The Liver Our Cupbearer
by Rick Destree
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"I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well" (Psalm 139:14).
We are under assault every moment of every day. Poisons abound in our bodies and in our homes. And if not for our livers, we would all be “goners.” An incredible organ, the liver reveals something very special about our wonderful Creator.
The liver is to our bodies what the cupbearer of centuries past was to his king (see Genesis 40 & Nehemiah 1:11). The royal cupbearer tasted the palace wine before the king drank it. This insured that the king would not be “done in” by a poison slipped into his drink by some adversary. We, too, are exposed to many chemicals which, if left unattended, would most certainly “do us in.” In His great mercy, the Lord Jesus Christ has provided us our own personal “cupbearer” to protect us from harm.
Like a miniature factory, the liver performs more than 500 jobs! It makes proteins critical for blood clotting and produces bile that aids in digestion of fatty foods. It is a warehouse for carbohydrates, which are essential to maintaining normal blood sugar levels. Vitamins A, B12, D, E, and K, as well as the minerals iron and copper, are stored in the liver. Most importantly, it is a purification plant, removing noxious and potentially deadly toxins from our bodies. How it does this is complicated and involves such things as oxidation, hydroxylation, and conjugation. Fortunately, we don’t have to remember all this in order for our liver to work properly (we don’t even have to know how to pronounce these words!)—the Lord Jesus created it to function automatically.
We are exposed to poisons every day from within and from without. Some of these toxins appear in us as a part of normal metabolism. Bacteria living in our intestines, for example, constantly produce deadly ammonia, which makes its way into our bloodstream. Don’t fret, though, because the liver quickly converts ammonia into urea, which is then eliminated from our bodies.
Caustic chemicals can also be found in our homes—paint remover, oven cleaners, backyard weedkillers, car exhaust—numerous things toxic to the human body. One of the liver’s main jobs is to remove these chemicals from the bloodstream when they are accidentally absorbed through the skin or the lungs.
Throughout our life, we will be exposed to hundreds—no, thousands—of different substances. Without our liver, many of these toxins could accumulate in our bodies and cause considerable damage. Like the king’s cupbearer, the liver was commissioned by God to shield us from unwanted chemicals and poisons.
A word of great caution is necessary here! We should not test the Creator’s design. Many commonplace and often-used products and materials can harm the liver. The painkiller acetaminophen (Tylenol), for instance, causes liver damage if overused. So, in one breath we need to thank the Lord for the marvelous gift He has given us, and repeat a warning to ourselves and others, “Be careful what you expose your body to!”
We may knowingly or unknowingly subject ourselves to harmful chemicals, which the liver then neutralizes. The liver pulses with blood day and night, because constant blood flow is necessary for our bodies to remain free of contamination. It demonstrates in a physical way that Christ Jesus—our Creator—is a merciful God.
For those of us who love the Lord, Christ’s infinite mercy purifies our lives in a far-greater way than this! His blood flowed on a cross so that our sins might be forgiven. The liver is an apt symbol of this grace.
"I will... remove all your impurities"
We are truly “fearfully and wonderfully made.” And if we believe in Christ Jesus we are also fearfully and wonderfully saved! Our liver protects us here and now, but the Cross cleanses us eternally in a way that our bodies simply cannot. Praise be to Jesus, our Creator and our Savior!
"...the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin."
1 John 1:7 b
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Very interesting and well-researched piece. Definitely gave me food for thought.