Lesson 2 – Beliefs about God as provider

What do Christians believe about God as provider?

In this lesson pupils will reflect on how Christian belief in God as provider, inspires personal gratitude and can motivate action on behalf of others in both times of plenty and poverty. They will develop understanding of the context for Christian harvest festivals pupils will consider the Jewish festival of Sukkoth, Feast of Tabernacles, in the Old Testament, which Jesus would have celebrated.

Key Questions

What are the key beliefs about God’s provision of food for human beings in the Bible?  

How does God’s provision for the Israelites in the wilderness, inspire believers today?

Why do some  Christian believers celebrate Sukkoth and harvest in the UK and overseas? 

How do Old Testament Laws that Jewish believers follow inspire Christians in relation to food and belief in a God who provides?

Learning Objectives

  • To explore Key Jewish Festivals that influence Christian concept of Harvest
  • To understand that some Christians celebrate Jewish festivals as Jesus was described as doing, when he was on earth.
  • To understand that Old Testament  and Jewish beliefs and stories influence Christian believers

Starter

What do Christians believe about God’s provision for human beings in terms of physical food?

Christian beliefs in one God as creator of the world and provider for human needs originate in the Book of Genesis. Here God is described as creating man in his own image, and putting him in charge of animals and seed bearing plants for human beings to care for and use for food.

See Bible Text: Genesis 1 v 27-31

What attitude to Creation and food does this text suggest to Christian and Jewish believers?

What attitudes do we have towards animals and plants, in terms of the importance of looking after them, and relying on them for food and drink?

Consider different viewpoints inspired by belief e.g. Buddhist, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam

Main activity

Investigate the relationship for Jewish and Christian believers between obedience to God’s Laws and the productivity of the land. In the Old Testament and in the Jewish Torah there are many references to how Jewish people followed God’s laws about treating land carefully to produce good crops, for example sharing the harvest by gleaning wheat for strangers, not clearing wheat to the edge of the field,  leaving low-hanging grapes

Activity 1

Exploring Sukkoth: Many Christians are inspired by the example of the Jewish people today, and their customs. For example Sukkot or Succoth, The Feast of Tabernacles is the Jewish equivalent of the Christian harvest festival that reminds Jewish people of God provided for the Israelites(Jewish people) in the wilderness for forty years, as they escaped from slavery in Egypt.

See Leviticus. 23:42-43, that inspires Jewish people to celebrate Sukkoth,  where God told Moses to command the people “On the first day you shall take the product of hadar trees, branches of palm trees, boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook” (Lev. 23:40), and “You shall live in booths seven days; all citizens in Israel shall live in booths, in order that future generations may know that I made the Israelite people live in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt”

In the Jewish calendar in early autumn believers remember the harvest of fruit and grapes, and the journey of the Jews through the desert to the Promised Land when God protected them and provided food for them every day. For this event huts are put up in the synagogues and in people’s gardens, families gather in them to eat their meals to remember and show gratitude for God’s faithfulness.

See the following clip of a Jewish boy describing what happens in his family during Sukkot

Activity 2 Making a booth from recycled materials:

Pupils could work together to make a small model hut from recycled materials, imagine that they have stayed out overnight in the hut, and write a diary entry from the viewpoint of a Jewish believer about how it helped them feel close to God as Creator and provider.

Many Messianic Jews and other Christians celebrate Sukkoth, as part of their worship and thankfulness for God’s protection and provision. They also celebrate the idea that God will dwell with his people Jew and Gentile, even in the desert journey – a reminder of the end of time, when Christians believe that they  will dwell with God in eternity. the ultimate fruit of this time, which comes to harvest

Plenary

Food and meals are central in Jewish belief and family llife. They pray a blessing over their food at mealtimes.

How might a Christian believer follow this example and show thankfulness to God for their food?

e.g. saying grace at meal times to acknowledge God as the provider of the food, and to express gratefulness to farmers and cooks who make it available to us. See Christian Blessings at mealtimes resource Christian blessings and graces for mealtimesfor examples to investigate

Learning Outcomes

  • Identify the core beliefs that Christians have about God as provider, and the impact they have on their attitude towards food.
  •  Ask important questions about religion and beliefs, making links between their own and other’s responses
  • Understand that Jewish beliefs and traditions influence Christian Harvest celebration beliefs and rituals Harvest
  •  Recognise that many Christian believers celebrate Jewish festivals, inspired by their belief that through belief in Jesus they gain a Jewish heritage and be encouraged in their own faith.

Resources and Points to Note

Genesis 1 v 27-31

Explore A Rocha, a Christian Conservation organisation  re for examples of beliefs and actions related to care of God’s Creation

N.B. Sukkoth and other Jewish feasts would have been celebrated by Jesus, because he was a Jew, by birth

Many Messianic Jews and other Christians celebrate Sukkoth, as part of their worship and thankfulness for God’s protection and provision. They also celebrate the idea that God will dwell with his people Jew and Gentile, even in the desert journey – a reminder of the end of time, when Christians believe that they  will dwell with God in eternity. the ultimate fruit of this time, which comes to harvest

Messianic Jews are Jewish people who have converted from Judaism to Christianity, but maintain Jewish customs, including celebrating festivals, and worship

During the festival of Sukkoth there are processions and services held in the synagogues to remind them of how many hundred of years ago the priests would carry palm branches and sing hymns. People carry fruit with them as a reminder of how beautiful things are. In one hand they carry the etrog fruit which is like a lemon. In the right hand they carry a bunch of leaves known as a lulav. This is a palm, willow and myrtle branch. The palm stands for uprightness, the willow stands for humility and the myrtle stands for faithfulness. Together it means brotherhood and peace.

See Christian blessings and graces at mealtimes resource Christian blessings and graces for mealtimesfor examples to investigate

Also Christian belief in tithing’, giving a tenth of earnings, or first fruits from harvest