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This is probably not a good thing, but one thing I am known for is eating! Around here, we’ve got ourselves a Chinese restaurant called “King Buffet.” I sure do eat like a Asian Emperor up in therewith all the cream cheese wontons, egg rolls, and teriyaki chicken I can keep down. Another one of my favorite restaurants is a Mexican joint called Casa Blanca. Their chicken and rice dish is mmm mmm good.
Because of the amazing amounts of food that we can afford as Americans, we really don’t understand biblical passages on feasting. We need to back away from our American context just to see Israel’s joy and fear in feasting. Israel was afraid to feast because they had such limited food while walking through the wilderness, so God had to command them to feast!
You heard me right: God commanded His people to feast. Their food was scarce from hiking through a dessert, so they naturally wanted to use it wisely. Why would God have them feast from their scarce supply? He did so because He was teaching them that He was their God, they were His people, and He provides for the needs of His people. They had to trust Him. He also commanded them to feast because He was pointing them to something far greater than what they were experiencing. In fact, He had about 7 different feasts for them to eat together from…
1. Passover (23:4-5) – A reminder for them of the Passover event in Egypt and the lamb needed.
2. Unleavened Bread (23:6-8) – A reminder for holiness by eating unleavened bread standing up.
3. First Fruits (23:9-14) – Offer first crop as a sacrifice to God as complete dependence on Him.
4. Weeks (23:15-22) – In the middle of harvest season, celebrate and give thanks for abundance.
5. Trumpets (23:23-25) – Trumpet blasts at end of harvest. This symbolized final judgment.
6. Day of Atonement (23:26-32) – Priest makes a sacrifice for all Israel’s need for forgiveness.
7. Booths (23:33-44) – Israel was to live in shabby huts as in Egypt as a reminder of life there.
These feasts all seem to fit together and symbolize the big picture of salvation. The Passover is a reminder of being saved by Christ. The Unleavened Bread is a reminder to remain holy in life. The First Fruits are a way of recognizing God’s provision. The Weeks represent our thankfulness for His abundant blessings. The Trumpets symbolize the final judgment to come. The Day of Atonement reminds us of our need for forgiveness, and the Booths remind us of our coming Sabbath rest forever and ever in the eternal Kingdom of Christ. So not only do you have God commanding His people to feast together, but their feasting represented and pointed forward to something far greater than what they were doing. But there is a middle scene before the end.
Luke records Jesus following God’s Law by feasting with His disciples during the time of Unleavened Bread and the Passover (Luke 22:1-23). So catch this, the Passover Lamb Himself (1 Cor 5:7) is eating with His disciples before He is sacrificed. While they are eating the Passover meal together, notice how Jesus says that He won’t eat it or drink it again until the Kingdom of God comes (22:16, 18). The nation of Israel was pointing ahead to Christ as they were feasting together, and while Jesus was feasting with His disciples He was pointing them towards the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God! Here we go…when Jesus returns in all of His glory as the crowned King of all the cosmos, we will have a wedding feast with Him since we His church will be united to Him as His bride. We will share in His inheritance forever (Rev 19:9). Also, because we will be fully human forever in God’s image, He will feed us forever!
We then need to eat in a holy way with our church, our family, etc. Our local churches need to be more excited about eating the Lord’s Supper together as it proclaims Jesus’ death and points forward to His return to rule. Eating is a very biblical command. Families need to eat together more so that they fall apart less. We need to stop mistreating eating and repent from eating sins like gluttony, anorexia, and bulimia. And may we do all of this because we anticipate together the endless days that we get to feast with our embodied King Jesus Christ at His buffet!