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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.

29 January 2007

Will We Eat Heavenly Food?

Q: Will there be food in heaven or will we eat at all? A friend thinks that there will be food if we choose to eat? What are your thoughts? Please give me the Scripture reference.

BeerA: According to an old polka cum drinking song, “In heaven, there is no beer; that’s why we drink it here.” In contrast, one of my seminary professors professed a belief (at least a strong desire) that there will be lobster and other such delicacies for all eternity.

Certainly, good times with God are often defined by eating and drinking. Notice in Genesis 1:29 how specific God was with Adam as to what could be eaten. When Noah left the Ark, the Lord expanded the “menu” for mankind, giving meat as well as vegetation for food (see Genesis 9:1-4).

PassoverPassover, a meal commanded by God, also was a means of salvation for God’s people. Participation in the full rite — the eating as well as the blood painted on the doorways — shielded Israel from the 10th plague, the death of the firstborn. The Lord then established this meal as an ongoing testimony to His faithfulness and love for His people.

At the right time, Jesus took this meal and expanded its scope while increasing its content. In the upper room, just hours before His betrayal, Christ brought His own body and blood into communion with the Passover’s bread and wine (see 1 Corinthians 11:23-25). No longer would the Passover only look back to Moses’ time. Instead, Jesus made it point especially to His own suffering and death.

Agnus DeiFollowing the institution of His Supper, our Savior fulfilled His role of Paschal Lamb. His blood was shed not to turn away death for a time, but to end it for eternity. When Christians eat and drink the body and blood, they “proclaim the Lord’s death (1 Corinthians 11:26)”; that is, they declare to God, to each other, and to the world faith in the all availing sacrifice of Christ for their sins.

Eating and drinking often helped to seal a covenant. Enemies would not break bread with each other, so if one person dined with another, they became morally bound to do each other no harm. When the elders of Israel went up on Sinai with Moses (Exodus 24:9-11), not only did they eat and drink in the Lord’s presence but the Lord protected them from His own holiness and “he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel.”

FeastFor a people who often made no more than a subsistence living, any promise of extra food and drink got their attention. To these occupants of desert or near-desert lands, eternally flowing streams from heaven were extremely attractive. Thus, when the Lord prophesied eternal life in Isaiah 25:6-9, He included a picture of a wonderful banquet: “On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.”

As the Scriptures close, Revelation mentions both good and bad eating and drinking. While sinners participate in the drunken feasting of the Great Prostitute or eat food sacrificed to idols, the righteous are invited to remain faithful so as to eat of the tree of life “in the paradise of God. (2:7)” The various pictures of the marriage feast, including those in Matthew 22:1-14 and Revelation 19:6-10 also indicate the possibility of eternal banqueting. While this “feast” may be figurative, speaking of a great festival or celebration, we can’t discount the possibility that God intends for us to actually eat and drink, just as our first parents did even before the Fall.

Wedding Feast of the LambWhile these Scriptures indicate the possibility of physically eating and drinking in the hereafter, we cannot know for sure. We know that we will have physical bodies in the resurrection. If these will need food, God will provide better sustenance than we can imagine. What this might be, we leave up to His perfect will and knowledge. Whatever He provides should evoke echoes of Christ’s first sign at the wedding at Cana: No matter how wonderful the gifts we’ve received as sinners, the Lord reserves the best for last — and for all eternity.

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.

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Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.

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