GOOD INSTRUCTIONS – BAD RESULTS

Recently we have not been purchasing bread from the grocery; rather, I have been making our bread at home, and I found that I love doing it.  There obviously are a multitude of reasons to make your own bread, if you have the time, including the lack of preservatives, the missing ingredients that we can’t name, and the wonderful smell the kitchen has with home baked bread cooling on the counter.

Today, I realized that we did not have any bread ready to eat, so first thing this morning, I got the flour out and proceeded to make a recipe that I have used many times before.  Rather than having the bread machine bake it, I let it mix the ingredients and then go through a rise cycle before I take it out and put it in a loaf pan for the second rising prior to baking.  This, too, is my normal routine.

When the time came to retrieve the bread from the machine, I opened the top and found something far less than an appealing loaf of bread. 

bad loaf

It was hard, lumpy, not even filling the bread machine, certainly not having risen any, if at all.  I was astonished.  This “loaf” was not worth baking, and it found out what the inside of the kitchen garbage can looked like!

I went back to the drawing board and followed the recipe for bread a second time.  This time, when it came to adding the butter, I had a chill run down my back, and it was not because the butter was cold.  I instantly realized what happened to the first loaf – I had omitted the oil.  A look at the stick of butter waiting in the butter dish confirmed my suspicion.  Rather than missing 2 tablespoons, a whole, untouched, stick of butter stared up at me from its dish.

All this to say, the butter was added to the second loaf and it is rising as it should.

good loaf rising

As I thought about what went wrong, I understood that I missed using one of the ingredients when I prepared the first loaf.  I had the recipe, and I looked at it, but I overlooked that one thing and the result was disastrous, at least it was for that loaf!

Our God provided His instruction book for us, and it is called the Holy Bible.  The Jews understand this as they have the Law and the Prophets in the Old Testament, books that specifically identify the statutes and rules that God has laid out for His people to follow.  The New Testament establishes that the law of the Old Testament still contains God’s law, but now there is a new understanding and emphasis.

See what Jesus said:

“”Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

Matthew 5:17

You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’  But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.  So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”

Matthew 5:21-24

You see, Jesus understood the Law that governed the lives of the people.  And He understood that they were not keeping that Law.  He understood that they thought they were keeping the Law because they did not actually murder anyone, but there was hatred in their hearts, and malicious words coming from their mouths.  He took that Law and expanded it to include the status of the heart.  If there is anger, if there are insults, if there is an attitude of condemnation toward others then the Law is broken just as if a dagger had been placed in the chest of the victim.

Jesus further said:

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

Matthew 5:43-45

God is merciful toward the just and the unjust, toward the evil and the good.  So, we should not be unmerciful toward others, as we also are sinners and deserving of punishment.

In Matthew 15, Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees, forcibly pointing out their hypocrisy:

For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’  But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, ‘What you would have gained from me is given to God’, he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God.”

Matthew 15:4-6

Here Jesus is explicitly stating that the commandment pronounced by God in Exodus 20 is to be followed.  But instead, the Pharisees twisted the commandment and said that when a person gave God that which would have been used to care for their parents, there was no need to honor his parents.  Jesus specifically admonished that by their man-made rule, the Pharisees had made God’s word void.

Beloved, the instructions are there in the Book.  The fact that they may be difficult to follow does not nullify their import.  God’s word is true and it endures forever. 

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”

Isaiah 40:8

When I did not put the butter in the bread, it did not mix well and I did not have a loaf that I could enjoy later in the day.  I didn’t follow the directions, and I paid the consequences.  Likewise, when we don’t follow God’s instructions, things do not go well.  There will be consequences, whether in this life or the next.

” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”

John 6:35

Read God’s Word, ruminate on it, and digest its marvelous truths.  Feast on the Bread of Life, and follow the instructions given.  You will enjoy an abundant life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Father, I praise Your Name for Your Word that gives us the way to eternal life through our Savior, Jesus Christ.  I thank You too that Your Word provides everything that we need to live a life that is pleasing to You.  Forgive me when I have failed to do so, when I have failed to follow Your instructions.  Let Your Spirit enlighten my heart so that I will be sensitive to Your guidance and then give me the courage to follow Your direction. 

BREAD – YUMMY!

I have long had a bread machine, but it went unused for most of my working career – too much to do, overtime, documents to read and cases to research. 

All that changed after retirement.  I have been having a grand time making homemade bread, dinner rolls, and breakfast sweet breads (this latter needs more practice before I serve it to anyone other than my beloved Husband!). 

