Chapter 8 – The Bread of Heaven
There is a modern adage that states “You are what you eat.” There is much truth to this at all levels of our being. What we eat physically impacts our bodies in profound ways. There are many authors who have provided tremendous evidence that the vast majority of diseases in western culture are due to diet. What we eat either promotes health, or promotes disease.
This same principle of what we eat shaping who we are is true in the realm of man’s soul. Yahshua declared the following:
“You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil.”
The heart often serves as a symbolic reference to the inner man. As the men Yahshua was speaking to were not yet born of the Spirit, the heart here is a reference to their soul. Yahshua declared that whatever filled their heart would be revealed in their words and actions. Whatever these men had spent their time feeding upon during the years of their life had made a tremendous impact upon their soul. It had literally shaped their soul. If they fed on truth and righteousness, their soul would be shaped by this and the result would be seen in their words and actions. If they fed upon lies and impurity, then their soul would likewise be shaped by these things.
What we eat has a tremendous influence upon our being. This is why there is so much written about clean foods and unclean foods in the Bible. We should not think that Yahweh’s primary reason for speaking about foods was the health of man’s physical body. Christ stated that the more important matter is what we feed our souls.
“It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man.”
In the previous passage of Scripture we read that what comes out of the mouth is what is in the soul of man. Whatever our soul has been feeding upon will be revealed in our words. For example, a man who spends his life in the pursuit of worldly possessions will spend much time feeding upon that which his soul craves. He may subscribe to magazines such as Fortune and Forbes, or papers such as The Wall Street Journal. He will go directly to the stock reports, when he looks at the news online, and he will seek out other people with whom he can converse about finances and investments and the economy. When this man is engaged in conversation it will be apparent what his soul has been feeding upon.
Not only is the man’s conversation affected, but so are his values and his actions. If a man has focused all his life upon making money, he will begin to view situations through this lens. When meeting a person he may consider whether they are someone who can help him to achieve his desires of financial wealth. If they are not, he may avoid them. If they are deemed valuable to his goals, he may seek them out, often without even recognizing that his motive is selfish. When faced with a business decision, his actions will be dictated by his desire for profit. He will do whatever helps him to achieve the desire of his soul.
We could use many different examples. We could speak about men who are consumed with thoughts of sexual desire. What they look at, what they read, who they associate with, the tenor of their conversations, are all influenced by that which is driving them. They will feed their soul what it wants, and consequently their soul will be shaped by what it feeds upon. It is very difficult for a Christian man who feeds upon such food to view an attractive woman in an unselfish manner. He will not look at an attractive Christian woman as a sister in Christ who is to be protected and supported, but as an object of sexual desire. The same thing occurs when he sees an attractive non-Christian woman. Rather than having an evangelistic mindset that seeks her eternal welfare, he will see her through the carnal desires of his soul.
We see then that we are shaped by what we choose to feed upon. As this is true concerning man’s body and soul, it is also true regarding the spirit of a man or woman. We can learn much about the food that nourishes and strengthens the spirit of a man by looking once more at the parable of the Israelites in the wilderness.
While the Israelites were in Egypt they ate what the Egyptians ate. I will mention once again that Egypt stands as a symbol of the world. While they were enslaved to Egypt, the Israelites ate a worldly diet. Their only source of food was Egypt, and because they were slaves, the diet of Egypt was just fine with them.
I trust you can see the Scriptural parallels in this. While we were slaves to sin in the world, we fed upon a diet that was worldly. Because those in the world are enslaved to lusts of all types, their diet is that which satisfies their lusts. That which is broadcast on television, at the movies, and provided through magazines, radio and the Internet is what satisfies the soul of sinful men and women. The more they feed upon this food, the more they are shaped by it, and their desires grow even greater.
A thing observed about our appetites, both physical and soulish, is that they are not satisfied long with the same food. They want something more sensual, and more stimulating.
When I was a child growing up we did not eat very spicy food. When I was twenty I moved across country and lived with an aunt and uncle for a period of time. One of their favorite meals was tacos, and they had them regularly. The first time I ate tacos with them I was urged to try some hot sauce on my taco. I put one or two drops of Tabasco Sauce on my taco and my mouth felt like it was on fire. I liked the taste and sensation, however, and I kept putting Tabasco Sauce on my tacos. I found that very quickly my body adjusted to this and soon I was splashing lots of hot sauce on my tacos.
