Breaking Bread Bible Study
The Bread of Life and the Hidden MannaBy Gary Amirault
This booklet has been written for the purpose of helping Christians find the purpose of their lives in Christ. I pray these words will bring the reader a little closer to our Father's Word, Will, and Work hidden in the chambers of your hearts. "I have come that you may have life, and that you may have it more abundantly." (John 10:10) May this book help the reader realize the fullness of this Scripture in their daily lives.
Semitic Background of the Bible
Bread . . . something used to hold the main part of a sandwich together; a side item to go along with the main meal; something Western children tear the crust from before eating. Bread in the modern Western culture is really not a necessity. One could function quite easily without bread. Not so in Biblical days. At the very center of life during the times of Jesus and earlier, stood the stalks of grain that carried man from day to day. Without bread, there was no life. It is no accident that the most famous prayer in the Western world begins, "Our Father, Who art in heaven, Hallowed by Thy Name. Give us this day our daily bread…." Daily bread—life—one day at a time.
This article will probably not even scratch the surface of the subject. I hope it will at least reveal to the reader that the simplest things in the Bible often offer the deepest truths. It is those very things which Western man often quickly writes off as insignificant or secondary that can open the door to the great spiritual truths of which Jesus spoke.
The Language of the Bible
We know that at least three quarters of the Bible was originally written in the sister languages of Hebrew and Aramaic. The disciples of Christ spoke these languages. If they spoke Greek, it would have been a secondary language. Most scholars believe that what is incorrectly called the New Testament, (Matthew through Revelation), was originally written in Koine Greek, a common tongue, as opposed to Classical Greek, which was used more in the political and academic communities. There are scholars who hold that possibly some of the Gospels were originally written in Aramaic and then translated into Greek. Early church Fathers referred to a copy of Matthew, for example, which was written in the "Jews" language, which could mean either Hebrew or Aramaic, the latter being most likely. Other scholars, a small minority, believe most of the writings under the heading of "New Testament" were originally written in Aramaic. Whatever the case, the foundational languages of the Christian Bible are the Semitic sister languages of Hebrew and Aramaic. These languages are very different from Greek and English.
In the first place, Hebrew and Aramaic contain only a fraction of the number of words found in Greek and English. As a result, each word in those languages has to serve more meanings than in languages that contain more words. Even in English, which contains hundreds of thousands of words, words often have more than one meaning. In Aramaic, the primary spoken language in Jesus' day, each word often had many different meanings.
Furthermore, it was crucial the listeners hear the heart of the speaker. A Semite would automatically reach beyond the literalness of a sentence and seek for meaning, intent, and spirit, rather than holding the speaker to a scientific scrutiny or exactness. Generally, they listen with much different ears than Westerners. These languages also required paying attention to facial expressions and body language in order to determine which meaning one was attaching to their words.
Another peculiarity of these two languages is their lack of words describing abstract concepts. If they wanted to express God's omnipresence, they would associate Him with the wind. If they wanted to show His quick judgments, they gave Him the wings of a swift bird or made reference to lightning. Surely, they knew He did not have or need wings or send lightning bolts every time He had something to say that was urgent. It was their limited vocabulary, and the poetic nature of these languages, that caused them to attach abstract concepts to words normally describing physical objects of nature.
There are several types of figures of speech that describe the use of words in the above mentioned manner. It is impossible to try to bring these expressions into another language using a word-for-word literal approach. Slavish literalism has been a leading downfall of many English Bible translations. Translating literally "She is a hot tomato" into another language would not convey the true meaning of those words. Most Bible translations (including the KJV) depart from a literal word-for-word rendering even though they may "claim" to be a "literal" translation. Yet unfortunately, most translations still do not convey the true meaning of many Hebrew and Aramaic idiomatic expressions and figures of speech. An example of the importance of conveying meaning, rather than employing a literal word-for-word approach, can be found in the following example.
The King James Bible renders Psalm 26:2 as: Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; Try my reigns and my heart. The New King James Bible has: Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; Try my mind and my heart. The "reigns" of the KJV have become the "mind" of the NIV. The Hebrew word under examination here is "kelayoth" and literally means "kidneys." The Semites had no problem determining the meaning of this passage of Scripture, even though they knew the word's primary meaning was "kidneys." As we can see here, the KJV and the NIV rightfully departed from "literal" translating in this passage even though the translators of these Bibles did not agree exactly how to render it in English. There are virtually thousands of other places where the intent or spirit of the author is not conveyed in many leading English Bible translations. We still have much to learn. Our translations are far from perfect even though many would have us think otherwise.
That the Biblical languages frequently employed figures of speech really should not bother us that much. We use them in English all the time. "You're pulling my leg." "Don't pull the wool over my eyes." "I'm hip." "You're far out." "Cat got your tongue?" "He's gone off the deep end." "That's a hot chick." "That's no sweat off my back." "It's raining cats and dogs." "That's a heavy thought.", etc. These are only a few of the many thousands of other examples of idiomatic usage of words found in the English language. If these expressions were brought into another language literally, they would not convey the true "meaning" behind the expressions.
Life to the ancient Semite was very simple. As I said, their language was equally simple. The Creator in His wisdom chose this language, these people, and that time period in which to bring into existence the written words that would greatly affect billions of people for better or for worse. Can we learn the many different meanings these ancients attached to their handful of words? Can we know when these words were meant to be taken literally and when they were meant figuratively, and even when they were meant to be taken both ways at the same time?
Not All Bibles Read The Same
As I said before, until recently, most English Bible translations have opted to go with more of a literal approach in translating. I am convinced this is one of the leading reasons we, modern Christians, sometimes have difficulty understanding the Bible.
All three Biblical languages are pervaded with all kinds of figures of speech. E.W. Bullinger in his book, Figures of Speech in the Bible, cites for us over two hundred different types of figures of speech found in the Greek New Testament! Within each type could be hundreds of different expressions.
The earliest translators of our English Bibles were quite limited in their knowledge of the Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. There were hundreds of words to which they did not know the literal meaning, nor could they determine the actual meaning behind the thousands of expressions that were not meant to be taken literally. It is sad, but true, that most Christians are unaware that even today, there are words in the original languages to which we still do not know the meaning. When a translator puts an English word in its place, they are merely guessing. The early reformation translators did much more guessing than the average Christian has been told. Quite often, from what I have been finding out, they guessed wrong, or translated according to the theology of their times.
The Roman Catholic Church for centuries had held the Latin Vulgate (Jerome's translation of the Bible into Latin), as irreproachable and untouchable. Many of the Protestant denominations of Christendom maintained (and many still do), that the early English translations are "inerrant" and therefore there is no need for new English translations. There are some Christians who insist the King James Bible is the only "authorized" Bible in the world. When they use the word "authorized," they mean that God has ordained this particular translation as His final Word to mankind. There are others who insist the Geneva Bible first printed in 1560, is the Bible we should all use. A study into this matter would prove this view quite false. Unfortunately, too few Christians are willing to take the time to study this out for themselves. The fact is, early English translations were far from perfect!
When scholars attempted to improve some of these early English translations, the leading one being the King James Bible, the fundamentalist wings of the Protestant church protested vehemently. (The word "wings" in the previous sentence is an example of using this word idiomatically.) Their powerful voice has greatly slowed the progress of getting at the meaning of the original Bible languages. Even the leading English Bibles of today, the NIV (number one best seller), the NASB, the NRSV, the NKJV, etc. have all been effected negatively by powerful voices wishing to keep us bound by the "traditions of men."
Despite forces attempting to suppress the truth, the resources to help us understand God's plans and purposes as revealed in writing have increased in recent years. If the Roman Catholic Church had had its way, our tie to the ancient Biblical languages would be lost forever. This church would have destroyed all links to the truths contained in the ancient languages and peoples of the Bible. (That is a book in itself.) However, in God's wisdom, He preserved manuscripts, ancient ruins, even small tribes of people hidden away in the Middle East, all of which would speak to us in the language and spirit in which our Bible was originally written. It is not an accident that the Arab peoples, considered backwards by the Western culture, have sat on thousands of tells, (ancient ruins covered with sand). They have prevented the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches from destroying the archaeological evidence that will one day help us to understand the written records God has left for us. The Dead Sea Scrolls are an example of this kind of information. They were originally discovered by an Arab shepherd!
Along with the many artifacts and ancient manuscripts buried beneath the sands still waiting for the proper moment to tell their story, God has also preserved a people who still speak an Aramaic very similar to the Aramaic which Jesus spoke. The ancient figures of speech contained in the Old Testament are still employed by these "backward" peoples. When the Western "Greco-Roman" mind-set is willing to humble itself and come down from its theological towers, it will discover that God has preserved the true meaning of the original languages of our Bible. I have been spending much of my time lately searching out those "simple" places and finding great treasure. (At least to me it is treasure.) May these studies enlighten your understanding and satisfy your spiritual appetite.
Let me introduce the subject of "bread" by quoting from a man born in the Middle East, now deceased, who has brought into the English language for us a sense of the importance of bread to the ancient as well as some modern Semitic minds.
"As the son of a Syrian family I was brought up to think of bread as possessing a mystic sacred significance. I never would step on a piece of bread fallen in the road, but would pick it up, press it to my lips for reverence, and place it in a wall or on some other place where it would not be trodden upon. What always seemed to me to be one of the noblest traditions of my people was their reverence to the "aish" (bread; literally "the life-giver"). While breaking bread together we would not rise to salute an arriving guest, whatever the social rank. Whether spoken or not, our excuse for not rising and engaging in the cordial (Near East) salutation before the meal was ended, was our reverence for the food (hir-metal-'aish). We could, however, and always did, invite the newcomer most urgently to partake of the repast…The 'aish was something more than mere matter. Inasmuch as it sustained life, it was God's own life made tangible for his child, man, to feed upon. The Most High Himself fed our hunger. Does not the psalmist say, "Thou openest thine hand, and satisfieth the desire of every living thing."? (From The Syrian Christ by Abraham Rihbany, published 1916.)
Everything these Semites did, they did in the name of God. In the name of God, they would plant the seed. As they harvested, they would thank God for the harvest. As they ground the grain, the name of their God would be on their lips. When the wife kneaded and baked the bread, blessings would pour forth from her mouth. Is it any wonder then, that when Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, He began with "Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed by thy Name. Give us this day our daily bread…"?
Imagine, the most famous prayer, perhaps in the entire world–and after calling on His and our Father, Jesus prayed for "our daily bread." Truly the traditions of many of these modern tribes who claim their traditions go back to the Biblical period is clearly reflected in Jesus' own words. A Semitic poet wrote:
Back of the loaf is the snowy flour;
Back of the flour, the mill,
Back of the mill is the wheat and the sower,
and the sun,
and the Father's will.
When we see the word "bread" in our Bibles, we must also bear in mind that the word was used to speak of food in general, not just baked wheat or barley. We hear, even in America --"Man, I earned my bread today!"-- a figure of speech meaning one worked hard for their earnings or livelihood that day.
Learning To See Through Ancient Eyes
It is very difficult (at least it was for me) for a Western, Protestant mind-set to read some of the material dealing with the customs of these Eastern people. Our worship of science and technology has caused us to look at people living in the Middle East as backward and ignorant. If we are going to learn of the ancient simple truths locked up in the language and customs of these people, we must humble ourselves — a very difficult, but needful thing for a Westerner to do. Perhaps we, Westerners, should heed Paul, the apostle, when he warns,
"But God has chosen the foolish thing of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence." (1 Cor. 1:27-29)
Another difficulty present when trying to get at the original meaning of the Hebrew and Aramaic through studying these people and their present culture, is that other religions and cultures have penetrated this region thereby creating a mixture. Sorting out this mixture is not easy. The Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Samaritan, Babylonian, Persian, Islamic, as well as other religions and cultures have left their mark on these ancient people. Clearly, careful sifting is needed. I liken this kind of study very much to the way an archaeologist must uncover a tell—very carefully, slowly, methodically without preconceived notions.
Because of these difficulties and the length of time needed to try to decipher this material, one is inclined to simply relegate everything to the traditional superstitions of corrupted religions. I was in a constant struggle as I sifted through this material. There were times when I just wanted to quit. However, I eventually found so much valuable information that I had to continue. I likened the process to eating fish…it is very good "brain food," but one must eat slowly and wisely enough to find the bones before swallowing.
When reading about bread, I often wanted to put much of the information under the heading "Roman Catholic Eucharist tradition," but that would have been a tragic mistake. While the Roman Catholic ritual is certainly, I believe, a false teaching, the Protestant rejection of transubstantiation, I am afraid, has also caused us to miss much truth regarding bread and its symbolism in the Scriptures as seen through the Semitic culture. We must remember that God established many types, shadows, rituals, etc., their purpose being to point us to spiritual truths. When Jesus said, "I am the Bread of Life," He used this term as a Semite would. For us to understand what He meant by being the Bread of Life, we must look at it from the Semites' mind, not from the American mind or any other culture's mind-set.