After making two loaves of light rye and one loaf of white bread, I sat down to eat a slice of the rye and, as I was munching on it, I thought of bread in the scriptures. 

What exactly was bread in the scriptures?  It was as important to the ancient people and cultures as it is to us today.

In the very first book of the Bible, Genesis, we find that Joseph oversaw storing the grain before the severe famine was to hit the area.

“During the seven plentiful years the earth produced abundantly, and he gathered up all the food of these seven years, which occurred in the land of Egypt, and put the food in the cities. He put in every city the food from the fields around it.  And Joseph stored up grain in great abundance, like the sand of the sea, until he ceased to measure it, for it could not be measured.”

Genesis 41:47-49

Grain makes bread, and bread sustains the people.   Grain in scriptures included barley, millet, and wheat. The King James Version of scripture uses the word “corn” while the Hebrew definition focuses on wheat, cereal and grain.

For example, we read in the giving of the Law:

“If a man dedicates to the LORD part of the land that is his possession, then the valuation shall be in proportion to its seed. A homer of barley seed shall be valued at fifty shekels of silver.” 

Leviticus 27:16  (By the way, a “homer” is about 6 bushels.)

The beautiful book of Ruth speaks of barley as well:

“So she kept close to the young women of Boaz, gleaning until the end of the barley and wheat harvests. And she lived with her mother-in-law.”

Ruth 2:23

Exodus 9:32 (KJV) speaks of “rie” as being in the field, but it is believed that this was not something that we would use today to make “rye” bread; rather, scholars think this more likely to be spelt or emmer which is another type of wheat. 

God called Gideon in Judges Chapter 6 while Gideon was beating out the wheat in the winepress in an effort to hide the grain from invading Midianites.  And, in Judges Chapter 15 we read that Samson went to visit his wife during the wheat harvest.  Indeed, wheat is often referenced in the Old Testament.

This is a picture of a bread pan that was from Lachish (ca, fifteenth century B.C.). 

Lachish bread pan
Picture from Israel Department of Antiquities and Museums as found in Nelson’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Bible Facts, J. I. Packer, Merrill C. Tenney and William White, Jr., © 1995 Thomas Nelson Publishers, page 471.

This pan may have been used for forming cakes of bread or it could actually have been used for baking the bread.  Leviticus 2:5 says:

“And if your offering is a grain offering baked on a griddle, it shall be of fine flour unleavened, mixed with oil.”

Leviticus 2:5. This is the ESV translation; the KJV translation uses the word “pan” instead of “griddle”.  Whether we would consider this a pan or a griddle, the picture gives evidence of what the ancient people making bread actually used. We certainly can relate to this activity even though several millennia have passed since this pan was used.

Jesus used wheat in his discourses with the disciples such as we find in Matthew 13.  One of the parables taught by Jesus referenced the man who sowed good seed in his field, only to have his enemies plant weeds among the seeds.  The owner left the field alone and all the plants grew until harvest when it was easy to identify the good wheat from the bad weeds.  Later in the chapter, Jesus explained the parable to the disciples, saying that the weeds were the evil ones, but the wheat represented those in the kingdom of God.

We also read Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:11 where He is teaching the disciples to pray when He said:

“Give us this day our daily bread, …”

The hearers would have understood that bread was a staple of the Hebrew diet.  They milled and sifted grain, usually wheat but also barley. They made it into dough, kneading it and forming the dough into thin cakes which were then baked.  They also would have understood Jesus’ prayer for bread with the broadened meaning of food in general. 

For me, the primary reference that comes to my mind when I think of scripture and bread is Jesus’ I AM teaching:

“Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” 

John 6:35

People understand that bread is life-giving; it is life-saving; it is food; and it represents the fact that food is fundamental to our well-being.  We must have physical food or we will die, it is “as simple as that!”

In like manner, we cannot spiritually be alive without the food of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  He is the Bread of life, both here and for eternity.  He handles our longing for spiritual food and gives us the Holy Spirit as our comforter and guide.  We must feast on the Word of God or we will die, this too is “as simple as that!”

Next time you pick up a slice of bread, stop and thank Him for being your Bread of Life! 

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!”

Psalm 34:8

Father, thank You for providing Your Son for our salvation and for an abundant life now and evermore.  May I always look to my Savior and rely on His direction and guidance so that I will bring glory to Your Holy Name.