The Bible – A Food
Last time we were thinking of the Bible as a packet- a packet of seed. Many seeds can be used as food, and this certainly is true regarding the Bible
Just recently I was reading an interesting article for young people entitled “A Baked Bible”. Long ago in Austria, a Christian family in a certain village had a copy of the Bible which they read daily and prized very highly. It was a time when Protestants were bitterly persecuted. One day soldiers were ordered to search all houses and destroy all discovered Bibles. The mother of this family wondered how she could save the book which meant so much to them, and then suddenly an idea flashed into her mind. It was her baking day and so, wrapping up the Bible, she placed it inside the dough for one of the loaves, and then put it in the oven. When the soldiers came they searched everywhere, even in the oven, but they never guessed that a Bible was hidden in one of the crisp loaves of bread. Well, the members of that family would not of course eat the baked Bible as they did the loaves. But when it was removed from its safe hiding place they would certainly feed upon it spiritually, for the Bible is God’s food for the soul. It is:
A Heavenly Food
There is a sense in which ordinary food is also “Heavenly” food. Take for example a loaf of bread. You may say, “Do we not get it from the baker? And does not the baker get the flour from the miller? And does the miller not get his grain from the farmer? Is it not the farmer who plows the fields, and sows the seed, and reaps the Harvest?” This is all true, but who is it who sends the rain and the sunshine apart from which there would be no harvest? Who is it who gives strength and skill to the farmer and the miller and the baker? Is it not God who does all this? Yes, ordinary food is Heavenly food. It is God’s gift to our bodies, and hence our daily prayer “Give us this day our daily bread”. However, the Bible is Heavenly food in a special sense. It is the very Word of God. It came down from Heaven. It was prepared by Him who sits in the heavens, and all its ingredients are Heavenly in their nature, and so all very good. Our Westminster Confession of Faith, in referring to the Scriptures, in chapter 1, speaks of the “heavenliness of the matter”.
A Necessary Food
We all know how essential ordinary food is for the nourishment of the body. As I write, there is a great outcry regarding the world food shortage. Many are gravely concerned about the multitude who will perish with Hunger if no steps are taken to provide a remedy. Our own nation actually offered to ration bread if only America would do likewise. Such an unselfish concern for the material needs of others is certainly most praiseworthy. We who have should do what we can for those who have not.
We should remember, however, that man does not live by bread alone. We should remember that man has a soul as well as a body, and that food for the former is more important than food for the latter. The Bible as a food is absolutely necessary for the well-being of the soul. Unlike ordinary food it is necessary for the begetting of spiritual life. And, like ordinary food, it is necessary for the sustaining of spiritual life. J. R. Miller has said in one of his books that one of the secrets of a strong Christian life is daily feeding upon the Word of God. The Bible contains God’s bread for God’s children. Bible fed Christians are godly men and women.
Oh, that there was as great a concern today for those who are perishing through lack of spiritual food as there is for those who are perishing through lack of physical food! There are millions of people around the world who have never heard of the Bible and there are a multitude of people at home who make no use of it. And yet how few there are who care for their souls! Do we care?
Alister MacLean in his “High Country” refers to Juliano Hernandez, the man who is responsible for bringing the New Testament to Spain in the 16th century. He was “a great warrior of the Holy Spirit, a man who loves Jesus as a mother her first born”. One day he was taken prisoner. A Spanish court tried him and promptly burned him. At the trial his judge had said, “I fear you are throwing yourself into the fire, and for what?” The martyrs reply was, “For the joy of bringing food to the perishing, water to the thirsty, light to those that sit in darkness, rest to the weary and heavy-laden. Sir, I have counted the cost and I will pay the price willingly”. Hernandez knew how much the Bible was needed in Spain.
A Satisfying Food
We all know what it is for the body to be satisfied with ordinary food. We come in hungry, sit down to a good meal, and by-and-by sit back with a very comfortable feeling inside. We are satisfied. And the Bible, as a food, brings even greater satisfaction to the soul, provided we have a keen desire for it, and partake of it. It is all important that we should have a good appetite for the word of God. Such an appetite should be acquired through personal acquaintance with God, through prayer, through persistent Bible reading and through a resolute refusal of all soul-destroying foods. A certain minister was once preaching in a neighbouring parish. The next day he was met by one of the resident landowners who explained that he had not gone to hear him on the Sabbath afternoon as he felt he could not digest more than one sermon. “I rather think,” said the minister, “that the appetite is more at fault than the digestion.” It is also most important that we partake of the Word of God. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. We need to taste and see that God is good (Psalm 34:8). We should partake regularly, treating our souls no less carefully than we do our bodies. We should also partake slowly, getting the benefit out of each morsel.
Let me close with a story told by John Newton. “Where have you been reading in the Bible this morning, Uncle?”, asked little Sandy. “Well Sandy,” said the old man, “I have been getting a wonderful feast yesterday and today out of the last two verses of the 8th chapter of Romans.” “And haven’t you read any more than those two verses in two days,” asked Sandy in surprise. “Oh you see, Sandy,” said the old man, “there’s a mine of gold and treasure in these verses, and I’ve been trying to dig down to the bottom of it. I’ve been doing with these verses as I do with the sugar plums your Aunt Mary makes me when I have a sore throat. Now and then she puts one of them in her mouth. But she just gives it a chew or two and then it’s done with. But I lay mine in my cheek and let it lie there, and slowly melt away, and do me good for half a day. And there’s just the same difference in the way folks use God’s blessed word. Some gallop through a chapter and turn away and forget it. But that’s not my way. I like to take a sweet wee bit of a verse and do with it just as I do with the sugar plums. I let it lie in my soul as the plums do in my mouth, and melt away slowly. And so it fills my soul with sweetness for a day, or a week, or a month at a time. This is what I call feasting on the Word of God.
“They more than gold, yea, much fine gold, to be desired are; they than honey, honey from the comb that drops, sweeter far.” (Psalm 19:10)