Proclaimed a descendant of the legendary Queen of Sheba and King Solomon, Menelik II was Emperor of Ethiopia from 1889 until his death in 1913. Menelik II was a dominant figure of his time in Africa and would be known as the King of Kings. He converted a group of independent kingdoms into the strong, stable empire known as the United States of Abyssinia, otherwise known as Ethiopia. His feat of pulling together several kingdoms, which often fiercely opposed each other, earned him a place as one of the great political leaders of African history. His further accomplishments in bringing Ethiopia into the twentieth century, coupled with his stunning victory over Italy in the 1896 Battle of Adwa, in their attempt to invade his country, placed him among the great leaders of world history and maintained his country’s independence until 1935. The Emperor known for all of these things he is perhaps remembered today for one eccentricity. The Emperor had such reverence for the Bible that he would often remove pages from the Holy Scriptures and reverently eat them either as a source of inspiration or as cure for illness. He had convinced himself that by doing so he would get better. In December 1913 shortly after having suffered a stroke and feeling ill, he tore pages from an Egyptian edition of the Book of Kings. He began page by page, but unfortunately did not consume more than a few chapters before dying.
While eccentric in his application, Emperor Menelik II dramatically illustrates for us the need to ingest and digest God’s Word daily (Job 23:12; Jer. 15:16). What food is to the body the Bible is to the soul. The Bible is bread (Matt. 4:4); milk (1 Pet. 2:2); meat (1 Cor. 3:2); and honey (Psa. 119:103). The “eating” metaphor is employed throughout Scripture to remind us that the Bible is food for our soul (Heb. 6:5). Spiritual meat and nourishment sustain the inner man, and our life in Christ (John 6:63). An appetite for the Bible is a sure sign of spiritual health, and vitality. Christians who delight in God delight in His word (Psa. 119:16, 24, 35, 47-48, 72, 92, 127, 159, and 162).
In thinking out this call to “eat” the Word of God, the correlation between food and Scripture is instructive. Because like food, the Bible is something necessary without food we will die, and that is why Jesus told us to live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matt. 4:4). In addition, like food, the Bible is something we grow in and by. Healthy and growing babies require milk and maturing Christians require the Word (1 Pet. 2:2). Just as a baby graduates from milk to meat so the growing Christian will move into an ever deepening and widening knowledge of biblical doctrine (Heb. 5:12-14). Also like food, our biblical intake requires balance. We must seek a balanced and comprehensive understanding of the Bible (Acts 20:27). We must avoid pet doctrines, an over emphasis on the New Testament, and a devotional style of reading that cheery picks verses out of their context. Jesus chastised the Pharisees for their imbalance (Matt. 23:23-24). Again, like food, the Bible is something we should be grateful for (Neh. 8:1-12). Our gratitude should be shown to God, and those who teach His word (Neh. 8:5-6; 1 Tim. 5:17). Lastly, like food, the Bible is something to delight in, and enjoy (Jer. 15:16). Americans love to eat, and so should Christians love to relish in their Bibles.