BREAD IN THE OVEN “Appearing In Zion” by Doug Fortune (An excerpt from the book “The Power of an Endless Life”)
“When the Lord builds up Zion, He will APPEAR in His GLORY…” (Psalms 102:16)
It seems that no matter what one’s particular theological eschatological viewpoint is, most in the Body of Christ are interested in the ‘appearing’ of the Lord. The shelves of Christian bookstores are lined with volumes on the subject (most of which are in the ‘fiction’ section for obvious reasons). Some read this verse about the Lord building up Zion and are looking for a literal temple to be built upon the mount in Jerusalem. It is believed that this will ultimately facilitate the ‘appearing’ of the Lord. Many would like for this to happen as quickly as possible, so that they can go on to a ‘better place’ and leave this evil world behind. As we view world events and the apparent ‘encroaching darkness’ that seems to be coming upon the earth, this type of thinking is very understandable. After all, nobody likes the idea of difficulty and darkness.
On a personal level, I’ll admit that the thought is rather appealing to me also. However, if this is indeed the case and were this to take place soon, I have some serious apprehensions. Granted, I may be better off, but what about the multitude of people who are not in relationship with Christ and would not enter into their destiny in Christ? Could our personal desire for this type of ‘appearing’ of the Lord described above be at odds with the destiny of multitudes? Is there perhaps another type of the ‘appearing’ of the Lord that is more consistent with the heart of God? Listen to what Jesus says concerning the ‘multitude’, “I have COMPASSION on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me THREE DAYS and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” (Matthew 15:32 NKJV) I am also reminded of the very first Scripture that most of us learned very early in our walk with the Lord, “For God so loved the WORLD, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) Yes, God certainly loves His bride, the Church, but He loves the WORLD, He has COMPASSION on the multitude!
My friend, it is when we are thrust into the midst of the ‘furnace’ of other peoples’ carnality that our ‘salvation’ is truly tested to see if we bring forth more of Adam- more carnality, or if we bring forth the nature of Christ, the Bread of Life. It’s easy to be ‘bread’ for others when they are being good to us, but I believe it is in this “furnace of earth” that our very substance is transformed. It is only in the FIRE that the Fourth Man appears.
We’re going to take a look at this passage in Matthew chapter 15 in a light that perhaps we haven’t seen before. You see, I believe that the Scriptures have different layers of fulfillment when examined in the light of Biblical types and shadows. This passage speaks of an historical event when Jesus fed the multitude, but I believe it also speaks of a ‘feeding’ of the multitude that is beginning to happen today. With the understanding that “ONE DAY is with the Lord as a thousand years”, as we read that the multitude “have now continued with Me THREE DAYS and have nothing to eat’, we can see a picture beginning to unfold. You see, the ‘multitude’ in the world has been here three millennial ‘days’ from the time Jesus walked the earth as a man. However, for the most part and especially in recent years, the Church has been largely ‘unfit for human consumption’! The multitude in the world is hungry and have nothing to eat. We have offered our programs, our religious ideals, and a pat on the back, but have we offered the very Life of Christ being lived through us? Listen to the heart of this One who has such compassion on the multitude, “I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” My friend, it has never been the plan of God to “send them away hungry.” That is why I have big questions with the type of ‘appearing’ of the Lord we discussed above, for the vast majority of the multitude would “faint on the way.”
Consider for a moment who this multitude represents. “And they that did eat were FOUR THOUSAND men, beside women and children.” (Matthew 15:38) We know that the number 1,000 speaks of a ‘day’, (ONE DAY is with the Lord as a thousand years), and four is the number of the ‘earth’ and the number of ‘end’ times, as the fourth watch was the last watch of the night. In Biblical symbolism, the earth speaks not only of the terra firma we stand upon, but also the ‘earth’ of Adamic carnality; “The first man [was] from out of earth, made of dust (earthly-minded)… Now those who are made of the dust are like him who was first made of the dust (earthly-minded)” (1 Corinthians 15:47-48 Amplified Bible) Also, when the New Testament speaks of the ‘end’, the word often translated from the Greek is teleios. It doesn’t necessarily mean ‘end’ as in cessation or stopping, it means completion. I believe that the multitude of four thousand represents and ‘end’ time, last days multitude. Although they are ‘hungry’ and searching for truth, they are a multitude in whom carnality has come to completion, primarily because the Church has been ‘unfit for human consumption’. That’s the bad news… but the good news is this- the Lord will NOT send them away hungry!