This same phenomena is seen in many types of food, and it is true regarding that which we feed our soul as well. Most men who start out being enticed by an appetite for sexual stimulation are at first satisfied to look at pictures of women wearing sensual clothing. As time goes by they want to see more skin and begin to look at women in bikinis. It would be hard to estimate how many teenage boys are enticed into a life of lust as they are exposed to the annual swimsuit issue of Sport’s Illustrated. This is one of Satan’s most successful traps as he takes young men who are enthused about sports and ensnares them in a life of sexual lust.
It does not take long, however, until women in bikinis do not offer enough stimulation to satisfy the soul. Softcore pornography is the next step, and then hardcore pornography. Should a man be taken completely captive by the desires that he has been feeding, these desires will become a raging monster inside and lead to a life of adultery, fornication, or worse. Sexual predators do not become what they are overnight. Their soul is shaped over time by that which it feeds upon.
Those who struggle with drug addiction experience this same progression. I have listened to many men who stated that they first engaged in underage drinking, perhaps having some beer with friends. This then leads to a search for greater stimulation. Liquor or marijuana is often the next step, and then cocaine, and other drugs with a more powerful effect upon the body. The drive to satisfy the cravings for these drugs grows more intense over time, until a person finds themselves stealing in order to acquire that for which their body is now clamoring.
This principle of being transformed by that which we feed upon, is not all negative, however. We can feed our souls on positive and healthy foods that shape us in very beneficial ways. We can also feed the spirit of a man, and find that we are increasing in conformity to the Son of God.
As the children of Israel prepared to depart Egypt they observed the very first Passover Festival. As part of this event they were instructed to remove all leaven (yeast) from their houses. Leaven is an ingredient added to many breads and baked goods that causes the batter, or dough, to rise. Throughout the Scripture bread is a symbol for man’s flesh. Leaven is also a symbol for sin.
The apostle Paul said “In my flesh dwells no good thing… Sin dwells in my flesh.” Sin is that which causes the flesh of man to rise up. The Scriptures tell us that in Christ there is no sin. He was the Lamb of God without spot or blemish. He was tempted in all ways as we are, yet without sin. Just before Christ was crucified He partook of the Passover meal with His disciples. A part of the Passover meal was the serving of unleavened bread. As Yahshua took up the bread, He said, “This is My body broken for you. Take and eat in remembrance of Me.” There was no leaven in this bread, for it was a symbol of the Son of God Who is without sin.
Just prior to the Israelites leaving Egypt they removed the leaven from their homes, and they kneaded dough without leaven which they took with them as they left Egypt. This is symbolic of a change of diet. They were to leave behind the diet of Egypt, and begin to eat that which was cleansed and purified. As the Israelites were going forth into the wilderness, they would need to continue to eat, and God wanted them to continue to eat that which would shape them into an image of godliness. He did not want to feed their flesh. He wanted them to become like He is, holy and righteous.
The Israelites could not carry enough food to sustain them in the wilderness, so the Father did a remarkable thing. He gave them the bread of heaven.
Exodus 16:13-15, 31
In the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the layer of dew evaporated, behold, on the surface of the wilderness there was a fine flake-like thing, fine as the frost on the ground. When the sons of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread which Yahweh has given you to eat… The house of Israel named it manna, and it was like coriander seed, white, and its taste was like wafers with honey.
Yahshua testified that this bread from heaven was given to serve as a type and symbol of Himself.
Yahshua then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.” Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.” Yahshua said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.”
We see then that both the unleavened bread of Passover, and the manna in the wilderness, serve as images of Christ. Interestingly, one of the most common titles the church uses for Yahshua is the word “Lord.” This word is derived from an old English word that meant “loaf ward.” The loaf ward was the steward, or master of the house, whose duties included providing bread for the servants. This is an appropriate title for Christ, for He provides bread for His household to eat, and this bread is His own body.
So Yahshua said to them, “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 yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.”
Yahshua was using symbolic speech when He uttered these words. He was speaking of His disciples feeding upon the life that was in Him. This life is imparted to the Christian by the Spirit of Christ that comes to indwell them. We learn some important lessons that have great bearing upon the issue of overcoming addiction as we examine the account of the Israelites and their response to the manna Yahweh provided for them.
The rabble who were among them had greedy desires; and also the sons of Israel wept again and said, “Who will give us flesh to eat? We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic, but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna.”
God provides us with a perfect food. It has everything necessary in it to promote life and spiritual health. As Yahshua testified, those who eat the bread He gives them “will live forever.” What we have been testifying throughout this book is that divine life is the answer to the problem of sin. As we receive the life of Christ into our beings we are filled with the desire to please God, and the power to accomplish these desires. When we eat the Bread of Heaven we become filled with the fulness of Christ. He ever lived to do the will of the Father, and so will we.
