If you’re a Food Network junkie, the phrase “How yummy is that?” conjures up hot frying pans sizzling with EVOO, diced cilantro leaves, arugula, and other exotic ingredients that make up those delightful Rachael Ray 30-Minute Meals. It’s not likely that words like “Yum-O” bring Bible verses to mind.
Too bad, because the Bible has a few things to say about taste. Let’s put aside what it says about gluttony for now and concentrate on some more pleasant sensations.
Listen to Jeremiah: “Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; For I am called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts” (15:16, NKJV). Because Jeremiah belonged to God, His Word was a pleasure to read and study. In the midst of trial, Jeremiah wondered why he should suffer so, in spite of his love for God and His Word.
While the future judgment of the world was prophetically unfolding before the apostle John’s eyes, he experienced this culinary oddity: “So I went to the angel and asked him to give me the little scroll. He said to me, ‘Take it and eat it. It will turn your stomach sour, but in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey.’ I took the little scroll from the angel's hand and ate it. It tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour. Then I was told, ‘You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages and kings’” (Revelation 10:9-11). The truth of God’s Word is sweet to the taste, even when the message is dire.
Fellow apostle Peter took pains to insure that the flocks under his care would live godly lives, even under persecution. His advice? “As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby: If so be you have tasted that the Lord is gracious” (1 Peter 2:2, 3). In other words, if you have been saved and experienced the goodness of the Lord, feed on His Word so that you can grow closer to him in faith and love.
Peter, a reverent Jew, may have taken his cue from King David’s 34th Psalm:
Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.
Fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing.
The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing (vv. 8-10).
Note the marvelous illustration of God’s grace: if we but turn to the Lord, He will provide us with every good thing. He cares more for us than He does for the rest of creation! When we hunger for things that seem out of our reach; when we long for the leeks and garlic of the past; when we peek over the neighbor’s fence and see him barbecuing the prime rib of a happy life while we swallow a meager spoonful of the boiled rice of sorrow; during these times, it seems that God and His Word leave a bitter aftertaste in our mouth. But the promise is that He will provide all good things, not the empty calories of lollipops and cotton candy.
There are times when God’s Word seems bitter; those are the times we need to examine ourselves and put ourselves under His care, not run from Him. His Word does pronounce judgment on a sinful world; however, the Great Physician also prescribes the cure of repentance and the call for a Spirit-filled life. He never pronounces woe without weal.
David’s emphasis in Psalm 34 is the goodness of God. He briefly warns of judgment in a few verses but, overwhelmingly, he gushes forth in praise of God’s provisions and deliverances. Here is a fundamental concept to keep in mind when trying to lead someone to Christ: emphasize the goodness of God. We can be so prone to hammering someone over the head with the threat of God’s judgment on the sinner, and we should never minimize that reality. However, we should be ready to extol the virtues of a right relationship with the Lord and the true riches of His kingdom. Do we picture God as this big bully that can’t wait to bop us on the head with a rolling pin? Or do we portray Him as the gentle, kind, loving, holy Father that longs to pour out His love and unspeakable gifts on us and give us eternal life? Which is most attractive? Which tastes better?
The flavor of God that many of the lost taste is the result of the aftertaste that we leave in their mouths. As you live your life before, and witness to, the lost, does your presentation of God inspire them to say, “How yummy is that?”
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