Communion

Few Christian doctrines have caused as much trouble and confusion down the centuries as has the doctrine of communion. On the one side you have those who take a very literal interpretation of the words of Jesus when He said: “This is My body” and on the other you have those that take an allegorical sense of those same words.

As is always the case with any Christian controversy, a true understanding can only come about by combining an understanding given by the Holy Spirit to the words of the inspired Bible. It is that combination of the Spirit and the written word that leads us to the Word of God or Christ Himself in whom dwells all the riches of knowledge and understanding (see Colossians).

If we are ignorant of either one of these – either the Holy Spirit or the Bible – things can get quite confusing. Take as an example Proverbs 9: 1-6 and compare it with the same chapter verses 13-18. In the first section Wisdom calls out to the “Simple” and those “without understanding” and in the second section a foolish woman (Folly) does the same. Both have houses and both offer food and drink. Wisdom offers bread and wine and Folly offers bread and water. Wisdoms food and drink is her own. Folly’s is stolen from somewhere else.

We know from Proverbs 8 that Wisdom is personified by Jesus. It is His own body and blood He offers us – not something stolen from someone else. He paid a high price to give us the spiritual food we so badly desire.

However Folly gives us far more insipid fare. Proverbs 20:17 tells us that her food will turn to gravel in our mouths. Those who try to be satisfied with anything other than the body and blood of Jesus will be disappointed.

But have you seen what I did there? Here is a spiritual truth revealed through physical simple elements. The reality is not in the bread and wine or the water for that matter. The reality is in what they represent.

Physical Realities

Methusalech was afraid. This was his normal emotion every time King Hezekiah called him in for a progress report on the tunnel. It was not that the King made him feel that way, it was just that he seemed to be continually bringing him bad news.

The King understood the difficulty of what he had asked. No one had done anything like this before. Even the Egyptians with all their building projects hadn’t attempted something as peculiar as this. Methusalech spent a lot of time before the LORD praying for guidance as a result.

God’s faithfulness was shown in the continual flow of the spring which was named “Bursting Forth” (Gihon). It was an ancient name. The first book of the Torah said that one of the 4 rivers of Paradise was called the same. The people of Jerusalem liked to think that their Bursting Forth was somehow the same river as the one that watered Paradise like the Tigris and Euphrates were also thought to be somehow related to their counterparts. Methusalech thought all this unlikely considering how much the great Flood had changed the face of the earth since then.

The great thing was that it never stopped flowing and producing enough water for all their needs.

Then the King had his dreams and revelations. One of them warned him that the Assyrians were going to come and take over the land. The second told him to not let the Bursting Forth waters be accessible to just anyone. He had a picture of the spring being like the city’s wife, she shouldn’t be available to any stranger but only to the city itself.

Then he had a dream of a tunnel with gently flowing waters (Shiloah) in it. And that’s when he called in Methusalech.

They had been digging for 6 months now and things were not going well. The original plan was to dig a straight line through the bedrock with two teams. One team was to start at the place where they were to collect the water (the Pool of Shiloah). The other was to start at the Gihon spring itself.

The problem was trying to dig in a straight line.

Methusalech realised early that they were going to have problems direction finding when deep underground. There were no stars or landmarks to go by, nothing but a general sense that they were going in the right direction.

The team that started from the pool end had already gone through several changes of direction. In some ways it wasn’t so difficult for them since they were not going under the mountain to the same extent. In theory they should be able to hear the men at the top thumping their big instruments. But the ground carried the sounds in all sorts of strange ways so they kept changing direction as they heard it change.

The Team that started from the Gihon spring had been led by Ahimoah. He was a good man. The original intention had been to bring the spring waters straight to the other side of the mountain of Ophel and then go down from there. However it was taking too long and the mountain rock was too hard. So they decided to change direction and head south instead. It would have helped if they could know what south meant under that much rock.

Psalm 139

O Lord, You have searched me and known.

You know my sitting down and my rising up.

You understand my thoughts afar off.

You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.

For there is not a word on my tongue – behold O Lord, You know it altogether.

You have hedged me behind and before and laid Your hand upon me.

Knowledge too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot get it.