We understand through the parable of the manna that this receiving of life is obtained as we feed on that which Yahweh has provided for us. The food that God provides for the Christian to eat is designed to increase Christ in us. However, this bread from heaven does not appeal to the flesh. The rabble in Israel provide a type of those who are called out of the world by God, but who are not satisfied with His will for them. They still crave evil things, and are not willing to lay aside their former appetites. They begin to complain about the things God provides for them to feed upon. Rebellious men and women look at God’s provision and say, “Who will give us flesh to eat? There is nothing to look at except this manna!”
When a child of God is born spiritually, they receive a new spirit within them that desires to do the will of the Father, yet they still are clothed in sinful flesh. The flesh will always desire that which satisfies the flesh. It will continue to crave sinful things. God has revealed through the history of Israel that when He calls us out of the world we are to immediately change our diet. We are to cease feeding our flesh, and begin to feed our spirit. Only in this way will we find the statement fulfilled, “I must decrease, but Christ must increase.”
Many Christians have been called out of the world by God, yet after many years they are still fleshly creatures, bound to the appetites of the flesh. The reason is that they rejected God’s provision of food for them, and have yearned to eat those things they once fed upon while in the world. Like the Israelites they cry out, “We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic.”
It has been shown through numerous surveys by a number of companies that there is as much sin in the church today, as there is in society outside of the church. The reason is that they are both feeding upon the same diet. They watch the same television shows, go to the same movies, read the same magazines, listen to the same music, and pursue the same pleasures. It does not matter if the Christian has been called out of the world by God, if they continue to feed on the same worldly offerings then they will not find Christ increasing, and self decreasing. Victory over the flesh will elude them.
Because the Israelites cried out to God for flesh to eat, despising the manna, He told them He would give them what they wanted.
“Say to the people, “Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you shall eat flesh; for you have wept in the ears of Yahweh, saying, “Oh that someone would give us flesh to eat! For we were well-off in Egypt.” Therefore Yahweh will give you flesh and you shall eat. You shall eat, not one day, nor two days, nor five days, nor ten days, nor twenty days, but a whole month, until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you; because you have rejected Yahweh who is among you and have wept before Him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”‘”
The church is walking in a mirror image of the path that the Israelites walked. They have despised Yahweh’s provision and have demanded that which will satisfy their flesh. Yahweh has therefore given them their desire. He has given them ministers who will tell them the things their flesh wants to hear. He has granted them ministers who proclaim a message of worldly prosperity, and comfort and worldly success. Most Christians remain fleshly and are persuaded that God is pleased with them. Professing Christians fill churches the size of football stadiums to listen to these men who answer the cry of their heart, “Who will give us flesh to eat?”
Churches today shy away from telling people that they need to be cleansed from all the evil of the world. Ministers know that most people do not wish to hear such a message, so they say nothing to their members concerning removing leaven from their lives and leaving the ways of the world behind. Instead, the new Christian is assured that they can remain as they are. They need not change their appearance, their pursuit of worldly entertainment, or their pleasure focused lives. Many churches have come to resemble entertainment centers, offering to Christians everything that they loved in the world, from rock concerts to cruises. If these ministers understood the parable of Israel’s transgression in this matter, they would fear God’s judgment upon what they are doing.
Now there went forth a wind from Yahweh and it brought quail from the sea, and let them fall beside the camp, about a day’s journey on this side and a day’s journey on the other side, all around the camp and about two cubits deep on the surface of the ground. The people spent all day and all night and all the next day, and gathered the quail (he who gathered least gathered ten omers) and they spread them out for themselves all around the camp. While the flesh was still between their teeth, before it was chewed, the anger of Yahweh was kindled against the people, and Yahweh struck the people with a very severe plague.
Whether you are a brand new Christian, or have been one for many years, you will find that your victory over sin is contingent upon your accepting the food that Yahshua has provided for His disciples to feed upon. If you continue feeding upon fleshly things, you will remain in bondage to sin. If you feed upon Christ, you will find yourself becoming more like Him. You will have more power over sin, and the flesh’s power will diminish.
How then do we feed upon the Bread of Heaven? The answer is found as we look at a few Scriptures that will open our understanding. In the Bible the word of God is compared to food. Christ is called the Word of God, and He is also the Bread of Heaven, so we can see that Christ is food, and divinely breathed words are spiritual food. We see this further in the following verse:
Your words were found and I ate them, and Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart…
There are a great number of Scriptures that use the imagery of words being likened unto food that a man eats. Following is another.
Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited. We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat.
In these verses the apostle Paul compares teachings to foods. He is declaring that many are carried away with teachings that do not profit them, the result being that their hearts (inner man) are not strengthened. As mentioned already, there are many such foods being served up to Christians today. These foods appeal to the flesh, but do nothing to build up the inner man.
The last phrase recorded above is also filled with meaning. “Those who serve the tabernacle” refers to those who are focused on the flesh of man. The body is merely a tabernacle in which the Spirit of God is to dwell with the spirit of man. There are those whose focus is upon fulfilling the desires of the flesh, and they cannot eat from the same altar from which the overcomers in Christ eat. The altar of God provides food for the spirit.
As we understand these things we are able to discern that it is very important that the Christian who wishes to decrease, that the life of Christ in them might increase, must feed upon the word of God. In one sense this word is the Bible. There are many admonitions for the Believer to study the word of God; To meditate upon it; To hide the word in their heart. It would hardly seem possible to overestimate the value of this, particularly in a society where Christians rarely read the word of God today.
As we stare intently at the glory of Christ revealed in the word of God we will find ourselves being transformed into His image. There is a wonderful example of this occurrence foreshadowed in the Old Testament. In the Tabernacle of Moses there was a table set up in the Holy Place that was called the Table of Showbread. On it were placed twelve loaves of fresh bread that were replaced weekly. This bread was called in the Hebrew paniym, which is translated “The Bread of faces.” This bread was considered holy, and only those of the tribe of Levi could eat it.
The tribe of Levi was chosen to be the priestly tribe of Israel because they stood apart, and did not participate in the idolatry of Israel, when Aaron made a golden calf for them to worship. What is pictured in the bread of faces is the food that those who keep themselves set apart unto God may eat. We read later in Scripture that David took some of this holy bread and ate it, even though he was not from the tribe of Levi. Yet God allowed this for David was a man after God’s heart.
Feeding on the word of God, and beholding the face of God, are therefore intertwined. The Christian begins to take on the glory of the Lord as He feeds on the word and beholds the presence of Christ. Conversely, if we spend our time pursuing the things of the world, and setting impurity before our faces, we will take on the image of that which occupies our minds. The apostle Paul wrote:
II Corinthians 3:18
But we all, looking on the glory of the Lord, with unveiled face, are transformed according to the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Lord the Spirit.
It is not just by reading the Bible that we are transformed. We are also transformed as we commune with Christ through the indwelling Spirit. We are called to be temples of the Spirit of Christ, and our bodies are to serve as a house of prayer. In these bodies we are to abide with Christ, dwelling with Him in fellowship and communion. This is not as mysterious as it may sound. It is simply an acknowledgment that we dwell in the body God has given to us, and if we have received the Spirit of Christ, then He dwells along with us.
How can two dwell together in the same house and not enjoy the presence of one another? Yahshua said, “My sheep hear My voice.” When the Spirit comes to dwell in a man or woman, He comes to commune with us. The word commune is the root of the word communicate. To commune with someone we must keep open the lines of communication. Christ speaks to us through the written word of God. He also does so by the presence of the Spirit within us. The Spirit was given to be Christ’s communicator.
“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.”
I find myself speaking to Christ all throughout the day. Sometimes I get down on my knees and pray. At other times I find myself speaking to Him as I am going about my daily tasks. Our lives are to be filled with such communication, and please note that the word communication begins with the prefix “co,” which infers two parties are both speaking and listening.
The food that Yahshua gives to His children does not appeal to the flesh of man. If given a choice to watch an hour of television, or spend an hour in reading the Bible and prayer, those who are fleshly are inevitably drawn to the former activity while despising the latter. However, if a person has truly been born again of the Spirit they will find that there is something deep inside them that is drawn to these latter pursuits, and which finds them highly satisfying. Even so, the child of God must rule over the desires and passions of the flesh. They must wrest control of their body away from the flesh, and allow the spirit man to rule. The apostle Paul put it this way:
Galatians 5:16-17, 24-25
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another… Now those who belong to Christ Yahshua have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
You and I will only “LIVE” as we are surrendered to the Spirit of Christ. As this chapter has indicated, there are very practical things to be done to promote this spiritual life. We must rule over our appetites. We must choose to eat from Yahweh’s table, and ONLY from His table. In this way we will be assured that the old man who is enslaved to sin is diminishing, and the new creature in Christ is increasing. You are what you eat, so feed upon Christ!