If you’ve been craving bread during this quarantine, it seems you’re not alone. For several reasons apparently, our culture has run amok with bread baking during the last two months. One cause may be that the hoarding of bread at local grocery stores has created a necessity for bread baking. But other experts (there’s a niche for everyone) have opined about baking bread being an offshoot of a survival instinct during uncertain times. This makes sense when you consider that bread is a comfort food. If you’re like me, you probably have fond memories of the scent of freshly baked bread, maybe going all the way back to your childhood. For many people, this scent of baking bread is their fondest aroma. It seems that we are all a bit crazy for fresh bread. In my own home, due to my wife’s desire for healthier living for our son, Tanner, she has imposed a mostly gluten-free diet on our home eating. This gives me an even greater desire for fresh bread, of course, as it has become a forbidden fruit. Admit it, after just a few sentences reading about bread, you are already contemplating having some today, aren’t you? Go ahead. It turns out eating bread is living biblically.
When you think about it, the Bible is constantly making references to bread or retelling stories involving bread—both in the Old and New Testaments. I’ve been trying to read through a chronological Bible this year and this last week came across the passage in which King David is giving instructions for the building of the temple to his son, Solomon. In this passage (from 1 Chronicles 28), David reminds Solomon that the temple needs to have inside of it a golden table to hold the “Bread of the Presence.” This bread consisted of twelve loaves of fresh bread (presumably one for each tribe), placed weekly on this table as an offering to God. Others have said that the bread was symbolic, both of God’s presence and of the coming Messiah. My curiosity (and perhaps hunger) further aroused, I immediately began researching what else the Bible had to say about bread. I wondered, what is it about bread that makes it such a common subject in the Bible? And what does all of this tell us about God?
Let me briefly offer a few examples of familiar Biblical passages about bread that I quickly came upon:
- “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you [manna].” (Exodus 16:4)
- “Go then, eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a cheerful heart; for God has already approved your works.” (Ecclesiastes 9:7)
- “Jesus 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.’” (John 6:35)
- “I am the bread of life.” (John 6:48)
- “Give us this day our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11)
- “While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’” (Mathew 7:9)
What do these scriptural references to bread tell us about God? First, that God provides for our needs. He provided abundantly for the nation of Israel as they wandered the deserts of Egypt, with manna literally raining down from heaven. Even today, He continues to offer us our daily bread to sustain us. God cares not only about meeting our physical needs, but He also wants us to experience joy. The Bible teaches us that bread should bring us happiness and fill our hearts. Beyond our physical necessities and emotional desires, God cares passionately about the eternal condition of our souls. This is why we are also admonished that “man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) So, for this reason, the Bread of Life was broken on our behalf as an atoning payment for our sins, washing away the darkness in our souls. And in recognition of this ultimate sacrifice paid to redeem our souls, we are told to “take and eat” so that we remember and find encouragement and confidence in our relationship with God.
So, during this pandemic, go ahead and have some fresh-baked bread. Enjoy the nourishment that the warm bread with melting butter provides to your body as it fills your physical needs. Allow a smile to form across your countenance as you delight in its goodness and exhale a sigh of contentment as the act of eating the bread serves as a salve to your wounded heart. Know with your mind that the Lord provides all that you need, even during uncertain and seemingly perilous times. Be confident that God will sustain you no matter the circumstances. And most importantly, rest assured—if you have surrendered your life to the Bread of Life who was broken for your sins—that your debts have been paid in full and you will spend eternity with God, finding more joy than you can even imagine. Now doesn’t that piece of fresh-baked bread sound really good?
By Jim Underwood. Jim Underwood is married to wife Carol and has three sons, one daughter-in-law, and one granddaughter. He’s been serving at Harris Creek for fourteen years, is an elder, and in his spare time, tortures law students at Baylor for fun and profit.