1.3.6 The Bread of Life: Provision
Volume 1: Foundations—Chapter 3.6
The Bread of Life: Provision
The birth of a child offers a conundrum of sorts for its parents. First, they know that the job of providing for that child—supplying food, clothing, shelter, education, guidance, and encouragement—will be their responsibility for a couple of decades. But at the same time, they know that the whole point of doing this is so that their child will grow up to be self-sufficient, independent, and capable of making his or her own way in the world—without their assistance. The unarticulated hope is that the children will return the favor when their parents reach that point in their lives when it becomes hard for them to cope with the demands of their own failing bodies. As I said, life in this world is designed to be passed on.
Our next look at God’s self-portrait mirrors the fact that parents provide what is needed for their children. Yahweh is heard time and again bringing up the issue of bread, grain, or food, using it as a universal symbol representing His ever-faithful provision for our needs. The second part of the analogy breaks down, however, because Yahweh doesn’t grow old and come to need our assistance: He is eternal, infinite in power, and totally unaffected by the laws of thermodynamics that He has instituted to govern our world. In this life, we never outgrow our need for what He provides; we are never intended to become independent and self-sufficient. Our “maturity,” as it’s idealized in scripture, is more like the picture painted in Psalm 127, where a man’s children are seen as arrows in His quiver, contending with their Father’s enemies in the gate. We are (ideally) an extension of our Father in this world, His ambassadors and representatives. We are not meant to live our lives separated from Him, isolated, pursuing our own agenda. We are not meant to outgrow our need for what He provides—everything that pertains to our life and godliness (as it says in II Peter 1:3): faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love.
The concept of provision requires several things. First, a need—a lack of some necessary thing. Second, a provider, someone who is willing and able to meet that need. And third, for the connection to be made, there must be a willingness on the part of the needy to accept what is being offered. This is by no means automatic. In fact, it’s the trickiest part of the puzzle. At its most fundamental level, the provider is always Yahweh, and we created beings are the needy. What would prevent someone from accepting His help? Pride, ignorance, and suspicion top the list, I suppose, but it’s more complicated than that, for God invariably places His people in the role of intermediaries—priests, if you will—and we “priests” don’t always do our job properly. And then there’s the treachery factor: Satan has a vested interest in keeping the needy isolated from the Provider. A few (admittedly oversimplified) examples will demonstrate how the problem can manifest itself:
(1) A group of people is found to have no knowledge of Yahweh or His plan of salvation. So religious organizations send “missionaries,” but rather than delivering God’s love, they merely impose their own traditions and cultural norms. The “heathen” see little value in what they’re being taught, because it doesn’t meet their actual need.
(2) A child in Somalia goes to bed every night hungry and fearful. If someone were to provide food and a safe place to stay, he would gladly accept it, but between him and the willing donors stands a warlord who has enough guns and manpower to intercept and “re-task” whatever aid is sent. Foreign governments could force the issue, but not without endangering their supply of oil from countries sympathetic to the warlords. So the child remains hungry.
(3) A woman has a flat tire on a rural road, but she (having heard horror stories on the six o’clock news) is too terrified to accept help from passing strangers unless they’re wearing a uniform or driving a tow truck.
(3a) A man has a flat tire on a rural road, but although he’s far more at home in the boardroom than in the garage, his male pride prevents him from accepting the help he needs.
(4) A teenager senses the spiritual emptiness within him, but can’t find anyone to fill the void. His parents are wrapped up in the world. His peers are just a clueless as he is. The churches, temples, mosques, and synagogues he visits dispense only dead religion. In the end, he settles for a substitute god—for distraction instead of satisfaction. These scenarios could be repeated with endless variations, a fact that gives us a hint as to why Yahweh focused on such a basic and fundamental metaphor as bread to communicate His willingness to provide what we need. Food is something we all need on an ongoing basis—if we don’t get something to eat every day, something’s wrong. Like the air we breathe and the water we drink, it is essential to our continued mortal existence; and like light, communication, and relationship, it contributes as well to the quality—the flavor—of our lives. It is no accident that Yahweh has pressed into service all of these symbols to show us what He’s like. As Yahshua said, “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.” That’s the provision of which I’m speaking. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:9-10)
There’s another characteristic of bread/food (one Hebrew word, lechem, denotes either thing) that makes it an apt symbol for God as He relates to us. The things we eat must, in some way, die if they are to be of use to us. Dirt, air, grass, and tree bark are not considered food. But the wheat kernels that are ground in the mill to make flour are the seeds of the plant—its genetic identity. Therefore, when we eat bread, we are, in effect, killing the future generations of those wheat seeds: the life of the wheat is sacrificed so that we might live. The same is true with fruit: we eat the part that’s capable of reproducing itself. (Note that God’s initial dietary instructions to man in Genesis 1:29 included only “every herb that yields seed” and “every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food,” while the animals were given slightly different instructions: they were given “every green herb for food.” In other words, animals could eat grass and leaves, while man was to eat only the parts of the plants that carried life to future generations—the “seed.”) After the flood, animals were added to the menu, and the principle became even more obvious with the consumption of meat or eggs: something had to die in order to provide life for us. This fact was central to Yahshua’s mission: “Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.’” (John 12:23-26) Yahweh is not only our Creator, the source of our biological life; He is also our Savior, who sacrificed Himself so that we might have spiritual life. In a very real sense, then, He is the Bread of Life that keeps us alive. This puts a whole new spin on “Give us this day our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11)
Call it a coincidence if you want, but there is a remarkable similarity between the Hebrews’ word for bread, lechem, and their salutation l’chayim—meaning “to life!” When l’chayim is wished upon someone, something beyond mere mortal existence—the absence of death—is in view. It’s full, abundant, and prosperous life that’s being spoken of. (Chayim, as I noted previously, is the plural or intensive form of chay—life.) It should not be surprising that the God who created us and loves us wishes us to enjoy nothing less. So Yahweh told Israel, “If you walk in My statutes and observe My commandments and do them, then I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. Your threshing shall last to the time of the grape harvest, and the grape harvest shall last to the time for sowing. And you shall eat your bread to the full and dwell in your land securely.” (Leviticus 26:3-5) In so many words, Yahweh is saying, “I want to bless you; I’m looking forward to it. I take great pleasure in providing for your needs. I have come that you may have life—abundant life. But My statutes and commandments are in themselves a picture of the salvation I’m providing for humanity. It is therefore critical that you—Israel—fulfill the role I’ve assigned for you to play, and reenact the story of My redemption in your national life by observing the Torah. If you will bless mankind by doing this, I will in turn bless you materially.” In a very real sense, the ability to “eat your bread to the full” would have been the direct result of “walking in Yahweh’s statutes” and “observing His commandments,” for the “bread” to which He referred would, in the end, turn out to be Yahshua the Messiah.
