Wine in Scripture is referenced so often that it is good we take a moment to study its importance. Wine was always treated with a degree of sanctity and was never to be abused. In fact if you were the head of the church you were to not drink it or drink it in excess (1 Timothy 3:3). John the Baptist who set the stage for Christ’s coming took no wine nor did he cut his hair (Luke 1:15) among other things.
For others wine served many purposes. It was used for medicinal purposes (Luke 10:34) as a disinfectant. It was also used as a drug such as offered to Christ before His crucifixion (Mark 15:33) . When mixed with frankincense it would deaden the senses much like what some states who still carry out death sentences call a ‘3 cocktail’ system to end life.
On a positive side wine (which was often heavily diluted with water) was drunk with meals, at special festivals or simply to soften the feeling of pain or grief. Scripture is replete with numerous references in these areas. The Jews would offer a special blessing (brakhah) before consuming such as Christ showed us when first instituting the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 26:27-29).
Finally, it should be noted that grapes and wine were a metaphor for our judgment one day. In Revelations 14:14-20 we see how the harvest applies to judgment and how the act of pressing out the juice is like removing the life blood of people. Indeed the story of wine in Scripture has much to tell us. This is only a partial answer to the question WHAT ABOUT WINE?
THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Wine is welcome when used wisely.
DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Isaiah 55:1 “Wine is figurative of the Gospel”.
PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord thank you for Your many blessings.
QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:
- What are the uses of wine?
- What evil effects can come from wine?
- Who used wine in Scripture and in what circumstances?
- Wine or grape juice and why?
Wheat has always fascinated me. The reason is its ties to Scripture and also my German from Russia cultural background. Numerous articles and artifacts exist showing the story of Hard Red Winter Wheat brought here by my ancestors and its effect on American culture, food and so much more.
Spiritually this life giving cereal was first grown in Egypt as shown in Exodus 9:32 and later incorporated into the spiritual life of Israel. In that regard it is good for us to understand how it has been spoken of in Scripture.
It is important here to note that a companion plant called zonin looks like wheat in its early stages but ultimately ends up being exposed as a weed. That is the message for Christians in Matthew 13:25. Like wheat we will likely go through a process of sifting (trials and temptations) in which the weed seeds and the chaff will be cast aside and eventually destroyed. Christ Himself referenced this in Luke 22:31. Wheat planted as a naked kernel grows in righteousness to be harvested by the great reaper Christ Jesus.
Christ references His death (John 12:24) as like unto that grain of wheat. Unless it is first planted into the ground as one day we will be upon our deaths, we will not be able to experience Resurrection save for the rapture upon Christ’s return or sooner depending on your viewpoint. That being said Wheat was the primary grain offered at the temple in worship to God. So should it be that we now offer our own lives as LIVING SACRIFICES TO GOD.
THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Waiting on the Lord enriches our life like a grain of wheat.
DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Matthew 3:12 “”Wheat is figurative of being a Christian”.
PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I desire to be tested and found not wanting.
QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:
1. What does it mean to be a living sacrifice to God?
2. How are Christians symbolic of wheat?
3. What is zonin?
4. What is the history of wheat especially in its transition coming into the United States?
Occasionally we hear that certain food is a gift from God and one of them most certainly is virgin olive oil (Psalm 104:14-15). It is for that reason we will look at olive oil and its many uses and meanings.
One use was for anointing (Psalm 23:5) those whom you deemed special. Our Messiah was anointed numerous times and ways. In fact the act itself was synonymous with brotherly love as in the words of Psalm 133. A message that should speak loudly to the disunity in our day. In fact olive oil for anointing purposes was used in the time of Moses for purification purposes as well (Exodus 40:9-10). Today it still carries that importance.
It is interesting to note that Gethsemane where Jesus prayed comes from the word for oil press and to this day there are gnarled old olive trees there that may have been present at the time of Jesus or so I am told. Likewise we know that the Mount of Olives was a place of retreat for Jesus. Certainly olive trees and oil hold a special place for Christ.
Additional uses of olive oil were for medicine along with wine (Luke 10:34). Its healing value was well known. In James 5:14-15 it was specifically used for someone extremely ill.
