Food in the Scriptures
by Rod Jackson
All verses are quoted from the NASB anything in [square brackets] is added by me for clarity.
"Then God said, `Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food'; and it was so." Genesis 1:29 & 30
So in the initial creation humans and animals were only allowed to be vegetarians. Over 1600 years later there was a flood and after it God said,
"Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant. Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood." Genesis 9:3 & 4
So after the flood people were allowed to eat plants and animals, as long as they drained the blood from the animals before eating them. Over 1000 years after the flood, God gave the laws to Moses for the Israelites to follow. These included a long list of animals which they could eat (the "clean" ones) and which animals the Israelites could not eat (the "unclean" ones). This list can be found in Leviticus 11. Over 1000 years after that the Messiah, Jesus, came. Some Pharisees asked Jesus why Jesus' disciples eat bread without washing their hands.
"And He [Jesus] said to them [the 12 disciples], `Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?' (Thus He declared all foods clean.)" Mark 7:18 & 19
Jesus declared all foods clean.
"But he [Peter] became hungry and was desiring to eat; but while they were making preparations, he fell into a trance; and he saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground, and there were in it all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air. A voice came to him, `Get up, Peter, kill and eat!' But Peter said, `By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.' Again a voice came to him a second time, `What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.' This happened three times, and immediately the object was taken up into the sky." Acts 10:10-16
This vision God gave to Peter to show him that salvation has come, not merely to the Jews, but to the Gentiles as well. However, God uses the picture of unclean food to represent the Gentiles (who were "unclean") and He says that what He says is no longer unclean is now clean. He could use this analogy because these foods were once considered unclean, but now are not.
"One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him." Romans 14:2 & 3
Here Paul teaches that vegetarians (like 7th day Adventists) are weak in faith. Paul continues,
"...he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God." Romans 14:6b
"I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." Romans 14:14-17
"Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense. It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles. The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin." Romans 14:20-23
So Paul has been saying that while we are free to eat anything, if another who is weaker in faith is around then we limit our freedom for their sake. An example of this is found in the following verses -
"Eat anything that is sold in the meat market without asking questions for conscience' sake; FOR THE EARTH IS THE LORD'S, AND ALL IT CONTAINS. If one of the unbelievers invites you and you want to go, eat anything that is set before you without asking questions for conscience' sake. But if anyone says to you, `This is meat sacrificed to idols,' do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for conscience' sake; I mean not your own conscience, but the other man's; for why is my freedom judged by another's conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I slandered concerning that for which I give thanks? Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:25-31
"Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day -" Colossians 2:16
So since we can eat any physical food, they are all clean, does this mean we should eat all foods?
"Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are." 1 Corinthians 3:16 & 17
So we see that Christians are the temple of God. God dwells in our body, therefore we are responsible to look after our bodies. That includes having a healthy diet.
"`I [Jesus] am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.' Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, `How can this man give us His flesh to eat?' So Jesus said to them, `Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.' " John 6:51-58
On the surface Jesus appears to be telling us that we must literally eat Him. In fact, Catholics believe that when they partake of the "Lord's Supper" the bread and wine, mystically turn into Jesus' flesh and blood. So they believe they are literally eating Jesus! But this is not what Jesus is talking about, for a few verses later He says,
"It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life." John 6:63
Jesus clearly tells us that He is speaking spiritually. So we do not, physically or literally eat Jesus, but spiritually we must eat Him.
"And when He [Jesus] had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, `This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.' " Luke 22:19
Here we see that the "Lord's Supper" is celebrated "in remembrance of" Jesus, not the in re-crucifixion of Jesus.
Notice that in John 6:56 Jesus says that if we eat Him they will abide in Him.
"Abide in Me [Jesus], and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you." John 15:4-12
So to abide in Jesus' love is to keep Jesus' commandments. But we also know that if we eat Jesus then we'll abide in Him. So it would seem that there is a link between, obeying Jesus and eating Him.
"like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word" 1 Peter 2:2a
Here we see that "the Word" is compared to the drink, "milk".
"For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil." Hebrews 5:12-14
Again we see the word of God is compared to milk (elementary teachings) and solid food (mature teachings).
"And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14
Here the Word came with "grace and truth". And a few verses later it says,
"For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ." John 1:17
So the Word is Jesus Christ. Thus to "eat" Jesus is to eat the "Word of God". The word of God [the Bible] is all about the Word of God [Jesus].
"But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves." James 1:22
Thus to "eat Jesus" we must study the word of God, that is our spiritual food and drink (milk and solids). But it is not enough to merely study the bible, we must obey and thus by "eating Jesus" we abide in Jesus, by being obedient to His commands.
In the Lord's Prayer, Jesus taught us to pray
"Give us each day our daily bread." Luke 11:3
but we know that Jesus said,
"Do not worry then, saying, `What will we eat?' or `What will we drink?' or `What will we wear for clothing?' For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things;" Matthew 6:31 & 32a
Now this verse above must be talking about physical food, not spiritual food because the "Gentiles" do not seek spiritual food but physical food. Why then would Jesus teach us to pray for physical food, in the Lord's Prayer, if He's already told us not to be anxious about physical food. Thus the "daily bread" in the Lord's Prayer is spiritual food! Pray before you study the bible!
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