Just because the advent of Yahshua is now historical fact, having fulfilled the prophetic promise of the Torah, it doesn’t mean the principle of literal blessing following faith-based obedience has become obsolete. Paul points out, “As it is written, ‘He has distributed freely, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.’ He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.” Once again, God’s provision in the physical world is being compared to His provision in the spiritual realm. “You will be enriched in every way for all your generosity, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God.” (II Corinthians 9:9-12) We are meant to be conduits of Yahweh’s provision for the needs of mankind, whether literal bread to feed the body, or symbolic bread to feed the soul.
And that’s important, because Isaiah points out that physical bread isn’t necessarily all the world needs to live on: “Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to Me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant.” (Isaiah 55:2-3) Bread is good, even necessary. But if it will only keep your mortal body alive, it isn’t really “bread,” by God’s definition. The true bread will keep your soul alive. “Man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of Yahweh.” (Deuteronomy 8:3; cf. Luke 4:4) Any way you slice it, the true Bread is Yahshua—the Word made flesh.
Our instruction concerning grain or bread as a symbol begins in the Torah. The “grain offering,” or minha, was to mark the harvest feasts, accompany some of the animal sacrifices, play a part in the ordination ceremony of priests, and it was part of the tithe. The rules (as with other types of Levitical sacrifices) are so detailed and specific, we can only conclude that either Yahweh was a micromanaging control freak who delighted in watching His people negotiate an impossibly complex obstacle course of pointless minutiae, or He was trying to teach us something beautiful and profound through His use of symbols and imagery. (I think you know where I stand on that issue.)
The central teaching on the minha is found in Leviticus 2. “When anyone brings a grain offering as an offering to Yahweh, his offering shall be of fine flour.” We’re not talking about the quality or degree of coarseness here, but rather of flour with the husks removed through threshing and winnowing. Thus the bread Yahweh provided for us—Yahshua—would endure tribulation and trial, but He would be offered up with no worthlessness or impurity in His character. “He shall pour oil on it and put frankincense on it and bring it to Aaron’s sons the priests.” Oil is symbolic of the Spirit of God, and frankincense indicates purity through sacrifice. (More on these symbols in a later chapter.) The priests, in the end, represent us believers—who have been given the privilege of coming into the presence of the Living God to offer our praise, supplication, and thanksgiving. “And he shall take from it a handful of the fine flour and oil, with all of its frankincense, and the priest shall burn this as its memorial portion on the altar, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to Yahweh.” Note that all of the frankincense was to be burned with the offering portion, as if to say, He who was sacrificed in perfect purity is a worthy offering, but that sacrifice won’t help us unless it’s associated with Yahweh. That is, though Christ died for the sins of the whole world, only those who are willing to allow His sacrifice to cover their sins before God will receive atonement. It is not enough that the gift was sent; it must also be received. “But the rest of the grain offering shall be for Aaron and his sons; it is a most holy part of Yahweh’s food offerings….” Only the priests are qualified to receive what Yahweh has provided, because they represent people who have chosen to reciprocate Yahweh’s love. That is, God provides His love in the person and work of the Messiah, and we who believe in Him get to offer back to Yahweh a token of what He has provided—love. But those who have not believed—those who have chosen not to receive the love of God—subsequently have nothing to offer back to Him.
The instructions continue: “When you bring a grain offering baked in the oven as an offering, it shall be unleavened loaves of fine flour mixed with oil or unleavened wafers smeared with oil. And if your offering is a grain offering baked on a griddle, it shall be of fine flour unleavened, mixed with oil. You shall break it in pieces and pour oil on it; it is a grain offering. And if your offering is a grain offering cooked in a pan, it shall be made of fine flour with oil. And you shall bring the grain offering that is made of these things to Yahweh, and when it is presented to the priest, he shall bring it to the altar. And the priest shall take from the grain offering its memorial portion and burn this on the altar, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to Yahweh. But the rest of the grain offering shall be for Aaron and his sons; it is a most holy part of Yahweh’s food offerings….” Although all grain offerings had to be of “fine flour,” that is, with none of the inedible husks left on, unleavened (that is, prepared without yeast—a symbol of sin), and accompanied with olive oil (metaphorical of the Holy Spirit), they could assume a variety of forms. The worshiper could bring a measure of uncooked flour, loaves (which would have been like our pita bread) baked in an oven, or wafers cooked on a griddle like a pancake or tortilla, or fried in a pan. The lesson, I believe, is that God doesn’t wish to restrict how we express our love. Rather, He encourages us to be creative, thoughtful, and caring, while remaining cognizant of the broad confines of His revealed Word. In practical terms today, we should give as the Spirit leads us, where He has shown us a need; give in a way that will bring honor to Christ; and don’t offer what you haven’t come by honestly and with a pure conscience. In other words, taking the proceeds from your latest bank robbery and using them to fund the local abortion clinic is not exactly what God had in mind.
