One of the great things about the local meetings we've been having on the west side of Dublin, is that we are experiencing a new freedom in how we do "meetings".
The plan is simple. We have it in a different family's home every time and that family/person looks after the worship. There are no plans apart from that. The focus of the meeting has moved completely towards the Holy Spirit and we are less interested in getting things done.
Last night was one such meeting. We had a number of conversations but the one I want to share came out of someone sharing a verse in Exodus 16:4, NKJV
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not.
Bread is a common theme throughout the Bible. Jesus multiplied it from a few loaves to make enough to feed 5,000 men. (Jesus always made and does the best, so you can be sure that this bread was the tastiest ever made!)
Bread was and still is, one of the most staple foods in peoples lives and many depend on it to keep them alive.
But going back to Exodus, the Israelites had been in the desert and were hungry, so they moaned. They failed to see how blessed they were. Firstly, it was their moaning that kept them in the desert for so long. They could have walked their journey in 11 days, but God had other ideas. They could have been wiped out as a nation, but God revealed His father heart and showed them mercy, provision and blessing.
You see, right back at the beginning of the Bible, when Adam and Eve sinned, God proclaimed a curse over mankind:
17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’:
“Cursed is the ground for your sake;
In toil you shall eat of it
All the days of your life.
18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you,
And you shall eat the herb of the field.
19 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.”
Genesis 3 vv 17-19, NKJV
As part of the downfall of man, God had cursed the ground so that man would have to work it by the sweat of his brow to eat bread. Whether or not the Israelites realised it, God was not just easing their punishment, He fed them and in the process, He actually lifted a curse that He had put over man from the beginning.
This same curse is no longer on us as Jesus paid the price in full for all of our sins. God showing us His heart the whole way through the Bible, giving us examples in the Old Testament of the new covenant that He was planning for us.
However, there's more.
This manna- or "What is it?" as it was called, was provided as daily bread for the Israelites. They weren't allowed to keep some for the next day, it had to be eaten that day, except for the sabbath, when they were allowed to take a double portion of manna.
Moving into the New Testament, Jesus in Matthew 6, teaches us how to pray and part of that prayer is that God would "Give us our daily bread".
Jesus, when He was tempted in the desert also mentioned bread:
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. 3 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”
4 But 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.’” Mt 4 vv 1-4, NKJV
Jesus was making a point here. Bread is a staple part of the diet, but it is useless if we don't have the Word of God in our lives on a daily basis.
Jesus knew that the most important thing in our lives is our relationship with God. It was the most important part of the day for Jesus. When He fed 5000 and walked on water, twice in that day He set aside times to be with the Father.
We can't survive on yesterdays word alone. It is the most important part of our lives when we spend time with God, nothing, even our next meal is more important than that.
There are so many examples of this throughout the Bible. Jesus Himself set the best example, Mary and Martha had different approaches when Jesus came. One worried about feeding Him while the other spent time with Him.
This is what God wants for each of us. He longs to spend time with us, He loves listening to our questions and problems, He loves to feed us and He loves to minister to us on a daily basis.
You see, in the natural, if you don't eat, you get sick and die. In the spiritual, if you don't eat the Word of God, you get sick and die. Even if you feel like you aren't getting anything out of your quiet time, keep at it. Not every meal we eat is a 5* meal, cooked by a 5* chef, yet we still eat to live.
Whenever we eat on the Word of God, it's a feast that brings us into a deeper and richer life every moment we spend with Him.
That's the significance of the Bread of Life.