God Loves Feasts
We should look forward to coming to the table, not just because we are hungry, but for the joy of being together. We should be full of anticipation. It should be full of fun and laughs.
We enjoy eating at our home. We enjoy the taste of our cooking. As we eat our evening meal I often exclaim, “I feel sorry for everyone else in the world. I wish they could eat what we are eating right now.” Please forgive me if I sound biased. I just enjoy my cooking and relish the flavor.
Have you watched the video, “What About Bob?” It is a delightful comedy of a psychiatric patient who is healed from his problems by becoming part of family life. At one stage in the video he is shown eating with the family and loving every moment. “Mmmmmmm, ” he expresses with ecstasy at every mouthful. This tickled our fancy and now we often do the same. If we are really enjoying a dish, we will all “Mmmmmmm” with delight. I’m sure God wants us to take pleasure in our meals.
Psalm 22:26, “The meek shall eat and be satisfied.”
Read also Psalm 63:5; 81:16; 105:40; 107:9; 132:15b.
Proverbs 13:25; 20:13b; Isaiah 58:11a; Jeremiah 31:14b; Joel 2:19; 2:26.
Ecclesiastes 9:7, “Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart.” Read also 3:13 and 5:18.
Acts 2:46-47, “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their food with gladness and singleness (simplicity) of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people.” The word “gladness” in this verse is “agalliasis” meaning ‘exultation, exuberant joy.’
Acts 14:17, “The living God… gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” The word “gladness’ here is ‘euphrosune’ meaning ‘to rejoice, joyfulness.’
1 Timothy 6:17, “The living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.”
The children of Israel lived on a basic diet of bread with oil, fish and olives, interrupted with feasts. Oh how they loved to feast and celebrate. Feasts are for fun, friendship, fellowship and fullness! Oh yes– fatness too! And we don’t have to separate feasting from God’s presence. In the Bible they go together! God wants us to feast in His presence! Look at these Scriptures.
Deuteronomy 14:23,26 Knox, “Every year thou wilt set apart a tenth of all the crops… and come to the place the Lord thy God has chosen… to feast on it there in His presence… With this money thou mayest buy all thou wilt, oxen and sheep, wine and mead, to thy heart’s content, and on these thou shalt feast in the presence of the Lord, thou and all thy household, making good cheer together.”
Deuteronomy 26:11 Knox, “When thou hast paid worship… go home to feast on all the good things He has given thee, with all thy household, with Levite and wanderer that are thy neighbors.”
Deuteronomy 27:7 Knox, “Eat and make good cheer in the Lord’s presence.”
God loves feasts. God established feasts to teach and remind the generations of the people of Israel of His ways and wondrous works – the Feast of Passover, the Feast of Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles. However, there are also many other feasts and celebrations talked about in the Bible. We can have feasts from the cradle to the grave. Here are others that are mentioned.
God loves weddings and weddings feasts. God is excited when a “man and a maid” are joined together. He is the one who planned the whole idea of marriage anyway. God loves matchmaking! I am sure that He must rub His hands together in delight as He sees a couple joined together who have waited for Him to lead them together! He delights in the ceremony. He delights in the joy of the feast and celebration. He looks forward to the fruit that will come from the union – the godly seed that will fill the earth with His glory.
God so loves wedding feasts that He is also planning one Himself – the greatest feast that will ever be held. He has been planning it for a long time. He got our taste buds watering when He proclaimed it nearly 2,000 years ago! In fact, it was planned before the creation of our world! Maybe He even talked to Adam and Eve about it as they talked together in the Garden of Eden. With this much time for preparation, can you imagine what it is going to be like? Wow! Just make sure you are there! All are invited but the only ones who get in are those whose garments are washed in the blood of the Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will be the Bridegroom of the day! Hallelujah!
I wonder how long this feast will last? Will it last for weeks, months or years into eternity? It will be the Feast of all feasts, the Wedding of all weddings, the ultimate Joy of all joys!
Revelation 19: 9, “Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.”
Perhaps Matthew 8:11 NIV is also referring to the marriage supper of the Lamb when it says “Many shall come from the east and west and shall take their places at the feast with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.”
Some commentators point the following Scripture to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. I’m not sure whether it relates to this or not, but it does talk about a feast (maybe another one) that is going to happen when He comes to reign on the earth.
Isaiah 25:6 TLB, “Here on Mount Zion in Jerusalem, the Lord of Hosts will spread a wondrous feast for everyone around the world – a delicious feast of good food, with clear, well-aged wine and choice beef.”
Doesn’t it sound exciting? How can people think that God is boring? He is interested in food. He loves celebrations! He loves to provide good food.