“No grain offering that you bring to Yahweh shall be made with leaven, for you shall burn no leaven nor any honey as a food offering to Yahweh. As an offering of firstfruits you may bring them to Yahweh, but they shall not be offered on the altar for a pleasing aroma….” We’ve mentioned leaven (and will again), but what’s the honey prohibition all about? It’s sweet and enjoyable, thus appropriate as a gift, but not as a burnt offering, for there was nothing sweet or pleasant about what Yahshua suffered for our sakes. He had been prophesied by Isaiah to be “a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief…with no comeliness, that we should desire Him…who was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities.” No, honey won’t do as a symbol of His sacrifice, even though the result of that sacrifice can be sweet communion with God.
Salt, however, is another matter: “You shall season all your grain offerings with salt. You shall not let the salt of the covenant with your God be missing from your grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt….” Salt improves the taste of bland food, and it has a long history as a preservative. As cheap as it is today, it was once considered quite valuable. (Our word “salary” is based on sal, the Latin word for salt.) One type of covenant, among many mentioned in Scripture, is the covenant of salt, in which two people would seal their agreement by exchanging a pinch of salt. It signaled a truce between parties formerly at enmity with one another. The idea was, we’d both open our salt pouches, I’d take a pinch from yours and mingle it with the salt in mine, and you’d do likewise. The point was that it would henceforth be impossible to separate what was once “yours” from what had been “mine.” Our fortunes, symbolically speaking, had become one. So when we reenact the “covenant of salt” by adding some salt to our grain offerings, we are acknowledging that although we were once enemies or strangers with Yahweh, we are now allies and friends. Our goals and value system have merged.
“If you offer a grain offering of firstfruits to Yahweh, you shall offer for the grain offering of your firstfruits fresh ears [karmel—ripe grain, just harvested, in contrast to that which has been in storage], roasted with fire, crushed new grain. And you shall put oil on it and lay frankincense on it; it is a grain offering. And the priest shall burn as its memorial portion some of the crushed grain and some of the oil with all of its frankincense; it is a food offering to Yahweh.” (Leviticus 2:1-16) If the worshipper didn’t wish to make his grain into bread or cakes, he could offer the raw, uncooked flour with the chaff removed—with oil, as always, and with frankincense and salt for the portion set apart to be offered up by fire. The emphasis here is that such grain was to be fresh out of the field, not something that had been previously stored in someone’s barn. God is not interested in leftovers; He wants to be the first thing on our minds, not our last resort. The word translated “firstfruits” is telling. It’s the Hebrew bikkurim (plural of bikkur, based on the verb bakar: to arise, to be born first, to come early). The idea was that the first of the crop to be harvested, the first sheaf ready for consumption, was to be brought in thanksgiving to Yahweh. The same principle would apply in the offering of the firstborn male animals (Hebrew: bekor—from the same root verb). Yahweh will not settle for being an afterthought, not after the lengths He’s gone to on our account.
Then as now, bread was normally made with yeast to make it rise. Without leaven, it’s relatively hard, flat, and chewy. Like life itself, we tend to prefer our bread soft, light, and easy to sink our teeth into. Funny thing about leaven, though. It renders the actual bread-making process more laborious and time consuming. In order for the yeast to function properly—forming bubbles in the dough that expand, causing the dough to rise and soften—the bread dough must be kneaded thoroughly and given time for the yeast to chemically react with the flour. I think maybe Yahweh was telling us, ever so subtly, that the time and effort we expend making things easy and soft for ourselves in this life is a poor use of our resources: we would be better off if we concentrated on learning how to live in freedom before Him—throwing off the shackles of our bondage in the world and following His leading toward the promised land.
We’re all familiar with the story of the exodus, how the Israelites were told not to put leaven in their bread dough on the night of Passover, because there wouldn’t be enough time for their bread to rise in the morning before they were ejected out of Egypt by their former masters (Exodus 12:39). The prohibition against leaven wouldn’t extend to the Levitical dietary laws: for most of the year, it would be perfectly okay to prepare one’s bread with yeast. But for one week every year, leaven was pressed into service as a symbol of the sin that would have to be removed from our lives if we wished to be part of the congregation of God. “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to Yahweh; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven out of your houses, for if anyone eats what is leavened, from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel.” (Exodus 12:14-15) The deadline for removing the leaven from your house was the same as that for slaying the Passover lamb—sundown on the fourteenth day of the month of Nisan. This association of the death of the lamb with the removal of leaven was God’s way of teaching us that the sacrifice of Yahshua was indelibly linked to the removal of sin from our lives. And the fact that the Feast of Unleavened Bread was to last seven days (seven indicating completion or perfection) tells us that those sins have been permanently removed—all of them, for all time.
