"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander." ~ 1 Peter 3:15-16

The Bread of Wickedness and the Wine of Violence

Proverbs 4
v14 Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil.
v15 Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on.
v16 For they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong; they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble.
v17 For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence.
v18 But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.
v19 The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.

Proverbs 4:17 is one of those verses that mention both bread and wine together, and specifically one that comes with a negative metaphorical tone.

Starting in verse 14, the sage who wrote Proverbs, warns us against entering the path of the wicked and walking in its way, which is evil. As walking comes natural after learning to walk and is part of our life, it warns us against carrying out and breathing wickedness and evil, as if it is in our nature as to walking. Even more so, it warns us not to consider entering or starting such path to begin with. Instead, as exhorted in verse 15, we are to avoid it like a plague, in as much as it is within our control to avoid it. And if we are confronted by it in our face, we are to turn our back against it. Pass on to other wicked and evil persons who would go on it, but we do not go on it ourselves.

In verse 16, the sage describes some characteristic of the wicked and evil ones. They have insomnia, unless they finished what they have set their heart on. This is much like chasing episodes after episodes of our favorite shows or writings, or like restlessness before we complete that mystery, puzzle or game level. In a positive sense, we call it perseverance. But in a negative sense, as is intended in this verse, we call it addiction. And they are not satisfied with committing the wrong themselves alone, but wish to afflict the wrongness on others, and even to influence others to join them in their path. More importantly, their insomnia is not something within their control to prevent. They thought it was their own doing but their sleep is robbed by the Destroyer, who seeks to destroy them by luring them further into the path of one who will be destroyed by God ultimately.

And in verse 17, the sage provides a metaphorical picture of them eating the bread of wickedness and drinking the wine of violence. Like bread that symbolizes food that provides strength for our life, they are sustained and draw strength from incarnating wickedness and manifesting violence, as they cheer and revel in their wayward way, while sipping and savoring the blood of their victims. In this perverse picture of us, the Spirit reveals the love of God and the Gospel of Righteousness. The Messiah bore the whole weight of our sins at the cross, and whenever we see the breaking of bread, we are reminded that His body was broken for our sins. In fact, He broke the sins that hold us captive. And as the perfect sacrificial Lamb without sin, Yeshua poured out His life and blood, as an innocent, for the forgiveness of sins under the New Covenant. Indeed, He suffered a violent death under the hand of His enemies. This is a beautiful painting of the redemptive act of God, who turns the bread of wickedness and wine of violence into the holy bread and wine in remembrance of the Lord's death, resurrection and coming again.

Lastly in verse 18 and 19, the sage contrasts the path and way of righteous against that of the wicked. The wicked are in total darkness and blindness. They are like the blind leading the blind, they do not where they are going or what have tripped them. And we were once like them, before we understand that the righteous shall live by faith. The faith of the righteous is not blind, although it involves things not seen but hoped for. Unlike the path of the wicked, the path of the righteous is progressive, starting with the transfer of citizenship from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. As migrants to the new nation of royal priests, we are continually being washed and sanctified day after day, enabling us to see, in the faith, more clearly as days go by. Christ is the source of our Light, and in Him there is no darkness. So shall one day, we will see as if under the brightest of day, soaking in the Light of Life Himself.

The next time we partake the holy bread and wine, remember the bread of wickedness and wine of violence, which Jesus overturned and redeemed with His saving act in history.