A Garden in the Mind - Part 6
Wheat, Flour & Bread
Sabbath Say Sermon, Saturday 17 August 2002
Click here to read Part 5
For five weeks now we have been talking about trees and by now you should all be rather good spiritual botanists. One lesson that we can all learn from our study is that biblical symbols interpret themselves so we don't need to go outside the Bible for explanations. There are many who turn to occultism and kabbalism, for example, to interpret the scriptures and so completely pervert the original meanings. Yahweh provides His own interpretation, and when we use it, we are at once astonished by the harmony and intelligence of the Divine Mind.
Let us move away from trees this week and turn to some of the humbler products of the vegetable kingdom. And let us begin by reminding ourselves of what the symbolic character of the earth or soil is: the human mind. Gardens and fields symbolise the human mind in a state of cultivation and order, whilst deserts and waste symbolise the human mind in a state of neglect and disorder. Therefore olive-trees, vine-trees, fig-trees, myrtles, and cedars signify, as we have seen, principles of usefulness, beauty, and magnificence, planted and growing in the soul.
But there is another order of existence in the vegetable kingdom which is frequently mentioned in the Bible and it is corn, and especially wheat. Yahweh, as we all know, has told us that in the last day He will gather the wheat into His granary, but burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire (Mt.3:12; Lk.3:17). The wheat here symbolises those who are good and useful, and the chaff those who are bad and useless. In the Gospel of Mark we are told of a man who sowed good seed in the ground, and slept while the seed sprang up - first the blade, then the ear, and after that the full corn in the ear (Mk.4:26-29). The ground, of course, is the human mind. The seed, Yah'shua (Jesus) tells us, is the Word (Lk.8:11). Every little truth, every little verse and word, is a living seed; and if we permit it to fall into our minds, it will grow and bring forth goodness.
The use of truth is that it may become active in our minds and grow up into some form of goodness. If, after we have heard the Word of God, we do not live it, and so become good, it is because the seed has not grown, but has died within us.
So why does Yah'shua (Jesus) allude to the gradual upgrowing of the corn - "first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head" (Mark 4:28, NKJV). It is because of the gradual manner in which a Christian grows to perfection. It does not happen over night as many heretics teach. Our goodness comes very gradually into power and operation. These things being true, of what is corn symbolic? And the answer is Goodness. Its growth is emblematical of the growth of our spiritual life, of the increase of that real spiritual substance which constitutes the harvest of the soul.
We must pay attention, then, of incidences involving corn because they tell us something important about how we obtain goodness in our lives. Do you remember the time when Yah'shua (Jesus) was walking through the cornfields on the Sabbath day with His disciples, who rubbed the wheat-ears in their hands, eating the corn as they went? (Mt.12:1-8) Most people remember this because of His teaching on the true nature of Sabbath worship. But there is another beautiful dimension to this story that people miss and that is its symbolic meaning. For what we are being told here is that the Lord's disciples should get the goodness out of everything and spiritually feast upon it, even on the Sabbath Day! The Word of God, with its books and chapters, is a spiritual cornfield, for it is full of the bounty and goodness of Yahweh; and as we walk along in the presence of our Saviour, we should gather its facts and principles, and rub off, as it were, the husk of the letter, and get at and feast upon the inward substance, which is that goodness with which Yahweh feeds the hungry soul.
Everything that we eat, which nourish and strengthen us, are used biblically as emblems of Yahweh's love and goodness which strengthen our minds. And everything that we drink are emblematical of truth. This being so, things like flour and bread, which are also mentioned many times in Scripture, signify a degree of goodness.
There is a parable of a woman who hid leaven in three measures of flour (meal) until the whole was leavened (Mt.13:33). What is the woman an emblem of? She is, as we discovered some weeks ago, the Messianic Community or Church, so this parable is describing something that true Christians do. The flour is emblematical of the truth that comes from goodness, and that forms goodness in us. What does the number 3 represent? This we discovered last week for it signifies fulness and perfection of truth. Thus when we have acquired all the truth our natures are capable of attaining, we have our three measures of flour.
