Summary: What happens when there is no bread in the "house of bread? What happens when the bread is brought back?
(freely adapted from Tommy Tenney, The God Chasers)
Do you like fresh baked bread? It’s one of my favorite things in the whole world. Nothing smells and tastes like fresh baked bread.
Imagine passing a bakery and thinking, “I’d love to have some fresh bread.” You walk in the door and there are people sitting at the counter. You walk up to the counter and tell the clerk that you want some fresh baked bread. Your jaw drops when the clerk says, “I’m sorry but we don’t bake bread here. In fact, we don’t bake anything. Our ovens haven’t worked in quite a long time.”
You can’t believe your ears. You look around and sure enough, the shelves are empty. You ask the clerk, “When will your ovens be fixed?” The clerk says, “I don’t know. Nobody is in a hurry to get them going.” Really perplexed now, you say to the clerk, “Then why do these people come here? It’s not a bakery anymore!”
The clerk replies, “Because they’ve come here for years and years. We used to have more people who came but since we don’t make bread or any other baked goods any more, they quit coming.”
Wouldn’t that be a ridiculous business operation? Opening the bakery when there’s no bread? But that is what is happening in a lot of churches today. People come. They talk and visit. They go through the motions but there is little or no bread of life available.
Ruth 1:1-7 – “In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land, and a man from Bethlehem
in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. The man's name
was Elimelech, his wife's name Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were
Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there. Now Elimelech, Naomi's
husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the
other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left
without her two sons and her husband. When she heard in Moab that the LORD had come to the aid of his
people by providing food for them, Naomi and her daughters-in-law prepared to return home from there. With
her two daughters-in-law she left the place where she had been living and set out on the road that would take
them back to the land of Judah.”
What’s happening in this passage? Why did Naomi, her husband, and two sons leave their home in Bethlehem and move to Moab? You have to understand that they went from a country whose purpose was to praise God and bring light to the Gentiles to a country that practiced pagan idolatry.
The reason is that there was a famine in Bethlehem. In the original language of Hebrew, Bethlehem means “house of bread.” The reason they left the “house of bread” is because there was NO bread in the house.
In the culture of that day, bread was an essential part of their diet – especially for the common people. In a spiritual sense, bread represented the presence of God. In the Tabernacle, in the Holy Place was the Table of the Presence. It sat right in front of the curtain that led to the Holy of Holies. On this table made of gold sat twelve loaves of unleavened bread. It was also known as “the bread of the Presence.” In the Hebrew, it was literally “the face bread.” It symbolized the continual presence of God with his people – the nation of Israel. It also pointed to the time when God would promise his presence with the New Israel – the church.
We live in age where people have left the modern house of bread - the church – behind and are looking for the Bread of Life in other places. The world is sick of the church. They have fled to Moab. They’ve gone in search of bread to other places.
They are hungry to hear from something beyond themselves. Their hunger drives them to anywhere but the church. They search in pursuit of the flesh to try to feed the hunger that gnaws at their souls.
On the other hand, even though sick of the church, they’re hungry for God. I think that’s proven by the millions of dollars that get spent by them every year to read and listen to gurus and psychics, purchasing talismans, crystals, and amulets, buying New Age and occult books and manuals, reading horoscopes and Tarot cards, and seeking to fill their hunger with all kinds of false religions.