Bread, Part 3
The message completed, the deacons prepare the table for the Supper. It is a serious time, though not a sad time. We seriously rejoice. We celebrate solemnly. The table is prepared. One blesses the bread, already broken, prepared in the plate. The silver plates filled with bread are distributed to the deacons. They pass the plates. It is an offering of sorts. Not a collection, but an offering. Bread offered to the people. The people receive the bread, they take it, and hold it in their hand. The deacons return the plates. I look. Bread still fills the plate.
God filled His Word with bread. This should not surprise us. An exhaustive study of bread in the Bible reveals an exhausting amount of bread. And bread stories too. Bread stories fill the Word. The bread stories are not isolated, disjointed, random, or coincidental. Together, they form the grand story of our bread, the One Bread. Like manna in the wilderness, he that gathers little has no lack, and he that gathers much has nothing over.
God provides bread. Melchizedek met Abram, returning from the slaughter of the kings, with bread and wine. This was not the Lordâ€™s Supper. Nor was it the first time bread was mentioned. Bread was first mentioned with the curse. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground. If a man will not work, he also should not eat.
So, man sweats, and God provides bread. God provided Egypt with bread. God took a Hebrew boy from his fatherâ€™s house. Through treachery, God made him a slave. God sent that Hebrew slave to a great manâ€™s house. Through treachery, God put him in prison. God caused men to dream, and the prisoner to interpret. One man died, the other lived, and forgot. Until God reminded him. God reminded the man at the perfect time. The Hebrew slave became Egyptian lord. Second in command. Over Potiphar, and his wife. And by that lord, Israel ate bread. Egypt came to the Hebrew lord, seeking bread. They sold themselves to him for bread. God provides bread.
Then came a day when a new king rose up, that knew not Joseph. Josephâ€™s people were sold into slavery. Miraculously, God delivered them. On the eve of their deliverance, God instructed the people to eat bread. Unleavened bread. With the flesh of a lamb, and bitter herbs. They ate the bread, and they were delivered. And as a memorial, they ate the feast again each year. This was not the Lordâ€™s Supper. Nor was it unrelated.
God provides bread. God gave manna in the wilderness. Israel doubted. They said, can God furnish a table in the wilderness? God can. God did. God already had. Man did eat angelâ€™s food. God had rained down manna upon them to eat, and had given them of the corn of heaven. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat. He that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating. God gave manna with a purpose. God taught the people with the manna. Lesson number one:
Man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.
God gave them the Sabbath. And therefore on the sixth day, they gathered the bread of two days. God gave rest, and God gave bread. Man rested, and was fed. Manna fed man, but manna was not that bread from heaven. The Father gives us the true bread from heaven.
The priests put bread on the table. Hallowed bread. Consecrated bread. The Bread of the Presence. They called it shewbread. Twelve loaves, baked fresh. Baked every Sabbath. The priests profaned the Sabbath, and were blameless. The priests eat the old bread. But not always. Once, David and his men were hungry. The priest had no common bread to give. So, the priest gave the hallowed bread to David. And for this crime, the priest gave his life. He died for David, at the hand of King Saul. But it was no crime. The bread God gives does cost something.
Gideon was bread. A cake of barley bread. That cake of barley bread tumbled into the host of Midian, and came unto a tent, and smote it that it fell, and overturned it, that the tent lay along. Bread can be dangerous. The One Bread is. God bakes dangerous bread.
God provides bread miraculously. Ask Elijah. When there was not bread to be had, the ravens brought him bread. When the brook dried up, God sent Elijah to a widow. God commanded her to sustain him. So, Elijah asked a poor widow to use her last handful of meal to feed him. She was gathering two sticks. She and her son would eat and die. Elijah asked for that bread, their last bread, promising that the barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth.
God provides a continuous supply of bread. We will never stop eating bread. God provides an abundant supply. A boy brings his five loaves to Christ. In Christâ€™s hand, the loaves come alive. He blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. The multitude ate, and was filled. And they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.
God provides a continuous supply. God provides a miraculous supply. God provides an abundant supply. God takes the childrenâ€™s bread, and casts it unto dogs. God provides a heavenly supply. Christ is the giver of bread. Christ is the Bread Given. The One Bread. And the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The first mention of bread is with the curse. But then, there is blessing.
The plate is passed, the people receive. Scripture is read, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. The people take. They eat. They are fed. And the plate remains full.
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.
You can partake of the bread of the Lordâ€™s Table, and still not eat the Living Bread. But those who have eaten the Living Bread will hunger for the bread at His Table. Nor will they stop. Not in this life, not in the next. Lord, evermore give us this bread. Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the Kingdom of God!