Jesus talked about wedding feasts as he taught the people through parables.
Matthew 22:2 MLB, “The kingdom of heaven is similar to a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son… ‘Tell those invited, “Look here! I have gotten my dinner ready, my steers and fatted beasts are killed, and everything is prepared. Come to the wedding.”’
Weddings in the Bible were different than what we experience today. They didn’t have a short meal or few snacks after the wedding ceremony. They didn’t have a quick “get it over and done with it”. No, they usually feasted and celebrated for a whole week! We see examples of this in Genesis 29:21-27 - Leah’s wedding; and Judges 14:10-12 - Samson’s wedding.
I feel sad when a wedding service is hurried and short, and when people come for a token visit to a wedding reception and then leave, especially without saying good-bye. In our busy lives in the nineties, I believe we should come back to the importance of the uniting of two lives. It is a solemn covenant before God that we are called upon to conscientiously witness. We have a responsibility to strengthen and help keep the marriage together. A new generation is starting. It is precious in the eyes of God. We should not take it lightly.
When reading the account of the wedding of Cana in Galilee I noticed something new. John 2:12 NAS, “After this (the wedding in Cana) He went down to Capernaum, He and his mother and his brothers, and His disciples, and there they stayed a few days.” The wedding at Cana continued for a number of days but it didn't end there! Can you read between the lines in this Scripture? After having such a good time together at the wedding, they continued the vacation together. The celebration continued even beyond the celebration!
We had a little taste of this after Serene and Sam’s wedding – our youngest daughter. We had lots of people staying and visiting who had come in from out of town for the wedding. So for the next three days we feasted on wedding feast leftovers with about 20 - 30 people for the evening meal each night. What great times they were. It would have been such an anti-climax if the wedding feasting and celebration had ended on the same day!
You can also read about Esther’s wedding in Esther 2:17-18.
HOUSE DEDICATON FEASTS
Deuteronomy 20:5, "What man is there that hath built a new house, and hath not dedicated it? let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man dedicate it."
2 Chronicles 2:4, “Behold, I am building a temple for the name of the Lord my God, to dedicate it to Him.”
Because of the busy lives we live, we forget about this feast. We need to take time to have a special time to dedicate each new home to the Lord. It is biblical. If your friends have built or purchased a new home and have not planned a dedication feast, why not plan one for them? Ask all their friends to bring food and gather at their home to bless and encourage them. And then pray over every room of the home and dedicate it to the Lord.
When I was a young girl living in New Zealand we used to have "tin cannings" for newly married couples. It was always a surprise. On a pre-planned night, all their friends would gather around the house, banging tin cans, making loud noises and frightening the wits out of them! I'm not sure whether that was such a good idea! All the folks would bring food for a celebration, plus a gift for their new home. Maybe the name originated in the early days because they brought canned food to help them establish their new pantry.
I have also done this here in America but my American friends called it a “pounding”! I’m not sure of the origin of this word. Maybe it was because they brought a pound of different kinds of food for them.
The New Manners and Customs of the Bible by James M. Freeman, says, “Jewish tradition says that not only was a newly built house to be dedicated, but a house lately obtained, whether by inheritance, purchase, or gift”.
Solomon dedicated the house of the Lord with a feast.
1 Kings 8:62-66, “So the king and all the children of Israel dedicated the house of the Lord… At that time Solomon held a feast, and all Israel with him… seven days, and seven more days – fourteen days.”
NAMING BABY FEASTS
Luke 1:59 tells us about the naming of John the Baptist on the eighth day, the day he was circumcised. It is called the ‘brit’ or ‘berith milah’.
Luke 2:21 says that Jesus was also officially named on the eighth day, the day of his circumcision. This was the day, and still is the day that all Jewish sons are named. It is normal Jewish tradition to have a reception after the ceremony much like a wedding reception after a wedding ceremony.
What a fun idea to gather friends and family together and have a celebration on the day you officially name the baby! I know that many babies are named before they are born! Even John and Jesus were too, but they still commemorated the official day when they announced the name.
God specifically told these parents the names they were to call their sons. This doesn’t always happen to us. In fact, until recent times, the sex of the baby would be an exciting surprise! Even with ultra sound available, I still believe in surprises! It is much more exciting! When you already know the sex and name of the baby, it is like an anti-climax when the baby is born. I love the apprehension of waiting to hear if it is going to be a son or daughter, and of course, the excitement of waiting to hear the name.