What is it?
Everything that Moses pointed to as a type, the reality of that type is found in Jesus Christ and His body. I hope the reader is familiar with the Tabernacles, Temples, Holy Feasts, sacrifices, etc., and understands that they merely served to point to that which was to come in Christ. All the events in the life of Israel would find their true fulfillment in the life of Christ. For example, for forty years God through Moses fed Israel in the wilderness with a food which they named "Manna," meaning in Hebrew, "what is it?" Some scholars believe it was a material similar to what can still be found in northern Mesopotamia today called "harullah." It falls on certain trees in the early morning, tastes like honey, and disappears when the sun gets hot. Recently, it has been discovered this substance is formed from cuts made into the plants by ants. I don't believe enough trees could have been found in that dessert to feed such a large group. Considering the fact that the material did not fall on the Sabbath day, it seems quite evident we are dealing with supernatural provision here. (Ex. 16:26,27)
During their journey from the flesh pots of Egypt to the Promised Land of Canaan, Yahweh through Moses fed the children of Israel with Manna. It was called "food from heaven."
"Then Jesus said unto them, 'Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.' Then said they unto him, 'Lord, evermore give us this bread.' And Jesus said unto them, 'I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.'" (John 6:32-40,KJV)
So then, the manna which came from heaven was not the true bread of life. While it may have been quite miraculous, this miracle was only to serve as a sign pointing to the True Bread of Life, Jesus Christ also provided by God. Now in what way was Jesus Christ the True Bread of Life? Jesus once spoke these seemingly gruesome words to a group of Jews who desired to become His disciples:
"Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever." (John 6:53-58, KJV)
At that point, many disciples left Him. This saying was too hard for them. They thought He had gone mad. Even His inner core of disciples murmured about this saying, but while they did not understand it, they did not leave. They knew Jesus had the words of Life. (Many times in my walk with the Lord, wrestling with the major differences among various Bible translations, seeing the hypocrisy in my life and the lives of many other Christians, seeing the blood bath left behind by those who murdered in the name of Jesus, I have wanted to walk away from the name, Christian. But there is something inside me, bigger than all the shame that sometimes comes with the gross things done by us in the name of Christ that will not let me go. His Spirit will not let me go. I know life is only in Him. Where else can I go?)
Back to Jesus' statement. No one ever literally ate His flesh and drank His blood. So how is it possible to have this "eternal life" or "aionian zoen" as it is rendered in the Greek language? The Catholics believe they have found it through the Eucharist. They believe, due to the Priests' consecration of small wafers, that they are, in fact, eating the very body of Jesus Christ. They have taken away the blood from their ritual and so it has become a "bloodless" sacrifice. Is this the real "food from heaven" as represented by the manna in the wilderness? I think not!
All Truth is found in the Messiah Himself. Let us turn to His life and see if we might be able to find the "hidden manna," this "True Bread that comes down from heaven," this "Bread of Life." In the Gospel of John, we find Jesus in Samaria breaking just about every rule in the Jewish code. We find Him among the Samaritans, a half-breed people transplanted into Israel from Babylon several centuries earlier by the king of Babylon during Israel's 70 year captivity. Pious Jews considered this land "unclean." Devout Jews would walk around Samaria going from Judaea to Galilee rather than to set foot on "unclean" soil that might contaminate their feet. Then He had the audacity to speak to a woman in public. Even worse, she was a Samaritan. To top it off, she had had five husbands and was living with a man out of wedlock, a big no-no in the Jewish and Samaritan cultures.
The disciples went into the city looking for food. Knowing that Jesus had no food, they offered Him some they had just bought. Just keep in mind this incident occurred in an "unclean" land right after Jesus spoke with an "unclean" woman. Even the woman was surprised at Jesus' actions.
"In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat. But he said unto them, 'I have meat to eat that ye know not of.' Therefore said the disciples one to another, 'Hath any man brought him ought to eat?' Jesus saith unto them, 'My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.'" (John 4:31-38, KJV)
Please note that the term "meat" in this passage does not refer to animal flesh. The term "meat" in the King James Bible is a term for food in general. This use of the meaning of "meat" has been removed from the English language except in archaic English Bibles. Here is a good example of why we should always be open to use new translations of the Bible in our studies. Languages are very fluid and word meanings often change dramatically even within as short a time span as a single generation. (The word "gay" is such a word in our generation.)
Jesus told us that His food was to do the will of the Father and to finish His work. He also told us in the Gospels that He and the Father were one. The Father was in Him and He in the Father. (John 4:34; John 10:30; John 10:38)
The High Priest of Israel had a mitre on His head marked with the Hebrew words "Holiness unto the Lord," meaning, "Separated unto Yahweh." Recall that Israel was to bind the Word of the Lord to their foreheads and on their arms. In other words, when a person has the Word of God (the expression of His will) in their minds, it should produce the work of God through their labors, which is what the hands (arms) speak of.
Jesus had the mark of God in His mind and on His hands. He was the Word of God who would perfectly fulfill the will of the Father in His works.
Most of us, Christian and others, spend large portions of our lives manifesting the mark of the beast. Our minds are filled with vanity and our hands are ever so busy creating nothing of lasting value. Our minds and hands are filled with the will and work of the flesh or carnal nature.
Only through receiving and staying in the mind of Christ will we begin to produce the works and fruit of the Spirit. The Bible says we "have" the mind of Christ. (1 Cor. 2:16) Having it is one thing—staying in it and using it, is quite another. The driving force of Jesus' life, is not mere survival of self. His driving force, His passion for living, was towards God. In that action, in that energy directed toward the Kingdom of God, He received His strength, His directions, His motivation, and His passion for living.
It was a two-way system— a hunger towards the things of the Father that culminated with the Father fulfilling that hunger. His hunger for righteousness was satisfied by His Father. Ask yourself: "For what am I hungry?" Am I really hungering after righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit? Do I seek to walk in the "weightier" elements, that is, justice, truth, and mercy, or do I play mind games with my God, those around me and myself? Am I pretending? Am I deceiving myself? Have I been deceived about God? These are important questions, which, when asked with sincerity, will draw the Holy Spirit to you instantly!! Here is where the Holy Spirit seeks to abide and make a permanent home!! Here is where the dove can nest and reproduce!
I have been told the word "sincere" comes from the Latin and means "without wax." Dishonest clay jar merchants would often take a vessel in which was a crack, fill the crack with wax and then cover the surface with ground clay, making the vessel "appear" to be perfect. In the heat of the sun, the wax would melt thus revealing the defect. Should the heat from the Son shine on us, will we come through "sincere" (without wax)? Remember, the Son may show up in our lives in the form of an enemy, an ex-friend we had a falling out with, a beggar on the street, a hitchhiker, and many other different forms. When the heat strikes, what comes forth? Fruit of the Spirit? Or another kind of spirit? Oh, that all of us who espouse the name of Christ would put off our pretenses! We would grow to maturity so much more rapidly. We have been taught to lie, to hide, and to pretend to be what we are not. We know how to put on the "air" on Sunday morning. We are called to be people of substance, not air.
Jesus was in the will of the Father and the Father's will was in Christ. This is perfect union, true oneness. Christ's single-mindedness produced a perfect walk, no errors, no mistakes, and no sin. The Greek and Hebrew words for "sin" literally mean "to miss the mark," as in shooting at a target and falling short. All of our walks fall far short of the mark which Christ was after, a perfect obedience to our Fathers' will and to finish His work, that is, to fill it up to the brim. He came to bring to completion, the Law of Moses which would usher us into a New Law, the Law of the Life in Christ Jesus. (Rom. 8:2)
There is a work prepared from the foundation of the world for each of us to walk in. "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is a gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Eph. 2:8-10)
I realize that most Christians have memorized the first part of this verse and know it by heart. However, I am convinced that most of us who "memorize" Scriptures often do not understand what was memorized We must become enabled to walk in what was memorized. Oh, please, take time alone with the Holy Spirit and chew slowly on these words!
Most of Christianity has abandoned the message of grace through faith and has entered into some kind of system in which they are again "earning" their salvation. That includes just about every denomination of Christianity I can think of, including the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements. Please note that we are saved unto works prepared beforehand that we should walk in them! They are God's works given us before we ever hit this planet! Again, I remind you, you are His workmanship. He is the author and finisher of your faith and He is faithful to complete that which He started. (Heb. 12:2) He is not a builder who started to build and did not foresee certain difficulties that would prevent Him from completing His work. No, the Master Builder knows how to mold us into His image and no power in the universe including yourself will prevent Him from succeeding. Can you shout a big Amen!?
What is the true "Bread of Life?"
True Bread, then is the Word, Will, and Work of God the Father. This is Jesus Christ!! "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it." (John 1:1-5) "Behold, I have come—In the volume of the book it is written of Me—To do Your will, O God.'" (Heb. 10:7) "I have come down from heaven, not to do My will, but the will of Him who sent me." (John 6:39) "My food is to do the will of Him Who sent me and to finish His work." (John 4:34) "O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done." (Matt. 26:42)
It should be quite clear by now what Jesus' food was while here on earth. In Him, was the embodiment of the Father's Word, Will, and Work. Fulfilling these three required the crucifixion of His flesh. He brought it to perfect obedience to the Father's will.
The flesh is always enticed by things that "appear" good to the eyes and the mind but eventually lead to death. The beginning of Christ's life of authority in the Kingdom of God included the crucifixion of His flesh (self) and ended in His being glorified. Satan gives his best "show" first and then it gets worse. Christ laid out the truth first (which often is hard to swallow) and then brings us into a full marvelous wonderful life! He saves the best for last. Remember, the flesh will often choke on the word of God. See, Jesus' example in the garden of Gethsemane, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful...O Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will." (Matt.26:38,39)
In Christ is perfect obedience to the Father. Believe me, it is not in our flesh to be obedient to Him. We must eat the flesh of Jesus Christ and drink His blood. Here is true food, indeed! How do we actually or practically do this?
Many people think that by keeping all kinds of laws, performing certain rituals, fasting and praying, attending church often, going to mass every week, etc., is doing the Word, Will, and Work of God. Some are taught that obeying the authorities of their church fulfills this requirement. No, it does not! Remember we cannot do it in ourselves. It is not within us to do. He invites us to eat of Him and in so doing receive the righteousness He received from perfect obedience to His Father's Commandments. As we eat of His body, we receive of His power unto obedience to the Spirit and not the flesh.
When Jesus told the Jews that unless they eat His flesh and drink His blood they cannot receive life, they choked. The natural flesh (the carnal mind) couldn't comprehend what He was saying. We must remember, according to the Law of Moses, which they were commanded to keep, drinking or tasting of blood of any kind was unlawful. Jesus' command was truly a "hard" saying. They did not understand even as many Christians today still do not understand the true meaning of those words.
It is this bread that sustained Jesus throughout His ministry. Jesus was the embodiment of the Father's Word, Will, and Work. Through Jesus' Crucifixion and resurrection, He then became the Way to this Life. Jesus said His body is our bread. Can we not see that this is an invitation to partake of His Word, Will, and Work which His Father gave Him? We become what we eat. Feed a baby nothing or poison and it dies. Feed it foods with poor nutritional value and it will become unhealthy and possibly deformed. In Christ is the fullness of God's Word, Work, and Will. He is the Way to a healthy spiritual life. It is the living Word of God that sustains us, not a wafer, bread, or cracker or the doing of a written law.
Bread With No Life
I am afraid too many of us are eating bread with no nutritional value in it. For example, attending Scripture memorizing classes, while seeming like a noble activity, is not eating the word of God. Many of us have fallen into customs, creeds, rituals, traditions—dead religious forms with no substance and have done it thinking we are pleasing God. God is not interested in dead works, no matter how well they are perfumed and prettied-up. The corpse is still stiff and without life! Children, please get out of these coffins! Partaking of this food is like eating a dead human corpse! When we follow religious leaders and enable them to build their own kingdoms instead of Christ's, then we are eating of that minister and not of Christ. Get out of such activity! You are eating a dead body! Stop it!
Our big food processing corporations today, during the "processing," often take out the natural nutrients and replace them with artificial ones because it's easier and more profitable for them. I have found many religious organizations have taken out the true life found in the gospel and replaced it with man-made imitations devoid of any real spiritual substance.
Saints, the Bread from heaven is not hidden in the Roman Catholic church or any other organization—it's hidden in you!! Christ in you the hope of glory!! It's laid out just right for your makeup. No one else can eat it. It has been reserved from the foundation of the world specifically for you. God loved you so much before He even set creation in motion, that He took great care in laying out everything to bring you to the fullness of the stature of Christ.