You and I might be looking at the wilderness of ‘Churchianity’ and saying, “Where could we get enough bread in the wilderness to fill such a great multitude?” (Matthew 15:33 NKJV) Rest assured, He has a plan. In our text, Jesus asked the disciples a question, “And Jesus saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? (Matthew 15:34) Now remember, this is Jesus that we’re talking about… He told the woman at the well how many husbands she’d had, “For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.” (John 4:18)… we know from Nathanael’s response, there was obviously something supernatural about His seeing Nathanael under the fig tree, “Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.” (John 1:48-49) I don’t believe that Jesus was looking for an ‘inventory’ of bread on-hand when He asked the disciples the question. Besides, when it comes to a miracle, what difference would it make if there were seven loaves or one loaf?
I want to talk about our PERCEPTION, because I believe that the Lord is asking us the same question today, “How many LOAVES have ye?” (Matthew 15:34) Consider that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, Beyth Lechem in Hebrew, which means ‘house of bread’, and He said of Himself, “…I AM the BREAD of life:” (John 6:35) Yes, they had seven loaves with them, but that is not the real issue… they had Jesus, the BREAD of life with them! We also know that seven is the number of perfection and fullness, and I believe that is significant. You see, as the Lord asks us “How many LOAVES have ye?”, we must understand that we have the perfect BREAD of Life IN US! After all, we are “the Church, Which is His body, the FULLNESS of Him that filleth all in all.” (Ephesians 1:22-23) I believe that the ‘seven loaves’ represent the fullness of Christ, Christ IN us as He is appearing IN US, as He is appearing in Zion! “When the Lord builds up Zion, He will APPEAR in His GLORY…” (Psalms 102:16) This is indeed the mystery which is being revealed so powerfully in this day, “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ (the perfect BREAD of Life) IN YOU, the hope of glory… that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:” (Colossians 1:27-28 my input in parenthesis) So, my friend, “How many LOAVES have ye?”
“Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.” (Psalms 48:2) I believe that since Jesus, the great King of Zion, appeared in the likeness of man in Bethlehem, the ‘house of bread’, and we are certainly interested in His appearing in US, it behooves us to take a quick look at bread. I know a little bit about bread. I happen to live in what is known as the ‘breadbasket of the world’, which is Kansas, USA. Wheat fields stretch as far as the eye can see. I’m not a farmer, so I personally do not grow wheat. Although sometimes I’d like to be ‘out-standing in my field’. Get it?… out STANDING in my field? Sorry, that’s a taste of Kansas humor, but sometimes my humor, just like the land around me, is pretty FLAT. Oops, sorry again… just be glad you don’t have to live with me!
Anyway, back to bread and wheat. Several things must happen to wheat before it becomes bread that is edible. First it has to die, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” (John 12:24) Welcome to the Third Day, first you must die to the life of SELF, and be buried IN Him. Our lives are like a kernel of wheat. Sometimes it looks pretty dark when we’ve made the choice to “fall into the ground” and allow Him to break open and consume the ‘outer husk’ of who we think we are. This is only done that we may be able to grow into the fruitful sheaf we were intended to be. Then, for many of us, it seemed that just about the time we were finally well ‘rooted’ and bearing fruit, we were suddenly harvested… it seemed we were cut off before our time! We didn’t understand that our destiny was NOT merely to be beautiful sheaves in the Master’s field. Then comes the threshing and the burning of the chaff; “His winnowing fan (shovel, fork) is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear out and clean His threshing floor and gather and store His wheat in His barn, but the chaff He will burn up with fire that cannot be put out.” (Matthew 3:12) Remember that Zion was originally the city of Jebus, Yebuwc in Hebrew, and it means threshing-place… welcome to Zion! Ouch… need I say more?