This wasn’t the only symbolic use of unleavened bread in scripture, but the picture is always the same: the removal or absence of sin. It figured again in the ritual of ordination for the priests of Israel: “Now this is what you shall do to them [the sons of Aaron] to consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests. Take one bull of the herd and two rams without blemish, and unleavened bread, unleavened cakes mixed with oil, and unleavened wafers smeared with oil. You shall make them of fine wheat flour. You shall put them in one basket and bring them in the basket, and bring the bull and the two rams.” (Exodus 29:1-3) The inclusion of several forms of unleavened bread in the rite says to me that the removal of our sin was to manifest itself in a variety of different ways; and the scriptural association of olive oil with the Holy Spirit gives us another clue. We are therefore reminded of Paul’s observation: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) In other words, the removal of sin from our lives, and the simultaneous indwelling of God’s Spirit within us, results in a whole variety of new and (dare I say) unusual character traits: we’ve got unleavened bread, cakes, and wafers here in this basket we call life.
Another facet of the symbol is this enigmatic instruction, still speaking of the ordination of the priests: “And if any of the flesh for the ordination or of the bread remain until the morning, then you shall burn the remainder with fire. It shall not be eaten, because it is holy.” (Exodus 29:34) Why can’t the meat (symbolic of various aspects of Christ’s sacrifice) and bread (symbolic of God’s provision) be consumed the following day? It’s because God gives us what we need when we need it. As Paul says, “We appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He [in Isaiah 49:8] says, ‘In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.’ Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (II Corinthians 6:1-2) Yahweh’s provision isn’t something to be held in reserve, used only in an emergency, or employed as a last resort. It isn’t a hedge against misfortune or a lifeboat you hope you never have to use. It is to be, rather, the central fact of our earthly existence. In case you haven’t noticed all of the components of Yahweh’s self portrait we’ve seen so far—life, light, thought, water, air, and food—are essential to our very existence. They’re foundational, fundamental, vital. If I may use another of my dumb automotive metaphors, Yahweh isn’t the ashtray, the radio, or even the safety belt in the vehicle of your existence—He’s the drive train. Without Him, you’re not going anywhere.
As we have seen, the grain offerings that were burned on the altar with the blood sacrifices were required to be unleavened, for God’s sacrifice on our behalf—in the person of Yahshua—was sinless. Since the sacrifices at the altar were a picture of what Yahweh would accomplish for us on Calvary, everything subjected to the fires of judgment had to be free from corruption. But the Torah holds some surprises for us in the matter of leaven. It is not always prohibited in offerings to God, even though it may not be offered on the altar.
Take the matter of the peace offering—the selem. “This is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings which he shall offer to Yahweh: If he offers it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer, with the sacrifice of thanksgiving [that is, the clean animal to be sacrificed], unleavened cakes mixed with oil, unleavened wafers anointed with oil, or cakes of blended flour mixed with oil.” So far, this is just what we would have expected, for a portion of the minha grain offering would have accompanied the sacrificial animal on the altar. But wait; there’s more. “Besides the cakes, as his offering he shall offer leavened bread with the sacrifice of thanksgiving of his peace offering. And from it he shall offer one cake from each offering as a heave offering to Yahweh. It shall belong to the priest who sprinkles the blood of the peace offering.” (Leviticus 7:11-14) The “heave offering” (tarumah—from ruwm, meaning to rise, be exalted, or lift up) was symbolically lifted or “heaved,” as if to say to Yahweh, “I acknowledge that this is Yours—it is You who have provided it.” It was then to be given to the attending priest as his food. Why, then, was leaven allowed? It’s because this portion of the peace offering (since it wasn’t offered on the altar) didn’t represent the sacrifice of Christ, but rather our response to that sacrifice. We are all sinful creatures, permeated with the leaven of our own fallen natures. But God doesn’t require us to become perfect people before we can participate in His Kingdom. Rather, all He asks is that we admit that we’re not perfect—and to allow Him to do his perfecting work within us, conforming us into the image of His perfect Son. The first part of that—admitting that we fall short—is easy enough if we’re honest with ourselves. The hard part is letting go of our pride (or is it despair) and inviting Yahweh to make us what we cannot make ourselves: pure, flawless beings in His sight.
The same sort of “come as you are” attitude is seen in the instructions for the fourth miqra, the Feast of Weeks. “You shall count seven full weeks from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering. You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath. Then you shall present a grain offering of new grain to Yahweh. You shall bring from your dwelling places two loaves of bread to be waved, made of two tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour, and they shall be baked with leaven, as firstfruits to Yahweh.” (Leviticus 23:15-17) You’ll recall that this annual convocation was instituted to prophesy and commemorate the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the souls of the faithful—the Pentecost experience of Acts 2. Again, leavened bread speaks to the fact that we needn’t—indeed, we can’t—become sinless before we follow Christ, but rather that sinlessness (in God’s eyes) is the inevitable result of our having believed in Him. The Feast of Weeks follows Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the Feast of Firstfruits. That is, Spiritual indwelling happens after the Messiah’s sacrifice, after the removal of our sins, and after God’s undeniable demonstration of His willingness and ability to raise the dead to a new kind of life. Our Spiritual indwelling was intended by Yahweh from the very beginning to be the next step in the process of mankind’s reconciliation with Him. There will be three more steps in the process, for seven holy convocations are specified in the Torah, but I’m going to have to save that whole discussion for a future chapter.