The importance of anointing oil is ultimately equated with our being Born Again of the Holy Spirit. It is as 1 John 2:20 and 27 tells us. Purified by the Holy Spirit our eyes will be opened in an almost unbelievable fashion. This to help us understand the Second Coming and the role olive oil will play at that time (Revelations 6:6). Indeed olive oil is IMPORTANT IN OUR LIVES.
THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Using olive oil as an ointment or otherwise shows obedience to our Lord.
DEVOTIONAL VERSES FOR TODAY: Psalm 104:14-15 “Olive oil is given by God”.
PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord give me understanding of Your many blessings.
QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:
- What food or plant items does Scripture consider special gifts from God?
- What Scriptural references are there to Christ being anointed?
- How do we bestow blessing on our special guests today?
- How do you use olive oil?
The concept of food and all that relates to it is key in Scripture. It has multiple meanings, used in multiple ways and so much more that in this devotional I plan to just give you a ‘taste’ of what Scripture reveals regarding the topic of food.
The food industry is an industry unto its own and diets and eating habits are only a small part of it. Many believe that eating according to the teachings of Scripture would be wise if we desire a healthy and long life. That would mean if we ate like Bedouins of the desert we would eat locusts and date honey (bees don’t live in the desert). What would be more palatable to many of us is what caused us to grow up and out on which is bread.
Bread made from wheat flour has always been key in all meals. From the moment God sent it from Heaven (Exodus 16:4) to preserve life until the present time. It is said that a pot of this manna with its special characteristics was placed in the Ark of the Covenant along side the Commandments God gave Moses. This to be preserved for the feast when one day God returns to mankind.
Satan also understood the importance of food. Food presents 3 kinds of temptations: for the eyes in its preparation, for the taste buds to meet desires of our flesh and finally to meet mankind’s pretentious nature (example is paying large sums of money for caviar). Food be it used for spiritual or physical reasons can be either good or evil. Satan obviously used it to further evil.
For me the most important understanding is how I believe our homes are God’s Temple with the dining table its altar. At all meals, as Scripture advises, a short prayer is said before eating and though no longer common as it once was, a longer prayer after. At the meal we would have as our guest Christ Jesus Himself as He tells us in Revelations 3:20. It is then time for a real TASTE OF FOOD.
THOUGHT FOR TODAY: All food is a spiritual feast that is eaten following a blessing.
DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Psalm 145:15 “Food comes from God”.
PRAYER FOR TODAY: Thank you Lord for providing for my needs.
QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:
- What would a Scriptural Diet look like?
- How much importance do we place on bread in contemporary life?
- What other food related physical and spiritual rituals does the Bible share?
- Is prayer a part of EVERY meal you eat?
The obvious reason we eat is to survive but the importance goes much deeper. Today we abuse it in so many ways and it shows in matters of health (ex. weight problems) and more. Scripture shares with us what we should know regarding eating restrictions, how Christians should view eating and even the spiritual significance of taking in food.
Growing up, one eating tradition the culture out of which I came had was making and eating ‘blood sausage’. Though I can’t remember the taste, I do remember it as a part of the process of butchering a pig where everything but the ‘oink’ was used. In Acts 15:20 we are told that for the Jewish people then as now ‘blood foods’ were restricted. Today eating kosher is critical for a devout Jew. I believe the verse in Acts, though certainly not harmful for we Gentiles to obey, was not meant to be an eternal command but rather advice on how Gentile Christians should show courtesy to guests in their home who have strict eating practices. Otherwise there were few if any other New Testament restrictions other than excess eating which happens when we make “our belly a god” (Philippians 3:19).
The spiritual significance of eating has tradition that goes back even before the time of Christ. Eating was a time of fellowship. This is best seen in the example of the Last Supper (Luke 22:15-20). It was customary before the meal to have 2 cups of wine before and 2 cups after the meal remembering 4 events in Jewish history. These were and still are: being brought out from a burden, being delivered, being redeemed and having our deliverer as our God.
At one time eating a meal at a table was critical as the table was like an altar, the food a sacrifice to God (not to our stomach), and he who sat at the table like unto a priest. Washing of hands prior to a meal symbolized ceremonial purity. That all changed with TV dinners.
