Eating Breakfast for Lunch and Dinner
Stephen Rockwell, GWC Faculty, Biblical Studies, New Testament, Greek
BSc Hons 1st Class (Sydney), LTh, BTh (GWC), MTh (Moore)
They say – by the way, if anyone happens to know who “they” are please let me know. I think I’d like to have a few words with “them”!!! I digress! – they say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I guess they’re right – how would I know any different? My wife’s family has certainly taken up the mantra insisting on a cooked breakfast every morning. My side of the family regularly goes without breakfast at all. Whichever way one turns, it seems to be a universally accepted truth that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
However, I never see anyone arguing that because breakfast is the most important meal of the day, we should just scrap lunch and dinner and just have breakfast all day long. WeetBix for breakfast lunch and dinner, I mean why not, if breakfast is the most important meal of the day … right? No one thinks like that – except when it’s Sunday night and our 4 boys are starving as always and we are exhausted and yep, it’s breakfast cereal for dinner tonight boys! But that is the “exception that proves the rule” I think. Just because one thing is the “most important thing” it doesn’t negate the place of the other things. In fact, by definition, if one things is to be declared the most important thing, then there have to be other important things in existence to compare it with.
So why all this rambling about breakfast? Well here at GWC we are committed to a full ‘Biblical Theological’ approach to the Scriptures. We would even say that it’s “the most important thing” when approaching the Bible and in particular the Old Testament. Foundational to everything we teach here at GWC is the truth that Jesus is actually the centre of everything God has been and is doing in his world and that the Old Testament points us forward to who Jesus is and what he would come to do in bringing about our salvation. If you were to understand any text of the Old Testament just simply as moral teaching without seeing something of Jesus in it, then you’ve most likely missed the most important thing.
However there is a danger in this approach that we need to be aware of. The danger is that we end up eating breakfast for lunch and dinner. The danger is that by focussing on the Biblical Theological approach so much, we can end up just tritely making every Old Testament sermon the same – Question to the classic college student: “what’s grey and has a furry tale and likes to collect nuts?” Answer: “It sure sounds like a squirrel but I know the answer must be Jesus”. The other danger of course is that we end up missing some of the “less important” but still critical lessons that the text is there to teach us.
Take for instance Paul’s treatment of the Israelite’s wandering in the desert in the book of Numbers as he reflects back on in in 1 Corinthians 10. As his starting point he engages in a bit of profound Biblical Theology. Firstly he speaks of the Israelite forefathers as “our forefathers”. It seems clear from the context that Paul intends the first person language here to be understood as inclusive rather than an exclusive – meaning that Paul considers the Israelites who wandered around in the wilderness as the forefathers of himself (a Jew) and the Corinthian Gentile Christians. This can only be the case if one understand how the promises made to Abraham find their fulfilment in Jesus and how, as Paul will explain elsewhere, that now the true descendants of Abraham are those who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead (Romans 4). Even more than that, Paul will explicitly link the Israelite’s experience with Jesus when he says that “they all drank from the same spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ” (1 Cor 10:4). This is again a profound truth which we don’t have time here to expound. Suffice to say that Christ is the life giving water that they needed in the wilderness and that the Corinthians needed and that we still need today. In a good piece of Biblical Theology, Paul will even go as far as describing the Corinthian believers as those “on whom the fulfilment of the ages has come” (1 Cor 10:11). There’s little doubt what “the main thing” is for Paul.
However, that doesn’t stop Paul making further, other applications from the accounts in Numbers. In fact he will say that “these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did” (1 Cor 10:6) and again “these things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us” (1 Cor 10:11). So Paul’s not afraid to at the same time, serve up some lunch and dinner here. He happily combines both the Biblical Theological application and the moral exemplary application in the one and the same passage. Perhaps his model here in 1 Corinthians 10 should serve as an example to us to make sure that we don’t make the mistake of insisting that the most important thing is the only thing.
Nothing wrong with saying the breakfast is the most important meal of the day – just as long as you appreciate the place of lunch and dinner at the same time!