guest blog: God and food.
Hey folks! I know, I know, it’s been quite a while. I’ve got some updates coming for you but in the meantime, give the following guest post a read – from one of my former students, Jason of Texan Puddleglum. (I say student because Jason graduated from the Music Education program that I am the administrative assistant for.) He’s got a lot of good thoughts to say about one of the best things God created – food! Thanks, Jason, for the wonderful post – I learned so much from it and definitely have a better appreciation of food 🙂
Hello. My name’s Jason and I can’t cook. I’ve tried to cook a few times. I’ve “mastered” one dish: bruschetta. And I always put in way too much garlic. I’m actually a wizard with a Pop Tart and toaster. But that’s what I appreciate about Michelle’s blog here. It’s a celebration and a sharing for one of God’s greatest gifts: food. I just wanted to write a quick post about the glorious gift of food (and wine) and, ultimately, point back to the glorious Giver of food (and yes, of wine). This will by no means by exhaustive, but I hope it will be helpful.
Disclaimer: I won’t be explicitly railing against the evils of gluttony and drunkenness except for this: the enjoyment of any gift that does not end in gratitude is sin. God did not give food and wine to be enjoyed in and of themselves. Rather, as he does with all his good gifts, he gives food and wine so that we would enjoy them and then thank him. The purpose of food and wine is gratitude. The purpose of food and wine is to enjoy the Giver through the means of the gifts. Any other use for God’s gifts is an abuse and wickedness.
Why Is Food Good?
Psalm 34:8 says, “Oh taste, and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.” People rarely quote the second half of this verse. But it’s interesting to note that not only should one taste and see that the Lord is good, but David seems to link an awareness of God’s goodness with refuge in God. An appreciation of goodness of God is tied into seeking refuge in that good God.
But then watch how David attaches significance to taste and sight: the Lord’s goodness. I take this verse literally. David, an artistic soul in his own right, was also practical enough to understand that the pure goodness of the Lord Almighty could be found in spices. God’s goodness could be experienced in sour tones and salty flavors. This takes theology out of the Scriptures and into our mouths. When you bite into a warm sopapilla, swollen with honey, soft and flakey, you are tasting the goodness of the Lord. Just as God owns our eyes and ears (Prov.20:12), God created our tongues so that we would taste that he is good.
The implication of that is that the food we taste is good. Food is an extension of God’s goodness. In the past, certain teachers among God’s people have stood up to forbid certain foods. Paul calls such people “liars whose consciences are seared” (1 Tim.4:2). Harsh? We’re just talking about food (and in context, about forbidding marriage as well). But Paul will have no such restrictions. Food was created “to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.” (1 Tim.4:3-4).
Food is good. Food is good because God is good. And it is to be received with thanksgiving. As the ESV Study Bible puts it, “Ordinary food should be considered ‘made holy’ by God, and Christians have the privilege of eating such ‘holy’ food every day.” Remarkable. And as Ecclesiastes 3:13 says, “everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil- this is God’s gift to man.” This gratitude mentality is essential for our own joy “for apart from him, who can eat or who can have enjoyment?” (Ecc.2:25).
So, food is good. It is a means of experiencing the goodness of God. Food is to be received with thanksgiving so that we can enjoy God through food. Lovely. But what about alcohol? The devil’s armpit sweat. At least, that’s what the fundamentalists call it, right? I don’t know. Totally just made that up. But is beer a sin? Is it a sin to drink beer? Is light beer a sin? Is it possible to drink scotch to the glory of God? “Whether you eat or drink, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor.10:31).
I’m not going to convince you to drink or not to drink. I have a lot of respect for the preference of conscience. And I’m going to assume that you understand what moderation means. Presumably, you can have a glass of wine with dinner and not end up with a lampshade on your head, singing Katy Perry. Again, I don’t feel the need to rail against the abuse of drunkenness. I’m simply going to show a bit about what the Bible says about alcohol and that’ll be the story of it.
Yes, the Bible condemns drunkenness. But God is not necessarily against what has the potential to get you drunk. In the yearly tithe festival (Deut.14:22-26), God actually commands the Israelites to give a percentage of their income toward a massive party. And in Deut.14:26, God actually commands that his people enjoy themselves through food and drink, specifically permitting wine, strong drink, and “whatever your appetite craves”.
In Numbers 28:7, God actually demanded for himself a sacrifice a quart of strong drink (a word semantically related to the Hebrew word for drunkenness). Just read through Numbers 28:1-8. Apparently, God required a sacrifice, morning and evening, of a whole lamb and a quart of strong drink. He could have demanded lamb and water. But instead, he demands for himself the strongest alcohol they had.
In Genesis 43, when Joseph throws a party for his brothers (ancestors of the 12 Tribes of Israel), we get an interesting phrase in verse 34: “Portions were taken to them from Joseph’s table, but Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as any of theirs. And they drank and were merrywith him.” They were “merry with him”. Most translations either have that or “drank freely” with him. But the Hebrew is clear. They didn’t get drunk. The idea is that “they drank and became relaxed with him”. John Calvin comments on this verse:
“There was more than ordinary indulgence at the sumptuous tables spread for them. Here, however, no imtemperance is implied, (so that drunkards may not plead the example of the holy fathers as a pretext for their crime) but an honorable and moderate liberality…it is not in vain that our food has savor as well as vital nutriment; but thus our heavenly Father sweetly delights us with his delicacies. And his benignity is not in vain commended in Psalm 104:15, where he is said to create ‘wine that maketh glad the heart of man’”.
So what is happening in this Genesis 43 passage? If they didn’t get drunk, what happened when Joseph and his brothers opened a keg? An “honorable and moderate liberality” was taken. Simply put, they let the alcohol have its natural effect on them. They had a good time. They got a little buzz. They didn’t get drunk. But they let the wine gladden their hearts. Here we have an example of the heads of the tribes of Israel enjoying alcohol for the purpose for which God intended it.
Drink. Don’t drink. It’s fine. But understand that, despite potential abuses, alcohol was created by God for the purpose of having a good time. And through that, we enjoy and thank God, the giver of all good gifts.
There’s much more that could be said. I could go into the history of alcohol and the church. I could touch on the whole “what would Jesus drink?” issue. But I think this is more than enough for a guest blog post.
I do want to thank Michelle for allowing me the chance to write for her excellent cooking blog. She’s the only reason I have hope for a life off of Pop Tarts someday. Thanks for your patience. Taste and see that the Lord is good!