KINDS OF MEALS

Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.

Revelation 2:20

  1. Why We Eat

All food does not serve a nutritional purpose, even though it might have nutritional value.  Everything we eat or drink is not because we were hungry or thirsty.  Sometimes it is merely for the fun of the food, or because it is part of a social event, or because there are medicinal properties we wish to derive from the food, or because the eating is part of a religious ritual.  The spirit realm is one of frequent meals and communions, and that realm recognizes and distinguishes meals and meal types.

  1. Unentitled Titles

In the passage above, God expresses grave concerns against a self-styled prophetess of great influence in the early Church; a socially notable but spiritually notorious preacher woman.  God seems to have been saying of her, that popularity is not spirituality, that influence is not godliness, that a title is not the mantle – that a copious religious label is no divine mandate, that the approval of humans is not the endorsement of Heaven, that fame in religious circles does not amount to divine commendation.

God called her “that woman”; she called herself “a prophetess.”  It is apparent that God didn’t recognize her hefty title.  Some people are so desperate for attention, they don’t care what Heaven thinks of their means and their grandiose names.

The demonstrative pronoun “that” suggests distance from speaker, unlike “this” which suggests nearness to speaker.  As far as God was concerned, Jezebel was “THAT woman.”  She was not as close to God as she would make the world believe by her eminent ecclesiastically proximate title.  She was not this but that; she was not here, but there. She was far from God although her title suggested nearness.  Heaven doesn’t recognize all the lofty names in which people clothe themselves.

  1. Mind Your Meal

That someone has an elaborate church title does not mean that whatever they serve may be taken without checking (Matthew 16:22-23).  Unfortunately, church settings have sometimes been the unsuspecting cover for much witchcraft (Acts 8:9-24; 16:16-18).  Here was a prominent prophetess in the church, cleverly propagating idolatry and inducing even servants of God – preachers without discernment – into her spiritually questionable practices.  That something is done under a church roof does not necessarily make it safe.  Covens are learning to adopt ecclesiastical domes and steeples, and their priests are learning to adopt clerical robes and titles.

  1. The Identity of a Meal

In Revelation 2:20, God was concerned not for the eating but for what was being eaten; for the spiritual tag of the meal.  God’s concern had nothing to do with whether it was bread or beans or rice or roaches; it had everything to do with the religious designation of the meal, and the spiritual implications thereof.

If all meals were merely carbohydrate or protein, that digested in the stomach and exited through the canal, God shouldn’t have been bothering.  If there was no implication at all for the eater; if physical meals could never be spiritually hazardous, God might have been wasting His words.   But here, God was specific about the worrisome identity of that meal, that it was food dedicated to idols.  In other words, spirits note meals dedicated to them or to other rival spirits; spirits respect the dedication that mortals make of their meals; and dedicated meals can be spiritually potent in a negative or positive way.

Physical food might sometimes carry an invisible psychic label that spirits see, a label that empowers or debars specific spirits to intervene in particular ways; a label to which careless eaters and casual mortals might be blind.  The meal in question in our text might have been very aromatic and appetizing, yet it carried an odorous idolatrous stigma.  It carried an implicating label of which only the Omniscient could report – through His seeing prophet; a label that might have been saying, “Dedicated to Idols: God, Keep Off!”

  1. Four Kinds of Meals

There are four basic kinds of meals, although some meals could fall into more than one category, or might mean a different thing to the eater than the server.   The four basic kinds of meals are:

  1. Recreational meals
  2. Nutritional meals
  3. Social meals
  4. Religious meals
  1. Recreational Meals

Recreational meals are the things we eat for fun, for the pleasure they give rather than because they satisfy hunger or because they would nourish the body.  Ice creams, candies, and certain kinds of drinks fall in that category.  A really hungry person doesn’t go to the restaurant to order sweets, unless they have other issues.  In any household, in proper circumstances, a woman does not go into the kitchen to cook candies for breakfast; neither does she serve sodas and chocolates for dinner.  Recreational meals and drinks are taken primarily to entertain the taste buds, even though they might have other secondary values.

  1. Nutritional Meals

Nutritional meals are what we eat or drink because we are hungry or thirsty, which in the process fortify or heal the body, for example, a proper breakfast or lunch or dinner.  There are meals and drinks, however, taken more for their medicinal properties than because they satisfy hunger.  I shall still consider such medicinal meals under the broad classification of “nutritional meals,” especially as they ultimately supply nourishment to the body.

While Prophet Elijah fled for his life from wicked Jezebel, he took refuge under a desert tree where he prayed to die.  There, an angel twice served him food and water, saying, “Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for thee” (1 Kings 19:7).  In other words, the angel said, “Elijah, you still have a long way to go, so you need this food for your NOURISHMENT.”  Elijah got up to eat, and “the food gave him enough STRENGTH to travel forty days and forty nights to Mount Sinai, the mountain of God” (v.8, New Living Translation).

On one occasion when Jesus multiplied bread and fish to feed His followers, it was so that they would be strengthened on their way back home.  He said,

I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away HUNGRY, or they may collapse on the way (Matthew 15:32, New International Version).