Yes, they even had feasts for weaning. Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible says that Isaac would have been about five years old when he weaned. Other commentators say that he would have been at least three years old. This would certainly call for a celebration wouldn’t it? In his Bible commentary, Matthew Henry states, “Abraham made a feast on the day that he was weaned because God’s blessing upon the nursing of children, and the preservation of them through the perils of the infant age, are signal instances of the care and tenderness of the divine providence.”
Genesis 21:8, “And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned.”
This is a different reason for a feast, isn’t it? But it sounds like a good one to me. Although we never want it to happen, offences do happen in the course of our lives. What do we do with these situations? We can either become bitter or dwell on the hurt, or we can move in the kingdom principles that God has provided for us. God’s ways are to forgive and to bless. As we reconcile with forgiveness and blessing, what a wonderful idea to prepare a meal for the people concerned. This would really cement the reconciliation and relationship, wouldn’t it? Here are some Biblical examples:
1) Read Genesis 26:26-31. This passage tells us the story of how King Abimilech and Isaac made peace together. After reconciliation Isaac “made them a feast, and they ate and drank.”
2) Genesis Chapter 31 tells the story of how Jacob escaped from Laban without telling him. Laban is very upset and pursues them. After three days Laban catches up with him and they sort things out together. After sorting it out, they make a covenant together and then in verse 54 it says, “Then Jacob offered a sacrifice on the mountain, and called his brethren to eat bread. And they ate bread and stayed all night on the mountain.”
3) 2 Samuel 3:12-20 tells the story of how Saul’s General, Abner made peace with David. Then “David made a feast for Abner and the twenty men who were with him.”
4) Because of Job’s troubles, all his family and friends turned against him. Turn to Job 19:13-19 to read how they all forsook him and forgot about him. However, when God healed him and vindicated him, they came and had a big feast with him. Job 42:10-12.
5) We all know the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32. What was the immediate response of the father when his son reconciled to him? A feast of course! Verse 32 AMP says, “Bring out that fattened calf and kill it, and let us revel and feast and be happy and merry.”
Genesis 40:20, “Now it came to pass on the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, that he made a feast for all his servants.”
Mark 6:21, “Herod on his birthday gave a feast for his nobles, the high officers, and the chief men of Galilee.”
Job 1:4-5 tells us how Job’s sons would put on a big feast to celebrate their birthdays. Let’s read about it from The Living Bible. “Every year when each of Job’s sons had a birthday, he invited his brothers and sisters to his home for a celebration. On these occasions they would eat and drink with great merriment.”
I am sure that you have lots of ideas for birthdays. It is important to celebrate the day each of our children was born. It makes them feel special and wanted. I have talked with a number of people, especially older folk, who confessed that their mother never made birthday parties for them, and it was a source of hurt and sadness to them all their lives. It was only in latter years as we pried it out of her that our own dear mother told us the date of her birthday. We think the reason for this was that her stepmother never gave her a birthday party or acknowledged her birthdays. Everyone needs to feel wanted. Everyone needs to be fussed over (we would hope every day) but at least once a year!
I know that you have loads of ideas for birthday celebrations. Over the years we have developed a tradition that is now special to our family. This is something that we do, no matter what kind of birthday we plan. Each member of the family and whoever else is asked to the gathering is asked to give a speech to the birthday person. This is an opportunity to say all the nice things that they can about the birthday person – to impart courage and inspire them to be all that God wants them to be. By the time everyone has given an encouraging speech the birthday person is fortified and motivated to face another year! We find this a wonderful blessing and I think the family members look forward to the cheering birthday speeches more than anything else on their birthday. You might like to start this tradition in your family. Even small children can learn to give an encouraging speech and say all the nice things they can think of about their brother or sister.
If you are having a special birthday celebration and have invited many guests, it may not be appropriate to do this. On these occasions we have what we call open speeches and give an opportunity to those who would like to share something to the birthday person. At least they don’t miss out on being encouraged and affirmed in who they are.
SECOND BIRTHDAY FEASTS
You may even like to have a special celebration on the date your child received Jesus Christ to be his or her Lord and Savior. This is certainly worth commemorating. At birthdays we like to sing:
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Take Christ as your Savior
And then you’ll have two!
SPECIAL GATHERING FEASTS
Isn’t it wonderful to have special occasions during the year when we prepare a big meal for extended family or special guests? Whenever we have family or friends come from our native country of New Zealand or Australia where we lived for ten years, we will gather the whole family together and put on a big feast. We often have up to 30 of us for a sit-down dinner. These are always memorable occasions. Make excuses for these occasions. The more family gatherings you can organize the better.
This happened when Moses’ father-in-law came to visit him in the wilderness.
Exodus 18:12 MLB, “Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and sacrifices for God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to join Moses’ father-in-law in eating a meal before the Lord.”
