Thankful for the True Bread of Life

 

Deuteronomy 8:1-10

Do Not Forget the Lord

Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the Lordpromised on oath to your ancestors. Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you.

Observe the commands of the Lord your God, walking in obedience to him and revering him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills.

10 When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.

Dear friends in Christ,

8:1 Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the Lord promised on oath to your forefathers. 2 Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. 3 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. 4 Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. 5 Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you.

6 Observe the commands of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and revering him. 7 For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with streams and pools of water, with springs flowing in the valleys and hills; 8 a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; 9 a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills.

10 When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. “

Let me begin this evening by telling you a story.

A beggar came and sat before me. “I want bread,” he said.

“How wise you are,” I assured him. “Bread is what you need. And you have come to the right bakery.” So I pulled my cookbook down from my shelf and began to tell him all I knew about bread.

I spoke of flour and wheat, of grain and barley. My knowledge impressed even me as I cited the measurements and recipe. When I looked up, I was surprised to see he wasn’t smiling. “I just want bread,” he said.

“How wise you are.” I applauded his choice. “Follow me, and I’ll show you our bakery.” Down the hallowed halls I guided him, pausing to point out the rooms where the dough is prepared and the ovens where the bread is baked. “No one has such facilities. We have bread for every need. But here is the best part,” I proclaimed as I pushed open two swinging doors. “This is our room of inspiration.” I knew he was moved as we stepped into the auditorium full of stained-glass windows.

The beggar didn’t speak. I understood his silence. With my arm around his shoulder, I whispered, “It overwhelms me as well.” I then leaped to the podium and struck my favorite pose behind the lectern. “People come from miles to hear me speak. Once a week my workers gather, and I read to them the recipe from the cookbook of life.”

By now the beggar had taken a seat on the front row. I knew what he wanted. “Would you like to hear me?”

“No,” he said, “but I would like some bread.”

“How wise you are,” I replied. And I led him to the front door of the bakery. “What I have to say next is very important,” I told him as we stood outside. “Up and down this street you will find many bakeries. But take heed; they don’t serve the true bread. I know of one who adds two spoons of salt rather than one. I know of another whose oven is three degrees too hot. They may call it bread,” I warned, “but it’s not according to the book.”

The beggar turned and began walking away. “Don’t you want bread?” I asked him. He stopped, looked back at me, and shrugged, “I guess I lost my appetite.”

I shook my head and returned to my office. “What a shame,” I said to myself. “The world just isn’t hungry for true bread anymore.” 

The Israelites who Moses is addressing on the plains of Moab just across the Jordan River from the Promised Land are hungry.  They’re hungry for their opportunity to live in the Promised Land which is a good land – a land with streams and pools of water, with springs flowing in the valleys and hills, a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey, a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing (Deut. 8:7-9).  The bountifulness of the Promised Land is much better, much nicer and much more appetizing than the quail and manna which they had been eating for the last 40 years while wandering around in the wilderness.

However, Moses here is warning the Israelites to be careful for what they are hunger for.  He tells them, “When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you” (8:10).  The Israelites are hungry, but for what?  For the physical bread the land provides or for the true bread which God provides?

Tonight we gather on the eve of Thanksgiving.  As we sit here and let our minds wander to thinking about tomorrow, or as I think about tomorrow and think about family time and all the food … the ham, the turkey, the stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casseroles, cranberries, hot rolls and pumpkin pie with a thick layer of cool whip on top … I’m hungry!  Thanksgiving dinner is one of my favorite dinners of the whole year … but we need to ask ourselves … what is it that you and I are hungry for?  As we gather with our families around the table of bounteous food, around the table playing games, looking and planning our Black Friday strategic action plan, or while sitting in front of the TV watching football … we’re hungry, but for what?  For the physical bread of the feasting, of football, of family, of shopping or are we hungry for the true bread which God provides?

Selfishly, sinfully … the Israelites are hungry for the physical bread the land provides.  Remember, they have been wandering in the barren wilderness for 40 years now.  They are hungry, they are hungry for the blessings which God promised to them so long ago to their forefathers and are anxiously waiting for God to bestow them upon themselves as they enter into the Promised Land.  As anxious and as hungry as they are … they are not truly hungry for the true bread of life, they are not truly hungry for God himself.

Oh the Israelites say in Joshua 1 after Moses has died and Joshua has taken over as God’s leader of the Israelites that “Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you” (1:17a) … but it isn’t long after the Israelites are in the Promised Land that they forget what they are supposed to do.  They quickly forget to praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you.  Because of that, they over-indulge on the blessings, they over-stuff themselves with their own pride and selfishness, and they over-look the One who is the source of their blessings.

Selfishly, sinfully … you and I are hungry for the physical bread of food, power, and wealth which our land provides.  We are hungry for the blessings which God promises to us.  We are hungry for our daily bread which God gives us and gives to those who don’t even ask for it.  We are hungry for the blessings of having our sins forgiven as well as the promised blessings of eternal life waiting for us when we cross over into the Promised Land of heaven.  But are we hungry for the true bread of life, are we hungry for God himself?

Like the Israelites said to Joshua, we say that we will listen to God and obey His commandments … but it isn’t long before we too forget to praise the LORD our God for the good land, for the blessings he has given to us.  Because of that, we over-indulge on the blessings, we over-stuff ourselves with our own pride and selfishness, and we over-look the One who is the source of our blessings.

We do that, we over-indulge, over-stuff, and over-look because the bread we are seeking is not always what we may expect.  We walk into the bakery of God’s house expecting certain things and when we are shown the dough, the ovens, the room with the decorative stained glass windows we wonder … where is the bread?

We all could easily walk out those front doors and look around the world and see another bakery which puts in too much salt, we can see another bakery which has the oven a few degrees too hot.  These bakeries call their product bread … but it is not the true bread.  Only the true bread of life comes from the true baker who follows the recipe of the book.  The only true bread comes from the one who says of himself, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry” (John 6:35).

This bakery of God’s may not be the most magnificent building ever built … but it is His bakery where he comes to you.  It may not have all the bells and whistles and flavors of other bakeries … but it is here in this place where God gives you all of himself through Jesus.  It is here where you live not by physical bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD (Deut. 8:3b).

On this Thanksgiving Eve, we gather to give thanks for the true bread of life.  We give thanks for the true bread of life who fills us up and allows us to know that no matter what it is that we go through in this life … He does not back down but goes on ahead of us to prepare a way and then comes back to be with you.  Jesus, the true bread of life comes to bring you from the wilderness of this life to the good land, the Promised Land of heaven where there is no more hunger, no more thirst but only the overflowing love of God given to you.  Amen.

The peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, guard your heart and your minds in Christ Jesus our Lord, now and forever.  Amen.