We have talked much about leaven before, and indeed we do so during Chag haMatzah - the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Leaven, you will remember, can either be positive of negative. What do we know about leaven? Leaven is bitter. Leaven is sour. Leaven produces fermentation and makes a commotion among the particles of the flour. All housewives ought to know about yeast. It forms great bubbles in the dough and air comes puffing out of it. So the question we are supposed to ask ourselves is: what is it that makes a trouble, a commotion, a fermentation in our minds after we have acquired our three measures of flour - after we have got all the truth we can learn? Whatever it is that makes such a trouble in our minds, that is the very thing of which the leaven is the emblem. Does anyone have any ideas? Let me prompt you a bit. What is it that we hide within us, that is sour and bitter, and that is the origin of all our mental disturbances? If you think back to Chag haMatzah you will find the answer.
It is our selfishness! Human evil is the leaven that at once seizes upon the truth, and tosses it about as soon as we get it, because it dislikes it and is opposed to it. In the same way the yeast seizes upon the particles of flour, and causes fermentation. But, in both cases, good comes of it. The old leaven of evil gets purged out by this process, and the whole mind is made anew; the entire lump, when leavened, is made pure.
If you think about it, this must be true. The flour, which is sweet and good, must mean the sweetness and goodness of the truth of the Word. And the leaven, which is bitter and distasteful, must mean the bitter and distasteful selfishness of our hearts. If we want further proof of this, we need only remember that Yah'shua (Jesus) compared the hypocrisy of the Pharisees to leaven, which would immediately have reminded them of the Feast of Unleavened Bread where yeast symbolises sin (Mt.16:6,11-12; Mk.8:15; Lk.12:1 cp. Ex.12:15-20; 13:6-7; 23:15; 1 Cor.5:8).
Since we are talking about feasts, it is worth mentioning a rather interesting food offering under the Old Covenant which consisted of fine flour mingled with oil and frankincense (Lev.2:1-2). The fine flour mingled with olive-oil was emblematical of truth mingled with love; while the frankincense signified the fragrance of holiness which is always associated with truth and love. But none of these food offerings were to be made of leaven. That was because there must be nothing human - nothing evil or selfish - mingled with our heart-offerings to Yahweh.
You may also recall an Old Testament story wherein Elisha performed a miracle using flour. A stew was accidentally poisoned by adding a wild vine but when the prophet threw in the flour the meal was made wholesome (2 Ki.4:38-41). The stew represents our spiritual food which is poisoned by falsehood, but the truth restores it. The vine, you will remember, represents godly wisdom, but this wild vine represents the false religions and philosophies of men. The only way to cancel its poisonous effects is by adding truth until the false wisdom is neutralised. There are many books, films, videos, and teachings which are full of poison for the mind. The Bible, however, is all fine flour, and a little Bible truth will render a great deal of wrong teachings harmless. For example, more and more people believe in reincarnation these days, but a single scripture is able to dismiss this falsehood from the Christian's mind (Heb.9:27).
Let's end today by making a close examination of the symbolic use of bread. It has, I am sure you have guessed, the same relationship to wheat as oil does to the olive-tree, and grape-juice to the vine-tree. Oil signifies the richness and softness of love, grape-juice or wine the sweetness and delight of truth, and bread the sustenance and strength of goodness. Since wheat is the emblem of the good principles that grow up in the field of the mind from the seed of the Word, bread obviously signifies that nourishment and vigour which goodness yields. Bread is the symbol of Divine Goodness itself as to its feeding and satisfying power.
We all know that Yah'shua (Jesus) calls Himself "the bread of life that comes down from heaven" (Jn.6:35,48) because He is the Divine Goodness itself, and He alone can nourish and strengthen our souls. And so we understand that "the food which endures to everlasting life" (Jn.6:27, NKJV) and the "true bread from heaven" (6:32) mean Yah'shua (Jesus) Himself as to that goodness with which He feeds "the hungry soul" (Ps.107:9).
