As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God? (Psa. 42:1-2)
O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water. (Psa. 63:1)
We have elsewhere alluded to the reality that, as spirit-born children of a Heavenly Father, only God Himself can truly satisfy the thirst He has given us. David, in particular, recognized this reality and wrote about it often, stretching even language to its breaking point. Those who are truly His, living and breathing and abiding in the fullness and life of the Son, can affirm this intimately, for to taste the Bread of Life even once is to desire more; this is a living principle and how the Father of Life has ordained it.
Here, we would like to pursue this concept of heavenly food even further, as the Spirit permits, for it represents to us the essential things such as sustenance and survival and healing. Without nourishment the body will weaken and die; this is as true in the spiritual realm as it is in the natural.
In Ezekiel, we learn that one like David himself will be established as the true and faithful shepherd over the Lord’s people –
“Then I will set over them one shepherd, My servant David, and he will feed them; he will feed them himself and be their shepherd.” (Eze. 34:23)
Of course we know this to be none other than the Father’s Beloved and Faithful Son, Jesus Christ. And later, in the New Testament, we see this responsibility extended and fulfilled through His first disciples –
So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.” (John 21:15-17)
“Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” (Acts 20:28)
Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” (1 Pet. 5:1-4)
So what, in fact, is this food that this Shepherd will provide for His hungry sheep. Let’s consider this further, for our very survival and development in the Spirit rests upon both the One who feeds and the food itself.
In Genesis we see that the Creator speaks life into existence; that all of His creation responds to His Word. In this sense then, it is a creative and sustaining Word – a Living Word. And it is a faithful word because it never returns to Him void or empty.
So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. (Isa. 55:11)
It always fulfils precisely what He purposes for it. This may sound familiar for there was another to whom this describes –
Meanwhile the disciples were urging Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” But He said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples were saying to one another, “No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work. (John 4:31-34)
Just as the Creator’s Word spoke the heavens and the earth (and all things in them) into existence in Genesis, Jesus Christ is the Living Word whose food is to do the will of the Father and to finish all the work that He has purposed. In fact, this very same Word is one and the same from the beginning, as John affirms for us –
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. (John 1:1-4)
What sustained our Lord on the earth, as His food and sustenance, was actively pursuing the will and work of His Father in Heaven. And as the living and dynamic Word that expresses all life into being, He in turn represents the food we need to live and grow in Him. Often we hear teachers tell us that the Scriptures are the food we need to remain spiritually healthy and to grow up in the faith. This is only partially true of course, as the Lord Himself is the Living Word and Expressive Truth that encompasses all of the Father’s creative will and purposes.
The physical manna falling daily in the wilderness was a wondrous and miraculous source of life and health for the people of Israel. Yet it was not provided or intended to satisfy the hunger that only the Bread of Life could satisfy.
“He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.” (Deut. 8:3)
Notice how David expresses this –
Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate (or feed on) faithfulness. (Psa. 37:3)
O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! (Psa. 34:8)
To feed on something, to literally take it into your mouth so you can taste it, is a form of apprehension and experience that goes deeper than sight or touch or even hearing it with your ears. Only when this food gets inside you, and becomes part of you, can you know it truly, and only then will its life-sustaining energy begin to work. All the while the Israelites were constantly worrying about food and physical survival, and experiencing the faithfulness and goodness of the Lord’s miraculous provision, they were failing to learn the lesson that they were to feed on the Lord’s faithfulness; to taste that He is good and trustworthy, that “life is more than meat, and the body [is more] than raiment.”
Sadly they were more like those described by Paul –
For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.” (Phil. 3:18-19)
Like Esau before them, they hungered only for the earthly pottage that fills the body for a time, and not for the Living Bread who represents true life and fullness for the spirit in man.
We would do well to heed this lesson brethren, for the very fact that most of them did not enter into the promised land represents a harsh lesson for us. We must be careful if we are so convinced in ourselves that we are standing in the Lord, lest we fall in our delusion.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matt. 5:6)
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)
…for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.(Rom. 14:17)
Yes, this spiritual food includes biblical teaching and doctrine (milk), but the real meat (solid food) that the Father wants us to sink our spiritual teeth into is Christ in all His fullness and life. It literally broke the Apostle Paul’s heart that he could not take these babes deeper into the provision and sufficiency of the Lord Jesus Christ, as our All and Everything; as the food that will ultimately satisfy us for all eternity. This is where all of these natural and physical shadows and types in the Old Testament lead. He alone is the conclusion of the matter; the moral of the story if you will. Ever so painfully and slowly it seems I am starting to learn this wondrous principle.
Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. (1 Cor. 3:1-2)
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. (Heb. 5:12-14)
Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” So they said to Him, “What then do You do for a sign, so that we may see, and believe You? What work do You perform? “Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘HE GAVE THEM BREAD OUT OF HEAVEN TO EAT.’” Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. “For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.” Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.”
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. “But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe. “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” (John 6:29-38)
So what about you and I? Is He our daily bread? Do we feed on the strength, wisdom and righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ? Or, are we actively seeking to be filled by some other means? He does indeed save us but He is so much more than a Savior. He does indeed justify us, but He is so much more than merely a Justifier. He certainly sanctifies us, but He is by no means limited to that. You see brethren, these are mere doctrines, and although they do hold a place, they can only be touched or handled, never tasted. Better that we understand and apprehend Him as the Bread of Life, and the Living Water, and the flesh and blood of the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world. The life is in the food and the feeding. Oh that He would impress this on His people! Oh that we would be so much more than theologians or Bible scholars – and savor the sweetness of the Living, Creative Word!
My friends, in this context there are really only three groups of people on the earth today. The first care nothing of the things of God and generally go about their little, natural lives “sitting down to eat and drink and rising up to play” (Exodus 32:6). They want only to fill their bellies, much like Esau, who forsook his birthright for a bowl of soup to appease his carnal hunger.
The second have a taste for spiritual things, perhaps attend church regularly, even consider themselves well-schooled in the truths of Scripture. Many in fact are what they would consider fundamentalist or conservative in their understanding and approach to the Christian faith. Yet, because the soul has not been brought under the subjection of the spirit, they know only the theological word (milk). A such, they remain babes; born again to be sure, but stunted in growth, not walking and pressing deeper into the life and provision of God’s Heavenly Bread. Satisfied only with milk, they know little of hungering and thirsting for righteousness; of eating the body and drinking the blood of the Lamb of God. When they read things like David wrote in the Psalms, about “tasting and seeing” the Lord’s goodness, and “feeding on (or cultivating) His faithfulness”, it is more poetry than a living dynamic marking the difference between life and death; between divine life and humanly-sustained religion.
The third group has grown faint in this world, feeding for a time on its food and philosophy and religion. Yet, they have come to the point where they are no longer satisfied with the enriched white bread of man’s pursuit of God and meaning. They are tired of eating and drinking and still feeling empty and wasted. They have perhaps sampled many different foods on their journey, yet each leaves them even more empty. They hunger for something real; something substantial; something that will finally satisfy the longing in their spirit. After tasting the sweet manna of the wilderness, they desire the true Heavenly Bread sent down from the Father. And for the very few who have partaken of this Bread, their lives have been changed and enriched forever. They have partaken of the fruit of the Father’s glorious provision of life, and its taste is sweet and full in their mouths. It sends out strength and healing and victory over the old man, and all that is sickly and weak within them. And they are forever one with Him whom they have partaken. Finally, they have come to see that life can only flow from the Living Word that is inside them. To derive life from Him, then to live and move in the power and energy of that life, is what the Creator had always intended for them.
I recognize, with all frankness and humility, that there are elements of each of these in every one of us, my brethren. At least I can say this of myself even on my best days. But I also recognize that “in Him we live and move and have our being” and that He is the very fullness of God because He is the very food of God. There is no other. Believe me, as someone who has spent many years on this earth sampling this or that delicacy, hoping it will appease my hungry soul, I can confess honestly and completely that He is indeed the only One. Everything else is junk food, which is no food at all.
My hope and prayer is that each of us would feed on the Lord’s faithfulness; on His strength and fullness; and that we would taste and see that He is good and trustworthy, and that His Word never returns to Him empty or void. It is the very creative voice of God, and the Son, and only until we develop an appetite for this Heavenly Bread will we ever hope to be truly satisfied. Don’t be fooled by anything else, dear ones. And if you feel like you have been on milk for far too long, the time to go on to Him is now. Ask Him for the meat that is the Lamb of God, and He will not disappoint you.
By His grace and power, let us partake of the Prince of Life, and grow thereby in all ways pleasing to our Heavenly Father! Let us pray daily for one another as the time of His appearing draws near. Let us present ourselves before Him as a living sacrifice pleasing to the Father, no longer living and being for ourselves but for Him and His Glorious Kingdom. Let us forsake the cares of this world, the love of self and pleasure and money and getting more, more more! He is all we need my friends; all we need in every sense! Let us draw further into the Light as the darkness of the pit rises up with all manner of wickedness and deceit and violence against the household of God! Most of all, let us come to Him meekly as little children, acknowledging our absolute dependence on Him for all things pertaining to the life of the body and the Spirit.
In Jesus’ precious name, we pray. Amen.