man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
Deuteronomy 8:3 NIV
Bread is often paired with fruit in the Bible, which is no surprise, for each of these nourishing foods pointed beyond their Bible landscapes to the true source of sustenance: God and His Word. Fruit was the beautiful, bountiful food in the Garden of Eden, and bread was first stripped of its leaven as the Israelites left Egypt, then removed entirely in the Sinai desert, replaced with the bread of heaven. Each food source was used to lead God’s people to look beyond what God had created to the Creator himself.
“It has been called the “lesson of the desert,* ” but it was in response to the events of the garden: We do not live sustained by what we eat — whether bread or fruit — but by the word of the Lord (Deuteronomy 8:3). Nothing that God has created replaces himself as our source for knowledge and good judgment (Psalm 119:66); putting into practice the words of the Lord fortifies us from destruction (Luke 6:46 – 49).”
– “Keeping God’s Word,” God’s Word for Gardeners Bible, page 12
Behold the Breadfruit
Turns out, dear gardeners, there is a tree that marries both of these foods: the breadfruit. Behold both of these significant spiritual signs together in one plant! Not a Bible plant, of course, but a tropical species, the breadfruit tree produces fruits that may be baked, yielding a fluffy, bread-like texture. In fact, for over half the year, the tree’s fruits sustained the native population where the species was discovered, as observed by Lord Anson, a British explorer in the 18th century.
The breadfruit must be baked each day, resonating with the rhythm of God’s Word:
Give us each day our daily bread. Luke 11:3 NIV
Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day.
Exodus 16:4 NIV
Moments of Mutiny
In an uncanny alignment of Scripture stories and “real life,” breadfruit was the main cargo of the HMS Bounty, the British ship of “Mutiny on the Bounty” fame. The British government intended to establish breadfruit orchards to provide ample food supply in its colonies. Yet the crew transporting the sapling cargo defied authority, refusing to complete the mission. They detained the ship in the tropic port to indulge in the free island life on their own terms.
Likewise, Eve in the Garden of Eden breeched God’s rule to refrain from eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 3:1-6). Similarly in the Sinai desert, the Israelites rebelled against Moses and the monotony of manna, the bread of heaven (Numbers 11:4-15). Each of these stories has a mutiny, with fruit, bread and breadfruit marking the moment. Hmmmm.
In light of these departures leading away from command, how much more purposeful are Jesus’ words when he took the bread and broke it, the fruit of the vine and drank it, saying:
Do this in remembrance of me.
Luke 22:19, 1 Corinthians 11:24-25 NIV
The Lord reclaimed the mutinous markers as a blessed Communion with the One who IS every word from the mouth of the Lord,
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
John 1:14 NIV
words that lead to blessing and bounty:
If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today…all these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God: You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks. Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed. You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out.
Deuteronomy 28:1-6 NIV
The cause continues. Breadfruit remains brilliantly nourishing produce, also yielding gluten-free flour. Researchers and propagators from the Breadfruit Institute herald this crop as a “potentially permanent solution to hunger in tropic regions,” says Dr. Diane Ragone. In another story twist, breadfruit has been dubbed the “Tree of Life,” the tree also planted in the Garden of Eden representing unending communion with God.
For more information, look up www.globalbreadfruit.com/
* quoted from O. Palmer Robertson, Understanding the Land of the Bible (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 1996), page 26.
Breadfruit tree and detail photos borrowed from www.globalbreadfruit.com
Sketch of bread-fruit from A Description of the Mangostan and the Bread-fruit by John Ellis, 1775