We are thankful when we have parents who are responsible enough to provide all we need to prepare us for the "real" world. Well, have I got good news for you. Our heavenly Father is the best Dad one could have. He has carefully prepared provision for every single day of our lives!! Oh, what a Father!! Daily Bread!! And we're not talking about a stale cracker, Honey! Remember, bread speaks of the very life of God Himself!
Knowing The Seasons of Your Life
Now I must bring in a little balance here before I go on. I have just spent a lot of time talking about a one-on-one relationship and I certainly do not want to belittle that in even the slightest way. Some saints catch a hold of the "just Jesus and me" life, head for the wilderness, find a cave, and spend the rest of their lives bragging about the fact they came out of the "old religious order," or Babylon. They have little to no fellowship with other believers. They live off individual Bible study, books and newsletters. Sometimes they talk to like-minded people on the telephone and once in a while attend a conference. Folks, living in this life-style will dry a person up just like living in a dead church will. Remember God brings us out that He may bring us into something better. There may be a time of isolation during this processing, but that time is only temporary. We must learn to put off the "commandments and ordinances" we received as slaves to false religious systems and begin to learn to take orders from our new Commander. This is often a long and frustrating experience for many of us because the false religious systems we must be delivered from are under the banner of Christian! Please remember, it was God who placed Israel into Egypt for a long season, and it was God who eventually brought them out, after His purposes were accomplished in them. So too, God may have put you into certain denominations for a season, but don't be surprised when he makes things so difficult for you there that you will either willingly leave or be thrown out!!
The story of Moses and Pharaoh graphically illustrates a part of the walk every child of faith will experience in their own lives. God put Israel in Egypt and then He took them out. He then isolated them for 40 years in the wilderness before He brought them into the Promised Land. Children of faith, this is the story of our lives here on earth perfectly laid out for us by our heavenly Father.
God may separate us for a season, and that season may be a long time. Moses spent forty years stepping on sheep pebbles before he was humble enough to go back and lead Israel out of Egypt. David spent many years separated from his brethren in Israel living in caves and among the Philistines. Elijah also spent a great deal of time in the wilderness. Paul spent a great deal of time separated from both Israel and the church. God brought about that separation.
John, in the spirit of Elijah, spent much time in the wilderness. He called Israel to come "outside the camp" through the wilderness to the Jordan River to get prepared to enter the New Covenant. From the age of twelve to thirty, we have no record of Jesus' life here on earth. During this time, a Jewish son would be weaned from the mother's influence and spend the next 18 years learning his father's business. You can be certain that Jesus was "learning" His Father's business. He was learning to rule and reign over all of Creation! We do not have a record of this time because it was a personal time between Jesus Christ and his Father. Jesus was learning how to rule in this spiritual kingdom of His Father. It was not recorded in the Bible because the carnal mind cannot understand these things and would twist them into destructive counterfeits of the truth. Human words cannot really describe accurately spiritual truths. Paul said he saw things unlawful to speak about when he was in the third heavens. What he was saying is that any description he might give in human language would fall short of truly describing what he saw. And so this precious time from the age of 12 to 30 when Jesus was learning His Father's business is hidden from our eyes
The age of 30 was the age of maturity, of "adoption" and of priesthood. At this age, a Jewish Father would take his first born son, take him to the city gate at which sat the leaders of the city and declare him co-equal in their business. The word of the son would be the same as if speaking to the father. They were one.
You, too, whether you are male or female, (in Christ there is neither male nor female) have been given an appointed time to learn your Father's business. When God prepares a person for His work, He often separates that person so they are fed by Him and not by a religious system.
In the Jewish tradition, the father took the son to the city gate to declare this "adoption." A careful study of when Jesus' Father "adopted," that is, placed Jesus as partner in His work, is very important. Jesus' Father did not choose Jerusalem's gates and the elders of the city to declare Jesus' partnership. In the same way, it may not be denominational leaders (those who sit at the city gate) who will bear witness to your "adoption." It may occur "outside the camp" (denomination) beyond the wilderness, and on the other side of the Jordan River.. If you have ears, then listen.
John, in the spirit of Elijah, did not baptize in the pools of Jerusalem. He baptized "all around the region of Jordan (descending)." From Jerusalem one had to go through some of the most wasted, deserted land in the world. He was a "voice crying in the wilderness." Remember, the son must be presented to the leaders of the city in order for the "adoption" to be witnessed by the proper authorities, that is the business and civil leaders. Now hear the word of the Lord regarding how Jesus' adoption was "witnessed."
"When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened. And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him and a voice came from heaven which said, 'You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.' Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age…" (Luke 3:21-23)
I cannot overemphasize the importance of this passage of Scripture. Here was Jesus' placement into our Father's business as equal partner. Look at the witnesses. These are the new leaders of the New Covenant Kingdom!! God, the Father did not take His Son to Herod, Caiaphas the High Priest and the important leaders of Israel. The new "people of the gate" would be people who have not made a name for themselves. They were common everyday kind of people. Notice that Jesus did not receive His baptism until "all the people were baptized."
Getting Down to Business with our Father
God first starves out the "old leaven," the poisonous residue of the false teachings he or she has acquired from old institutions. Then, after having fasted from this poison, He begins to feed the person True Bread from heaven. Much of this time is personal! Just you and your heavenly Father through the Spirit of Truth. He wants this time with you alone!! You are a unique child to Him. He wants to spend personal quality time with each of His children. We each need to feel uniquely special. This is a basic need of all of us. He may bring in instructions from other sources, but it will clearly be secondary and in accordance to His personal guidance. While His instructions may come in many different forms, they will all bear His discernable mark. His spirit will bear witness. Many religious structures are designed to take this experience away from us. Don't let them rob you of this most precious intimate time in your life. This is more precious than anything in the world and no religious activity can replace this time. None!!
As I said, God never purposes to leave the person in the wilderness. The wilderness experience is to prepare that person to go back among people. God's purpose in us is to unite us and make us one even as Jesus is one with the Father.
I spent eight years in the wilderness, but my heart always yearned for true fellowship with other believers. The separation was badly needed. I had no idea how much poison I had swallowed in the many church structures in which I had previously participated. Slowly, the fast from religion removed the accumulation of all that poison so that He could then fill me with His Living Word, His Bread, His Life, to know His will, and to walk in His Works prepared from the foundation of the world.
Something else I needed to learn during this time is that apart from Him I can do nothing. (John 15:5) Oh, how devastating to my pride!! I was just like Peter always two steps ahead of everybody, including Jesus, thinking I was really doing something important. It is one thing to say that I can do nothing without Him, it's quite another thing when He puts the fire to our works and we discover all the things we thought were from God were just the works of our carnal minds!! Oh what a shock when we think we are spiritual and then the fire comes and burns all our "spiritual" works away. It is quite devastating, but very needful if we are to grow up into Him.
There is no room for pride and personal ambition in the work He prepared for us to walk in. For His walk, He will always provide all that is needed. There is no room for boasting of your contribution to the cause. He paid the bill fully. There is nothing lacking! Our only contribution is to sing His praises and to declare His mighty works! Wonderful works that fill our hearts with joy! The picture is beautifully portrayed in the Old Testament when Israel went to battle. Go see who it was that prepared the way of battle and what instruments of war they had. These must become our instruments of war. I pray you can feel that joy bubbling up within yourself as you contemplate this wonderful life Jesus Christ has prepared for you and in you.
The beauty of this kind of walk is that it does not corrupt us with the leaven of the Pharisees, that is, pride and self-righteousness. When we work "for" God, we puff ourselves up. When we realize that these are Christ's works prepared and finished from the foundation of the world, then we have nothing to boast about. We simply have much to be grateful and joyful over. Religious work produces self-righteousness, a chest puffed-up (leavened) with pride, and a stiff neck. Most of us, while we are engaged in these dead works of religion, do not realize we are producing nothing but death, manure at best. It is difficult to impossible to convince us while we are engaging in this fornication with death, that we are not doing the work of the Lord.
Usually we have to run out of our strength and drop from exhaustion from all our religious activities before we can begin to hear what the Lord has in store for us. Often, we have been so brainwashed that salvation is only in our denomination or church, that we dare not contemplate looking elsewhere. Therefore, we try to enter God's work through the system we are in. This is not possible. We go around hiding our insecurities by spending time convincing each other that we are in the right place. Our mouths become full of apologetics defending our church programs. Many of us have become dogmatists. What we really have become is dogs! In the Bible, a dog was a symbol of those outside the Covenant with God. All we are able to do as dogs is bark and gnash our teeth -- favorite expressions of a pharisaic heart. Oh yes, dogs also like to eat dead things! Even worse, they like to roll their backs in old dead carcasses for some reason. Dogs enjoy the smell of death and so do self-righteous folks.
God's true works fill (expand, enlarge) our hearts with joy that comes forth with great expressions of thanksgiving. The world can tell the difference. It is those caught up in their religious works of the flesh who cannot tell the difference. When all Christians begin to walk in the works of God instead of religious works, the world will immediately change! The world will come to our gatherings desiring to see Jesus because they have seen Jesus in us.
It is in a true corporate gathering of Christ's body in fellowship that we receive our full nourishment. When we learn to "see" Christ in each other, we will be able to receive from each other that which God had hidden in them to give us. If, however, we see them after the flesh, we will not open our hearts to receive. There is a nourishment our Father gives us when we are in the wilderness and there is a nourishment which comes from the City of God, that is, corporate worship and communion. Living in the wilderness beyond the appointed time cuts us off from the fullness of Christ. Remember, to everything there is a season … turn, turn, turn.
Picture, if you will, the Ark of the Covenant. It is made of Acacia wood covered with gold on the inside and out. This speaks of our humanity (the wood) covered by the divinity and glory (gold) of God as our coverings. The gold on the inside speaks of "Christ in you, the hope of glory." The gold on the outside speaks of His glory as you walk in Him including through your corporate expression in His body on this earth. The gold covering on the inside speaks of God's divine work to us individually. The beaten gold on the outside of the ark speaks of God's divine work through us which is manifested to His creation. The outer gold is to be seen! In Moses tabernacle (Law) it was hidden. In David's tabernacle the ark was made visible for all to see. On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit was poured out onto the 120 disciples and they declared the mighty works of God. When we Christians catch the reality of truly walking in Christ, we begin to manifest the glory of God on earth! We hide in Him. We cease from our works and enter into His works which are filled with glory! We literally become covered with Him, His work, His glory!! Oh, saints, can you see it?! Father give me the words to express this plainly. When we cease from our labors, and enter into His, we truly enter Christ and manifest his glory on the earth. His works declare and manifest the glory of God. Go to the second Chapter of Acts and see an example of what I am talking about. Please take some time right now to digest these thoughts before you go on with this article. Invite the Holy Spirit to open your eyes of understanding to see this by the spirit and not with the natural mind.
In a true corporate expression of Christian fellowship, each person has something to offer. Christ in the midst of us, will fill in that which is lacking. Insecure people must be encouraged to believe that Christ lives in them and that they are important to the fellowship. They must be made to see they are an expression of Christ. In order for Christ to be expressed fully, they must contribute to the expression.. The overbearing must be gently restrained so that the meek can be encouraged to participate.
This kind of "assembling" requires a very mature leadership, a leadership that purposes to unite the body and join it unto the Head, Jesus Christ, and not to themselves. This subject is another article. For now, let us understand, that coming together, assembling, going to church, presently in most church institutions is done after the pattern of Moses, and not after the pattern of Christ. Ritual will never take the place of life! Seek God's face and get out of this type of death! However, once God has stripped us of our "Babylonian garments," we mustn't spend anymore time in the wilderness than God has called for. We can waste what God has given us in the wilderness just as easily as in a dead church. A cave in the desert or a coffin disguised as a nicely decorated church may not look alike, but apart from Christ, they are both tombs. One is just a fancier model than the other. Too many Christians who have seen through the hypocrisy, dead rituals, and pompous parades orchestrated on Sunday mornings have separated themselves not to Christ, but to a different banner of death. I realize I have repeated myself. I want to drive the point home.
Christ is a many-membered body. We need each other for many reasons. One of those reasons is to see what is really inside us. It is in rubbing shoulders with people that we can test of which spirit we are. Here we can see if we manifest the fruit of the Holy Spirit, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, or if what is within us is just hot air or even worse, perhaps foul gas. I know I am stepping on some toes right now. As a matter of fact, my toes are feeling sore too! Good!
