We all eat and we all need to eat. God has given us a variety of foods to eat to sustain our bodies. Today is Jenny and my wedding anniversary, and our family members live far off and the very close friends we have have their lives pretty organized, especially on Saturdays. Very close friends and colleagues from Cape Town sent us a money gift as it is our 50th wedding anniversary with the proviso that I take Jenny out for a meal.
Saturday is also a busy day for us, especially as it nears the late afternoon as we zoom the children in Naperville, USA, at that time. So we decided to visit a local restaurant, Franco’s Pizzas. They have expanded their facility and have sit down meals. On Saturdays they have a buffet breakfast for R60 per person. Gosh … it was the whole six yards, from bottomless fruit juice and coffee to cereals with either milk or yoghurt, scrambled eggs, bacon, baked beans, whole mushrooms, pork sausage, thinly sliced steak strips in a marina source, with three breads that could be toasted if desired, butter, cheese and jam. Believe me, you can only eat once!
Then, off we went to a small pancake stall on the road to Cullinan and purchased a few hot pancakes. We enjoyed a hot pancake in the car as we travelled. After a slow drive halfway to Cullinan, we returned home. A lovely and enjoyable morning.
You might recall how Joseph’s brothers sold him as a slave to a caravan of Ishmaelites, who in turn sold him to Potiphar, whose wife tried to seduce him unsuccessfully causing her to lie about Joseph, landing him in prison. This was all part of God’s plan to create and build the nation to be known as Israel. Joseph quickly rises to second in charge of Egypt as prime minister. During his reign, a sever famine hits the region, forcing Jacob to send Joseph’s brothers to Egypt for food provisions. You can read the account of their visits to Joseph revealing who he is to them in Genesis 42-45. We have an interesting dinner account recorded for us:
Ge 43:30 Deeply moved at the sight of his brother, Joseph hurried out and looked for a place to weep. He went into his private room and wept there. 31 After he had washed his face, he came out and, controlling himself, said, “Serve the food.” 32 They served him by himself, the brothers by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because Egyptians could not eat with Hebrews, for that is detestable to Egyptians. 33 The men had been seated before him in the order of their ages, from the firstborn to the youngest; and they looked at each other in astonishment. 34 When portions were served to them from Joseph’s table, Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as anyone else’s. So they feasted and drank freely with him.
Remember they do not know who he is yet. The Egyptian tables were situated along the sides of the room. When the guests sat down to eat they faced the wall. Joseph would have sat on one end with his brothers on the other end. The Egyptians present would have sat on the other side of the room.
In those days, the Egyptian tables in senior official’s rooms would be a round tray fixed to a base that resembled a slave bent forward with the tray on his neck and shoulders. The picture was of one captured, enslaved, carrying a burden on the head, neck and shoulders. The Egyptians considered all non-Egyptian people unclean. As an example, no Egyptian would kiss a non-Egyptian as the norm was when greeting in those days.
It was so bad that the Egyptian would not even eat a meal … meat … that was cut by a non-Egyptian knife because that knife would have been used to cut meat that might have been considered unclean or perhaps sacred. As an example, Hebrew people would slaughter, prepare and eat a cow whilst Egyptians saw the cow as sacred. This is why Joseph and his brothers, although separated, sat and ate on the one side of the room and the Egyptians on the other. Today, there are still groups of people who will not eat with other groups of people for cleanliness, dietary or religious reasons.
In Joseph’s case, it included the fact that he was seen as a higher caste compared to the Egyptians. This, too, is sadly practiced today. There are certain things I personally do not eat such as crayfish, prawns, snails, head, trotters, tripe, liver, etc. There are no Biblical reasons for my choice not to eat these things. In fact … you will recall Peter’s experience when in a trance in Acts 10. He was exposed to a variety of animals the Jews would consider unclean. He as told to kill and eat, but he refused keeping to Jewish dietary rules. Then we read
Ac 10:15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
This baffled him … and soon he was invited to go to a Gentile’s house. His names was Cornelius. We find the reason Peter was called to this man’s house … but we also find out what sort of man Cornelius is.
Ac 10:22 The men replied, “We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to have you come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say.”
On arrival at his home, we find Peter having learnt a huge spiritual lesson through the dream he had had. The first part is found in verses 25-26:
Ac 10:25 As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. 26 But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.”’
And the second is found in verses 34-35:
Ac 10:34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.”
By using the illustration of different animals that were considered clean and unclean … that Peter would be careful as a Jew in his selection of what he ate. Yet the vision became clear when meeting up with Cornelius, a Roman military man. God was confirming to him that all people groups are accepted into God’s Kingdom through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. As Christians, we must accept the fact that God says:
Gal 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
The Gospel Invitation is to all nations … meaning all peoples from all tribes and ethnicities and languages (Matthew 28:18-20 and Acts 1:8).
Precious Father, thank You that the Gospel Invitation is open to anyone and everyone throughout the world who comes to You through repentance and faith. Help us never to exclude people because of colour, language, ethnicity, wealth, poverty or social standing. Give us an open heart to receive everyone in Christ as equal. Amen.