So once more we return to the central symbols of the Lord's Supper, the bread and the wine, which He called His flesh and His blood. And we can more easily understand the controversial statement He made to the Judeans, saying: "unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you" (Jn.6:53, NKJV). That was a very hard saying for them for they misunderstood it to mean an advocacy of cannibalism as indeed a carnal soul not possessing the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) would be forced to. The bread and the wine were what Yah'shua called His flesh and blood; and bread and wine are emblematical of goodness and truth. Therefore, Yah'shua (Jesus) meant that unless we receive His goodness and truth into our souls, and spiritually eat and drink them, we cannot be saved.
Thus every Friday evening or Saturday morning, when full members in good standing partake of the Lord's Supper, they are covenanting to partake of Divine Goodness and Divine Truth - the flesh and blood of the Lord - which we constantly receive from Yahweh, and upon which our spiritual natures grow and feast.
I wonder if any of you have ever wondered what is meant on the spiritual plane when we pray the Lord's Prayer which says, "Give us this day our daily bread" (Mt.6:11; Lk.11:3)? Yah'shua (Jesus) taught us to labour not for the food that perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life (Jn.6:27). This alone should be telling us that we are not only to be praying for physical food but spiritual food also. Thus when we petition Yahweh to "give us this day our daily bread" we should think not only of breakfast, lunch and supper, but of the daily supply of Divine Goodness which sustains spiritual life in us. Now when the disciples asked, "give us this bread always" (v.34), it was clearly the spiritual that the spiritually-minded had in mind. So ought we not to be thinking of spiritual goodness in addition to food when we pray the Lord's Prayer? For that is what we stand most in need of.
With this symbol of bread clearly explained we can wander through many scriptures and discover new and exciting spiritual depths. What of the story of the two disciples with whom Yah'shua (Jesus) journeyed to Emmaus? It is one of the most beautiful accounts in the New Testament (Lk.24:13-35). The Lord talked with the disciples for many hours explaining the Scriptures to them, but they did not recognise Him. Not until Yah'shua (Jesus) broke bread with them were their eyes opened and they knew who He was.
Now this is very significant indeed. So long as He only taught them the truth, they remained blind. Not until He broke bread did they receive the revelation. So what does this teach us? It teaches us that doctrine alone is not enough - it is only when we are fed goodness together with true doctrine that we can understand. Every person who witnesses of Christ to unbelievers should pay especial attention here! Only when the goodness of Christ shines through our witness can the doctrine have any spiritual meaning at all. Without goodness, it is mere air - empty words. Thus it is not enough to preach the Gospel from the Bible - you must have a life filled with the goodness of Yah'shua (Jesus) else your witness is in vain. Truth without love is sterile, whereas love without truth is mere human feelings.
We learn from this important story that it is only when Yah'shua (Jesus) feeds us with goodness - the bread of life - that the mind is truly opened to know Him. Sin keeps us in darkness - but goodness received from Yah'shua (Jesus), and appropriated in the soul, enlightens us all to divine knowledge. The Messiah (Christ) was only revealed in "breaking bread" because He is really only known to a human being through the act of supplying us with the bounty of His goodness.
What, then, may we learn using this symbolism from the two miracles of feeding the multitudes? The loaves and fishes were multiplied as they were eaten, were they not? Not only were these miracles an astonishing display of Divine Power but they were designed to teach us something of Yahweh's relationship to us. We know that He "feeds the hungry soul with goodness" (Ps.107:9). If we receive from the Messiah (Christ) the bread of life - His goodness - and feast upon it, and get spiritual strength from it, does that goodness appear to diminish as we partake of it? Of course not! Although the Divine Bounty at first appears small, and inadequate to our wants, in truth it increases the more we partake of it! And our eyes will gradually be opened to the fact that Yahweh's stores are inexhaustible. With our growth in spiritual strength will be the growth of our perceptions of His boundless provision for the world's wants.
Natural food decreases as it is eaten, but spiritual food increases as we partake of it! This truth must not be missed! The more we love, the more love is given to us. It is the story of the Talents all over again. Heavenly principles are the very opposite of earthly ones. You see, Yahweh feeds us now when we are hungry, and gives us more and more as we come back for more spiritual truth. This is the principle of multiplication that I have so often spoken about.
