May I share a confession with you? I want to start by giving you fair warning. Reading this could make your mouth water, your tummy rumble, and increase sales at your local bakery. Do you feel sufficiently warned? OK- here it is – I like bread. I really enjoy it. A sourdough loaf, brioche, croissants, pain au chocolat- these are gifts.
What does bread have to do with the glory of God and calling? Several weeks ago, I started reading through 1 and 2 Chronicles and as I read through the lists of names, something sparked like crisp kindling and began to fan a flame into a roaring fire: These very real people are being listed in family groups around the tasks they are responsible for– they hold jobs as musicians, gatekeepers, soldiers. Then like a record scratch interrupting the cadence, a firstborn son named Mattithiah is singled out. He is entrusted with baking the bread. Why was he highlighted? Weeks went by and I could not get Mattithiah off of my mind. Why a baker? What about him specifically merits mention here in a list of guards and inventory takers and singers? Why is a baker significant enough to be mentioned?
Chronicles gives an ultimate recap of the history of Israel from Creation until the people are back in the land and looking for the Messiah. From the beginning of Genesis, the people were looking for the One who could crush the head of the serpent (Gen 3:15). The family of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were chosen to be the covenant family that would bring forth the rescuer (Gen 12:1). The tribe of Judah and house of David narrowed down the specific family tree that Jesus would later claim as His own (2 Sam 7).
After seventy years of captivity and exile from the promised land, the Persian king Cyrus issued a decree that the people of Israel could return to the land. They were going to rebuild the temple and re-establish worship in the land where God had placed His name. The release from exile and return were something to celebrate, but they had been gone for seventy years, which means many of the people had never seen this promised land with their own eyes. Ezra, Nehemiah and Haggai tell us about the reconstruction efforts and when they were done, the rebuilt temple didn’t have the same splendor as the original one dedicated by Solomon.
After the exile and return, the people needed to be reminded of God’s faithfulness to His covenant promises. So why mention the bread-maker?
Mattithiah was in this new temple to fulfill a very important and specific role: to remind the people of God’s provision. He is a tangible reminder that God has always provided nourishment for His people. He did it in the garden, He did it with manna in the wilderness, He daily does it for us. The bread in the temple is a foreshadow of the bread of life to come in the person and work of Jesus.
When we find ourselves in situations when our expectations have not been met and we question our purpose or a specific calling, let’s remember Mattithiah. The mention of a baker is no accident- the task God called Him to was fulfilling a specific purpose to serve the kingdom of God and the people of God.
Is there a seemingly mundane or lowly task God is calling you to in this season?
Today, we are invited to glorify the Lord as the people of God who are built into His temple (Eph 2:21-22). He doesn’t need human hands to serve Him, but He has specifically placed you in this generation, in your family tree, in your location, and in your profession. He specifically gifts each believer at least one spiritual gift (1 Cor 12, Rom 12, Eph 4:11-12, 1 Pet 4:10-11) and these gifts are to be used for His purposes. The glory of the Lord shines upon us and through us – even in the most seemingly insignificant acts of obedience.
And what else happens through God’s people? 2 Cor 2:15 says: “For we are the aroma of Christ for God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing,”.
Not all of us are bakers, but whatever your gifts, talents, and specific calling: be faithful to use it today. May the aroma of Christ in you be so potent, your neighbor’s mouth will water as they walk by, and they will “taste and see that the Lord is good.”