Assembling is needful for Christians. However, assembling in an unholy and unlawful manner is no better than congregating at the local bar or some sports event. At least those in the bars think they are having a little fun. If we are not receiving Christ in a real way when assembling, we are better off going fishing or playing tennis. At least in that kind of activity we are getting some exercise. Standing up and sitting down for a handful of songs hardly matches a good tennis game as far as exercise goes. In some churches the main exercise one gets is reaching into their wallet. If your pastor does not allow you to exercise your spiritual senses and gifts, by all means, go fishing. Who knows, maybe Jesus will meet you there and break bread with you.
Cry out to your heavenly Father for the True Bread of Life, the Hidden Manna. Allow Him to bring it to you in whatever form He desires. It may come from a stranger knocking at your door. It may be served by a hitchhiker you pick up. It may come from the quiet person in your assembly who always keeps to himself. Cry out and reach out! He may send an angel. He may send His Presence. He may catch you up into the third heaven. He has many ways to feed us our daily bread. Open your hearts and He will fill your mouths with praises declaring the mighty works of our Father. (Acts 2:11)
Jesus lived on the Will and Work of the Father. It was this food that sustained Jesus in the wilderness for forty days. Interestingly, it took forty years to prepare Moses before He could lead Israel around the wilderness for a second forty years. Jesus was in the wilderness for only forty days. Jesus, like Moses, would also take His people on a journey. I pray this article will stir some readers to begin this journey with Jesus, others to return to Him and others to be refreshed. Remember, He is the Way. He is also the beginning and the end. Quite frankly, one day we will discover, that in Christ is everything! As the Scriptures say "In Him we live, and move, and have our being." Cry out to God to make these words your reality!! Now let us learn some more about this "bread."
Jesus was tempted by Satan with these words: "Command these stones to be turned to bread." Jesus replied with, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word which proceeds from the mouth of God." (Please note: He did not say "by every word in the King James Bible.") Scripture memorizing will not give one the "hidden manna." Often, Scripture memorizing merely breeds a modern Pharisee. Remember, Jesus once chided the greatest Bible memorizers on earth, the Pharisees, with "You search the Scriptures for in them you think you have eternal life. But they testify of Me, but you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life." (John 5:39, 40) The letter kills, it is the Spirit that gives life.
Remember, Jesus said He was the True Bread who came down from heaven. The manna of Moses was not the true bread. It was a type. I am making this connection between bread, words out of His mouth, and the manna in the wilderness because Jesus makes the connection Himself. When He said that man shall live by "every word which proceeds from the mouth of God," He quoted Deuteronomy 8:3 which also speaks of manna. Let us see if we can glean something from the "type" of the manna that sustained Israel for forty years.
There are probably many things we could say here, but we will just highlight some essentials. This manna formed early in the morning. The male head of each household was to do the gathering. This speaks of the spirit (male) rather than the soul (female) doing the gathering. (I know this opens many questions for some, but I cannot get into the subject any further than this.) Each male was to collect only enough to sustain his household for that day (daily bread). While God provided the substance, they still had to gather and prepare it for eating. Note God could have simply supernaturally sustained them without their having to gather and prepare food, but He did not. Whether they gathered more than their share (hoarding) or whether they gathered too little, no one lacked. Each had their daily allotment met. They were commanded to leave none of it for the next day. If they gathered too much it became rotten and stank. (That's what happens to the work we do for Jesus instead of doing the work He gives us.) They were to eat all of what they had prepared or gathered. On the sixth day, they were to gather twice as much. The extra was to be used on the seventh day on which day there was to be no work. This extra food did not rot and stink. (This also is another fascinating subject for another time.) For forty years, Israel's primary occupation, their "work" so to speak, was to learn to receive God's daily bread, which represented the Life of God. They never really learned the principle. However, we shouldn't chide them too much, should we? After all, have we really come any further than Israel when it comes to truly trusting Him for our "daily Bread?" Do we not also grumble and complain? Israel sometimes tried to gather more than a day's worth of manna. This speaks of worrying about what will happen tomorrow. It speaks of a lack of trust that He will be there to meet your needs tomorrow. It speaks about hoarding and greed. It speaks about impatience also.
"No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore, I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about the body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore, do not worry, saying 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." (Matt. 6:24-34)
Oh God, how often we have read these words! But do our actions manifest these words? Will memorizing these words cause us to actually manifest the trust and abandonment required to fulfill these words each and every day of our lives? Do we really take these words to heart? Are we really in great unbelief and are too afraid to acknowledge it before God and ourselves and our Christian brothers and sisters? Why do we play games with ourselves and pretend to do and be what we are not? Some reading these lines need to stop right now and go to our Father and confess their unbelief, their doubts. Oh ye of so little faith! Some reading these words are ready to come to our Father right now and be changed forevermore. Go. Confess your unbelief. Cast your burdens upon Him because He cares for you. He wants to make these words you know by heart a reality in your heart. He is calling you right now. (Whoever you are, please write to me and tell me about this special moment in your life.) These words will be burned into your very being and you will never be the same again,
"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy ladened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matt. 11:28-30) (I am broken and full of tears as I write these words. Surely, the Holy Spirit will move deeply into someone's life right here.)
In Jesus are the will and the work of the Father that will sustain us in our spiritual journey on earth. "He who does my will, the same is my brother, sister, and mother." (Matthew 12:50) Jesus is the "head" of our family. It is His responsibility to gather His family's food. He is the male head (spiritual) of His family. Remember, He is a "life-giving Spirit!" (1 Cor. 15:45) It is His responsibility to gather just the right amount of food for each member of His family. He has done that perfectly!! However, we must abide in Him in order to have our daily manna. Only in Jesus Christ are the works of God. We must eat Him, trust Him, hide in Him to receive this daily salvation, this daily bread. These works are not in the Roman Catholic Church, the Pentecostal Church, the Baptist Church, Billy Graham Evangelistic Center, or any other man-made institution! The works of God and the strength and resources to fulfill them are only found in the true body of Jesus Christ.
The Bible speaks of works prepared from the foundation of the world in which we should walk. Obviously, if they were prepared that long ago, they are not our works that came from our will, but God's works prepared for us to walk in.
Psalm 78:25 calls manna "angel food." An angel is a messenger, whether a spiritual being from heaven or a human being with a word from the Spirit of God. Manna, which dropped upon the dew in the darkness of the night, then speaks of a word, a message from above which will manifest in the life of a believer as the work of God. This word (manna) sustains His life in us as we walk this wilderness (earth). Jesus is the Word of God. When we are active in the true work of God, prepared from the foundation of the world, we truly are eating Jesus Christ. Jesus' walk was perfectly righteous. We have received an inheritance in Him into which we should enter. It is a walk, Word, work, will, way, prepared from the foundation of the world and all provision has been provided. Remember that after Cain killed Abel, the earth no longer gave provision to him. The earth represents our flesh. In the flesh (earth) is no longer any spiritual sustenance. Nothing good dwells there. We must rise up to be freed from the curse. We must enter the spiritual realm. Oh, Father please let these words penetrate deep within the hearts of your people! I pray that you cover my shortcomings with your grace.
Brothers and Sisters, one of the most difficult things for us Christians to overcome is the self-righteousness and pride we puff ourselves up with when we think we are "doing the Lord's work," when in fact we are doing our own work and doing it unlawfully. Remember, it is Jesus who has already done the work and has provided everything to bring it all to fulfillment. All we have to do is eat!! There is no room for anyone to exalt themselves over another. Pride and self-righteousness have always been the leading downfall among His people, whether Jew or Christian. Deuteronomy 8:11-18 explains why God fed them manna in the wilderness as a guard against the pride that they would be tempted with in the Promised Land. Sadly, Israel forgot the lesson. So have we.
Israel spent forty years in the wilderness eating food from heaven, but they did not do it right. They complained about the taste, they gathered too much, they tried to gather on the Sabbath. And Moses failed as well. He struck the rock twice, a big no-no, and so died outside the Promised Land. Jesus, the Rock in the wilderness only needs to be struck once to open the flow of forgiveness of sin to all mankind.
Jesus in the Wilderness
So Jesus went into the wilderness to do it right for them. He spent 40 days there with no food or water. He lived only on the will and work of our Father. He did it perfectly for them, that is, the Jews. He also did it perfectly for you and me! We, Christians, have failed just as poorly as the Jews by trying to attain our righteousness through our dead works. We have nothing on which to brag. Jesus, and Jesus alone, fulfilled all of the work required to make us righteous according to God's Law.
Moses was commanded to put a jar of this manna in a pot and place it inside the Ark of the Covenant for a memorial. The book of Hebrews tells us this jar was made of gold. Memorial!? Remember? Jesus, when speaking of His manna (bread) said, "Do this in remembrance of me? (Luke 22:19) Comparing the two terms is rather interesting. Memorial speaks of death, which is what the Mosaic Law came to do, that is to kill us. Moses did not bring them into the Promised Land. He also, as head of this contingency, died and was buried on a mountain overlooking the Promised Land, but not in it. However, when we come to the True Bread of Heaven, we do not hear the word of death (memorial), we hear "remembrance," as in "reminder!" "Remember the few loaves of bread with which I fed thousands. Remember, I am the Bread of Life, not I was!"
Moses' manna was hidden in a gold pot that was hidden in the Ark of the Covenant, which was hidden in the Most Holy Place. It was hidden and useless, except as a memorial of times past and as a type. Christ the True bread from heaven is also hidden. Christ in you, the hope of glory! However, this Word hid in you is not a "memorial." Oh no, this is a living Bread, a living Word, a life sustaining walk of works prepared by God our Father in which we should walk! The will and the work of our Father Himself dwell in you richly! It is abundant life!! Christ's work was and is a glorious work, the redemption of mankind. Yet it was through humiliation, suffering, becoming a "worm" of a man, acquainted with grief, a man of sorrows, despised and rejected of men, that He was found worthy to be exalted above all.
You too shall taste of His cup of suffering, if you desire to eat of the Bread of Life. Remember, this Bread is the Bread of the New Covenant. All of God's covenants were sealed with blood. However, our subject in this study is not the wine, but the bread.
Bread in Covenant
Let us look at bread in the Bible from another aspect. We have seen that bread represents the very Word, work and will of God. Bread also speaks of covenant. The expression "There is bread and salt between us" expresses the idea that the parties were one in a solemn agreement. A vow invoking these terms spoke of the highest kind of commitment. We see such a scene when Abraham was greeted by Melchizedek in the Book of Genesis. It is in this light we must read passages as in the forty-first Psalm "Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me." They didn't just have a good meal together. They made a sacred covenant of which the breaking of bread was to be a reminder of that covenant. This is what Jesus was referring to at the Lord's supper. Jesus was making a sacred oath, a vow, a covenant, a legal contract. He was expressing a sacred oath with all of His disciples, including Judas. He did not bring in a lawyer and a notary when He did this. And what is our part of this covenant? Eat, remember, and receive full provision because Christ dwells in you richly!
It is sad to say, but true, that the Western culture with its hundreds of thousands of laws and contracts and its hundreds of thousands of lawyers who are always trying to find loop holes for their clients, have caused us to lose the sacredness which the Bible attributes to a person being a man or woman of their word. We back our words with lawyers and not a spirit of commitment and integrity. Everywhere we turn we see lies; the advertisers lie; businesses lie; the government lies; church leaders lie, etc. We have gotten so good at lying, that we have managed to lie to ourselves and believe we are true to ourselves.
But Jesus' Word is true. He will perform the Word sent forth from the foundation of the world. The Word went out and will return having accomplished absolutely everything it was to accomplish even though men, especially Christians, have proclaimed His Word will fall short. (He who has an ear, let him hear.)
Abraham Rihbany in The Syrian Christ summarizes for us the significance of the bread of the Bible and its importance in understanding the true meaning of the Scriptures.
"Thus from the simplest conception of bread as a means to satisfy physical hunger to the loftiest mystic contemplation of it as a sacramental element, the Orientals have always eaten bread with a sense of sacredness. 'Bread and salt,' 'bread and wine,' 'Christ the bread,' 'For we, are one bread,' 'Give us this day our daily bread,' these and other sayings current in the Bible and in Oriental speech all spring from the deepest life of the ancient East.
And the sacredness of this common article of food has been of most inestimable value to Oriental peoples. In the absence of other means of social cohesion, and the higher civil interests which bind men together, it has been a great blessing indeed to those much-divided Orientals to find peace and security in the simple saying, 'There is bread and salt between us.'"
"Scrip," God With Us
Rihbany, in another section of his book mentions that a person would never go on a trip of any distance without scrip. For a woman to send her husband or son off on a trip without scrip would be equated to going without God. No Semite woman would ever send them off without preparing scrip. It simply wasn't done.
With the above understanding in mind, many places in the Scriptures begin to glisten with new light and greater understanding. For example, do you remember when Jesus sent His disciples out in two's commanding them not to take money, scrip, extra clothes, or stave with them? (Matt. 10:10) The command for them not to take scrip (bread) with them was at great odds with their deep rooted and sacred traditions. It was like telling them to go without God! This scrip was the very "symbol" of God with them on their journey!