Let’s read about what they did for King David’s Coronation:
1 Chronicles 12:38-40, “All these men of war… came to Hebron with a loyal heart, to make David king over all Israel; and all the rest of Israel were of one mind to make David king. And they were there with David three days, eating and drinking, for their brethren had prepared for them. Moreover those who were near to them, from as far away as Issachar and Zebulun and Naphtali, were bringing food on donkeys and camels, on mules and oxen – provisions of flour and cakes of figs and cakes of raisins, wine and oil and oxen and sheep abundantly, for there was joy in Israel.”
King Solomon’s inauguration.
1 Chronicles 29:22, “They ate and drank before the Lord with great gladness on that day.”
Here are some other feasts you can read about: Esther 1:1-9; Daniel 5:1; Matthew 6:21.
SEND OFF FEASTS
When friends are leaving to go to another town, it is most commendable that we give them a big “send off”. This can often be a “pot luck” supper where everyone brings a dish and we get together to fellowship for the last time before they leave. This is a wonderful opportunity to speak encouraging and positive things into their lives. On occasions like this we encourage everyone who can to say something that they have appreciated about them while they have known them, or to give a Scripture or an exhortation of comfort or vision as they go on their way. If the person or persons are going out to serve the Lord, you could also take up a love offering for them at the gathering.
Titus 4:12 JBP, “Zenas and Apollos… give them a good send off.”
3 John 5, “If you send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God, you will do well.”
Yes, we can have a feast for every occasion. When someone comes back from a long holiday, welcome them back with a feast. When someone has been out on the field serving the Lord, welcome them back with a feast.
Philippians 2:29 TMB, “Epaphroditus… Give him a grand welcome, a joyful embrace.”
Colossians 4:10 AMP, “Mark… if he comes to you give him a hearty welcome.”
One of the greatest ways to make someone feel welcome is to sit him or her down to a big dinner that is prepared especially for them.
FUNERALS - THE CELEBRATION OF A PERSON’S LIFE
We cannot help grieve at the departing of a loved one. In fact, grief is natural and we must go through the grieving process to find true healing. However, I myself think that the actual funeral should be a celebration of the person’s life. What an opportunity to have many people share about the life of the person who has just left us. My mother passed on to glory at 83 years of age on January 28 1999. She lived a godly life and it was such a joy to celebrate her life with all those who came.
It is traditional for people to have a feast at a funeral and this is also important. When we eat food together, it is healing, and helps those who are grieving. Take time to eat with those who have lost a loved one. And don’t forget to invite them to your home regularly as they face the lonely days ahead.
Genesis 50:1-4. When Jacob died, the Egyptians mourned for him for 70 days. After that, Joseph and a huge entourage left Egypt and went up to Canaan to bury his father. That was a journey of about 300 miles – and they didn’t drive in cars! When they arrived, he observed another seven days of mourning.
Numbers 20:29. When Aaron died, the whole house of Israel mourned for him for 30 days.
Deuteronomy 34:7-8. When Moses died, they also mourned for him for 30 days.
They understood they needed time for grieving. In Bible days, they didn’t go to a funeral for an afternoon and that was it! They really mourned. These weeks of mourning would also have included many meals of eating together and comforting one another.
Jude v. 12 tells us about the Love Feasts that the early church used to enjoy together. When they came together to worship, share the Word and partake of The Lord’s Supper they also ate together. Church is more than coming to a meeting. It is interaction and fellowship. We are to be participators, not pew warmers. These were most anointed times in the days of the early church. Everyone brought food and they fellowshipped and ate together. They were truly ‘agape feasts’ as they were called. As time went on and they no longer experienced the ”sharing of all things common” as at the beginning, the wealthier members of the community brought enough food and drink to meet the needs of the poorer members. Sadly, as the purity of the church declined, the love feasts became traditional rather than anointed, scandals arose and by the 4th century they were disbanded.
We currently have love feasts at our Sunday fellowship. Everyone brings a dish. After church we set up the tables, sit down together and continue to fellowship. It is as we talk together that we become aware of one another’s needs. Eating together produces a family atmosphere.
There is more yet. Most of us also celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Fourth of July and loads of others. We can’t forget anniversaries, engagements, showers, graduations, confirmations and reunions. There are national holidays, religious days and historic events. Each nationality has their own special days and each family establishes their own traditions and ways of doing things. . We certainly don’t lack for excuses to celebrate do we? Make the most of them. This is life! This is family!
Here are a few more specific ideas.
