Eating and Drinking in the Kingdom of God

“The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and
a winebibber [drunkard, NASB], a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’
But wisdom is justified by her children.” Mat 11:19
In our last post, we addressed Rom 14:17 where Paul told us that, “the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” His point was that we often need to choose to abstain from even normal practices where they may truly cause others to stumble.
However, it is interesting to see that the Bible often speaks of the Kingdom of God in terms of eating and drinking. In the above passage, Jesus, as the long-awaited King, declares that He came to celebrate the inauguration of His kingdom by joining with His people in feasting. In fact, one of the most common figures of the Kingdom of God is that of a great and continual feast. In the interest of spiritual balance, consider some of the following texts.
The Theocracy of Israel was Founded with a Feast
“So they saw God, and they ate and drank.” Exo 24:11
Moses, who had already seen God on Mount Sinai, took the 70 elders up on the mount, along with Aaron and his sons, to meet God. This feast was to celebrate the covenant made between God and Israel. The symbolism behind the action of feasting is designed to show that union and fellowship with God brings, as Paul said, “righteousness and peace and joy,” which are pictured as a feast. This is why the marriage union was always celebrated by seven days of feasting—as a figure of our spiritual union with God.
Feasting Represented the Faith-Rest Life
“And there [in the land] you shall eat before the LORD your God, and you shall rejoice in
all to which you have put your hand, you and your households, in which the
LORD your God has blessed you … for as yet you have not come to the rest and the inheritance
which the LORD your God is giving you.” Deu 12:7, Deu 12:9
The land of Canaan was intended by God to be a refuge for Israel, where feasting and rejoicing were the norm. Certainly, there were enemies in the land, and they had to be defeated before the celebrations could begin. Even so, until the enemies in our own souls are conquered, we cannot enter into the spiritual feast of the faith-rest life.
The Annual Feasts of Israel Portrayed the Kingdom
“And you shall eat before the LORD your God, in the place where He chooses
to make His name abide … that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always …
You and your household shall eat before the LORD your God year by
year in the place which the LORD chooses.” Deu 14:23; Deu 15:20
How amazing is it that God established His chosen people in the land of Israel with a routine of annual feasts—times of celebration where even the poor and destitute were treated to feasting and drinking!
“Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those
for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow,
for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Neh 8:10
In rebuilding and restoring Jerusalem, Nehemiah reminded the people of the original intent of God for the nation. They were to be a separate, holy people. One of the things that set them apart was that they were to be a joyful, celebrating people!
Not only did the Lord establish seven feasts throughout the year, but every seventh year was a year-long sabbatical, celebrated by resting, feasting, and sharing with those less fortunate. Do you begin to get the idea that God wants his people “eating and drinking”?
Salvation is Pictured as an Entrance to a Feast
“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy
and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” Isa 55:1
When we believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are blessed with “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph 1:3). It is out of the super-abundance of our spiritual treasures that we are to enjoy a continual feast in our souls, and provide joy and rejoicing to those around us who are burdened and “heavy laden” (Mat 11:28). To possess eternal life, to have the daily communion of the indwelling Spirit of God, to have the privilege of being chosen as “the bride of Christ” (2Co 11:2), should result in a life of joyful celebration.
Jesus and the Disciples Brought Celebration Everywhere
“Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, ‘Why do we and the Pharisees
fast often, but your disciples do not fast?’” Mat 9:14
Jesus’ answer is full of instruction, for He asks, “Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?” And then He says, “When the bridegroom will be taken from them … then they will fast” (Mat 9:15). There are times for feasting and celebration in the spiritual life, and there are times for fasting. Are we wise enough to know the difference? There is nothing more out of place, than someone foolishly celebrating at a time and place for mourning. However, I find it even more tragic to see so many believers who never seem to celebrate!
Jesus worked His first public miracle at a wedding feast (John 2). The lack of sufficient wine may have resulted from His coming with all the disciples, perhaps unannounced. This unexpected drain on the supply (no one in those days would fail to plan and provide plenty of wine), could have turned the joyful event into a tragic memory for this young couple. Jesus, by turning the water into wine, said, in effect, “Let the party continue!”
The Communion—a Joyful Feast
“And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples
and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body …’ Then He took the cup, and gave thanks,
and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant,
which is shed for many for the remission of sins.’” Mat 26:26–28
Have you ever looked around when Christians are celebrating the Lord’s Supper? Doesn’t it seem that everyone gets all solemn and sober? This is not what it is supposed to be! It is a celebration of the great work of redemption and liberation, which Christ has done for us. The sorrow of the cross is swallowed up in the victory of the resurrection (1Co 15:54b).
Of all the hindrances and obstacles that the world sees in the visible Church, none prevents so many from seeking entrance into our fellowship more than the lack of the joyful celebration of our so-great salvation (Heb 2:3). Although we need to be careful not to make “eating and drinking” our spiritual priority (Rom 14:17), we would all do well to demonstrate more joyful celebration in our lives!
“But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You …
let those also who love Your name be joyful in You.” Psa 5:11


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