Daily Devotional

Thanksgiving Feast

Thanksgiving is unique among holidays in that it is food-centric. Other holidays typically include a meal (Christmas dinner, Easter brunch, 4th of July barbeque), but at Thanksgiving, the celebration is the meal, a commemoration of the first Thanksgiving feast between the Plymouth Pilgrims and the Wampanoag people in 1621. Thanksgiving is the closest thing we have to a celebration of food itself, and of the One who provides us with food.

Perhaps, however, we Christians can get some wrong ideas about food. We see food as a necessity or distraction; enjoying it too much is gluttony. The “really spiritual” among us fast, so they don’t get too attached to food.

But I think this misses what the Bible says about the joys of food. Here are my Thanksgiving-inspired musings: a biblical “theology of food,” if you will.
  • Food is good because God made it. 1 Timothy 4:4 tells us that “everything created by God is good.” In context, Paul is talking specifically about food. Food is not evil, or even spiritually neutral, but part of God’s “very good” creation.  After all, who invented our senses of taste and smell?

  • God likes it when we eat food. In Genesis 2:16, God tells Adam, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden.” I’ve been told the original Hebrew has imperative force—“Eat!” It’s a command, and the second ever to appear in Scripture (after “be fruitful and multiply,” Genesis 1:28). If God is against physical pleasure, a sort of cosmic buzzkill, it’s strange that the first two commands in the Bible are about food and sex.

  • Food is part of being human. We humans are a unity of body and soul: we need both spiritual and physical food to function. When Elijah had given up on life, God sent an angel to feed him a cake before he carried on (1 Kings 19:6). Sometimes the most “spiritual” thing we can do is eat!

  • Food is key to Christian community. I find it interesting that the only day when fasting was required by Mosaic law was the Day of Atonement. The other six Levitical festivals were feast days; Old Testament Jews feasted way more than they fasted. So did the early church: in Acts 2, they made “the breaking of bread” part of their meetings (which I believe refers to actual meals, not just Communion). Eating food together is something that characterizes God’s people.

  • Food isn’t going away. Revelation 19:9 describes a marriage supper in Heaven, celebrating Christ and His bride, the Church. Revelation 22:2 describes the Tree of Life in the new Jerusalem, bearing twelve different kinds of fruit. (And I love fruit!!) Food will continue to be part of our life, even in eternity.

  • Enjoying food glorifies God. “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). When we enjoy food; when we give thanks to the God who made the food and our taste buds; when we use food for the good purpose for which God intended it; God is glorified. Eating ought to be an act of worship!

We must not take these truths in isolation, however, nor use them to justify selfish indulgence. The Bible speaks of the value of self-control (Galatians 5:23); it warns against those “whose god is their belly” (Philippians 3:19); and it reminds us to steward our bodies as God’s temples (1 Corinthians 6:19). It also speaks about the spiritual benefits of fasting (Acts 14:23). But there is “a time for every matter” (Ecclesiastes 3:1), including both feasting and fasting. Thanksgiving is a time for feasting—so as you partake, enjoy the “very good” blessing that is food. And maybe let God know how much you enjoy it. Bon appetit!
English Standard Version (ESV)The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
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