Christine did a fantastic job of covering Job and Psalms today, so I’m going to focus on some things I saw in Matthew.
First, let me explain that I was talking with a friend who is experiencing some heart symptoms the past few days. I’ve been praying for her, and yet she keeps having pains over her heart. The doctor emphasized her need to strengthen her heart muscle, and I was helping her brainstorm ways to do this. We even had a discussion about things that the Scriptures say about the heart.
For instance, we noticed that the word bread (Strong’s #3899) appeared in some of the verses about the heart. It sounds odd to say in this gluten-free, low-carb, paleo world, but in Bible times, people seemed to view bread in a positive way.
“And I will bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh your hearts” (Genesis 18:5).
“Then it came to pass on the fourth day that they arose early in the morning, and he stood to depart; but the young woman’s father said to his son-in-law, ‘Refresh your heart with a morsel of bread, and afterward go your way'” (Judges 19:5).
But we also see that man cannot live on bread alone, or even food alone:
“Then YHVH said to Moses, ‘Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not‘” (Exodus 16:4).
“So you shall serve [worship] YHVH your God [and not pagan idols], and He will bless your bread and your water. And I will take sickness away from the midst of you” (Exodus 23:25).
“So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of YHVH” (Deuteronomy 8:3).
So what does all of this have to do with today’s Bible reading in Matthew 15? Well, I noticed that the words bread and heart were each repeated three times in this chapter.
“These people draw near to Me with their mouth,
And honor Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.
And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:8-9).
So the clear teaching of Scripture from the front of the book to the back is that we need to walk in His law (torah). When we teaching the commandments of men, which are different from the commandments of God as given in His Torah, it is an indication that our hearts are far from Him. This happens both when we take away from His commands and when we add to His commands (Deuteronomy 12:32).
“But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:18-19).
So my friend and I had a discussion about how sin can damage our hearts both physically and spiritually.
But I also noticed the word bread was used three times today:
Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Yeshua, saying, ‘Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread‘ (Matthew 15:1-2).
We just talked about washing our hands the other day, remember? It is a picture of having a clean heart, and it’s been a tradition in Israel to wash hands before meals for several thousand years — for this very reason! The tradition was intended to teach the spiritual truth of confessing the sins of the heart.
But if we have an outward tradition (clean hands) but an inner heart of “evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies,” then our outward hands are of no use at all. This is basically what Yeshua is accusing the scribes and Pharisees of doing, and they didn’t like it one bit!
But later in the chapter, we see a “woman of Canaan” who came to Yeshua to ask if He would heal her daughter who was “severely demon possessed” (Matthew 10:22). Yeshua was traveling in the region of Tyre and Sidon when this incident happened. These were ancient cities of Phoenicia, known for their idolatry.
You would certainly have seen a lot of “evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” in those towns!
And when this idolatrous Canaanite woman asked Yeshua to help her daughter — Hold everything!
I think I should have said “former idolatrous Canaanite woman.”
Why? Check out what she says to Yeshua:
“Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David!”
Translated into words I can understand better, she said, “Have mercy on me, my master, the promised Messiah!”
In other words, this woman recognized who Yeshua was, she was committing to following Him as one of His disciples, and she recognized that she had sinned and was in need of His mercy.
I have no idea what her past held. I could speculate all day long. Maybe she had sacrificed one of her babies to an idol. Maybe she had lived promiscuously. Who knows? But she had a severely demon-possessed daughter! (See how quick I am to judge her??? Good grief… I honestly have no idea why her daughter was demon possessed.)
But she says something else that’s really smart. Yeshua told her that He had only come for “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24). He meant it, because this is exactly what He told His disciples earlier (Matthew 10:6).
This woman was not a part of the people of God, but she boldly asked for what she needed:
“But He answered and said, ‘It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.’
“And she said, ‘Yes, Master, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.’
“Then Yeshua answered and said to her, ‘O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.’ And her daughter was healed from that very hour” (Matthew 15:26-28).
The Master’s Bread is the keeping of His commands from a pure heart, as we’ve already seen. She probably didn’t even know how to keep His commands, but she knew that even the smallest Word out of the mouth of YHVH was enough to purify her heart and heal her daughter.
And then we see that Yeshua feeds a massive crowd for the second time, with only seven loaves of bread.
Only seven? Seven is a number that means completeness and rest, like seven days make a complete week and we are to rest on the seventh day of each week.
When Yeshua took all the bread these people had and turned it into miraculous, heavenly bread along with healing all their diseases, He was offering them complete rest if they would come to Him as the promised Messiah and repent of their sins. This is what He has been promising all long!
“From that time Yeshua began to preach and to say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand'” (Matthew 4:17).
This is something only Yeshua is still offering. We eat of His perfect bread when we recognize Him as the promised Messiah and Savior, when we recognize that we have sinned and are in need of His mercy, and when we make Him our Master, with the goal of obeying Him from a pure heart.
He is all about refreshing our hearts and giving us rest. Completely.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture in this blog post taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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To Study Further:
- Questions about clean and unclean food? Don’t miss Christine’s post.