Friday, May 3, 2013

Scriptural Lessons from the Natural World: All Creatures Eat (Part 1)

You'll find an explanation of this series here

Here where I live, we need to lock the lids tight on our garbage cans or the packaging from our food waste will be spread all over the neighbourhood by trash-picking ravens. Once I saw a raven fly off with a whole package of cheddar cheese from a bag of groceries left in the back of a pickup truck in the supermarket parking lot. Ravens are successful scavengers; they eat what they find and they do well.

What's more, in the middle of winter, there are waxwings who eat the berries from my May Day tree. And the lynx I saw on my street in March hunts and eats snowshoe hare. In the fall, squirrels run across my yard carrying big mushrooms in their mouths. Even from my window, I can see that the wild creatures have food to eat.

While I grow a few vegetables in my garden, it's farmers and ranchers farther south who produce most of my food. But whether by grocery store or garden, like the animals, I have food.

All animals and humans eat. There is, generally, enough food to sustain life. Scripture teaches many lessons from this truth, so many that I've put them two posts, starting today with a look at what scripture says we should know about God because we know that creatures and people have food to eat.

God Exists
To the Gentiles at Lystra who worshipped many false gods, Paul said,
"[The one, living, creator God] did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness” (see Acts 14:15-17).
The food the Lystrans ate was harvested because God sent them rainstorms and sustained their regular seasons. Their food was a witness to God's existence. The food I eat sends the same message: There is a God—one God—who is giving me "rains from heaven and fruitful seasons" to feed me.

Not only can we know God exists because we eat, we can see some of his character, too. To quote Romans 1:20, a few of God's "invisible attributes . . . have been clearly perceived" in his provision of food for his creatures.

God Is Good
The text from Acts 14 above tells us that in giving us food, God is doing good. In Matthew 5:44, Jesus says something similar:
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
That God sends sun and rain, two important factors in the production of the food we eat, is a manifestation of his love. Some call this benevolent provision for all people everywhere "common grace." Whatever we call it, that God feeds us shows us that he is not stingy and evil, but generously good, even to those who oppose him.

God Is Wise
That God's creatures are fed shows his wisdom, too. Quoting Psalm 104:
You cause the grass to grow for the livestock
and plants for man to cultivate,
that he may bring forth food from the earth
and wine to gladden the heart of man,
oil to make his face shine
and bread to strengthen man's heart. . . .

The young lions roar for their prey,
seeking their food from God.
Lord, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom have you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures. (Psalm 104: 14-15, 21, 24) 
God's work supplying food, including the prey for a lion, and the grass for the livestock that in turn feed us, reveal the perfection of his understanding. (See also Psalm 147:5, 8-9; Job 38:41, read in context.) The food chain (as some call it) is a complex system; the best scientists can't explain it completely. But God knows it inside and out because he planned every detail of it and is always working to to sustain the links of causes and effects.

God Is Powerful
The Bible also associates God's provision of food with his power.
Great is our Lord, and abundant in power . . . .
He covers the heavens with clouds;
he prepares rain for the earth;
he makes grass grow on the hills.
He gives to the beasts their food,
and to the young ravens that cry. (Psalm 147:5a, 8b-9)
Directing the storm clouds that bring rain to water the crops worldwide is a demonstration of God's great power. So is sustaining the revolution of the earth so the sun shines on crops everywhere. There are other ways God's power can be seen in the ways he supplies food for people and wildlife, but these two are specifically mentioned.

That God gives creatures their food is evidence of his existence, and it reveals some of his attributes, too. We can know that God is good, wise and powerful—and probably more—because he feeds us. (If you can think of verses or attributes to add to the list, please tell me in the comments.)

Two weeks from now I hope to post a few of ways we ought to respond to God's revelation of himself in his provision of food for all of his creatures.


  1. I've really enjoyed these posts, Rebecca. It's easy to take for granted the fact that God supplies food for His creation. I'm amazed at the order God has over creation (weather, water cycle, etc.) so we not only survive but can thrive.

  2. Rebecca
    This is a great post. In a world of instant, process is so often forgotten. Food - eat - grow and live.
    Thank you.

  3. Your post shows how good it is to consider the wisdom and provision of God in something so ordinary--yet so important--as the food we and other creatures eat. Very struck by the fact that he provides for all, even for those who oppose him.