The most important question you could ever ask is…what are you going to eat today? Some people don’t know if they’ll eat today. Some have lots of options, can eat out, or can only eat what they have at home. And in times of trouble, it can be hard to find healthy options or food you’re used to. Food can be a great blessing, and it can be a great evil in your life. It can be the source of gaining unhealthy weight, gluttony, an attitude of living to eat. But it can also be the beginning of hospitality, the conversation starter, a means to something greater. But even eating to live isn’t the best attitude. So is it wrong to live to eat? Is it wrong to eat to live? Wrong questions. The real question to ask is does God eat?
Abraham said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.”
“Very well,” they answered, “do as you say.”
– Genesis 18:3-5
The average biblical commentator would say that God is spirit and therefore doesn’t eat. This example from Genesis remains true to this statement, as we understand these appearances of God to be God the Son, for the presence of the Father is always far different and not so humanly relatable. When God the Father is present, there is fire and power that is devastating. This simply isn’t happening here with Abraham:
“Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”
“You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”
“Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”
– John 8:56-58
But sometimes God the Son doesn’t eat at all, refusing food entirely:
Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, “We would like you to stay until we prepare a young goat for you.”
The angel of the Lord replied, “Even though you detain me, I will not eat any of your food. But if you prepare a burnt offering, offer it to the Lord.”
– Judges 13:15-16
If you’re confused as to why I’m attributing an angel of the Lord to being Jesus, check out this post.
So what does it matter? We know Jesus ate. He most certainly ate at the Passover, and he ate all the time because he was fully human. But did he eat to live? Or live to eat? What about God the Father? Jesus knew the answer to these questions. So lets look at what the Bible has to say about it:
At first glance, there is mounting evidence that God the Father eats, contrary to his “spirit” nature:
And one cake of bread mixed with oil and one wafer from the basket of unleavened bread which is set before the Lord.
They shall be holy to their God and not profane the name of their God, for they present the offerings by fire to the Lord, the food of their God; so they shall be holy.
– Leviticus 21:6
“Command the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘You shall be careful to present My offering, My food for My offerings by fire, of a soothing aroma to Me, at their appointed time.’”
– Numbers 28:2
“But you are profaning it, in that you say, ‘The table of the Lord is defiled, and as for its fruit, its food is to be despised.’”
– Malachi 1:12
But what the entire Bible lacks, is any mention of God actually eating any of these offerings. In fact, we find the opposite, where God outlines how he does not eat sacrifices. God spells out for us how severely he doesn’t need anything from us.
Every wild animal of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the air, and all that moves in the field is mine.
If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and all that is in it is mine. Do I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats?
Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High. Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.
– Psalms 50:7-15
From Isaiah 1, we find that God wants us to be obedient more than he wants our sacrifices:
Hear the word of the LORD, You rulers of Sodom; Give ear to the instruction of our God, You people of Gomorrah.
“What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?” Says the LORD. “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle; And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs or goats. When you come to appear before Me, who requires of you this trampling of My courts? Bring your worthless offerings no longer, incense is an abomination to Me.”
Your hands are covered with blood. Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.
Indeed, God has always desired righteousness over sacrifices. Not to say that sacrifice is worthless, but obedience a greater thing. God doesn’t eat the sacrifices, he doesn’t need them, he doesn’t need anything from us. He desires obedience, which is more pleasing than the “pleasing aroma” of sacrifice. This is because God the Father is spirit, and righteousness is a very spiritual thing.
With what shall I come to the LORD And bow myself before the God on high? Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings, With yearling calves? Does the LORD take delight in thousands of rams, in ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I present my firstborn for my rebellious acts, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?
– Micah 6:6-8
So now that we see that God doesn’t eat food, let’s look at food we eat. Did you know that God knows how to cook? Funny how he doesn’t eat but still knows how to make something pretty good:
Elijah lay down under the bush and fell asleep.
All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.
– 1 Kings 19:5-6
But wait…the angel made the food, not God! But how would an angel know how to do it in the first place?
Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you.
– Exodus 16:4
The King of heaven knows how to make bread for our bodies, but more importantly he knows how to make bread for our spirit:
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
– John 6:35
God provides us with earthly food. Even today, your ability to get food is because of God’s provisions. Everything around us is from God. God doesn’t say that food is bad for us, he knows we need to eat at some point while we’re living on earth. And even spiritually we must be fed the bread of life to live forever. Food is important to God.
Summing It All Up
So what if God the Father doesn’t eat? So what if Jesus eats? So what if God knows how to make earthly food? Why does our question matter about whether we should eat to live, or live to eat? This all matters because food is something we encounter all our lives. It’s a fact of life that everyone eats food at some point. That means that God has given us a proper way to interact with it.
We’ve seen how God the Father tells us how he doesn’t need food. Jesus, who is fully human, says he doesn’t need only food to live:
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”
– Matthew 4:4
This doesn’t mean that Jesus didn’t need food, but that we do not live only because we eat. We know that living to eat is gluttony and idolatry, but Jesus has also just told us that we do not eat to live either. Food is not what’s sustaining us. Every word that proceeds from the mount of God is what sustains us. God feeds us, just like how he fed Elijah, and just like how he fed the Israelites. He feeds us with real physical food, and spiritual food through God the Son.
If you’re tired of hearing about food, or want this entire message summed up to one verse in the Bible, it’s right below. Obsessing over the meaning of food is in itself meaningless. God doesn’t need it, Jesus didn’t survive on food alone, and we shouldn’t make it the focal point of our lives. Food is provided to us by God, the God who is truly keeping us alive. He is the one we should be living for.
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
– Romans 14:17