So far, we have just been looking at our ‘individual’ preparation. We are about to shift to ‘corporate’ preparation, because now we are put in with a bunch of other kernels of wheat and ground up into fine powder. Welcome to the local Church! Welcome to ‘corporate anointing’! Welcome to Zion! I have often said that God puts people in our lives specifically to irritate the h-ll out of us… because He wants it OUT of us! He puts people in our lives that, like an apothecary, help to grind us into fine powder. Don’t worry, it gets better from here. It’s time to turn up the heat. “I have CHOSEN thee in the furnace of affliction.” (Isaiah 48:10) We all like to think that we are special, God’s ‘chosen’ people. However, it is in the furnace, in the oven, that the ‘chosen’ man comes forth. “According as He hath CHOSEN us IN HIM before the foundation of the world…” (Ephesians 1:4) You see, it is really not so much that WE are chosen, rather it is more a matter that we are chosen IN HIM, for Christ is the ‘chosen’ man… Christ IN us.
You see, up to now in our process, we have been broken open, rooted, grown, harvested, threshed, and ground up, but our SUBSTANCE is still that of wheat, primarily our consistency has changed. It is in the oven that the actual SUBSTANCE of the wheat turns to bread. And so it is for us, I believe that it is in the oven, in the furnace, that our actual SUBSTANCE turns to the Bread of Life. This is why Paul could say, “For to me to live IS Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21) This is also the essence of what Paul was trying to communicate when he said, “My little children, for whom I am again suffering birth pangs until Christ is completely and permanently formed (molded) within you…” (Galatians 4:19 Amplified Bible) This is the Engrafted Living Word, which is Christ IN us, bringing true ‘salvation’ to our souls (James 1:21). “The words of the Lord (the Engrafted Living Word) are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.” (Psalms 12:6 my input in parenthesis) In Biblical symbolism, silver speaks of redemption and salvation. The earth speaks of ‘earthly’ Adamic carnality. My friend, it is when we are thrust into the midst of the ‘furnace’ of other peoples’ carnality that our ‘salvation’ is truly tested to see if we bring forth more of Adam- more carnality, or if we bring forth the nature of Christ, the Bread of Life. It’s easy to be ‘bread’ for others when they are being good to us, but I believe it is in this “furnace of earth” that our very substance is transformed.
It is only in the FIRE that the Fourth Man appears. “Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated… Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” (Daniel 3:19, 24-25) If we are truly interested in the ‘appearing’ of the Lord, then we can expect the fire. Do you see the connection?… “tried in a furnace of earth, purified SEVEN times”, “heat the furnace one SEVEN times more.” Thus the seven loaves represent the fullness and perfection of the ‘Chosen Man’, the Bread of Life, Christ IN us, appearing in His glory in Zion. “When He comes to be glorified IN His saints [on that day He will be made more glorious IN His consecrated people], and [He will] be marveled at and admired [in His glory reflected] IN all who have believed.” (2 Thessalonians 1:10 Amplified Bible)
So, the question is, “How many LOAVES have ye?” Our answer is, “And they said, SEVEN, and a few little fishes.” (Matthew 15:34) As an aside, I am still wondering why Jesus didn’t ask about fish, He only asked about bread. I cannot honestly say that I have any real ‘revelation’ on the matter, but I will share with you from the “Book of the Wisdom of Doug” (smile). Jesus fed the multitude with seven loaves “and a few little fishes”… that says to me that even if things are still a bit ‘fishy’ with us (and therefore a bit smelly also!), the Lord can still work with us and get the ‘multitude’ fed (smile). I told you that you’d get used to Kansas humor.
