As promised, not that the Blood series are completed, I started to investigate the Bread aspect of communion. Let us see where this journey will take us. Hope you will enjoy it.
Did you know that Bethlehem means ‘House of Bread’ in Hebrew? Is it not strange that Bethlehem was named many years before Jesus said:
Mat 26:26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body
We call Jesus our Bread of Life and He was born in the town of Bethlehem, the Place of Bread. I went and did a quick study on Bethlehem and enjoyed my discoveries, which I would like to share with you. As normal, I like to start in the Old Testament. From early on Bethlehem was significant and of historic importance to the Jews. We find the first appearing of Bethlehem in Genesis 28 when Jacob fled from his brother Esau and had the dream of the ladder.
Gen 28: 16-19 And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not. And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it. And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first
Jacob renamed the place Bethlehem. After working for Laban and marrying his two daughters, Jacob returned to the place, and hence it was officially known as Bethlehem. Jacob said that surely – this is the gate of heaven and it seems that even up to today many Jews, Muslims and Christians still revere Bethlehem as the gate of heaven – but more on that a bit later. Jacob said the place is dreadful. At first I thought it a strange way to describe the gate of heaven as dreadful. Surely we all have these beautiful pictures of God, Heaven as friendly, pretty, inviting, magnificent. But we must realize, that way back then, it was unheard of to have face to face meetings with God – these type of dreams and direct communication was unheard of – it must have been overwhelming for Jacob. The word dreadful in Hebrew means: to be made afraid, to put in fearful reference’. Jacob had fearful reference for the place and it made him afraid as he beheld God’s power and presence. I think if we surely know God for who He really is, we will know His love, but also His wrath against wrongdoings, His greatness is overpowering.
The next significant mention of Bethlehem (for me) was when I read that Jacob buried his sweetheart, Rachel just after the birth of Benjamin in Bethlehem.
Gen 35:19-20 And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem. And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave: that is the pillar of Rachel’s grave unto this day.
It seems the place has been revered over the centuries, there is a building in Bethlehem that is referred to as ‘Rachel’s Tomb’, they say it is the third most holiest site in Judaism. Both Jews, Muslims and some Christian denominations will travel to the tomb to pray for fertility, release of their affliction and any other situation as they still believe it is the gateway to Heaven and that Rachel will take their prayers to the Father. When I read this, I was so relieved that I don’t have to travel that far to have my prayers presented to God. Since Jesus came and sent the Holy Spirit, we have direct access to God with our prayers and don’t need any other mediator than the Holy Spirit. Rachel is one of the women in Jesus’s genealogy.
Another significant women in Jesus’s genealogy that is mentioned in the Bible is Ruth and the next mention of Bethlehem was when Ruth traveled with Naomi back to Bethlehem.
Ruth 1:19 So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi?
Then, in 1 Sam 17 we read that Kind David comes from Bethlehem.
1 Sam 17:15 But David went and returned from Saul to feed his father’s sheep at Bethlehem.
And we know that Jesus was born from David’s genealogy. Years later the prophet Micah will prophesy about Bethlehem.
Mic 5:2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
After this prophecy, many years will pass before anything was recorded in the history. Then the Gospel in the New Testament starts off with mentioning Bethlehem (place of bread, the gate from God)….
Mat 2:1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
Isn’t it strange how Herod took the prophecy in Micah more seriously than the Jews did of that time?
Luk 2:4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
Joseph would not have gone to Bethlehem if it was not for the census, even though and angel appeared to him telling him about Mary and her Son that will be born and how special He will be, maybe Joseph thought Jesus will only be a prophet. But God had a bigger plan. Sometimes we should follow God’s way, even though it is uncomfortable, difficult, not sensible and believe in His bigger plan.
Then the last mention of Bethlehem is in the gospel of John.
John 7:42 Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was?
It seems that after the coming of Christ, Bethlehem’s job was done. Jesus came from God, from Heaven. When He left, He sent the Holy Spirit, no more are we required to travel to Bethlehem, the house of bread to get the Bread of Life. Life came to us, Life died for us, never again do we need to be hungry, never again do we need to go back to the house of bread.
May you be blessed and may all your hunger be satisfied.