The Bread of Life

John Hoole – September 20, 2009










I know we can quote the Scripture passage in Matthew 18:20, which reads: “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”




         While I am asking a few questions, let me ask a few more.








On that last question, what was going through my mind were the Pharisees.  Can’t you imagine that in all their ritual and their praying in public (Matthew 6:5), that they prayed for their promised Messiah to show up.  But when He actually does show up, they don’t recognize Him.


Christ even tells them, in Luke 19:42-44, that they had missed the time when He actually came.  But they still didn’t get what He was saying to them.  They missed the hour of their visitation from God.  He was in town and they didn’t know it.


He could have passed by the door to the Temple while they prayed inside for Him to come.  The problems was that He didn’t come in the manner in which they expected Him to come.  Because of that, they didn’t recognize Him.  Is it possible also for us to not recognize His presence, because He did not show up the way we expected.


I believe very strongly that a mighty visitation of God in America is soon to happen.  He is getting ready to break out in our land, even if He has to bypass America’s stuffy churches to break out in the barrooms.  We would be wise to remember that He has bypassed the religious elite before in order to dine with the poor, the profane and the prostitutes.


The Western Church, and the American Church in particular, has exported its programs about God all over the world.  But, is it time for us to learn that programs alone don’t equate to progress.  What we need is His presence.  We need to decide – we must decide – that whatever it takes, and wherever it comes from, we must have Him.  And, by the way, He does want to come – on His terms, not ours.  Until then, the absence of His awesomeness will haunt the Church.  We can be inside praying for Him to come while He passes by outside.  Worse than that – the “insiders” miss Him while the “outsiders” march with Him!


I need to give credit where credit is due.  Some of the next few thought have been impressed upon me by a book: God Chasers, by Tommy Tenney.


The Book of Ruth starts with a story about Ruth’s mother and father-in-law and their two sons.  It begins before Ruth actually became a daughter-in-law.  We know most about the mother-in-law.










Ruth 1:1-5  (NIV)


1       In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land, and a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab.

2       The man's name was Elimelech, his wife's name Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there.

3       Now Elimelech, Naomi's husband, died, and she was left with her two sons.

4       They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years,

5       both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.




There was a famine in the land.  I think there is a spiritual story here that is easily applicable to our lives today.  Let me explain by asking another question.






In Hebrew, the word “BETH” has two meanings.


The Hebrew words “LEHEM” OR “LECHEM” means “bread.”  So, the meaning of Bethlehem is – “the house of bread.”


This story is very much an irony.  The reason this family left the house of bread was because there was no bread in the house.  And the spiritual application of this story is this.  I don’t want people leaving our class or this church – the house of bread, because they find no bread in the house.


In the Old Testament, bread was part of the temple practices as well.  One of the pieces of furniture in the Tabernacles was the Table of Shewbread.”  On this table was placed an offering of twelve loaves of bread representing the twelve tribes of Israel.  It was called shewbread because it was proof of  God’s continual presence.


The NIV translation of Numbers 4:7 calls this piece of furniture, “the table of the presence.”


         The RSV says:       “the table of the bread of the Presence.”


Fresh bread was placed on the table each Sabbath by the Kohathites, a family of the tribe of Levi charged with that responsibility (1 Chr. 9:32).  “Shewbread,” – the bread which showed His continual presence.


I never want it to be that when the hungry come to the house of bread (our class or church), all they can do is scrounge through the carpet for a few crumbs of yesteryear’s revival.  We can talk grandly about past outpourings, and even have monuments to prior blessings, but if the glory of God isn’t flowing through our midst today, what good is it?  And that isn’t God’s fault – it is ours.


Isn’t that like the religious leaders of Christ’s day who worshipped in the temple?  They had their traditions of worship.  They even had the veil in its proper place in their temple.  Have you ever wondered why they needed a veil in the Temple when Jesus was here.  There was no Ark of the Covenant behind it.  They had long lost it some 600 years earlier.  The room behind the veil was empty.  The veil only camouflaged the fact their was no Ark of the Covenant behind it.  What do we do sometimes to hide the fact of God’s absence?


The Lord God Almighty is out to restore the sense of His awesome manifest presence in our lives and in our places of worship.  We talk and sing about the glory of God covering the earth as the waters cover the sea.  But if His glory is hindered from flowing down the aisles of our class, it will never flow down the streets of our cities.


It has to start here – in the temple – in the house of bread.  Ezekiel wrote:  I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple…..”(47:1)I so much want that to be the same right here.


Now let’s return to our story of the family of Elimelech and Naomi.  When Bethlehem, the house of bread, is empty, people are forced to look elsewhere for the bread of life.  Naomi and her family have something in common with the people who leave or avoid our church today.  They left “that” place and went somewhere else to try to find bread.


The dilemma this family faced is that the world’s alternatives can be deadly.  This is what Naomi was to discover.  For her Moab was a cruel place.  Moab will steal your sons from you and bury them before their time.  Moab will separate you from your spouse.  Moab will rob you of any vitality of life and hope of a future.


In the end, Naomi was left with two daughters-in-law she had known for only ten years.  She turned to them and said, “You might as well not hang around me .  I don’t have any more sons to give you.”  But then she added, “I heard a rumor…..”