When they returned, he asked them if they lacked anything. They said "nothing." The message Jesus wanted to leave them, and us, is that Jesus Himself is the reality of the symbol of the scrip, the bread. Their scrip, their traditional symbol of "God with them" was no longer needed. The reality (Immanuel, God with us) behind the symbol was with them! He was the True Bread in whom is no lack.
"Turn These Stones To Bread"
As I mentioned before, we could write a book just on bread in the Bible and still not cover the subject fully. So we must skip over many places that hopefully the Holy Spirit will illuminate to you as you begin to see the Scriptures with new light. There is one more passage dealing with bread I think it is vitally important for us to look at. Many Christians have become slaves to traditions of men rather than become servants of Yahweh because of the slight little twistings of Scriptures like the one with which I am about to deal. Note that Satan is involved in this Scripture. Today, Satan still seems to do what he does best, twist the truth ever so slightly, thus turning it into a lie. His main instruments in performing this feat are sometimes those who claim to be "authorities" in God's word.
We find the account in Matthew 4:1-11. I will not write out the whole passage due to lack of space. Please go to your Bible and read it for yourself. Jesus had just finished His forty days in the wilderness living literally off His Father's words. He then was tempted by Satan. We will only look at the part of the story that deals with bread.
Satan's first temptation was, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'" (Matthew 4:3,4)
Usually we have been taught that since Jesus was hungry, Satan tempted Jesus in His belly. I think there is much more here than that.
Remember, Jesus came to do the will and work of His Father. When Adam was cast out of the garden, the earth was put under a curse which would make it difficult for mankind to sustain himself.
"Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return." (Gen. 3:17-19)
Oh, how I wish the church would wake up and hear that the curse was FOR OUR SAKE!!! God also cast us out of the garden FOR OUR SAKE!!! (Again, we can only glean a few kernels of truth here because our study is limited to "bread.")
Being cast from the Garden of Eden speaks of coming out from the authority of God, His "covering," His glory so to speak. When Adam lost that "covering" he was given a covering lower than the nature of God! That is why fallen man always gravitates toward a "beast" nature. "In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread." Here is the mark of the beast, sweat covering Adam's countenance instead of the glory of God!
The sweat speaks of Adam's work to sustain himself apart from intimacy with God. Adam would experience lack under his own authority. He would always fall short of the glory of God. His works would always become rotten, empty, shallow, selfish, wasteful, vain, showy, all the things the works of carnal man produce. "Dead" would be a summation of the works of man apart from God.
Man, apart from God's covering, will live in fear -- fear of lack, fear of others stealing his own, etc., and so will establish ways to care for himself and his own. He becomes a hoarder and a thief. Look around you and see the many thousands of ways Adamic man has tried to "watch out for himself" at the expense of others.
Man, under the influence of the Adamic, carnal, short-sighted selfish mind subject to the senses of the body rather than being subject to the mind of Christ and sensitive to the spiritual senses, will always behave like an animal. Watch a few birds around a bird feeder and see a sample of mankind in miniature!
Satan understood perfectly what the curse had produced. Satan, knew that Jesus Christ, the last Adam, if He was the true Messiah, would deliver mankind from the curse! "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread!" Matt. 4:3) In other words, if you the true Son of God, reverse the curse! Jesus just spent forty days in one of the most desolate regions of the world! No wheat can grow there! There is no bread there. This was the perfect example of the curse on Cain. This ground produced nothing! Satan knew there would come One who would roll back the effects of the curse. He tried to use the same technique on Jesus which he used on Eve. He spoke words and tried to get Jesus to act on them. Eve listened and responded to Satan. As a result, she produces the fruit of those words she allowed to be planted in her. Her off-spring Cain became a murderer and a liar. In other words, she produced death.
But Jesus did not act on Satan's temptation, his "seed," which was his words. They fell to the ground. There was no room for them in His heart because it was full of life. His heart had no room for obedience to two authorities. He was obedient only to His Father's words and to manifest His works. There was no room for thorns and thistles (mixture) nor death (barrenness). He was sustained by the true Bread of Life, that is, "every word which proceeds from the mouth of God." Unlike Adam, Jesus clearly knew who He was and His purpose. Obedience to Satan's suggestion or command would have brought about the same results that set Adam's race on a death course.
It grieves me to no end how poorly this passage of Scripture has been taught in most of the churches I have attended. I have heard numerous times this Scripture used to justify memorizing part of the Bible and in so doing "eating the word of God." No, No, No! We are to be so one with Him that we know Him, His character, His will for us, and our true purpose for being on this planet. Then death will loose its hold on us.
False View Of The Bible
The Bible is a tool, a road sign, a confirmation of prophecy, but it is not the true Word of God unless the Spirit of God is upon it. The true Word of God for Christians is Jesus Christ Himself, and nothing less will do. To prove this very point, Jesus quoted a Scripture that tells us that we are to live "by every word which proceeds from the mouth of God!!!" Remember, the letter alone kills!! It is the Spirit that gives life.
"Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." (2 Cor. 5,6)
The Bible apart from the Spirit of God can kill (and usually does). The letter of the word can cause a person to actually go contrary to God. This passage of Scripture proves that. God allowed Satan to tempt Jesus again by quoting two Scriptures. These Scriptures said that if Jesus was truly the Son of God, He could jump off the pinnacle of the Temple and not be harmed. Since the temptation was phrased in the form of Scripture, why didn't Jesus prove that Scripture right— that angels would in fact have caught him before He hit the street? Because Jesus lived by the "word which proceeded from the mouth of God", and not some words out of the "correct" version of the Bible. Yes, Jesus fulfilled all the prophecies spoken of Him from Genesis to Malachi. Remember, they were put there to identify the True Messiah of Israel when He came. The Holy Spirit through the prophets laid out many conditions that the True Messiah of Israel must meet so that the people could recognize Him when he came. Jesus fulfilled and met all the requirements of these prophecies. He did not quote Scriptures just to show people how much of the Bible He had memorized. Far too often, we, Christians, use Scriptures as Satan uses them, leaving the spirit and will of God out of them. Often we take passages out of a Covenant that are no longer valid (Old Covenant), and then try to force others to live by them. This is wrong, wrong, wrong!
You are "living epistles" to be read by men. If you are a real Christian, there is a Living Word hidden in the center of your being. He did not engrave the Ten Commandments, or 613 Commandments on your heart. Moses' Law started falling apart before it was even given to the children of Israel. Remember when Moses broke the first set? Then when the system went into effect, Moses spent all his days sitting in judgment over the thousands of situations that came along which the Law of Moses did not clearly address. Written codes, whether they be Mosaic, English Common Law, Roman Catholic Canon, or any other system like that will always fall short.
When one is under the New Commandment which is the only Law of the New Covenant, then one is able to judge righteously. "As I have loved you, love one another." Jesus died for His enemies and told us to do the same thing. Moses is dead. Believe it! Now go get the Life found in the Law of the Life in Christ Jesus. It will not be found in the land of Israel, or physical Jerusalem, or on stone tablets or sheep-skin scrolls. It will also not be found on the pages of your Bibles. It is found in the Living Person of Jesus Christ who resides in you!
There are thousands of different denominations of Christianity that separate from one another due to interpretation of Scriptures. If the Bible is the "Word of God," then the "Word" divides Christians. It does not unite them. The Bible is not the Word of God. It is a very valuable tool, clearly the most valuable book ever written, but it is not perfect and therefore not the Word of God. There is no sin (error) in the true Word of God. There are errors in every translation of the Bible and in every Greek or Hebrew text we have. The fact that the Christian Bible contains sixty-six books in its present form should tell one something. Jesus Christ, the True Bread from Heaven, is the True Word of God. Anyone who has ever compared ten or more translations of the Bible carefully will find many differences them between them, some differences clearly dealing with key doctrinal issues.
"You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life, and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life." (John 5:39,40)
The Bread of Life, the Word of God, is "He Who comes down from heaven." (John 6:32,33) In this very passage Jesus referred to Moses, the Law-giver, the one who was given the "letter of the law" written by the finger of God. Jesus said that Moses did not give the true bread! How often have you heard someone quote the Law to kill someone through condemnation? I have done it on many occasions myself. One of the reasons (not the only reason) God gave the Mosaic Law to Israel was because they were unwilling to let the Living Word come into their midst:
"Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. Then they said to Moses, 'You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.'" (Exodus 20:18,19)
Surely this condition remains with us to this day. Many Christians would rather have a pastor speak to them than God Himself. We can always choose a different pastor if we do not like what we hear or we can discard what he says. However, when we truly hear from God, there is no bucking the issue. Israel did not want the all-consuming fire in their midst lest they be consumed by it. They (like many Christians) want the fire of God to consume their enemies, not themselves. Unfortunately, we have not yet discovered that the greatest enemy of God and ourselves is ourselves!
We feel very comfortable locking God up between two layers of pig, sheep, or cow skins (leather). There is no difference between the Hebrew letters the finger of God carved on Moses' stone tablets and the black ink or red ink penned words in the "authorized" King James Bible. Both, apart from the Holy Spirit, are designed to kill the transgressor. We need a Living Word, not words on stones with which we condemn our enemies. If the Holy Spirit is on the words, even the words coming from a jackass can become the words of God. (Num. 22:30)
I believe the Bible to many Christians, has become just another idol to add to their large idol collection. The fact there are virtually thousands of different denominations that separate from each other due to differing interpretations of the Bible, proves the point that the letter kills, indeed! A body divided against itself cannot stand. (Matt. 12:25) Christendom has mutilated itself! It is torn asunder and the Bible has been the cutting instrument. Even the most basic concepts of the Bible have caused major divisions among those who espouse the name Christian. Most Christians still live under some remnants of the Law of Moses, and so are never able to enter into the Promises of the Holy Spirit. Mixing portions of the Mosaic Law with the Law of the Life in Christ Jesus is like living under the first portion of the curse. One will receive blessings and cursings, eating their bread by the sweat of their brow, and also producing thorns and thistles in their lives. Much of their toil and work will be vain and empty of life. Christ came to give us joyful work, not grievous, religious work. He came that our lives might be full. Most Christian lives are a mixture of thorns and thistles with just enough wheat produced to barely hang on. What a miserable life!! And we wonder why the world is not interested in the kingdom of God!
Remember, the Mosaic Law was given to a specific people for a specific purpose. It was not given to the whole world as some deluded Christians try to make us believe. That very Law which Paul and the other New Testament writers said was coming to an end even as they were writing, came to a devastating end when God chose to send the Roman army to destroy Jerusalem on Passover in 70AD. All was destroyed!! The Levitical priesthood could no longer minister because the genealogical records of the priests were destroyed. Thousands of Jewish women were raped by Roman soldiers making it impossible to trace lineage. The temple was destroyed and the city was demolished. A few years later, Jews were forbidden to visit the land that once was the city of Jerusalem. The sentence for violating that law was death! The sacrifices of the Mosaic Law could only be offered by proven descendants of Aaron in Jerusalem. After 70AD, this was no longer possible. The Old Covenant was and is finished!! Oh, please hear me!
Getting Free To Hear The Word
Instead of pouring out smoke and fire on people's heads from the top of Mount Sinai, would you like to speak to the real Word of God? Do you want a Word from the Lord which will set creation free?
Jesus told us that when we visit the orphan, the prisoner, the widow, we are visiting Him. Have we ever received a word from Jesus through one of these instruments? The Word of the Lord is all around us. Those who have been brainwashed that the Word is the Bible or can only come from some "anointed" minister preaching behind a pulpit have been deceived and cannot hear the true Word from the Lord. This article can be the Word of the Lord to you if His Spirit should quicken it to you.
Does that mean we should throw out our Bibles and stop listening to preachers? Of course not! God can use both as tools. Just don't limit the various ways He may choose to speak to you. He can still use impressions, still small voice in the heart, a clear conscience, an audible voice, dreams, visions, a catching up to the third heaven, prophesy, words of knowledge, a cloud, a stone, people, and a host of other ways to make clear His Word to a Christian. We must stop putting limits on Him because it is really ourselves we are limiting.
Circus fleas are trained not to jump out of glass containers by placing a piece of glass over the container. After several times of hitting the glass, they painfully learn how high they are allowed to jump. We Christians have been similarly trained. We have been trained in the ways of the traditions of men through the use of the fear of man. We dare not jump beyond what they have decreed is allowable. It's rather difficult to jump very high sitting on pews. Furthermore, it's difficult seeing Christ in one another in church when we can only look at the back of each other's heads.
