“We are familiar with the thought that our bodies are like machines, needing the right routine of food, rest and exercise if they are to run efficiently, and liable, if filled up with the wrong fuel- to lose their power of healthy functioning and ultimately to “seize up” entirely in physical death. What we are, perhaps, slower to grasp is that God wishes us to think of our souls in a similar way. We are made in God’s moral image- our souls were made to “run” the practice of worship, law-keeping, truthfulness, honesty, discipline, self-control, and service to God and our fellows. If we abandon these practices, not only do we incur guilt before God; we progressively destroy our own souls.” – J.I. Packer
“Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus, says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.” – Ezekiel 37: 4-5
Ezekiel prophesied over the bones as he was commanded and he watched, beholding the bones coming together. He watched as dry bones, with no life whatsoever form into breathing life. Essentially, this is a metaphorical depiction of our souls in the moment we were regenerate. For it is only the powerful word that brings life in our hearts of death. This life is not just physical, but much more importantly deeply spiritual. If he breathes on the slain the being is now awakened into an alive being, full of the Spirit. It is here in the book of Ezekiel that we are provided a depiction of the reoccurring gospel theme of our organic union to Christ. The organic union that gives us life, breath and the fullness thereof.
The dry bones provide imagery of who we are in our infinite depravity, yet God in Christ in his infinite nature gave the finite life. If we did not breathe ourselves in existence than we cannot believe that we can walk in our own strength, for on our own we are nothing more than these dry bones Ezekiel prophesied to. If we could not be formed or function apart from our organic union with Christ, we cannot be nourished apart form the word. It is only His words that can give us life, can draw us unto himself and only these words can nourish our pining souls, renew our feeble minds and restore every facet of who we are. This organic union is thoroughly explained in the gospel of John:
“I am the true vine and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Abide in me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” -John 15:1-5
When considering our organic union to Christ we must understand the embodiment of living as a branch interconnected to the vine. Every branch has the same sap flowing through it actively keeping it alive as it is clinging to its life on the vine. This interconnected oneness represents the life we have through the power of the Holy Spirit as we are woven as one with Christ. Our nourishment keeping us alive as heirs in Christ is the abiding life of the Holy Spirit, for our Savior is a life giver. We are nourished in our organic union by abiding, dwelling and clinging deeper still into Jesus. Our continuance in Christ is a test of our reality laying down two imagery driven questions. Where does our true nourishment lie? Where is our trust and hope in the dead facets of our heart? These questions are two that we must seriously consider in light of the assurance of Christ in John clearly stating that we cannot do anything apart from him. Our restoration and renewal can only come from him.
Without spiritual nourishment as we have been called to as disciples in Christ, we are a reality of the dry bones in the field, true desert souls. This beautiful and steadfast truth is covenantal with an everlasting determination that must deepen our reverence to transform our nourishment. Our spiritual and biblical nourishment should be of great severity to us in our daily sustenance. For the word of God must be our only form of sustenance that is relied on by our souls. It must be our only form of affirmation, of comfort, of peace and of wisdom. When the truth of the power of the gospel is in fact our only spiritual daily bread, we will nourish ourselves to love God with all of our heart and soul and mind. By loving God in this depth in our hearts we respond in obedience with all that our redeemed souls are.
Only He can redeem our hearts that are lost in the wilderness. We are invited to experience the sustenance of our watered place. This is the reoccurring motif throughout the word for our source of nourishment as beloved heirs. We see this image introduced in Psalm 1 and more thoroughly explained in Jeremiah 17:
“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 the LORD, 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.” -Psalm 1:1-3
“Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD. He is like a shrub in the desert and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought for it does not cease to bear fruit.” – Jeremiah 17:1-8
These passages are a clear direction of where our nourishment is meant to arise from. Only from our Creator, our Life Giver, our Shepherd and the only true Lover of our deceitful souls. For our souls do deceive us every single day, tricking us to believe that walking through the presence of the world is satisfying. Our hearts allow us to walk the wide path leading to destruction because we continuously drink from the wrong fount of water. For only the fount of living water, as beautifully scripted in these passages can satisfy. The water here is a metaphor for the life given to us. That is why how we go about our spiritual and physical nourishment must not only be intentional, but also must be held in their rightful place. True nourishment changes us and resensitizes us to the beauty of the gospel through a right reverence in Christ. When we are properly spiritually nourished, drinking reverently without end from the word, we can see our sin rightly. Not only view our sin but deepen our desire to replace our misplaced affections.