Another instance of bread used as a symbol is the “Showbread,” also known as the “Bread of the Presence.” This was to be placed on a special table within the first room of the tabernacle, the “Holy Place.” Yahweh instructed Moses, “You shall make a table of acacia wood. Two cubits shall be its length, a cubit its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height. You shall overlay it with pure gold and make a molding of gold around it. And you shall make a rim around it a handbreadth wide, and a molding of gold around the rim. And you shall make for it four rings of gold, and fasten the rings to the four corners at its four legs. Close to the frame the rings shall lie, as holders for the poles to carry the table. You shall make the poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold, and the table shall be carried with these. And you shall make its plates and dishes for incense, and its flagons and bowls with which to pour drink offerings; you shall make them of pure gold. And you shall set the bread of the Presence on the table before me regularly.” (Exodus 25:23-30) The sheer amount of detail provided for the table’s construction should give us some indication of how much significance God intended for us to attach to this “bread of the Presence.” This had to be one sturdy table. The metaphorical implications are heavy indeed.
The first question we should ask is, whose presence? Why, Yahweh’s, of course. The bread is said to be a memorial, a reminder of God’s provision. As we shall soon see, that provision will ultimately turn out to be the Messiah Himself. “You shall take fine flour and bake twelve loaves from it; two tenths of an ephah shall be in each loaf. And you shall set them in two piles [or rows; Hebrew ma’areketh—orderly rows, layers, or lines], six in a pile, on the table of pure gold before Yahweh. And you shall put pure frankincense on each pile, that it may go with the bread as a memorial portion as a food offering to Yahweh. Every Sabbath day Aaron shall arrange it before Yahweh regularly; it is from the people of Israel as a covenant forever. And it shall be for Aaron and his sons, and they shall eat it in a holy place, since it is for him a most holy portion out of Yahweh’s food offerings, a perpetual due.” (Leviticus 24:5-9) There were to be twelve loaves, symbolic of the twelve tribes of Israel—who are in turn symbolic of believers generally. Notice how the loaves (these were unleavened “loaves,” so think of something the shape of pita bread—round and rather flat) were to be arranged: two neat rows of six each. Since six is the number of man, we’re being given insight into precisely who it was for whom Yahweh would provide salvation: two groups of men, separate yet side by side—Israel and the Church (more properly, the ekklesia—the “called-out”). Both rows were sprinkled with frankincense, indicating the purity we attain through Christ’s sacrifice. Twelve fresh loaves were to be placed on the table every Sabbath, indicating that the provision of salvation and purity they represented would not be achieved through man’s efforts (since no work was to be done on the Sabbath). Finally, the bread was to be eaten by the priests, Aaron and his sons—those who minister before Yahweh, interceding with Him on behalf of mankind. This picture is ultimately fulfilled in Yahshua and those of us who follow Him.
Though only the priests were eligible to eat the Showbread, even they could be disqualified from participation: “No man of the offspring of Aaron the priest who has a blemish shall come near to offer Yahweh’s food offerings; since he has a blemish, he shall not come near to offer the bread of his God. He may eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy and of the holy things, but he shall not go through the veil or approach the altar, because he has a blemish, that he may not profane my sanctuaries, for I am Yahweh who sanctifies them.” (Leviticus 21:21-23) The word translated “blemish” here is the Hebrew m’uwm, a flaw, spot, defect or imperfection. The word is used both in the physical and moral sense; thus a physical imperfection on a priest of Israel would serve as a metaphor for a moral flaw in one of us—something deserving of shame in our behavior or character. Note the distinction in the Torah: the priest with a defect would still be provided for, but his access to the presence of God would be restricted. The lesson is that a believer’s bad behavior can hinder his prayers: our heavenly Father can and does relegate His misbehaving children to “time out.”
Since the fall of Adam, procuring our “daily bread” has been a labor-intensive endeavor. Yahweh told Adam, “Cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:17-19) So our food, which Yahweh arranged to just pop up out of the ground or grow on trees, has become something less than the obvious symbol of God’s blessing and provision it could have been.
There was one brief forty-year span of time, however, when establishing His symbols in unmistakable terms became incredibly important to Yahweh, for He’d chosen this time and place to reveal—at least in parabolic terms—His entire plan of redemption for mankind. I’m speaking, of course, of the exodus, the wilderness wanderings of the nation of Israel. It was during this time that the Torah was presented, the mindset of God was revealed, and the provision of Yahweh for His people would first be demonstrated, in unmistakable terms, for all the world to see. And since procuring food for a couple of million hungry pilgrims is obviously problematical, Yahweh seized this moment as the perfect opportunity to transform “our daily bread” back into what it had once so obviously been: a daily miracle of life and provision. You couldn’t very well grow wheat and barley crops as you marched en masse through the desert following a pillar of cloud and fire wherever It went. This time, the miracle had to be, well, miraculous.
After Israel had had their “duh” moment, realizing that even although they were finally free, there wasn’t anything to eat in the desert except for the sand-which-is there (sorry: too many little kids in my life), Yahweh introduced what I’m sure had been His plan all along: manna. “In the morning dew lay around the camp. And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as frost on the ground. When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, ‘What is it?’ For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, ‘It is the bread that Yahweh has given you to eat….’” The word is actually the Hebrew man; it got transliterated to manna in the Greek Septuagint (the “LXX”). It literally means “What is it?” (It’s based on the Hebrew mah, meaning what, how, of what kind, why, etc.) It’s your basic all-purpose interrogative exclamation: huh?