Many Christians prefer sitting this way. They do not like the body of Christ coming together ministering one to another. Some of us do not want to look each other in the eyes, face to face. We might be discovered for being the hypocrite we are. Look someone directly in the eyes one time and tell them, "I love you." No, not "I love you in the Lord." Just plain, "I love you." If the love is not really there, your heart will tell you. And your face will reveal it to the one to whom you are speaking. I have recently come face to face with my own lack of genuine love for people. It's time to stop pretending we are something we are not. It's time to acknowledge our short-comings and allow the Holy Spirit to add that which is lacking. But we must face up to our pretenses and call them what they are—pretenses, lies, cosmetics, unholy coverings.
It is time for the body of Christ to come together and see Christ in each other face to face. If your church insists you must always look at the back of people's heads on Sunday mornings, speak out! Cry out to your heavenly Father for True Food. Allow Him to lead you to the places He has ordained for you. Do not let tradition keep you from fullness of life. It's time to take the glass lid off our walk with the Lord. He wants us to soar in the heavenlies. He wants us seated in much higher places than the traditions of men have allowed us. By the way, these things I am writing about are things I believe we must all begin to walk toward. I am not writing from a place of perfection. We must all grow into these things. But we must stop making excuses. We must set down our traditions and begin to take baby steps into these things. As we move toward Him, God will give us the grace to mature.
The first step to being set free is to walk away from every system that holds you in bondage. Then allow the Holy Spirit to strip off those garments of self-righteousness, give you a good bath, and cover you with the righteousness of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This may be a very humbling process, but it has to be done. There is no other way. Speaking of "stripping," he would also like to strip off your denominational tag. One pastor, when I confronted him with Paul's admonition not to divide into sects, told me, "Well, I'm a Christian first, and a Baptist second." No, sir! You are a Baptist!
If you can see what I am saying clear enough and have the ability and the door open to you to speak to the heads of the Church you are attending, by all means make the attempt to show these leaders that changes must be made. Be patient and loving. Do not be arrogant in your presentation. But at the same time, do not make excuses for yourself for supporting an Anti-Christ system with your money, time, and presence. If you are afraid of being rejected, confess your fear and pray for boldness! If you open your mouth, you may get rejected; you may even get labeled divisive, unsubmissive, or worse—you may be labeled a heretic. You may have to discover what real suffering for His name's sake is all about. They may decide to throw you out of their "city." Are you willing to expose yourself to such disgrace?
I think you would agree that few of us Christians would compare ourselves to the Israelites who worshipped the idols of the pagan nations around them while also swearing allegiance to Yahweh. This we can plainly see for the idolatry that it was. But we cannot see that joining ourselves to many of the denominations of Christianity is exactly like what Israel did many hundreds of years ago.
So often we forget that our participation or lack thereof is noticed by many around us. When we don't go to the "traditional" Church yet still remain very outspoken in our faith and also manifest the gifts and fruit of the Spirit in our community, people take notice. They begin to ask questions. At the same time, if we attend a Hell-fire Law/Grace mixture Church whose leader has placed his congregation under the ministry of condemnation—if we sit there not protesting this abominable mixture, then will our presence there not be viewed as an approval of his message? Jesus said, "He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad." (Matt. 12:30) Be careful to where you are leading or pointing people to. There are 22,000 different denominations "scattered" around the world that divide the body of Christ from each other. Where you have chosen to worship your God in your community speaks to them in ways you may not have noticed. I am often amazed how much people know about me who I would consider almost strangers. The world is watching us much more carefully than we realize. Perhaps that is why they don't buy into our hype on Sunday morning. They watched our walk on Monday morning and concluded that our walk and talk are not in agreement.
Please hear my heart here, and do not make a law out of my words. God could have you sit in a dead Roman Catholic Church sitting on the front pew genuflecting 60 miles an hour for all I know. His ways are certainly higher than ours. But I am afraid too many of us are compromising our witness in this world and as a result have lost our flavor. We have lost our light. Fear, pride, not willing to be rejected or unwilling to stand out as unusual, afraid of being labeled a cultist, and a host of others excuses often prevents us from being the witness to the Truth. Being a part of the right kind of Church is "respectable." We sometimes mistake this "respectability" for the glory of God. We need to be stripped of this form of pride.
The book of Revelation is the unveiling of Jesus Christ
Speaking of undressing, stripping, etc., here's a little tidbit which may open some understanding. To "unveil" something or someone demands the removal of something obstructing our view. The "unveiling" of Jesus Christ, is not the unveiling of the antichrist, the end of the physical world, credit cards, computers, and all the other nonsense being perpetuated by Christian doomsday book writers. The book of Revelation graphically lays out the removal of the Old Covenant Mosaic Law under which was hidden Jesus Christ!! The rolling back of the veil (Mosaic Law) was painted with highly apocalyptic visions. The putting off of the Old Covenant and its people was indeed as earth-shattering in the natural as the book of Revelation so graphically described. A look into the actual historical fulfillment of these visions as told by Josephus, the Jewish historian, would open up much understanding to a Christian believer. Most of the modern Fundamentalist Evangelical church is producing many false teachings regarding the "end of the world" because they have not "rightly divided" the word in this regard.
A thorough reading of books number five and six in Josephus' "War of the Jews" would open many eyes. Josephus' account of the destruction of Jerusalem and the nation of Israel in 70 AD lines up perfectly with the prophetic warnings Jesus gave to the very generation to which He was speaking—that the end of their world was at hand. No, not the end of the physical world, but the end of the Mosaic world, the end of the Old Covenant and its priesthood (the heavens). The Mosaic Law and all it stood for was the "fleshly" garment which Jesus hung on the tree. (Col. 2:14) Another way of putting it was the removal of the chaff from the wheat, the Mosaic Law being the chaff. The outer shells, skins, casings, of many foods are necessary to preserve the food inside while ripening, but is discarded when ready to eat. "The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and every man presseth into it. (Luke 16:16) Grapes have skins which hold in the juice. When the grapes are ripe for wine, the skins are pressed to release the juice. The skins are discarded. Jesus came at the end of the Mosaic Law age to press the grapes to bring forth the wine. The grape harvest came just prior to the feast of Tabernacles at the end of Israel's religious year. It was a time of great expectation and hope for a joyous celebration. The Bible uses several other illustrations to teach the same truth.
I really cannot go any deeper into this subject because it would require too much more space. I will leave the subject of the unveiling of Christ through the rolling away of the Mosaic Law with this thought. We, as a part of His true body, must look past the flesh of those around us. We must press through the flesh to discover the kingdom within every person on earth. When we look after the flesh, we judge unrighteously. In the flesh, we find ourselves looking at outward beauty, dress, position in society, what side of the tracks one is born on, to which denomination one belongs, race, the "laws and rituals" they keep, etc. We must learn to put off the flesh and its earthly ordinances and observances, whether they be religious, political or social. We must see people as if they had no skin. (Funny how we all look ugly when only our fat and muscle tissue is showing.) Moses is tied up in the flesh. Here is where there is judging, condemning, racism, prejudice, divisions, etc. When our hearts are towards God, we break down the walls of partition among us. Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal—words such as these must go. There are no Baptists in the Kingdom on Heaven. There are only Saints.
Looking past the flesh is like the removal of the foreskin of the penis as the covenantal sign of the Covenant of Faith. This portion of skin allows all manners of uncleanness which could possibly cause infection which would prevent life from coming forth. Cutting off or rolling back this skin helps prevent this potential for infection. When we stop judging people after the flesh, then we can receive the life deposited in their hearts. But as long as we see people in their weaknesses and judge them according to Moses, we cannot see the Life of Christ buried deep within them. We must change the way we look at people!! If we are to be children of faith and not of the flesh, then we must begin to roll back the skin of all those we see. We must look past the flesh with the eyes of faith and look for Christ within each person. I pray that I have written the above in a manner that the reader can hear these words by the spirit and not after the flesh. The carnal (fleshy) mind will not understand a word I just wrote.
Getting a Warm Bath
While many of the thoughts I have been expressing may seem like they do not relate to bread, they really do. In the process of receiving life from wheat, barley and other foods put under the general heading of "bread," one must cut it from its source, that is, the earth, remove the chaff or outer covering. It must be ground to powder, mixed with water, oil, and salt. Then put into a fire of just the right temperature. It does not take too much of an imagination to see the life of a Christian in these processes. The outer must always be removed to get to the heart of the matter.
In the gospel of Luke, the twenty-fourth chapter, is an account of two of Jesus' disciples leaving Jerusalem on the way back to their village, Emmaus. The account begins right after Peter went to the tomb and only discovered the linen grave clothes. Let's read the account from a refreshing translation of the New Testament by William Barclay, a renowned Bible teacher.
"Peter went running to the tomb. He stooped down and looked in, and there was nothing there to be seen but the linen grave-clothes. he went back home, astonished at what had happened.
On that same day two of them were on their way to a village called Emmaus, about eight miles from Jerusalem. They were talking to each other about all that had happened. While they were talking about it and discussing it, Jesus himself came up to them, and began to walk along the road with them. But although they saw him, they were prevented from recognizing him. 'What are you spending your walk arguing about?' he said to them. They halted and their faces showed the bitterness of their hearts. One of them, called Cleopas, answered: 'Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who has not heard of the recent events there?' 'What events?' he said. 'What happened,' they said, 'to Jesus of Nazareth who was a prophet and it was obvious to all, God knows, with what power he could speak and act, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death, and how they crucified him. It was our hope that it was he who would liberate Israel, but it did not work out that way, and, to add to it all, it is now three days since all this happened. It is true that some women who belong to our circle brought us the most astonishing news. They had gone to the tomb early in the morning, and they were unable to find his body, and they came back with a story that they had seen a vision of angels, who told them that he was alive. Some of our friends did go to the tomb, and found it empty, as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.' 'You are so wilfully blind to the truth!' he said to them. 'You are so slow to believe all that the prophets have said! Surely the Messiah had to go through all these sufferings before entering into his glory?' And he began from Moses and went down through all the prophets explaining to them all the references in the scriptures to himself.
They were nearly at the village to which they were going. he made as though he was going farther on. But they pressed him. 'Stay with us,' they said. 'It is evening now, and by this time it is late in the day.' So he went in to stay with them. As he sat at table with them, he took the loaf, and said the blessing, and broke it in pieces, and gave it to them. Suddenly they saw! And they recognized him, and he vanished from their sight.
They said to each other: 'Were our hearts not strangely warmed as he was talking with us on the road, when he was explaining the meaning of scripture to us?' And there and then they started out and went back to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and their friends all gathered together, and talking about how the Lord had really risen, and how he had appeared to Simon. They told them the story of all that had happened on the road, and how they had recognized him, when he broke the loaf.
While they were still telling this story, Jesus stood among them. 'God's blessing be on you,' he said to them. They were startled and terrified, for they thought that it was a ghost that they were seeing. 'Why are you in such a state of alarm?' he said to them. 'Why do you let doubts invade your minds? Look at my hands and feet! See! It is I! Handle me, and see for yourselves, for a ghost does not have flesh and blood, and you see that I have.' After he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. While they still thought that it was too good to be true, and while they were still in a state of bewildered astonishment, he said to them: 'Have you any food here?' They gave him a piece of cooked fish, and he took it and ate it while they watched him.." (Luke 24:12 through Luke 24:42)
Well, we have a river of delicious water here from which we may only drink a small cupful, but it will be quite delicious. These disciples were on their way to Emmaus which means "warm wells" or "warm baths." As Jesus washed them with Scriptures made alive by His Spirit, were not their hearts "strangely warmed?" Notice this story is preceded with the information that Peter discovered only "grave clothes" in the tomb. Notice their hearts warmed when He broke open the Law and the prophets. Notice it was the suffering part of the scriptures that they could not equate with their concept of the Messiah that caused them to not understand. Notice they were quick to "blame" someone for Christ's death rather than see God's Sovereignty in this event even though the Scriptures laid it out for them. Notice that their faces showed the bitterness in their heart.
When the real Jesus shows up, the thoughts of the heart are revealed! We must all have our hearts washed with the Living Word through His Spirit. The traditions of men must be washed away to reveal the Truth behind the words written in the Bible. Sometimes these traditions can become a pretty thick crust.
Those of us who have been called out of "Babylon" to be stripped of the traditions of men must eventually go back into some kind of deep fellowship with other believers. It is here where Jesus will manifest and reveal what is in our hearts. It is here where the "bitterness in our hearts" will be exposed! It is too easy for us to deceive ourselves into thinking we have something that we do not possess while living in a cave in the wilderness. Coming out of the "traditions of men" does not necessarily get rid of the "beast nature." We need each other! We must become accountable to each other. We must get honest with each other! This cannot be done sitting in a cave. Please hear me. There are times in which the Lord may separate us for a season, even a long season, but He will eventually want us back in communion with each other.
