Meals and food have always played a major role in the relationship between God and His people.
When God visited Abraham to tell him again that he and Sarah would have a child, and to also tell him that He was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham prepared a meal for his three guests.
Genesis 18:3-8 (NLT)3 “My lord,” he said, “if it pleases you, stop here for a while.4 Rest in the shade of this tree while water is brought to wash your feet.5 And since you’ve honored your servant with this visit, let me prepare some food to refresh you before you continue on your journey.” “All right,” they said. “Do as you have said.”6 So Abraham ran back to the tent and said to Sarah, “Hurry! Get three large measures of your best flour, knead it into dough, and bake some bread.”7 Then Abraham ran out to the herd and chose a tender calf and gave it to his servant, who quickly prepared it.8 When the food was ready, Abraham took some yogurt and milk and the roasted meat, and he served it to the men. As they ate, Abraham waited on them in the shade of the trees.
Before Isaac blessed Jacob (although his intention was to bless Esau) he asked him to prepare a meal.
Genesis 27:1-10 , 17-18, 25-27 (NLT)1 One day when Isaac was old and turning blind, he called for Esau, his older son, and said, “My son.” “Yes, Father?” Esau replied.2 “I am an old man now,” Isaac said, “and I don’t know when I may die.3 Take your bow and a quiver full of arrows, and go out into the open country to hunt some wild game for me.4 Prepare my favorite dish, and bring it here for me to eat. Then I will pronounce the blessing that belongs to you, my firstborn son, before I die.”5 But Rebekah overheard what Isaac had said to his son Esau. So when Esau left to hunt for the wild game,6 she said to her son Jacob, “Listen. I overheard your father say to Esau,7 ‘Bring me some wild game and prepare me a delicious meal. Then I will bless you in the LORD’s presence before I die.’8 Now, my son, listen to me. Do exactly as I tell you.9 Go out to the flocks, and bring me two fine young goats. I’ll use them to prepare your father’s favorite dish.10 Then take the food to your father so he can eat it and bless you before he dies.” 17 Then she gave Jacob the delicious meal, including freshly baked bread.18 So Jacob took the food to his father. “My father?” he said. “Yes, my son,” Isaac answered. “Who are you—Esau or Jacob?”25 Then Isaac said, “Now, my son, bring me the wild game. Let me eat it, and then I will give you my blessing.” So Jacob took the food to his father, and Isaac ate it. He also drank the wine that Jacob served him. Then Isaac said to Jacob,26 “Please come a little closer and kiss me, my son.”27 So Jacob went over and kissed him. And when Isaac caught the smell of his clothes, he was finally convinced, and he blessed his son. He said, “Ah! The smell of my son is like the smell of the outdoors, which the LORD has blessed!
Joseph ate with his brothers and later revealed himself to them.
Genesis 43:24-26 , 33-34, 45:1 (NLT)24 The manager then led the men into Joseph’s palace. He gave them water to wash their feet and provided food for their donkeys.25 They were told they would be eating there, so they prepared their gifts for Joseph’s arrival at noon.26 When Joseph came home, they gave him the gifts they had brought him, then bowed low to the ground before him. 33 Joseph told each of his brothers where to sit, and to their amazement, he seated them according to age, from oldest to youngest.34 And Joseph filled their plates with food from his own table, giving Benjamin five times as much as he gave the others. So they feasted and drank freely with him. 1 Joseph could stand it no longer. There were many people in the room, and he said to his attendants, “Out, all of you!” So he was alone with his brothers when he told them who he was.
God gave Moses instructions for the meal the Israelites were to eat before leaving Egypt.
Exodus 12:1-13 (NLT)1 While the Israelites were still in the land of Egypt, the LORD gave the following instructions to Moses and Aaron:2 “From now on, this month will be the first month of the year for you.3 Announce to the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each family must choose a lamb or a young goat for a sacrifice, one animal for each household.4 If a family is too small to eat a whole animal, let them share with another family in the neighborhood. Divide the animal according to the size of each family and how much they can eat.5 The animal you select must be a one-year-old male, either a sheep or a goat, with no defects.6 “Take special care of this chosen animal until the evening of the fourteenth day of this first month. Then the whole assembly of the community of Israel must slaughter their lamb or young goat at twilight.7 They are to take some of the blood and smear it on the sides and top of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the animal.8 That same night they must roast the meat over a fire and eat it along with bitter salad greens and bread made without yeast.9 Do not eat any of the meat raw or boiled in water. The whole animal—including the head, legs, and internal organs—must be roasted over a fire.10 Do not leave any of it until the next morning. Burn whatever is not eaten before morning.11 “These are your instructions for eating this meal: Be fully dressed, wear your sandals, and carry your walking stick in your hand. Eat the meal with urgency, for this is the LORD’s Passover.12 On that night I will pass through the land of Egypt and strike down every firstborn son and firstborn male animal in the land of Egypt. I will execute judgment against all the gods of Egypt, for I am the LORD!13 But the blood on your doorposts will serve as a sign, marking the houses where you are staying. When I see the blood, I will pass over you. This plague of death will not touch you when I strike the land of Egypt.
The Mosaic law included rules on who was to eat the portions left from sacrifices, and the required feasts and festivals.