I find it significant that Jesus then did the following- “And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground.” (Matthew 15:35) Even though it may appear to us that the ‘multitude’ in the world today is hurrying around in the busyness of everyday life, oblivious to spiritual matters, the Lord knows how to get people’s attention. He knows how to cause them to sit down. What I’m about to say may ‘ruffle your feathers’ a bit, and you may not like it, but it’s my book (smile). I have heard it said so many times, “The Lord is such a gentleman. He would never do something against your will.” Don’t kid yourself! He’ll do whatever is necessary to bring forth Father’s purpose. Listen to what He did to Saul of Tarsus; “And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?… And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.” (Acts 9:3-4, 8-9) He knocked Saul off his horse and struck him blind for three days, and He did it without getting Saul’s ‘permission’. How about His dealing with Peter as He tells him, “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, satan hath desired to have you, that he may SIFT you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not:” (Luke 22:31-32) Jesus could have stopped satan from ‘sifting’ Peter, but He didn’t. The Lord knew it would serve as a catalyst to do a work in Peter. He is much more concerned with our character formation than our ‘comfort factor’. Let me quickly say that I certainly don’t mean to paint a negative picture here. These kind of things happen for redemptive purposes. God is not ‘mad’ at anybody and trying to get even either. We just don’t always understand the ‘why’ of things.
Listen to what the Father spoke through the prophet Isaiah. These are definitely not verses they taught you as a kid in Sunday School; “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and CREATE EVIL: I the Lord do all these things.” (Isaiah 45:7) And what about this one; “Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have CREATED the WASTER to destroy.” (Isaiah 54:16) To be honest, I cannot begin to attempt to explain or even understand the theology of those type of verses, however, with Job my profession is, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him:” (Job 13:15) I realize that most folks can’t handle having a God that big. We prefer the symbolism of the ‘Gentle Dove’, rather than a ‘Mighty Rushing Wind’ that messes up our ‘ordered’ lives, or a ‘Roaring Lion’ that causes us to tremble. What I’m trying to say is that the Father will utilize the circumstances of life, often the darkest and most difficult of circumstances, as the catalyst to further His purposes. The Lord knows how to get people’s attention, He knows how to cause them to sit down. Listen to more of Isaiah, “For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and GROSS DARKNESS the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.” (Isaiah 60:2-3) The Lord is in the business of getting people’s attention! When people around us are going through the ‘gross darkness’ that life often dishes up, you and I should be looking for these opportunities for His glory to be SEEN upon US! When people are made to ‘sit down’ because of the difficulties of life, they begin to realize their spiritual ‘famine’, they begin to realize how ‘hungry’ they really are. They begin to look outside themselves for a source of ‘nourishment’ and a source of ‘light’ in their darkness. The Father is preparing such a people of ‘nourishment’ and ‘light’, “Our skin GLOWS and is parched as from [the heat of] an OVEN because of the burning heat of [the fever of] famine.” (Lamentations 5:10 Amplified Bible) Remember, it is in the oven, in the furnace, that our actual SUBSTANCE turns to the Bread of Life.
Here is what shall be said of this people of ‘nourishment’ and ‘light’ that the Father is raising up, “…men of stature, shall come over unto THEE, and they shall be thine: they shall come after THEE; in chains they shall come over, and they shall fall down unto THEE, they shall make supplication unto THEE, saying, Surely GOD IS IN THEE; and there is none else, there is no God. Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour.” (Isaiah 45:14-15) Did you really catch that? The ‘multitude’ will be saying that surely God is IN this people, and there is no other god but the God that ‘hidest thyself’ IN these people! My friend, I don’t know about you, but to me this sounds like the Lord appearing in His glory; “When the Lord builds up Zion, He will APPEAR in His GLORY…” (Psalms 102:16) And isn’t that really what we’re all looking for?… for the Lord to appear in His glory, that every eye may see Him? Isn’t this really what Paul is speaking of in Philippians 1:20 when he says, “…so now also Christ shall be MAGNIFIED in MY body, whether it be by life, or by death.”? When Christ is MAGNIFIED in ME, the people around me SEE Him. When Christ is MAGNIFIED in YOU, the people around you SEE Him. “Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall SEE Him…” (Revelation 1:7)
So at this point in our journey, we’ve been broken open, rooted, grown, harvested, threshed, ground up, our ‘substance’ has turned to the Bread of Life in the oven, the Lord has caused the ‘multitude’ to ‘sit down’ and they’re realizing how ‘hungry’ they really are. Admittedly, I feel a bit like my children after many hours traveling and I want to ask, “Are we THERE YET?” Unfortunately, the answer is ‘no’. In our ‘pattern’ we can see that even though the loaves were ‘prepared’, and the ‘multitude’ was ready, the loaves still had to be BLESSED, BROKEN, and CONSUMED.