After Jesus had raised Jairus’ daughter from death, He turned to the parents and “commanded that something should be given her to eat” (Mark 5:43).  He prescribed food, to nourish her back to strength and health; food to sustain the physical life that she had got back by supernatural means.  In their obedience to Dr Jesus’ prescription, the parents would certainly not have served that child recreational meals such as lolly pops chocolates.  In my part of Africa, they might have started her with pap, or hot and spicy “fresh fish pepper soup,” then some rice and beans, or even some ‘solids’ to ‘swallow,’ to ‘hold her body’ very well.

  1. Social Meals

Social meals are foods and drinks taken not primarily because we are hungry or sick, but because the meal and the eating of it are part of a social event.  One of Chinua Achebe’s popular Igbo proverbs aptly states, “A man who calls his kinsmen to a feast does not do so to save them from starving.  They all have food in their own homes” (Things Fall apart).

At a wedding or birthday ceremony, for example, foods and drinks are usually served, mainly as a social gesture.  Someone could eat that food hungrily as their lunch or dinner, and it could give them nutrition, but charity and nutrition had not been the primary purpose for the meal.  Another person at the same event, who had eaten to the full before they came to the party, might merely taste a little of the food purely out of courtesy than because they are hungry or because they expect the meal to be a dietary therapy.

In John 2:7-11, Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding.  The purpose of that wine was not the same as when He multiplied bread and fish to feed hungry followers.  When Jesus stepped in with the miracle wine, He saved a family from the social embarrassment of not having refreshment for their honoured guests.  Those guests were going to drink the wine not because they were hungry or thirsty, but as a gesture of the social moment.  In some cultures, to not eat at such moments could convey unpleasant sentiments.

  1. Religious Meals

Religious meals are foods and drinks served or received primarily for their ritual potency, even where the meals might have had a social setting.  They could be meals like every other meal: rice or bread or meat and drinks, but in this case defined by their specific context and their primary purpose.  A case in point would be the kind of meals against which God warns in our opening text: food dedicated to idols.  In this category would also come certain meals served as part of, or served to mark, an idolatrous festival or rite.

In their passage from Egypt to Promised Land, the Israelites degenerated into idolatry, helped unfortunately by Aaron their high priest.  Beware of titles.  They made ungodly offerings, then “sat down to eat and to drink,” and thus “corrupted themselves.”  Note the sequence: idol-related food and drinks, then spiritual pollution (or “corruption”).  At once, God would no more call them “my people” but “thy people” – the people of Moses their leader; the people of a mere mortal (Exodus 32:6-7).  Promptly disowned by the Almighty.

Could a mere ceremonial meal mean so much so soon?  In their distracted festive orgy, were the people conscious of what the angry God thought of them?  Did the spiritual pollution show on their colourful festive clothes?  Did it immediately bring down hailstones from heaven? No, yet…

  1. Digestible Ishmael

Islam has a feast festival that has often baffled some analysts; an annual festival to whose feast Muslims would usually generously also invite their ‘heathen’ neighbours; the same heathens they sometimes hate enough to kill as an expression of their jihad – which is not to say, though, that every Muslim is a killer.   To others not invited to the feast, they might send lavish portions of the sacred food, especially the meat, which had previously been divided into three portions: one part for this category of ‘neighbours.’

Irrespective of the innocence and goodwill of the giver, I personally am spiritually wary of the charity and generosity of that feast.  Some Christians are more large-hearted on this matter.  As their expression of exemplary ‘Christian love,’ they would even donate livestock and other items in support of the feast.  I stand with Daniel.

I might excuse the rare case of a Christian child in such a family for whom that meal might be their dinner rather than mean the feast itself, but I have learned to refrain still.  According to Koran chapter 22:37, God had told Abraham to sacrifice Ishmael, but while Abraham was about to do so, Angel Gabriel came down with a huge ram that Abraham had to sacrifice in place of Ishmael.  In the Holy Bible, Isaac was the son that might have been sacrificed.  One of the two scriptures, then, must be wrong.  Which?  You are the jury.

If I believe the Bible to be true, and am also aware of the significance of the ostensible substitute ram slain at Islam’s annual Eid al-Adha festival, does partaking in that feast-meat suggest an indirect endorsement of the Koranic position over that of the Bible?  Does it elevate the spirit of Ishmael over Isaac?  Does it also imply the proclamation of one scripture as true and the other as false?  The apparent answer to such puzzles explains the restraint of those ‘extremists’ who, like Daniel, are careful at certain otherwise attractive tables.

Prophet Daniel implicitly warns that the royalty of a meal does not make it spiritually safe; that the lavishness of a table, and even its palace setting, could be a tricky Babylonian ploy to consecrated remnants; that some kingly meat could be dangerous to covenant folks (Daniel 1:8).  Was Daniel being extremist?  What did he know that we don’t?