“This is what Yahweh has commanded: ‘Gather of it, each one of you, as much as he can eat. You shall each take an omer, according to the number of the persons that each of you has in his tent.’” An omer is a little over half a gallon, so for each person, they were to gather each day enough to fill the typical human stomach—twice. “And the people of Israel did so. They gathered, some more, some less. But when they measured it with an omer, whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack. Each of them gathered as much as he could eat. And Moses said to them, ‘Let no one leave any of it over till the morning.’ But they did not listen to Moses. Some left part of it till the morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them. Morning by morning they gathered it, each as much as he could eat; but when the sun grew hot, it melted….” Human nature never changes, does it? We aren’t comfortable with the idea of having to trust God for everything, day by day. I’m not saying we shouldn’t plan ahead, prepare for foreseeable contingencies, and work hard to provide for our families. But Americans (in particular) have developed the odd notion that risk and uncertainty have somehow become unconstitutional, and that our “inalienable rights” ought to include indemnity from failure. God’s word, however, plainly says that we’ll reap what we sow—our policies and behaviors will have their inevitable consequences. So if our reliance is on ourselves, we will fail, for we are fallen creatures. If our reliance is upon our government, we will fail, for governments are flawed, transient human institutions. But if we rely upon Yahweh, we will prevail, for Yahweh is willing and able to make us stand. Christians, of course, happily embrace this principle in matters they can’t pretend to control, like eternal destiny. But we seldom learn to fully trust God for “little things” like our food, clothing, and shelter. Sure, God lets us participate in His blessings to us. The manna didn’t just show up in the Israelites’ baskets; they had to go out and collect it when Yahweh provided it (early in the morning, before the sun grew hot), and in the appropriate amounts (precisely as much as they needed for the day). There was no question about where the manna was coming from, or Who was providing it.
“On the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers each. And when all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, he said to them, ‘This is what Yahweh has commanded: “Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to Yahweh; bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over lay aside to be kept till the morning.”’” That’s precisely the opposite of their instructions for every other day of the week. “So they laid it aside till the morning, as Moses commanded them, and it did not stink, and there were no worms in it. Moses said, ‘Eat it today, for today is a Sabbath to Yahweh; today you will not find it in the field. Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, which is a Sabbath, there will be none.’” (Exodus 16:15-26) The lesson is one we should not gloss over: whatever was provided by Yahweh would be provided during the work week—not on the Sabbath. And the peoples’ part in the provision process—the gathering and preparing—was also to be done before the Sabbath. There’s a deadline.
It may seem strange to say it, but God, though eternal, is on a schedule. The state of affairs we see in the world today is not how Yahweh intends to let things run forever. If II Peter 3:8—the idea that in God’s plan, one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as one day—is literally true, then any way you slice it we are rapidly approaching the real Sabbath, the final one-thousand-year “day” in Yahweh’s timeline. He provided the manna of salvation for us when Yahshua came to die in our place, and in truth, it has been available through faith from the very beginning. But we are running out of time, my friends. The sun is about to set on the sixth day. Remember Yahshua’s words: “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” (John 6:29) It’s getting hot outside: the manna is starting to melt. And the Sabbath is coming, when no one can work. If we are to gather what Yahweh has provided—the manna of Christ’s love—if we are to prepare what’s needed by “believing in Him,” we must act now.
“Now the house of Israel called its name manna.” Yes, it was basically the same thing they said when their Messiah showed up in response to their desperate need: “Huh?” “It was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.” To this day, we who have tasted the provision of God have found it sweet indeed. “Moses said, ‘This is what Yahweh has commanded: “Let an omer of it be kept throughout your generations, so that they may see the bread with which I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.”’ And Moses said to Aaron, ‘Take a jar, and put an omer of manna in it, and place it before Yahweh to be kept throughout your generations.’ As Yahweh commanded Moses, so Aaron placed it before the testimony [that is, inside the ark of the covenant] to be kept.” Yahweh thought the manna was an important enough symbol that a sample should be kept in perpetuity as a tangible reminder of His provision. The destruction of the Temple (in 586 BC) and the disappearance of the ark and its contents only demonstrate that God won’t force us to contemplate His symbols if we systematically reject His Word. The choice is ours. “The people of Israel ate the manna forty years, till they came to a habitable land. They ate the manna till they came to the border of the land of Canaan.” (Exodus 16:31-35) This is a corollary, of sorts, to the lesson we learned about the Sabbath restrictions involving manna: Yahweh’s provision is only available during His scheduled window of opportunity. In this case, it’s described as the forty years (read: the period of trial and testing) between the time we leave the world (Egypt) and when we finally enter the Kingdom of God (the Promised Land). Only under the reign of Yahweh can the land in which we live truly be called “habitable.”
Just before they entered the Promised Land, Moses addressed the Israelites who had enjoyed God’s manna provision for all those years. Only then did he tell them what Yahweh had hoped to achieve with His ongoing forty-year miracle: “You shall remember the whole way that Yahweh your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that He might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. And He humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of Yahweh.” (Deuteronomy 8:2-3) The whole thing was like a pop quiz, the kind of thing a creative teacher might spring upon his students to wake them up, test their understanding, let them gauge their grasp of the subject, and instruct them about what to expect in the future. Yahweh says He initially let Israel get hungry on purpose. He informs them that they needed to be broken of their self-sufficiency and worldly habits before He could truly bless them. The provision of manna was to be a microcosm of the lessons of the Torah: their obedience, their willingness to take God at His Word, would be rewarded with tasty and nutritious food—bread they didn’t have to plant, water, harvest, or thresh, but could merely go out and pick up off the ground. All they had to do was receive it. The bottom line was that this “bread from heaven” was a blatant and obvious metaphor for the Word of God—the truth of His life-giving provision, something revealed between every line of the Torah, a symbol that would one day be fulfilled in the personal appearance of their Messiah. As with the manna, all they’d have to do to obtain life was to receive Him.