Breaking bread is a sacred symbol of deep fellowship, commitment, love bonds, which are more important than our very own lives. To deny uniting with other believers, is to deny Christ.
One of these disciple's names was Cleopas. This name means "of a renowned father." When one is on the road to spiritual "warm baths," traveling with the body of Christ (two or more gathered in His name), discussing things of the kingdom of God, Jesus (although perhaps hidden), will be there to bring them to their "renowned father." Is that not what Jesus promised to do? Notice it was in the breaking of the bread that He made Himself manifest? Understand, they saw a face, but it was not the physical face that Jesus had before the crucifixion.
Try to picture yourself in this situation to see what I am talking about. Jesus did not hide His face in a cloud while on the road with them. They saw a face, but it was not the face of Jesus before the cross! It was a stranger! Remember the breaking of the bread at the Lord's supper? Do this in remembrance of Me? It is not a coincidence that Jesus chose to manifest Himself to these particular disciples on that particular day going to that specific city (Warm Baths) while breaking the bread. Remember the importance of bread to the Semitic mind!! To the Semite, to break bread with someone was sacred. Bread on a journey represented God with them. Jesus fed them for the entire journey Living Bread! At the end of the journey, Jesus took the symbol of God, bread, and broke it open to reveal the reality of the symbol, which was Himself! They had been eating the Hidden Manna all day long and didn't know it. Jesus used the occasion of breaking the bread to disclose that they had been eating of Him all day long. Notice Jesus immediately departed after they saw who He was in the flesh.
"Therefore, from now on we regard no one according to the flesh. even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Cor. 5:16,17)
Oh, that we would learn and walk in this important lesson. But I am afraid here is where we usually fall into great unbelief.
Then the disciples immediately returned to Jerusalem to tell the others what had happened. They really did not need supper—they were already quite strengthened by the Living Bread. The hidden manna was hidden behind the face of an everyday stranger! We must be careful whom we turn away from our lives or whom we might place so low in our eyes that we think we could not receive anything of value from them. We just might find ourselves rejecting Jesus.
And finally, after having been given a Warm Bath by Jesus Christ, our hearts will immediately desire to go to the New Jerusalem, made up of living saints held together in the unity of the bond of peace, and share the Good News of His reality—that He is alive!
"...I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called; with all lowliness and gentleness, with long-suffering, bearing with one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
There is one body, and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Eph. 3:14-4:6)
Oh, saints, after the Warm Bath, our hearts will immediately run to the New Jerusalem just as these disciples immediately ran to the Old Jerusalem. "Jerusalem" means "City of Peace." When these disciples entered the City of Peace, they immediately "joined" (became one with) the other disciples. What happens when saints do this? "Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said, 'Peace to you.'" (Luke 24:36) Oh, how glorious!! What beautiful treasures one can find in the Bible when one looks with spiritual eyes!
It is here, in unity in the bond of peace, we find our true garments, Saints. Garments are woven materials. We, Saints, are also to be woven together in just the right pattern. This weaving process does not occur in the caves of the wilderness. There we may be spun into a single strand. But that strand must be woven together with other strands to become one body covered with one garment made of one piece of fabric.
The Special Bread of Friendship
Let us look at one more story in the Bible dealing with bread. At what has been traditionally called "the Last Supper," Jesus took a special piece of bread and gave it to Judas. It was called the "sop." Abraham Rihbany in The Syrian Christ says,
"'And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.' At Syrian feasts, especially in the region where Jesus lived, such sops are handed to those who stand and serve the guests with wine and water. But in a more significant manner those morsels are exchanged by friends. Choice bits of food are handed to friends by one another, as signs of close intimacy. It is never expected that any person would hand such a sop to one for whom he cherishes no friendship.
I can never contemplate this act in the Master's story without thinking of 'the love of Christ which passeth knowledge.' To the one who carried in his mind and heart a murderous plot against the loving Master, Jesus handed the sop of friendship, the morsel which is never offered to an enemy. The rendering of the act in words is this: 'Judas, my disciple, I have infinite pity for you. You have proved false, you have forsaken me in your heart; but I will not treat you as an enemy, for I have come, not to destroy, but to fulfill. Here is my sop of friendship, and 'that thou doest, do quickly.'
Apparently Jesus' demeanor was so cordial and sympathetic that, as the evangelist tells us, 'Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him. For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, buy those things that we have need of against the feast, or that he should give something to the poor.'
Thus in the simple act of the Master, so rarely noticed by preachers, we have perhaps the finest practical example of 'Love your enemies' in the entire Gospel."
Take a moment and dwell on the power of this moment. I know that if I was aware that I was about to be betrayed by one of my closest friends or associates and someone asked me who it was, my countenance would have a very difficult time not pointing him or her out. It would probably be written on my face. Jesus truly counted Judas as a friend, not as an enemy since He knew the Father's plan. Jesus saw and acted through the eyes and heart of One who truly loved all His enemies in sincerity of heart, not in empty words with which we, Christians, often try to clothe our true feelings. Our words, countenance, and actions usually give away the fact that we really don't love many, if any, that we count among our enemies. The world and also our brothers and sisters in the Lord, can usually read right through our "I love you in the Lord, brother." Our words are often empty and therefore, easy to see through. There often is no substance to our words. Our forced smiles don't usually cover up the fact that we are lying. It's time for us to get honest and cry out to God for His Love to flow through us.
Jesus wasn't lying. Judas was, and still is Jesus' friend. Jesus knew He must go to the cross. He also knew He must be betrayed by a friend that all Scripture might be fulfilled. Jesus saw the work of God being perfectly fulfilled by Judas. There are no exceptions to "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you," not even for the one who might take our very own life. (I have written a lengthy article entitled "Judas Iscariot the Priest: The Misrepresented Scapegoat" which speaks in greater depth of the God-ordained relationship between Jesus and Judas.)
Let us glean a few truths from our father in the faith, the man called "father Abraham." Remember when Melchizedek, the King of Righteousness greeted Abraham with bread and wine? This bread and wine foreshadowed Christ's body (bread) and blood (wine). This speaks of the Word/Promises of God (bread) and the Spirit (blood) to carry out the Word/Promises. The blood speaks of the power, desire, will to carry out the Word. When we eat food, after it is broken down, it is the blood which carries it to various parts of the body so that it can produce work. "Life is in the blood." So likewise, when the Word is broken open (in the digestive system of our spiritual body), it is then carried by the blood/Spirit to perform the work the body is called to perform. When we are truly "in" Christ, we flow in His blood which is His life. We are then carried by His power to the work He planned from the foundation of the world. Flowing in His work in not grievous. It does not produce "sweat" the symbol of the curse. His work consists of "yes" and "Amen." It is not a mixture of blessings and cursings. It is rich and abundant, pressed down and overflowing. Oh, His work is joyous!
The New Covenant is a covenant between God the Father and His Son in which mankind is a recipient. Man in his fallen nature is incapable of making a covenant with God and keeping it. A covenant is an agreement in which the two parties have the ability to keep their part. This Word and Work must be perfectly fulfilled, a work reserved only for the Son of God and all that are in Him.
In this beautiful covenantal meal, we find Melchizedek, King of Righteousness (the Father), coming from the City of Peace (Jerusalem), and providing the Bread and the Wine with which to consummate the covenant. The bread and wine, of course, foreshadows the true Bread and Wine which is, of course, the body and blood of the Father's Son, Jesus Christ. Remember? "Truly, truly, I say to you unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you." (John 6:53)
It is absolutely vital to understand that Abraham brought nothing of his own into this covenant. The spoils of war he offered to Melchizedek were not his own; they came from the kings he had recently conquered. One might say, he gave them on behalf of all of these pagan kings, but he did not give anything which belonged to himself. I cannot overstress the importance of this. The very foundation of true Christianity rests upon this most important truth. Abraham NEVER gave God anything which God didn't provide Himself, nothing! This speaks of salvation by grace through faith, a gift from God not of works lest anyone should boast. (Eph. 2:8)
We find this pictured quite perfectly in the life of Abraham. The story has been twisted much out of its original shape and thus, we have lost its true message. The story of Abraham is the story of faith. Many Christians do not understand this key foundation of Christianity. They look at Abraham's faith when he offered up Isaac as a sacrifice to God and see great faith. Then they try the best way they can to muster up some semblance of that kind of faith through their own strength. There are umpteen thousand books, pamphlets, and sermons all promising to increase one's "faith."
On the other side of this key principle of Christianity is another mountain-high pile of literature which simply tells us to believe the simple message, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. It's as simple as that." And so, many sincere people find themselves reading little tracts, or hearing these words declared by some television or radio preacher, perhaps at a crusade, and they repeat these words and so now believe by faith because the Bible says so, that they are saved. Salvation to those who preach this message usually means being delivered from the fate of everlasting torture either bodily or spiritually, or annihilation, sometimes called "eternal death." People who have been "saved" by this kind of message usually will attend a nice comfortable church environment which doesn't demand too much. The "maturing" in Christ usually consists of a program of basic moral principles derived from the Bible mixed with general principles from many other sources on how to get along with each other.
I personally believe that modern Christianity has removed itself so far from the foundational truths of the Bible, that it has become almost worthless. As a matter of fact, it may be one of the leading stumbling blocks to people truly "getting saved."
The general understanding which an unbeliever receives from modern Christianity regarding salvation is that accepting the tenants of Christianity (and they vary greatly from one denomination to another) will allow one to escape the wrath of God. Somehow, through either the first man's disobedience to God's commandment not to eat of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, all of mankind is born into this world deserving punishment of the worst kind. The punishment, they say must be of eternal consequence. Most of the modern church has opted for everlasting torture to all those who do not accept the gift of life through faith in Jesus Christ, while some sects teach one will be annihilated should they refuse the offer made through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross.
Obviously, we do not find such an offer made by God in the first three quarters of the Bible. What we find is a number of different types of sacrifices which the sacrificer felt would give him some benefit. I want the reader to please pay careful attention here and press past your preconditioned ideas and come to a place where you can reason this out. What we are about to look into may totally change your life.
Whenever we study the types and shadows contained in the Bible, when properly interpreted, they always point to Jesus Christ, Savior of the world. The reality of all the symbols, rituals, covenants, prophets...everything is summed up in the Living God Who broke His body for you. He has reserved a portion for you. In Him is Life abundant. Taste and see that the Lord is good. It is not the bread of the Pharisee mixed with malice and wickedness, (the bread of hypocrisy). It is the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. It is not puffed up with pride. This bread is flat, which speaks of humility. When unleavened bread is made, they cut lines into it and pierce it to help prevent it from rising. Recall that Jesus was "bruised" and "pierced" for our transgressions. Unleavened bread was called "sweet" bread while leavened bread was called "sour" bread since the yeast added a sour taste to the bread. This "sour" bread has dead organisms in it, a symbol of impurity. A pure life is one that feeds on unleavened bread. The High Priest after the order of Melchizedek is still offering the bread and wine to the sons and daughters of faith, the children of Abraham. (Hopefully, we will discuss the mysteries of this covenantal meal between Abraham and Melchizedek in upcoming issues of Breaking Bread when we look into the Blood/Wine and the subject of sacrifice itself. I just want to bring out one important point before we go on.)
The key issue in the whole fall of the Adamic race is the subject of sufficiency. God is self-sufficient. He is neither created nor requires an outside force, energy, food, nor provision of any kind in order to keep functioning. Adam was not made like that. The very fact that he "was made" reveals the fact that his very existence depended upon the Creator. God made it plain to Adam that he was dependent upon Him for his very life. Yahweh told Adam that if he ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, he would die. Satan told Eve this wasn't so. Satan told them they would not die, that is, they could still live even while disobeying God's Word. While most Christians will not acknowledge it, they are saying the same thing. They say that a person can live forever separated from the Word of God. They say the rebellious will live forever in a state of torment eternally separated from the Word of God. Man can "live" independent from God, but He will torture them because of their desire to be independent. While this may "sound" reasonable, it is as false as Satan's words to Eve. Death is not being burned alive! Yet this is the "traditional" teaching of modern Christianity. We cannot get into this subject in this article. I am only touching on this subject to point out that man never was created to be self-sufficient and in this respect is not like God. Man was created to live by "every Word which proceeds from the mouth of Yahweh!"
As long as Adam was in the place where he heard the Word of Yahweh, he lived comfortably. As he progressively moved further away from His voice, Adam's life became more futile, fearful and empty. He became a murderer and a liar. Instead of giving life to his surroundings under the covering of Yahweh, Adam started producing death. The produce of the ground symbolized what was going on in his heart. First, the eating of his bread in the sweat of his face, which speaks of the difficulty of sustaining life in His own strength. After Cain killed Abel, the earth produced nothing for him. (Gen. 4:12) We must see this spiritually and prophetically if we are going to understand the significance and ramifications of the actions of the characters portrayed in Genesis. We also must see them through a Semitic mind.