  1. At Table with Devils

Apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 10, was more blunt, suggesting that meals actually connect eaters to altars; that there is more to a goodwill gesture in the eating of certain meals.  Rhetorically, the apostle asks, “Are not THEY WHICH EAT of the sacrifices PARTAKERS OF THE ALTAR?” (1 Corinthians 10:18).  You might wish to answer him, if eating means partaking; if meals might connect altars.

Paul proceeds to state that refraining from such questionable tables is not because one is afraid of the idol or the meal (v.19), but because the meal implies an ‘unholy communion’ of sorts; a fellowship with devils, for “they sacrifice [their food] to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should [by partaking of that meal] have fellowship with devils” (v.20).  “Fellowship with devils” – that is a very strong word.

According to Paul in the same passage, the ‘politeness’ of eating at such tables amounts to double dealing in a spiritual sense, for “Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils” (v. 21).  Another strong name for such feasts: “cup of devils” and “table of devils” – devils in the plural.  Besides, such indiscriminate dietary practices “provoke the Lord to jealousy,” and we are not “stronger than he” (v. 22).  Whoever is stronger and more anointed than the Almighty, may go ahead.  Whoever is friendlier than God and more Christly than Christ, may proceed to show it to the devils at their tables.

What was the position of the early Church leadership on this matter:  “abstain from meats offered to idols … and from fornication” (Acts 15:29; 21:25).  In that verse, idol meats are listed along with fornication, as things to ‘abstain from.’  That says a lot.  If we denounce fornication so much, no less the first item on that provocative list.  Next, if provoking a mere boss could be dangerous, how much more provoking the God of the whole universe “to jealousy,” with an indiscreet appetite?  And beware: jealous lovers could be very deadly.

This is Apostle Paul’s verdict on the debate:

All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not (1 Corinthians 10:23).

  1. Don’t Ask

What about meal dedications of which one is unaware?  There are many of such.  If one is unaware, one is unaware, and should not go probing, according to 1 Corinthians 10:25-30, which makes allowance for conscience rather than for spiritual pollution.

25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market, asking no questions for conscience’ sake; 26 for “the earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness.”

27 If any of those who do not believe invites you to dinner, and you desire to go, eat whatever is set before you, asking no question for conscience’ sake. 28 But if anyone says to you, “This was offered to idols,” do not eat it for the sake of the one who told you, and for conscience’ sake; for “the earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness.”   29 “Conscience,” I say, not your own, but that of the other. For why is my liberty judged by another man’s conscience? 30 But if I partake with thanks, why am I evil spoken of for the food over which I give thanks? (1 Corinthians 10:25-30, NKJV).

  1. The Lord’s Table

Another example of a religious meal would be the Holy Communion, over which a priest makes invocations before it is served.  Its potency is described, for example, by Apostle Paul when he states that the meal had been known to be dangerous to those who had eaten it thoughtlessly, wounding some, and even killing others.  In the same passage, Paul distinguishes between the sacred meal on the one hand, and a nutritional meal which the believer would have eaten properly at home before coming to the gathering, so as not to vent their natural hunger on the holy sacrament, thus inherently desecrating the Holy Communion as a mere meal (1 Corinthians 11:27-34).  In John 6:53-58, Jesus also states the powers and implications of the Communion, making the point that all food is not mere food, although they all go through the mouth.  See also Numbers 5:15-28.

Sometimes, natural meals from a spiritual origin could carry a spiritual force.  That was the case with the bread and water that the depressed Prophet Elijah was served by the angel of God.  That food took him on his long journey for forty days and forty nights.  No natural food has that potency.  Most meals will have digested after a few hours, leaving the eater hungry again, but not what the angel served the prophet (1 Kings 19:8).  There was something more in it than the fortifying nutrients it carried.

  1. A Prayer

God expresses displeasure with outright idolatry (Exodus 20:3-5), with idol meals (Revelation 2:20), and with idol names (Exodus 23:13).  Idolatry takes different tricky guises.  O God, keep us pure from idols, in Jesus name, amen (1 John 5:21).

From The Preacher’s diary,
November 24, 2022.

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O.N
O.N
1 month ago

Nutritious Piece!

Olugbenga Olajide
Olugbenga Olajide
1 month ago
Reply to  O.N

This piece in not only enlightening but thought provoking at the same time!!!

Thanks Bro.

Bolanle Musa
Bolanle Musa
1 month ago

Amen. Lord please keep us pure from idols

Mary Kokoyo Edem
Mary Kokoyo Edem
1 month ago

Great teaching.
This has greatly impacted my life.
The name of the LORD be praised.
Thank You Prof.
GOD bless you sir.

Bishop Isaac Robert
Bishop Isaac Robert
1 month ago

So blessed and enlightened. The truth here is important for every Christian to digest. We are under a serious attack from the other kingdom, both spiritual and physical.

Duru Clifford Chuka
Duru Clifford Chuka
1 month ago

Hmmmm! Satanic ‘bobby traps’ all the way! Lack of discernment makes us vulnerable. It is only by God’s mercies that we escape when our guards are down, and such moments abound for not a few believers.

May the Lord continue to grant the Preacher insight to keep beholding wonderous things from the Scriptures, in Jesus Name. AMEN

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