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When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you. (Deuteronomy 8:10)

In Judaism, the dinner table is considered to be an altar of sorts and the time spent at the table a semi-sacred gathering. Therefore it is customary to recite a blessing before and after the meal. In fact, this verse is the basis for a custom called Birkat HaMazon or “Grace after Meals.” However, this is somewhat distinguished from what many of us are accustomed to because, rather than asking God to bless the food as is our custom, our Jewish friends bless God who has provided the food, which is His blessing to us. In short, the verse above emphasizes that we focus on the One giving the food, not the food itself.

This is hinted at in Messiah’s blessing of the matzah (unleavened bread) on the night before His crucifixion. Though many translations interpret His words as if He were blessing the bread, the reality is He gave thanks which we should understand to mean, He gave thanks to the Father for the bread. The NKJV in Luke’s gospel more accurately renders it this way: “And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me’ ” (Luke 22:19). In other words, it is more likely that He blessed the Father for the bread rather than asking Him to bless it. Considering what that bread represented, it seems to me the God’s blessing had been bestowed before they ever partook of it.

So what is the point of this for us today? It is a reminder to us that every good thing comes from above — even those things that are so common to us that we tend to take it for granted. In fact, in the very next verse (Deuteronomy 8:11), we are warned to be on guard against forgetting all that God has done for us, including providing our daily bread. The underlying principle then, is to be guarded against the lure of prosperity. Having plenty and living securely tends to dull our senses to the One who granted these things. So in this instruction, we are reminded not to allow that to happen but to bless God for all things — and especially if we are able to rise from the dinner table with our bellies full. May it be that our sense of gratitude is just as full — if not more so — than our bellies.

Blessings and Shalom,  




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