Food is a Gift from God

What’s the first mention of food in Scripture?

If you guessed the forbidden fruit, you’ve got it wrong.

The first mention of food comes just after the creation of mankind–and before the account of the preparation of Eden for man.

“And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.’ And it was so.”
~Genesis 1:29-30 (ESV)

Now, some might look at this passage and start making rules. Since God says that He’s given mankind every green plant for food, that means that God’s intent for mankind is that they be vegetarian. What’s more, this Scripture prominently mentions the seed, which is an implicit condemnation of the genetic engineering that results in non-propagative species of plants…

Rules. We’re used to looking at food in terms of rules. The foods we should eat, the foods we shouldn’t. The way we should eat, the way we shouldn’t. The right way to buy, to cook, to eat food.

But to reduce this passage to rules is to miss the point of the first Scriptural mention of food.

Before God gave mankind rules about food, He gave them food itself.

Food is a gift from God.

This is so important, so central to a Christian understanding of food. Food is not an enemy to be fought against. Food is not a lover to be enchanted with. It is a gift to be thankful for.

In Genesis 9, just after God blesses Noah and his sons and repeats to them the creation mandate, He also repeats His gift of food. This time, it comes with an expansion.

“The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.”
~Genesis 9:2-3 (ESV)

Just as God had given every plant to mankind for food, He now gives them every living creature.

Food is a gift from God.

The Lord taught us to pray in such a way as to remind us that food is a gift from God. How many times have you recited the familiar words of the Lord’s prayer without thinking of their implications.

“Give us this day our daily bread…”
~Matthew 6:11

We are dependent upon food for our physical sustenance–and it is God who gives us our food.

Food is a gift from God.

I can sense the discomfort some might have with this introduction to a theology of food.

How impractical, you may think.

Repeating a theological refrain.

What does that have to do with nutrition?

I would argue that it has everything to do with nutrition.

In the developed world (and perhaps elsewhere too), there are two prevailing attitudes towards food–attitudes that coexist despite their contradiction. We either see food as an enemy or as a lover or both. We love food for its flavor, for the comfort it provides, for how we feel when we’re eating. We hate food for what it does to our bodies, for what it cannot provide, for how we feel when we’re done eating.

The Biblical perspective on food provides the remedy to both of these unhealthy attitudes towards food.

While the glutton worships food, the Christian worships the God who has graciously given him food. While the dieter hates food and fights against it, the Christian receives it with thanksgiving to the one who has given it.

Food is a gift from God.

This is the beginning of a theology of food.

2 thoughts on “Food is a Gift from God”

  1. May I say again how VERY glad I am that you are doing this series!? (And that I’m glad it’s a series so as to discipline my perspective on this topic in spurts. It’s easier to digest that way. Har, har.)

    I love that you point out that we aren’t to love or hate food. Well, there’s a lot of things you mention here that I really liked hearing and I do agree that you started the discussion in a most perfect place.

    The beginning of the theology of food. This is just awesome!!!

  2. One would almost think, “Well, that should go without saying,” but it really needs to be said and pondered. Getting this first point right is the key to the rest. Looking forward to the next installment!


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