So many in the Church today that are in the process of being BROKEN in order to fulfill God’s purposes think they are under attack from the ‘enemy’. They wonder why all their spiritual warfare doesn’t seem to be working. I know what this place of being broken feels like… it hurts! Most people just cannot understand that being BLESSED and BROKEN go hand in hand, and it is all part of the Father’s plan. Here’s really the heart of the matter, though. You see, up to this time in our ‘pattern’ there were still only seven loaves. However, ‘something’ happened when they were blessed and broken… I’d call that ‘something’ exponential increase, because four thousand men were fed and there were still leftovers! In the natural sense, it only looked like seven loaves, but when they were blessed and broken… BAM! Can you see the picture for US, as we are blessed and broken?… I see exponential increase! Just about everybody in the Church is interested in being effective in their ministry. That’s why we read so many books, and attend so many conferences and seminars. Now I am certainly NOT against reading books and attending conferences… especially if they are MY books and conferences (smile)! However, I think the secret to truly effective ministry may well be the exponential increase that comes as we are blessed and broken! You see, our ministry is not a ‘product’ that we are offering, it is US that we are offering! Our ministry is US that we are offering, because it is Christ IN US ministering through us.
Because it is US that we are offering, the ultimate purpose of our ministry is that WE be CONSUMED. Our destiny is NOT to be beautiful sheaves of wheat in the Master’s field. Our destiny is NOT to be beautiful loaves of shewbread in the Holy Place of His temple. Our destiny IS to be CONSUMED. I particularly like the way Arthur Burt sets forth this principle in his book: “Around the World in 88 Years”. Arthur writes:
“I used to wonder where spiritual decay was born and now I know… ripeness occurs at a moment in time, and rottenness follows afterward. When fruit is thoroughly ripe, it leaves the tree, that moment of separation meaning the end of sap, the end of life. Now the rosy apple is ready for the purpose that God intended. In the process of being consumed, it loses its identity, going into the body where it refreshes, strengthens, and becomes part of the body. This is what Jesus meant when He said we would bring forth fruit, and by our fruit we would be known. The ultimate purpose of the ministry of God’s people is loss of identity. The ripe fruit disappears and is assimilated into the body, but if it doesn’t get eaten, it turns rotten.”
Just like the fruit that Arthur describes, so it is with bread, if it doesn’t get eaten, it turns moldy. And so it is with US, if we don’t get consumed, we turn rotten and moldy. Perhaps that is part of why the Church has been largely ‘unfit for human consumption’. We’ve been more concerned with getting OUR needs met, more concerned with escaping difficulty and darkness to go on to a ‘better place’ and leave this evil world behind, than we have been concerned with being PREPARED, BLESSED, BROKEN, and CONSUMED. Isn’t that basically what the life of Jesus Christ, Bread of Life Himself, consisted of?… being prepared, blessed, broken and consumed? Is our life to be any different?
“When the Lord builds up Zion, He will APPEAR in His GLORY…” (Psalms 102:16) My friend, the way the Lord builds up Zion is not by reconstructing some temple made with hands, rather, it is as we, the Zion of God, cast off selfish motives and begin to understand and walk in our destiny. As we are built up, indeed, the Lord appears in His glory; “When He comes to be glorified IN His saints [on that day He will be made more glorious IN His consecrated people], and [He will] be marveled at and admired [in His glory reflected] IN all who have believed.” (2 Thessalonians 1:10 Amplified Bible) The Lord does not want to send the ‘multitude’ away hungry. That ‘multitude’ is looking for a people who are prepared, blessed, broken and consumed. The question is, “Will WE be that people?”