Titus 2:11-14 “ For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”
Not by the works of our own hands, but only by the blood of Christ poured out on our behalf we are saved. This very grace is the same grace that disciplines us as children. This very grace is the one that trains us to renounce ungodliness. The sin within our hearts is different for each of us, however, the way in which we nourish our souls is going to be evident in our repentance. The severity we place on our own spiritual nourishment will be depicted through the depths in which we forsake sin and have no more to with it. For God in Christ must be our only object of worship, that we would have the strength to deny the secular interests and worldly lusts interwoven in our heart. The sacrifice he showed for us must lead us to sacrifice what is not pleasing to him.
The reoccurring sin pattern in my life is not nourishing myself physically in a way that is honoring to God. However, this sin pattern plaguing my life could not be undone by my own will, but only through the work of the Holy Spirit. Growth in our life results from a deeper reverence and fear of God in Christ, which will ultimately result as a result of our spiritual nourishment in the word, in prayer, in discipleship and in the community of believers. For a healthy fear is one that truly is afraid of the wrath of God and consequences of our sin. For this saving grace teaches us to turn away from sin and cling closely to grace because fixing our eyes on Christ in fear, and the truth impels a person to holiness. Through intentionality in my relationship with Christ and reliance on His nourishment of my soul, I have grown in understanding of the purpose for physical food.
We are told throughout scripture that we are not to work for physical food for it will spoil. It is important for us to spend time meditating on this truth until we understand it. As children of God our need for physical food is to be a continual reminder of our desperate need for spiritual food. Our focus is not to be wholly on our physical bodies and food for they are meant to solely be reminders of our depravity and finite nature on this side of eternity. In fact, our bodies needs are to point to eternity, realigning the misplaced affections we place on our physical nourishment.
“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” – Matthew 6:35
True bread from heaven will nourish us spiritually and eternally, infinitely superior to our daily physical food. It is a right under standing of this that will cease the hunger in our souls to mismanage our physical food. For physical food is solely meant to meet our temporal physical needs as God intended when he intricately created our bodies to function. Therefore, as his children our thoughts surrounding food, whether they be fear, gluttony, indulging, etc. are all sinful misplaced affections that must be put off in our pursuit of holiness. The deep longings of our souls are spiritually nourished by our Heavenly Father so that we do not need to seek physical food or fear it with sinful longings and emotions. How we hold the relationship between spiritual and physical food in our lives is indeed important as we walk the narrow way.
I acknowledge the true difficulty in this as I myself have walked complacent in this sin far to long. However, open eyes to my own complacency has fueled my passion for biblical physical nourishment as remembrance for our daily bread in spiritual food. I long in my own life and for others that we can put off our own obsessions with finite indulgences, selfish vanity and fleeting satisfaction that we circle around feeding our own bodies. For the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. He created our bodies to function solely on what he created for us to eat. He created our bodies to signal when we are hungry as proof this world will never satisfy. How we respond to these cues and how we steward them is indeed important. When we rightfully place the truth of the gospel as our only source of daily bread than we can rightly handle our physical food in a way that is honoring to God.
Our deepest longings to know God personally will be eternally satisfied. That is why we are called to renounce ungodliness in our lives and I am afraid that our relationship with our nourishment is one that is in dire need of growth. May we never forget the Valley of the Dry Bones and how we are not just given life, but organic union with Christ. A union that calls us to abide and eat of our daily bread provided by the word. A focus on our abiding, that our spiritual hunger and thirst is quenched, that we may steward over our bodies well and nourish ourselves physically as Christ intended. Nourishing spiritually and physically in a way that both are in their rightful place in our souls and that we walk in continual remembrance of our utter dependence on nourishment from Christ.