The Israelites never forgot the miracle of the manna. It stood in the national memory as a benchmark of God’s merciful provision, just as the Red Sea adventure did as a reminder of His power and protection. So when the skeptics encountered Yahshua, they said in effect, What can you do to top that? To which Yahshua no doubt replied, I’m glad you asked. “So they said to him, ‘Then what sign do you do, 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 from heaven to eat.”’ Jesus then said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven.” He began by pointing out that the one who announces the miracle is not necessarily the one performing it. Miraculous power and purpose is Yahweh’s alone. Manna is but a metaphor. The “true bread” is not merely something that will keep one’s mortal body alive for another day, but rather something that will make his soul alive forever. The real bread, as Moses pointed out above, is “every word that comes from the mouth of Yahweh.” That “Word” would become flesh in the person of Yahshua Himself. “For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’ They said to him, ‘Sir, give us this bread always.’” They still didn’t get it, not that I can blame them for failing to understand. He was speaking in parables, in esoteric riddles. But now that they had declared their need and desire for the “bread of God,” Yahshua told them plainly that He was speaking of Himself: “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 6:30-35)
After explaining the rather uncomfortable truth that only those who chose to believe would be given the insight to understand the symbolism of what He was talking about, Yahshua continued. “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This [that is, what manna represents] is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is My flesh….” This was a crucial piece of information, but it would make no sense until Yahshua sacrificed Himself at Calvary. At this stage, it was virtually impossible to see how the puzzle pieces all fit together—that in Yahshua was “the Word of God made flesh,” that mankind was to live on “every Word that comes from the mouth of Yahweh,” that the sign the Jews were seeking was actually the fulfillment of the prophecy that the manna in the wilderness represented, and that Yahshua’s own flesh would nourish mankind as He became “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
So it was not terribly surprising that, “The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.” God had declared that “the life is in the blood.” And eating blood (not to mention human flesh) was strictly forbidden by the Torah’s dietary laws. So at this point Christ’s audience had no choice but to conclude that He was speaking metaphorically, not literally. He was imparting spiritual truth, not giving earthly nutrition advice. “Whoever feeds on My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on Me, he also will live because of Me.” The Jewish authorities understood perfectly well that Yahshua wasn’t talking about eating His literal flesh and drinking His actual blood. It wasn’t His imagery that upset them; it was the fact that by saying this, He had unequivocally identified Himself as the Son of God, the Messiah, the Promised King. “This is [i.e., I am] the bread that came down from heaven, not as the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.’” (John 6:47-58)
Never let it be said that Yahshua didn’t know how to divide the room. He plainly admitted that He came not to bring the peace of compromise, but the sword of separation and holiness. At this point, the majority of His “disciples” (those who saw Him merely as a charismatic and entertaining religious innovator) called it quits: this was too much; these words were too hard (pardon the expression) to swallow. But to those few who were left—the twelve—Yahshua explained, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is of no avail. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” (John 6:63)
So having established the metaphor that He Himself was the bread of life, and that it was His blood that would seal the covenant, Yahshua instituted a memorial rite for His followers to observe, one that would commemorate these core principles. “Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’ And He took a cup, and when He had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink of it, all of you, for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’” (Matthew 26:26-28) Goofy Christianesque superstitions like transubstantiation and consubstantiation have made a shambles of this beautiful picture over the last couple of millennia. I can’t understand why we find it so hard to see that this rite is a metaphor, a symbol of a very simple truth: that Yahweh pictures Himself as “bread” in order that we might comprehend that it is in His nature to provide for us. Just as we consume food to keep our bodies alive and healthy, we must assimilate Christ in order to impart life and health to our souls.
There is more to this than providing life to individual believers, however. It’s not just life: it’s the same life: “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” (I Corinthians 10:16-17) There’s an old saying: You are what you eat. In the computer age, it’s stated: Garbage in, garbage out. It’s as true in the spiritual sense as it is in the physical. What you put into your soul will affect how you look, feel, perform, and interact with those around you. “Participation in the body of Christ” (also known as being indwelled by the Holy Spirit) will result in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—and what’s more, it will present as a unity of spirit, for the same Spirit will be producing these traits within each of us.
Partaking of the symbol (receiving the rite of communion) does nothing in and of itself, of course, any more than stepping on someone’s shadow can be felt by the one casting it. The reality that casts the shadow is what must be observed. So Paul writes, “For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, ‘This is My body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” His “death,” of course, is the heart of Yahweh’s provision for our salvation, as the shed blood is the guarantee of the covenant. Paul hasn’t redefined it, just summarized it. “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.” (I Corinthians 11:23-29) Like mindlessly going through the motions of observing the Torah while remaining impervious to the Yahweh’s entreaties of love, participating in the rite of communion as a cold, dead religious obligation is an anathema to God. Again, it’s pointless to observe the shadow if we give no thought to what casts it.
