Metaphor: Our daily bread

I’ve recently acquired a new appreciation for bread. In modern countries, much of the bread that is commonly available is bleached, nearly nutritionless sliced white bread. I’ve always liked some of the darker breads like rye, but how it is formed is important as well as what is in it. Sliced bread is one of the symbols of our modern “convenience” society. The antithesis of sliced bread is a long single loaf of bread, like French bread. I have recently taken to buying French bread flavored with rosemary, and I have found that a big hunk of this bread without any other adornment is one of the best tasting things I have had in a long time.

Bread is one of the more common symbols or metaphors used in Scripture, as it is a common, everyday item. At least, whole loaves of bread were common. Sliced bread would have been unheard of in Biblical times. Keep that in mind. Some of the references to bread would make no sense using sliced bread.

One well-known metaphor compares bread to Scripture itself. This is indirectly done in Matthew 4:4, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” and in Amos 8:11, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.” More strongly, just as the Messiah is said to be the living Word (John 1:14), or Scripture perfectly lived, so also he is said to be “bread from heaven” (John 6:32,51). This is an echo of the miraculous gift of bread six times a week during all the long years of wandering in the wilderness after the Israelites’ flight from Egypt (Exodus 16:15, John 6:31).

This comparison lends a double meaning to the common phrase from the Lord’s Prayer, given in Matthew 6:11, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Not only do we need physical bread to sustain our bodies, but spiritual bread (Scripture) to sustain our minds each day. As we remember to eat each day, let us also remember to read and study God’s Word each day as well.

As an extension of this metaphor, I will return to the difference between sliced bread and whole loaves. Scripture is like a whole loaf that one must break off a piece oneself in order to eat. Commentary and opinions on Scripture are like sliced bread: the material is already cut for you. Remember 2 Timothy 2:15, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Sliced bread is sometimes good for toast or sandwiches, but it does not make a very fulfilling meal by itself. So don’t always let someone else divide your bread for you: take a hunk yourself. In other words, read what Scripture really has to say on a subject before making up your mind.

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