Ultimately the earth would produce nothing which represents death. This is what happened when Adam lost the "covering" of God's Word. He replaced the glory he had with the sweat on his forehead, instead of the name of His God written on his forehead. (Rev. 22:4). Man went from being covered by the Name/Nature of God to borrowed leaves from another tree (fig leaves) to being covered with sweat and ultimately being covered with the earth from which he came. Adam and Eve were likened as trees covered with leaves in the garden of Yahweh. Due to the traditions of Western Christian man, this has been hidden from us. It is another beautiful, but broad topic I am not going to get into at this time. (For a further understanding of the subject of "coverings," mankind's fall and ultimate resurrection, order the article entitled, "Leaves for the Healing of the Nations.") Suffice it to say that mankind apart from the Word/Work/Will of its Creator can produce nothing but death no matter how much man tries to pretty it up with borrowed leaves (glory).
Jesus said the Father was in Him and He was in the Father. They were one. There is much more in that statement, than we can get into in this article. However, I do want to make the reader aware of the significance of Jesus being in the Father. We speak of Christ within us, yet the Scriptures also tell us "in Him we live, and move, and have our being..." (Acts 17:28) This must be more than mere words. This must become our reality. This must not be something on the other side of the grave, or in a future age. There is a city, a kingdom and we must receive our strength, our orders, our food from this dimension. I may be an American citizen, but if I am physically in Russia, my American citizenship may not buy me the delicious food I can purchase when physically in America. However, the kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom. One's physical location does not prevent one from receiving the strength, the protection, the wisdom and the life of that kingdom. So then, Christ, our food—His will and work—must dwell in us, and we must dwell in Him. The two must become one even as Jesus and the Father were in each other. We must live in the kingdom and its authority if we are to receive its benefits. J. Preston Eby in one of His recent Bible studies said it so well when he wrote,
"There is a deep design. Paul wrote that if any man be in Christ he is a NEW CREATION. Not only is he himself new, but he now lives in a new world, on a new "planet," as it were, in an entirely new order of things. The things, the environment of the old creation have passed away and ALL THINGS ARE BECOME NEW. Every created thing has its environment. Every created organism, on earth or in any other world, has to live and move and have its being in its particular environment. The eagle is not afraid that when he flies in the sky he will have too little wind currents. Imagine a fish crying, 'Cast me not into the water, lest I drown!' Imagine a sunflower refusing to turn toward the sun lest it get a sun-burn. The environment of the New Creation is the Father in the Son. Ah, precious child of God, you can no more live and grow up into the image and likeness of God apart from daily and constant and intimate and vital union with the Father than a fish can live without water. Jesus forcefully expressed it thus: 'Abide IN ME...he that ABIDETH IN ME...the same bringeth forth much fruit. If ye ABIDE IN ME...ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.' (John 15:4-7). The organisms are composed of the very same elements as its environment, but it cannot live in separation from its environment! The two must be one. The one must live by the other. We have been made partakers of the divine nature, but that fact will never bring us to mature sonship. We must live by the Father, in blessed fellowship, participation, and union with Him!
The most common error in the lives of many of the Lord's people is the attempt to live without assimilating Christ as their environment, failing to make Him the absolute center of their existence, the sphere of their life. Friends, family, job, amusement, home, hobbies, worldly pursuits—all too often these are the environments by which we live. No words could be more solemn or arresting than the statement of Jesus, 'He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, DWELLETH IN ME...as the Father hath sent Me, and I LIVE BY THE FATHER: so He that eateth me, even he shall live by me." (John 6:56,57) As the natural man must have sustenance from his environment, so the spiritual man. The spiritual man must come to know how to live by his environment."
How much of our lives is spent in the mere "form" of these words, but without substance? Religious forms of creeds, rituals, routine Sunday worship services, mid-week Bible studies, Scripture memorizing, none of these things will fill the void. Our words—the shells, the coverings or containers which we send out to the world must be full of the reality of Christ. They must be able to produce an effect which manifests the kingdom of God. Otherwise they are empty, pillowy clouds with no rain.
Oh Christians, let us throw away our trinkets, our amulets, our incantations, our doctrines which offer nothing but misery to the world. Let us take the needles out of our arms which cause us to produce the works of vanity and allow our Maker to pierce our hearts! Oh, yes, the doctrines we consume often produce spiritually the same kind of effects seen in drug users in the world. Religious people can be some of the craziest people on earth and never take a drug or drink a drop of alcohol. (I have written a series of articles which explain that the world merely reflects the sins of the Church. Write for them. They are real eye-openers which may bring forth some badly needed repentance.)
"If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?" (Luke 11:13)
And so we return to where we started... simple things which children can understand. "Unless you become as little children, you will not enter the kingdom of God." We return to simple prayers and expect mighty answers. "Father... give us this day our daily bread." "Ask and it shall be given unto you..." (Matt. 7:7) "Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is he who takes refuge in Him." (Psalm 34:8)
When we can begin to look past the flesh in each other and look for the gift of Christ planted in each of us, it is then, that He will "clothe us with the power from on high." (Luke 24:49) We must stop feeding the flesh and we must stop seeing each other after the flesh. The treasury of the kingdom of God resides in the hearts of people. When we are bound in the unity of His love, the world will see one Jesus. First we must remove our filthy religious garments that often are many layers thick. We must have proper clothing to enter into the banquet hall. Cast off those religious rags! Come on, Christians. They are really not very becoming. They are too stiff from rigormortus. And, oh, do they stink! The King James Version uses the word "stinketh." I hear the words "stink of death" in that single word. We need a Warm Bath.
In summary, the word "bread," as used in the Bible speaks of many things. Humility, sacredness, covenant, nourishment, strength, sacrifice, enlightenment, and much more are all wrapped up in the simple word "bread." Oh, that our Western minds might stop feeding from the meaningless nonsense which flows from the antennas of our nation's lofty sky-rise towers which seem to pierce through the heavens themselves in their determined attempt to capture our minds. Oh, Lord let us turn off our dials, tuners, scanners, and other gizmos used to tune into the noise which the Prince of the power of the air hopes we would feed upon. May we humble ourselves and learn the simple truths found by simple shepherds and farmers in such simple items as bread. And please don't turn my words regarding television into a law. There is nothing evil about that box. Just look at the content of the words and pictures which are going into your mind. What do they say? What do they glorify? What are they producing?
Western Christians, in general, eat a very poor quality bread, quite puffed up with the leaven of the Pharisees. We must change our eating habits!
Eating, in Scripture, is often associated with seeing and hearing. "Taste and see that the Lord is good." What we take in through these senses is what we become. The images, sounds, and words we consume from the media and the pulpit will one day manifest in our lives. We must be careful what we eat. Some foods can cause one to become blind or deaf. Some foods open the eyes of understanding and enlighten the soul. Our hands can turn off the TV. Our feet can walk out of a church where the body of Christ is not broken in the real way. The ritual of eating crackers and grape juice, no matter how solemn the music and the tone of voice of the speaker, is a poor substitute for the real body of Christ coming together to break through the flesh and receive Christ in each other.
After a good healthy meal, the body wants to just relax for a while. Eat the Bread of Christ. He will give rest to your weary soul. He will settle your soul into a peace that passes all understanding.
Eating bread is an experience which engages some of our senses and produces an effect on our bodies, hopefully a positive effect. Eating the body of Christ should also engage our spiritual senses and produce an effect. However, it is vitally important to differentiate "reading the Scriptures" and eating the body of Christ. William Barclay says it well in His spiritual autobiography: "The Christian point of view is not unintelligent acceptance, nor is it total dependence on human reason. The Christian point of view was long ago perfectly summed up by Anselm: 'I do not seek to understand so that I may believe; rather do I believe that I may understand.' The Christian does not begin with what the human intellect has discovered. The Christian begins with what God has revealed. Faith is founded on revealed truth. First, the Christian accepts that which God has revealed; in that revelation he believes by faith. And then, and then only, he applies reason to it, that faith may be a rational understanding of that which has been believed. The Christian mind, the Christian reason does not operate within a vacuum; it operates within the sphere which revelation has provided and upon the material which has not been humanly discovered, but which has been given by God. To put this in another way, Christian thought and Christian experience will go hand in hand. As Anselm had it: 'He who has not believed will not experience, and he who has not experienced will not understand; for just as experiencing a thing is better than hearing about it, so knowledge that stems from experience outweighs knowledge derived through hearsay.' So then it is not: 'I think and I believe;' it is: 'I believe and I think.' It is this combination of divine revelation and human reason which produces the real certainty." (William Barclay—A Spiritual Autobiography, p. 43,44)
Faith is a substance!! It is not blind belief in something because it is in the Bible or because someone you trust told you so. Jesus Christ is the author and finisher of one's faith. That means He originated it or gave it to you and He will stir you to walk in it. Just look for Him.
Take a moment right now and leave the distractions all around you and invite the Holy Spirit to lead you to the throne of Grace. It is hidden deep within your very own heart. Set aside for a moment the other kingdoms you serve: your church, your denomination, your country, your husband or wife, your political party, your business, your hobbies and entertainment world, etc. Cast them aside for a moment and let Him lead you to the deepest place of your being. There you will find the Most Holy Place, as foreshadowed by the tabernacles and temples of the Old Covenant. Truly the way to this place has been opened for you by Jesus Christ Himself. The way is a gold street purified by His own blood (Life).
Here is a place of True communion—fellowship with the Creator of the entire Universe. The King of Righteousness, Melchizedek, resides in your very heart. This One...He is your Father. This One has prepared for you a life overflowing with joy! This One has prepared a life for you created from the foundation of the world. This One has given you His very own Life. Enter into the throne room of your heart and receive daily His Word, His Work, His Will, and yes, His very own Life. It is a rich Life, full of grace, mercy, love, joy, peace, humility, wisdom and understanding, glory, honor, and power. Allow the Holy Spirit to break away the chaff covering your heart. Allow Him to strip away those carnal religious layers of pride, self-righteousness, and all manners of uncleanness. As these come off, our eyes will be opened to what has always been there...true Life!
Tree of Life
We began our journey on this planet in a garden in which were planted two special trees. In the last chapter of the Book of Revelation, we find one absent:
"The river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. (Rev. 22:1-5)
As we can see, God is not interested in bringing us back to the garden. Cain had an idea of what Yahweh ultimately had in mind—a city. Cain actually tried to bring it about. He built the first city, but it was filled with the fruit of the curse. It was full of the spirit of murder and lies.
We find some differences between the condition of the garden of Eden and New Jerusalem. We will only focus on that which relates to bread. Adam was able to get his food from the seed-bearing plants of the field and the fruit of the trees. One has to reach down to receive the herbs of the field. One has to reach up to receive the fruit of trees. In the New Jerusalem the lower food is no longer available. The bread would not come from the earth (below), but from above. The river of the water of life flowed down from the throne of God and of the Lamb, the True Bread of Life, Jesus Christ. So then both types of food come from above in the New Jerusalem. The Word, the Work, the Will, the very purpose for our lives must come from the One who created us. When someone designs something, its purpose is found in the designer, not in that which is created. We have not created (designed) ourselves. We have been designed, formed, fashioned by the Master Designer of all things. We must find our purpose, not in our own expectations or the expectations of those around us on the earthly (lower) plane. We must find our purpose from the New Jerusalem from above. Here we find the Hidden Manna, the Bread of Life.
We must learn to receive the Bread of Life from Jesus Christ who lives within us in the realm of the Spirit, a higher place. We must learn that we are but a part of His body. We must receive His Life from those other members of His body who also live in the Spirit. Ultimately then, we will discover even our enemy's purposes come from above. God uses them to drive us to seek our strength and power from Him, from the Spirit instead of the flesh.
As we receive, we are also asked to give the Bread of Life. After Jesus breaks the bread, He asks us to share it with others. Here we have the true test of whether we are walking in the kingdom of God or in some other kingdom.
Jesus told us that the greatest in the Kingdom of God would be servant of all. I received a birthday card from a ministry which contained these words: "The true test of a servant is if I act like one when I am treated like one." This "acid test" tells me I have not yet completely arrive. Oh, Lord hide us in your humility. Amen.
Tentmaker offers a number of articles, booklets, books, audio and video tapes on a variety of subjects dealing with the Bible and humanity's relationship with its Creator. A list of materials is available for the asking.
This booklet, as well as most of what I have written, has been proofed and edited by my darling wife, Michelle. Her ability to pay attention to fine points is greatly appreciated, as is her love, patience, and support. Last, but first in my heart, I thank the Holy Spirit Who has been faithfully leading me into all Truth.