Because the distinction is made so often in scripture, we should note the difference between the part of the grain that’s edible and nourishing, and that which is worthless. As I pointed out, the “fine flour” used in the minha offerings is a reference to the fact that the chaff or husks that surrounded and protected the wheat or barley as it grew in the field have been removed and discarded. This threshing is a violent, “painful” process for the wheat. In a way, it is analogous to physical death—the “shell” of a mortal body being forcibly stripped away from the “living” part of one’s being, the soul. If we follow this train of thought, we come to realize that the sacrifice wasn’t so much Christ’s body nailed to the tree (although He certainly suffered excruciating physical pain on our behalf), but rather of His soul. That was the essence of the offering—enduring the spiritual torment of separation from the Father as He bore our sins. Isaiah 53:5 says that He was bruised or crushed for our iniquities. The word used is daka, which denotes not only physical bruising, but also psychological or emotional harm—according to the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, “the emotional and spiritual suffering of the Savior as He became sin for us.”
When Yahshua said, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is of no avail,” (John 6:63) He was pointing out this very thing. God employed grain or bread to teach us about His nature, but He was always careful to draw the distinction between the Spirit and the flesh—or in this case, between the living kernel and its inert shell. It’s not that the husk has no purpose or function: it protects the seed as it grows in the field; it serves for a time as a vehicle or vessel for the life that resides within. But the shell, though necessary by God’s design, is only temporary. Its value is transient; once it has served its purpose, it becomes a worthless, lifeless piece of rubbish. It is thus analogous to our mortal bodies—containing within them the life of the soul (and ideally, the Spirit of God as well) but not designed or intended to house these things forever.
This goes a long way toward explaining Yahweh’s apparent ambivalence toward personally imposing justice and judgment in this world. Why does God let people “get away” with evil behavior in this life? Why is godliness not enforced, and wickedness not summarily punished by divine action? Why do evil men succeed in gathering power to themselves as they crush the innocent under their boots? Job bemoaned this very situation four thousand years ago: “How often is it that the lamp of the wicked is put out? That their calamity comes upon them? That God distributes pains in His anger? That they are like straw before the wind, and like chaff that the storm carries away?” (Job 21:17-18) Not very often, then or now. But in terms germane to our present subject, Job’s rhetorical question actually answers itself: it’s because in this life, our flesh is all “chaff” driven before the wind. Our bodies are mere shells, husks that will eventually outlive their usefulness and blow away. It matters not whether God deals with them now or later—or never. Only that which is alive within those husks, if anything, will remain after the storm of death has passed over. Punishing the body is therefore rather pointless, unless that body is being used to prevent others from responding to Yahweh’s love.
Psalm 1 seems at first to contradict this whole line of reasoning, but upon reflection, I don’t think it really does: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of Yahweh, and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” So Yahweh proactively blesses the godly man in this life—present tense. But although the good man’s body is “along for the ride,” what God is actually blessing is his soul—that which makes his body alive. On the other hand, “The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for Yahweh knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” (Psalm 1) The wicked, by contrast, are not blessed in this life, not by God, anyway (though they may seize for themselves the same sorts of things with which God might bless His children). But are they “driven away like chaff?” As Job noted, they usually aren’t in this life. But the Psalmist has phrased that whole “wicked” contingency in the future tense: the wicked will not stand; their way will perish. And look carefully at the “chaff” statement again. It says that the wicked are like chaff. That is, they are already—in this world—empty shells devoid of life, just laying there on the threshing floor waiting for a good strong wind to blow them away.
This is true for nations as well as for individuals. The prophet Daniel, explaining King Nebuchadnezzar’s prophetic dream to him, reported that “A stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.” (Daniel 2:34-35) The dream had foreseen four great world empires, each of which would, in turn, dominate and control God’s chosen people and their land—Israel. They would summarize the course of gentile world dominance until such time as Yahweh’s “Stone,” (who will turn out to be His Messiah, the risen and reigning Yahshua) comes to reveal them for what they really are: lifeless, inert chaff, the waste product left over when the living grain is forcibly separated from the shell in which it once lived. This is, in the larger sense, a perfect picture of Yahweh’s people as we live in this world: we who are alive through Him are—for better or worse—resigned to live within the world, though we do not really consist of the same substance. The day is coming—and soon—when the threshing sledge of God’s judgment (see Isaiah 41:14-16) will free us from the prison in which we sojourn. This very thing was foreseen by John the Baptist: “I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will clear His threshing floor and gather His wheat into the barn, but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.” (Matthew 3:11-12) We—the “wheat”—have been called out of the world; we have been set apart for God’s glory. If we don’t separate ourselves from the worthless chaff of this world, Yahshua will.
Remember, the grain—the living seed of wheat or barley, set apart from the chaff—is part of Yahweh’s self-portrait. The harvest is about to take place, followed by the threshing and winnowing process—when His provision will no longer be freely available. The prophetic scriptures speak of a coming time when God will leave mankind alone to fend for himself—something He has never done in our entire history. This terrible time, known as the Tribulation, will continue for 2,520 days. And what will happen when Yahweh removes his hand of provision? Famine. Hunger. Desperation. John reports: “When He opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, ‘Come!’ And I looked, and behold, a black horse! And its rider had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard what seemed to be a voice in the midst of the four living creatures, saying, ‘A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius, and do not harm the oil and wine!’” (Revelation 6:6) Remember the omer of manna Yahweh provided for every Israelite, every day for forty years? Remember the barley fields that were ready to be harvested when the Israelites first entered the Land? Kiss all that provision goodbye. Now it will take a full day’s wage to purchase a single loaf of bread. Those who would like to be free of God’s inconvenient presence, those who wish to be self-sufficient, are about to find out—the hard way—precisely what that means. No more divine insight. No more food. No more water. No more air. No more light. No more life.