SEVEN KINDS OF FOOD
The matter of the food has much more detail. Let us look at verse 8:
A land of wheat and barley and vines and fig trees and pomegranates; a land of olive trees with oil and of honey.
There are six items, all of which belong to the vegetable kingdom, and a seventh which is quite peculiar—honey. It seems that honey belongs partly to the animal kingdom and partly to the vegetable kingdom, for it is produced by bees; there is a mingling together of the two kingdoms. Let us name the various items: wheat, barley, vines, fig trees, pomegranates, olive trees, and honey. There are two kinds of grain, four kinds of trees, and honey. The first tree, the vine, produces wine, and the last tree, the olive, produces oil; so we have wine and oil. The second tree produces figs; figs were taken by the Hebrew people as food. The third tree, the pomegranate, produces a fruit of beauty and of bountiful life. So we have four trees—the vine, the fig, the pomegranate, and the olive—and we have two grains, wheat and barley.
What is the meaning of all these things? It is very easy to find a verse telling us the meaning of wheat. John 12:24 tells us that the Lord Himself is a grain of wheat. So wheat clearly represents the Lord Jesus Himself. What then does barley typify? Barley represents Christ too. I know you are certain what the vine represents. The Lord said that He is the true vine. The Lord Himself is the vine. Then who does the fig tree represent? Without question it is Christ again. And the olive tree also is undoubtedly Christ. All these things—the wheat, the barley, the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree—represent Christ. But what aspects of Christ are typified by all these items? We need to spend some time to carefully consider this matter.
WHEAT AND BARLEY
Oh, we must worship the Lord for His Word! He put wheat first, not the barley or the vine. What aspect of Christ does wheat represent? From John 12:24 we can see that the Lord is a grain of wheat falling into the earth to die and to be buried. The wheat represents Christ incarnated. Christ is God incarnated as man to fall into the earth, to die and to be buried. This is the wheat. It typifies the Christ who was incarnated, the Christ who died, and the Christ who was buried.
Then what does the barley represent? The resurrected Christ! Wheat points to His incarnation, death, and burial, and following this the barley points to His resurrection, the resurrected Christ. How can we prove it? In the land of Canaan, the barley always ripens first; among all the grains, the barley is first. In Leviticus 23:10 the Lord said, “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, When you come into the land which I am giving you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring the sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest.” When the harvest time came, the firstfruits of the harvest had to be offered to the Lord, and the first fruit was clearly the barley. Now we must read 1 Corinthians 15:20: “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” All students of the Scriptures recognize that the first fruits of the harvest typify Christ as the first fruits of resurrection. We can prove by this that barley represents the resurrected Christ.
Wheat represents the incarnated, crucified, and buried Christ. Barley represents the resurrected Christ. These two kinds of grains represent two aspects of Christ, His coming and His going. They represent the Christ coming down to be the wheat and the Christ going up to be the barley. You must pay full attention to these two matters. Have you experienced Christ as wheat? And have you ever experienced Christ as barley? What kind of experience of Christ is wheat? And what kind of experience of Christ is barley?
THE EXPERIENCE OF WHEAT
It is not my object just to give some doctrinal teaching. My burden is not for that. What I am driving at is the experience of wheat and the experience of barley. Let us consider the experience of wheat. Brothers and sisters, whenever you are put into a situation by the Lord’s sovereignty in which you are limited, in which you are pressed, you may experience the Lord as wheat. When in the midst of that limiting and pressing situation you contact the Lord, He is just as a grain of wheat to you. Immediately upon contacting Him, you can be completely satisfied with your situation and your limitation. Oh, that life which is Christ Himself within you is a grain of wheat. It is the life of the little carpenter, the incarnate One, the limited One. When in a certain environment in which you are restricted and suppressed you have a living touch with Christ, you will say, “O Lord, You are the infinite God, but You did become a finite man. There is power in You to suffer any kind of limitation.” You will experience Christ as the wheat.
One day a very good and spiritual sister came to see me. She had come from a rich family and had married a brother who had to take care of his mother. The mother was amiable to the son, but to the daughter-in-law it was another story. This young sister came to me, seeking some fellowship to see whether her experience was right or not. Then she told me how much she suffered day by day from her mother-in-law. She told me how she went to the Lord and asked the Lord to do something. Of course, she dared not ask the Lord to get rid of her mother-in-law, but she asked the Lord to deliver her from that situation. She said then that when she besought the Lord, the Lord immediately began to show her what kind of person He was on the earth. He showed her how much He was limited as a carpenter in that little family for more than thirty years. When she saw such a vision, she cried with tears, “Lord, I praise You, I praise You! Your life is in me. I am satisfied, Lord, with my present situation. I do not ask You to change anything. I just praise You!” She asked me if her experience was right, and I told her that it was most right. This sister experienced Christ as a grain of wheat. She was really a spiritual sister.
Some time later, this sister came to me again. This time she said, “Oh, brother, praise the Lord, I am not only satisfied with the limitation of my family, but I have seen something more of the Lord Jesus! He was not only limited, but He was also put to death and buried. When the Lord revealed this to me, I told Him that I would not only be content to stay with the situation in my family, but I would even die and be buried in this family for His sake.” This was a further experience of Christ as a grain of wheat.
To many of us in many circumstances, the Lord Jesus is just as a grain of wheat. The more we experience Him, the more we realize that He is such a One. He lives in us. He is our life to make us willing to be limited, willing to die, willing to be buried, willing to be nothing. This is the experience of Christ as wheat.