Today these traditions are fading fast and as Mark 7:2-9 and 19 tells us what was once necessary for hygienic reasons we now turn over to the digestive system and its ability to cleanse. There is so much more that could be said on this topic such as exploring the idea of “if you don’t work you don’t eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10) but suffice it to say there is much in God’s Word regarding THE IMPORTANCE OF EATING.
THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Eating in excess without earnest labor will not edify.
DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: 2 Thessalonians 3:10 “you don’t work, you don’t eat”.
PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord strengthen my will to eat properly.
QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:
- How are we abusing the rich tradition of eating?
- Do you have your meals at the table and why or why not?
- How would a Biblical diet look?
- How do you feel about 2 Thessalonians 3:10 in an entitlement world?
Lately I have been reading about one of our basic foods that being bread. Bread comes from flour which most often comes from wheat. Wheat (Hard Red Winter or Turkey Red) was a grain introduced into this country by my ancestors of German from Russian descent in the late 1870’s and was of such importance to the state of Kansas it was honored by a Federal postage stamp. It was always a staple on our meal table.
Bread is key to Scripture for its special use beginning with it having a purpose to help remember. In Deuteronomy 16:3 we read of unleavened bread called Matzoh which is referred to as the ‘bread of suffering’ that Jewish people to this day eat seven times a year in remembrance of their Exodus from Egypt.
Bread was also of such importance that God provided it along with meat to Elijah (1 Kings 17:6) during a period of drought brought upon Israel for their falling away from God while Elijah was one glimmer of hope that still remained. It was bread that gave Elijah the strength to fulfill the plan God had for him (1 Kings 19:6-8).
Bread was so essential to survival that satan himself used it in the first temptation of Christ after His baptism (Mt.4:3). It is here we hear from Christ that despite breads critical importance to life there is one thing that is more important which is “every word from God”. It is why I truly believe the Bible and our understanding of it is the most crucial item to life.
In Matthew 14:19-21 we see the miracle of bread where after a day of Christ showing compassion on a multitude of people He had one more miracle to show in the feeding of the 5000 with a few loaves and fishes. In fact it was in the breaking (eating) of bread that the insight into Christ’s resurrection was made available to His followers (Luke 24:35). Indeed bread truly HELPS YOU TO REMEMBER.
THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Bread is a blessed food given to the body of believers in our Lord and Savior.
DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Deuteronomy 16:3 “bread used for remembrance”.
PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord thank you for the bread of life.
QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:
1. How do you feel about bread?
2. Do you have any special memories involving bread?
3. Why was bread so important to our Lord?
4. When do you eat bread?
RELATED BLOG: You don’t work, you don’t eat!
We seem to live in a society that seems more and more as if the few who choose to work are expected to provide for those who can legitimately do some sort of work but choose not to. God if we are following in His image has shown us the way on how to handle these matters when it comes to providing ‘bread’.
It begins in Gen. 3:19 in what is considered the ‘Adamic covenant’ made between God and mankind until the curse of sin is lifted. That first provision is that what you eat is to be earned by the sweat of your labor. That is not to say we shouldn’t help those who are legitimately disabled and cannot work but perhaps we need to be careful about how we freely give out assistance and subsidies to those who can work in some fashion. In fact in my way of thinking the ability to work and produce food is a gift from God (2 Cor. 9:10) and should we decide to be lazy and irresponsible we are then telling God we don’t want His gift. A saying out of my heritage past is “Arbeit macht das leben suess” which translated means work makes life sweet and indeed it does.
God would also have us pray for food. It is part and parcel of the prayer He taught us which is called the Lord’s Prayer. God expects us to have our labors blessed by Him which He eagerly does. That being said Paul in 2 Thess. 3:8 and 12 showed us the way. We are to eat what we labor for and not undeserved welfare else we become a burden on others. How different the world would be if we lived by these guidelines.
THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Bread is best enjoyed when bought through the sweat of our own bodies labors.
DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Matthew 6:11 “God provides ‘bread’ when sought through labor and prayer.
PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord may I never tire working to earn my own keep.
QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:
1. What is the difference between ‘workfare’ and ‘welfare’?
2. How does the idea of work, welfare, charity, etc. all fit together?
3. Are you accepting anything to which you are not entitled by your own labors?
4. How do you feel about our current welfare system structure?