Beit l’hem (Bethlehem) in Hebrew means house of bread. In the ancient world and even today, eating is a means of hospitality. “Come to my house,” is an invitation to relationship. The Bread of the Presence in the Holy Place is such an invitation. Lehem happanim; bread of the faces is the awkward direct translation; is an appeal for face to face intimacy with God in a holy house.
Jesus our redeemer was birthed in the house of bread, prophetically extending an invitation from his Father’s house to ours. In Mark 6:33-44, Jesus understood that the crowd that came out to see him was like a flock of sheep without a shepherd and he had compassion on them. The first thing he did was teach them from the invisible bread of life. Then he fed them miraculously from five loaves and two fishes. It was a model for things to come.
Jesus makes up for all that we lack. He’s provided it all. Isaiah 52:3 says, “You were sold for nothing, and you will be redeemed without money.” (NKJV) Isaiah 55:1-3 says, “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat.
“Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you—the sure mercies of David.”
Jesus is the answer to every need. He makes up for everything we lack. Out of his riches we have abundance. There is no reason to buy into anything else or make exception; he can be trusted. Like the best of Father God, he generously and lavishly supplies it all.
We of the redeemed have chosen a life of spiritual realities. It was a monumental exchange, putting to death our old nature and putting on the living and active Jesus. It’s like we exchanged power sources; dirty ungrounded power for clean power, a life of flesh for a life of spirit, an earth-based life for a heaven-based life.
Anyone remember the old new car advertisements that went like this? “Bring your old car, in any condition; drivable or not, tow it in if you have to; and we’ll put you in a new car.” Our old lives were wrecks in comparison to what we have today. What we received in exchange is a priceless custom vehicle with more power and accessories than anything we could imagine fueled by high octane love.
“Could it be any clearer that our former identity is now and forever deprived of its power? For we were co-crucified with him to dismantle the stronghold of sin within us, so that we would not continue to live one moment longer submitted to sin’s power.” (Rom. 6:6, TPT)
“By Jesus’ sacrifice he died to sin’s power once and for all, but he now lives continuously for the Father’s pleasure. So let it be the same with you! . . . continually view yourselves as dead and unresponsive to sin’s appeal while living daily for God’s pleasure in union with Jesus, the Anointed One.” (vss. 10-11)
Reading Romans chapter eight in The Passion Translation for the first time was refreshing and enlightening. The language is directed from God’s passion toward us; motivating me to lean into him like the disciple John did at the last Passover meal. Parking on this chapter for eight days would indeed be a feast on destiny and belonging.
“And since we are his true children, we qualify to share all his treasures, for indeed, we are heirs of God himself. And since we are joined to Christ, we also inherit all that he is and all that he has.”
I’m a child who has been taken by the hand and ushered into a treasury stacked with more wealth than I can apprehend. Then I am told, “I’m going to teach you how to use this. It is my Father’s good pleasure to give you all of this.” (Eph. 1:9-12, 2:7, 3:8, 1 Cor. 2:6-13, Heb 11:24-26)
And you know how affectionately we treated each one of you, like a father cares for his own children. We comforted and encouraged you and challenged you to adopt a lifestyle worthy of God, who invites you into his kingdom and glory.” (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12, TPT)
This passage drew deep into my father’s heart this past Mother’s Day weekend when four of my five children flew in or drove in from various places on the west coast to surprise their mother with a visit. It has been twelve years since all of us have been in one place.
As fathers we have a privilege to comfort, encourage and challenge our children to adopt a lifestyle worthy of God’s invitation into his glorious kingdom. We are the written expression of that invitation in heart, word and deed. The eternal light of it shines brightly when all the temporal stuff is stripped away, and we simply enjoy being together.
The blessing of seeing the immense appreciation and satisfaction in my wife; who represents differing facets of the treasure of God’s heart; will remain for some time. I feel his delight about what earthly and spiritual family means.
But I also become aware of the ease in being a comfort, the intentionality of authentic encouragement and the necessity to challenge when needed. Unconditional love and acceptance is the mortar that allows us fathers to build day in and day out.