If you want confirmation of this truth, turn back in your Bibles to the miracle of the widow's oil which Elisha multiplied (2 Ki.4). What does oil signify? Love. As the widow poured out the oil into vessels it increased, but when there were no more vessels the oil stayed. As we pour the love of our hearts into the sorrows, misfortunes, and needs of others, our love will similarly be increased! And the measure in which we are able to so pour out our love will be the exact measure of its increase. Love flowing out of the heart increases its wealth in us, but if it is confined within, its stays and stagnates.
People want to be loved but they refuse to love in return and wonder why they are not able to retain love and are always starving. And this is the reason. If you want more, you have to give more! That is the spiritual law of heaven. However small and insignificant something may appear to carnal eyes - and that is how most people view Christ and Christianity - it is in reality concealing a vast flood. God's goodness, before we partake of it, and , consequently, when we are in sin, appears something small and insignificant; but when we feast upon it, we perceive that its stores are infinite.
How diametrically opposite is Satanism! The devil demands more and more and gives less and less until he has taken everything and gives absolutely nothing. He sucks you dry.
As bread signifies Yahweh's goodness, the eating of it signifies some spiritual act. We have spiritual appetites as well as natural appetites. There are the hunger and thirst after righteousness, as well as the hunger and thirst after natural food and drink. The act of eating signifies the reception into the heart of the Word of Yahweh, which is the bread of life.
In the Psalms we read: "I am Yahweh your Elohim (God), who brought you out of the land of Egypt; Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it" (Ps 81:10, NKJV). This signifies that we are to put away evil, and open our soul to Yahweh's goodness. Yah'shua (Jesus) said: "Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of Eloah (God)!" (Luke 14:15, NKJV). That means that he is blessed who receives the Word into his heart in the love of it.
Bread is the symbol of the Word as to its nourishing quality, that is, to its goodness. Water, or wine, or anything we drink, is the symbol of the Word as to its refreshing quality, that is, to its truth. In Amos we read:
"'Behold, the days are coming,' says Yahweh-Elohim,
'That I will send a famine on the land,
Not a famine of bread,
Nor a thirst for water,
But of hearing the words of Yahweh'"
(Amos 8:11, NKJV).
There can be no doubt, then, as to what bread symbolises in Scripture. A scarcity of the Word of God is likened to a spiritual famine. And when we fail to feed our minds with the goodness and wisdom that comes from it, they would become weak, and, like starved people, we would be unable to accomplish what is required of us.
And so it is that the reason Yah'shua (Jesus) took bread and brake it, and, together with the wine, gave it to His disciples at the Last Supper, is because He feeds our souls with goodness as well as satisfies them with wisdom. We cannot expect to be spiritually healthy without feeding on the Word any more than we can expect to be physically healthy by not eating food.
We finish today with the manna which the Israelites were fed in the wilderness for it has an emblematical meaning similar to that of bread. Manna was bread miraculously provided, and adapted to the wants and condition of the people in the desert. It is therefore symbolical of the Divine Goodness accommodated to the wants of Yahweh's children whilst they are passing through a preparatory state - a state of imperfection and consequent trial and affliction - when they are unable to feast upon the fullness of Divine Goodness, the corn and the wine of Canaan.
That the manna has a spiritual meaning is proven by the Book of Revelation which says: "To him who overcomes, I will give to eat of the hidden manna" (Rev.2:17). The "hidden manna" is the unseen goodness of Yahweh that falls from heaven into the heart of a believer, and enables him to sustain sorrows and to triumph over difficulties before which wicked men would quail and fall. It is that resource that the wicked do not - and cannot - understand or possess, which keeps us going on when we ought to have dropped down dead.
There is more that could be said about bread but I think you have enough to chew on. Next week I will end this series by talking about fertilisers. May you be encouraged - whatever your circumstances - in the knowledge that love multiples as you give of it, and that the more you give, the more you will receive in return. Amen.
Click here to read Part 7 (Conlcuding Sermon)
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