She says to them, “you may as well return to the home of your parents.”  “I am returning to Judah because I have heard the rumor of God’s blessing of good crops.”  There was a rumor that there was bread again in the house of bread.


Tommy Tenney, in “God Chasers.”


“There is an information “grapevine” that winds its way through every community, hamlet, and city of the world.  It winds its way all down our coasts, over every mountain range, and into every place where men and women dwell.  It is the “grapevine of the hungry.”  If just one of them hears the rumor that there is bread back in the House of Bread, the news will flow like a surge of electricity through a power line at near the speed of light.  The news of bread will leapfrog from one household to the other, from one place to another almost instantaneously.  You won’t have to worry about advertising on TV or promoting it in the usual ways of the world.  The hungry will just hear.  The news will break:


“No, it’s not a fake!  It’s hard to believe, but this time it’s not hype or manipulation.  No, it’s not just a trickle; it’s not just crumbs in the carpet.  There really is bread back in the House of Bread!  God is in the Church!  When that happens, we won’t be able to hold them in our buildings, no matter how many services we conduct each day.   Why?  How?  All you must do is get the bread back.”


So tattered is the reputation of Bethlehem – and by implication, the Church, that some will hear the rumor and, like Orpah, not even attempt to go to the house of bread.  But others, when you tell them bread is back in the house of bread, will be like Ruth.  They will say, like Ruth, “If there really is bread, I’m going with you.”  “Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.”


Satan’s ploy has been to keep you and me so full of junk food that we are not hungry for Him.  And it has worked magnificently for centuries.  The enemy has made us so accustomed to surviving at high levels of earthly prosperity, only to keep our spirit realm on a beggar’s subsistence.  Most of us keep our lives so jammed with junk food for the soul and amusements for the flesh, that we don’t know what it is to be really hungry for God.


I don’t know about you, but there is a driving passion in my heart that whispers to me that there is more than what I already know --- more than what I already have.  One reason I know there is more is because of those who have experienced the “more” and were never the same again.  I don’t know about you, but I will not be satisfied with just crumbs from yesteryears.  I want the whole loaf.


I don’t want to just be in God’s vicinity – I want to gaze upon His face.  The only thing that is going to turn the focus and favor of God toward us is our hunger for Him.


How hungry for God are we, really?  There is much more of God available than we have ever known or imagined.  The question is:  Have we become so satisfied with where we are and what we have to not press in for God’s very best?


God has prepared a great table of His presence in this day, and He is calling to the Church, “Come and dine!”  I am starving for Him – not just stories about Him.  And I truly believe those outside our walls are hungry as well.  If the Church would become what it should and could become, then we’d have to scramble just to accommodate the demand for “bread” in the house.


Today, there is a faint rumor that there is bread in God’s house again.  This generation, like Ruth (who is a picture of the un-churched unsaved), is about to side up to Naomi (a picture of a prodigal) to say, “If you have heard there is really bread there, then I’m going with you.  Wherever you God, I’ll go.  Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.”  IF…there is really bread.


When Naomi heard that there was bread back in Bethlehem (House of Bread), she rose from her sorrow to go to the house of bread.  Two things happen when the bread of God’s presence is restored to the Church.  Naomi was a prodigal who left the house of bread when that table became bare.  Yet, once she heard that God had restored bread to Bethlehem – the house of bread, she quickly returned.  The prodigal will come walking back into Bethlehem from Moab once they know there is bread in the house.  And when they come back, they won’t be alone.  Naomi came back to the house of bread accompanied by Ruth, who had never been there before.


As a result, Ruth became part of the Messianic lineage of Jesus when she married Boaz and bore him a son named Obed, who was the father of Jesse, the father of David.  Future royalty awaits our hunger-spurred actions.  We now are a child of the King of kings.


My concern is this:  Do we have enough fresh bread on the table to accommodate all those who will be coming to the house of bread.  The hungry need fresh bread in abundance, not stale crumbs in the carpet.


When we commemorate the death of Christ – in what we call Communion, one part is the bread.  In Luke 22:19, we are told that at the Last Supper, Jesus took the bread and broke it, and said, “this is my body which is given for you.”


John 6:35 NKJV


35     And Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”


He repeats the phrase, “I am the bread of life,” in verse 48.  We must have the Bread of Life – Jesus – in the house.  We need to see Him here – not just hear stories about Him.



Thoughts to consider about Bread


•  Jesus tempted by Satan to turn stone into bread.


•  In every civilization, eating has become a ritual of togetherness.


The ultimate test of a culture is the way a stranger is treated.  Jesus commended those who welcomed others.  “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat….I was a stranger and you invited me in,….”


•  Joseph, when he became a ruler, was still an outsider because he was not allowed to eat with Egyptians.


•  In the first century church, the early Christians often met together for “breaking of bread” (Acts 2:42).


•  By sharing a meal together they were demonstrating their common life.


•  In 1 Corinthians, part of what Paul saw that was wrong was in the observance of the Lord’s Supper.


Much of the breaking of bread was self-centered – some having much to eat – others nothing.


1 Corinthians 10:16-17 NKJV


16      The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?

17      For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.