Redeemer Ev. Lutheran Church, Iola, WI

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Feasting with God #43 – Eating and Drinking, Marrying and Giving in Marriage

Feasting with God #43

Eating and Drinking, Marrying and Giving in Marriage

Field of Lilies – Tiffany Studios, c. 1910, from Wikipedia

Text: Matthew 24:37-42

37“For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.  38For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.  40Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left.  41Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left.  42Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.

“Eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage.”  That’s what the heathen and proudly ignorant were up to before the Flood.  And, Jesus says, that’s what those same heathen and proudly ignorant will be doing in our own times, before the End.  But that’s what we’re supposed to do, isn’t it?  Eating and drinking is how we are nourished, how we survive.  Marriage was instituted by God himself in the Garden of Eden.

It would be absurd to think that what Jesus is saying here is that eating, drinking, and marriage are evil and sinful.  Instead, the sin of these people (both before the Flood and before the End) is that they live for these things, and blind themselves to everything else.  Here is what that wicked ignorance means:

Even as men in that day lived in unthinking security, buried themselves in worldly cares, and failed to heed the signs of the times, so it shall be among the masses even now; moral laxity and gross materialism will spread like wildfire.  The sin of the people at the time of the Flood was not that they ate and drank and that they entered into wedlock.  This was God’s own order for the preservation and the propagation of the race.  But they lost themselves in these pursuits; they cared for nothing except the affairs of this life, for that which pertained to the flesh.  They closed their eyes to the signs of the times and their ears to the voice that spoke to them from God through Him whom Scripture calls the ‘preacher of righteousness’ (2 Pet. 2:5).  A condition of profound spiritual apathy had descended upon them.  ‘So shall also the coming of the Son of man be.’[1]

These people were missing the great truth Jesus had spoken previously: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven….  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:19-21).  Likewise, as Jesus’ sermon continued, “do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on.  Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing…?  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:25, 33).

It is so tempting to pay close attention to what one has accomplished, the impression one leaves on the world.  But when this becomes the all-in-all, and there is no attention left to give to heavenly things, when the eyes are fixed on the objects of this earth rather than the truths of God’s salvation, then those things become our only treasures, our gods.  This is why “one will be taken and one left.”  The one who is left had his eyes fixed on the ground he worked, her eyes on the millstone she turned, and his life could be counted in the heads of grain he picked, her life could be measured in how far that stone rolled; and meanwhile the one who is taken worked right alongside with his friend in the field, ground right next to her coworker in the mill, but this was not the life of these two.  These two worked the earth below, but had their eyes fixed on heaven above.

No doubt, in the field he spoke with his friend about his heavenly treasure and the joy he had, but his friend had blinded and deafened himself, hardened his heart to anything except the work which was his god.  No doubt, in the mill she talked about the salvation she had been given, the “reason for the hope” that was in her (1 Pet. 3:15), but her friend had hardened her heart, harder than that mighty millstone.

Let not your hearts be burdened by the cares of this world: remember that the kingdom of God, and all things, are yours, because the ruler of all things, Jesus Christ, God himself, died on the cross to transfer them to you.  Therefore keep your eyes on heavenly things, and “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).

Dear Jesus, dwell in our hearts and keep our eyes firmly fixed on you and the heavenly treasures you won for us.  When we eat and drink and marry and work, let all these things serve the purpose of building up those in faith, and of spreading that faith to all nations, all men who need to hear the Word of their salvation.  Amen.

Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

[1] Joh. Ylvisaker, The Gospels (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1932), 618.