Exodus 12:1-5 (NLT)1 While the Israelites were still in the land of Egypt, the LORD gave the following instructions to Moses and Aaron:2 “From now on, this month will be the first month of the year for you.3 Announce to the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each family must choose a lamb or a young goat for a sacrifice, one animal for each household.4 If a family is too small to eat a whole animal, let them share with another family in the neighborhood. Divide the animal according to the size of each family and how much they can eat.5 The animal you select must be a one-year-old male, either a sheep or a goat, with no defects.
There were also instructions on which things not to eat. Leviticus 11
Jesus’ ministry included meals and food
During Jesus' ministry He ate with sinners and outcasts.
Matthew 9:10-13 (NLT)10 Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners.11 But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?”12 When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.”13 Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”
Mark 2:15-17 (NLT)15 Later, Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. (There were many people of this kind among Jesus’ followers.)16 But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with such scum?”17 When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”
Jesus fed thousands.
Matthew 14:19-21 (NLT)19 Then he told the people to sit down on the grass. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he gave the bread to the disciples, who distributed it to the people.20 They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers.21 About 5,000 men were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children!
Matthew 15:35-38 (NLT)35 So Jesus told all the people to sit down on the ground.36 Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, thanked God for them, and broke them into pieces. He gave them to the disciples, who distributed the food to the crowd.37 They all ate as much as they wanted. Afterward, the disciples picked up seven large baskets of leftover food.38 There were 4,000 men who were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children.
There’s the meal with His disciples the evening before His crucifixion that included what we now call the “Lord's Supper.
Mark 14:17-26 (NLT)17 In the evening Jesus arrived with the twelve disciples.18 As they were at the table eating, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, one of you eating with me here will betray me.”19 Greatly distressed, each one asked in turn, “Am I the one?”20 He replied, “It is one of you twelve who is eating from this bowl with me.21 For the Son of Man must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago. But how terrible it will be for the one who betrays him. It would be far better for that man if he had never been born!”22 As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take it, for this is my body.”23 And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them, and they all drank from it.24 And he said to them, “This is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice for many.25 I tell you the truth, I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new in the Kingdom of God.”26 Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.
After Jesus’ resurrection He ate with His disciples.
Luke 24:35-43 (NLT) 35 Then the two from Emmaus told their story of how Jesus had appeared to them as they were walking along the road, and how they had recognized him as he was breaking the bread.36 And just as they were telling about it, Jesus himself was suddenly standing there among them. “Peace be with you,” he said.37 But the whole group was startled and frightened, thinking they were seeing a ghost!38 “Why are you frightened?” he asked. “Why are your hearts filled with doubt?39 Look at my hands. Look at my feet. You can see that it’s really me. Touch me and make sure that I am not a ghost, because ghosts don’t have bodies, as you see that I do.”40 As he spoke, he showed them his hands and his feet.41 Still they stood there in disbelief, filled with joy and wonder. Then he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?”42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish,43 and he ate it as they watched.
The final meal in the Bible is the wedding banquet of Christ, and His bride, the Church.
Revelation 19:6-7 (NLT)6 Then I heard again what sounded like the shout of a vast crowd or the roar of mighty ocean waves or the crash of loud thunder: “Praise the LORD! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honor to him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself.
And let’s not forget we love church potlucks and banquets today!
There are other many other references to food and eating, but there is one other one that I did not mention and it’s the meal David talks about in the 23rd Psalm.
Psalm 23:5 (NLT)5 You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.
That meal is part of the YouVersion”Reading Plan, Like: A Journey Through Psalm 23, provided by Athens Church of Athens, GA. I want to share the devotion written about the meal prepared for you by God to be eaten in the midst of trials and tribulation. A meal overflowing with wonder, love, praise, joy, hope, and love.
A Meal In The Valley Of The Shadow Of Death
Picture your favorite actor, athlete, or celebrity.
What if you found out that they were coming to YOUR house in just a few days?
What would you do?
The house would be spotless. Candles lit in every room. The meal you have spent hours preparing sits ready on the table, and you yourself are overcome with joy and excitement, gushing at the thought of spending time with this person.
That is how God looks at us.
When we begin a growing relationship with Jesus, it’s like we become an honored guest at a banquet. During the days this was written, an honored guest would be anointed with a fragrant perfume and also given a cup full of choice—the royal treatment. Our enemies may pursue us and intend to destroy us, yet there is this safe table—already prepared, awaiting us.
Because of Jesus, we have an opportunity to sit at this table. His hand is seen in everything from first to last. The table is the Lord’s. The bread is His body; the wine is His blood. It's all a reminder of just how much He's for you. But not only has He prepared the table, but also the guests.
When we think of what we were and what we are- of what we deserved and of what we have received—it is with wonder, love, and praise that we say, “You prepare a table before me.” We have enemies, but they have not prevailed. We have fears, but they have no hold on us any longer. We can even love and forgive those enemies. And when we do face them, we face them without fear, because greater is He that is in us, than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).
The future is bright with hope. The dark valley is behind us. The present table here points to the future table above, and Jesus is the sole provider of our overflowing cup.
So what if we began to live in this hope?
What if we began to live as an overflowing cup?
What does an overflowing cup do?
Picture yourself as an overflowing cup, spilling the joy, hope, and love of Jesus on everyone that bumps into you today.
This blog is for you! If you have any questions or topics you would like me to address please use the comments section or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.