grow, be healthy, and serve our Lord. Symbols of food do not satisfy. They only confuse us and leave us hungry. A real “happy meal” is one that consists of reading and studying the “bread from heaven,” the Word of God. This is the only meal we need to live and serve. How beautiful and significant are the words in Revelation 3:20.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”
The real, “satisfying supper” is not a symbol, but the reality of partaking of God’s Word. Let us remember the admonition of the Apostle Paul in Colossians 2:16-17:
“Let no man therefore judge you in meat or drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days; which are a shadow of things to come, but the body is of Christ.”
And, let us remember those most beautiful and inspirational words of Jeremiah 15:16,
“Thy words were found and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart: for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts.”