BAR MITZVAH OR BAT MITZVAH
A Bar Mitzvah is a Jewish celebration for a son’s 13th birthday. It is a time when he comes out of boyhood into preparing for manhood. It is a very important celebration and is commemorated by a big feast and special event after the ritual. They are often lavish celebrations similar to a wedding celebration and can sometimes last for two to three days. Some families fly their children to Israel for this celebration. This occasion is called a Bat Mitzvah for a daughter.
When our youngest daughter turned 13 years, we prepared a Bat Mitzvah for her. We adapted it to our Christian beliefs. I am looking at the photograph album now to recall what we did. Oh how much younger we all looked! Before we started the meal we gradually lit a menorah of seven candles.
First candle – Serene gave a speech about her mother and father and her upbringing.
Second candle –Colin gave a speech about Serene and a message to her.
Third candle – I gave a speech about Serene and an encouraging message to her.
Fourth candle –Serene recited Psalm 19:7-14 which she had previously memorized.
Fifth Candle –Serene acknowledged her faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and her commitment to the Lord.
Sixth Candle – Serene prayed a prayer of dedication of her life to God’s will and purpose.
Seventh candle – Colin, her father, prayed a blessing over Serene.
And then we celebrated!
Colin and I arrived in Australia from New Zealand in January 1982 along with our six children, plus Val and Bill Stares and their three children (Val is now the Director of Above Rubies in Australia). It was an exciting day for us all as we started life in a new country. Each year we would get together as families and celebrate the day we came to Australia. As we sat around the table enjoying the meal, we would often get each one to share why they were glad they came to Australia, or perhaps what they missed about New Zealand.
I recently received an email from Val. They enjoyed another celebration of their arrival on the Gold Coast, this time a barbeque. In usual tradition; each one had a turn to share. Val said they talked and reminisced for hours.
I’m sure that you must have many memory days in your calendar that you would like to celebrate.
I have a dear friend who put on a big celebration just for the reason of honoring their father and mother. It wasn’t their birthday, anniversary or any specific date. It was for the sole purpose of showing them honor. All the family prepared a big meal and planned many different ideas to show their honor. They even made thrones for their parents to sit in. Is there someone you would like to honor?
RESPECT FOR THE AGE FEASTS
Japan has one day a year called Respect for the Aged Day. We could also take this idea and have a special meal, perhaps more than once a year, where we ask some older folk in our community or church to come and have a meal with us. What a wonderful way to teach your children how to respect, how to be interested in, and how to minister to older people. The children can be involved in planning, preparing and helping with the occasion. Remember to tell your children to stand up to honor the older people when they arrive. Leviticus 19:32 says, “Stand up before the gray-haired person; honor the face of the aged and revere your God.”
When living in New Zealand, God gave me a burden to put on a beautiful and special meal for the older folk in our community once a month. Most of the church women helped me with this. We tracked down all the older people we could find, collected them in cars and brought them to the lovely feast we provided. I remember the first time we held this feast. I had encouraged the ladies to make the nicest food they could think of so we could really bless these older folks. We had so much food I wondered what we would do with it all! Lo and behold, they ate it all!!! Maybe they weren’t used to such delightful food! We also provided entertainment, especially from the children. Older folks love to hear and see children.
Have loads of fun! Remember, meals are prepared for enjoyment; feasts are made for laughter!
FEAST TIMES SHOULD ALWAYS BE JOYFUL
Ezra 6:22, “And kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with joy.”
Nehemiah 8:9-12, “This day is holy unto the Lord your God: mourn not, nor weep… Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord; neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength… And all the people went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth, because they had understood the words that were declared unto them.”
Nehemiah 12:27, 43, “To keep the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings, and with singing, with cymbals, psalteries, and with harps… Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced; for God had made them rejoice with great joy: the wives also and the children rejoiced: so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off.”
Esther 9:19, 22, “a day of gladness and feasting, and a good day, and of sending portions one to another.
1 Chronicles 12:40 - the celebration to make David king! “And they were there with David three days, eating and drinking… for there was joy in Israel.”
Notice that their feasts didn’t last for one meal, but went on for days.
Luke 15:23-25, “Bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry. Now his older son was in the field, And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing.”
“A feast is made for laughter.”
This article is taken from Chapter 20 of the book, THE FAMILY MEAL TABLE AND HOSPITALITY . If you would like to enjoy the whole book, here are the details.
By Nancy Campbell
This manual will give you a vision for your family meal table far beyond what you have ever had before. It has 35 chapters and over 200 pages of scriptural inspiration and creative ideas for your family mealtimes and hospitality.
It also has questions at the end of each chapter for personal meditation or group discussion in a Bible Study group. This manual is a “must” for every family.
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