Man Shall Not Live by Bread Alone

Man Shall Not Live by Bread Alone

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     In our culture we often hear how important it is to maintain a healthy diet, yet there are so many divergent opinions as to the best and most healthy eating plan. We may be inundated with countless choices, but one thing is absolutely certain—people need to eat! No one can survive indefinitely without food.
     Physical food provides the fuel and strength necessary for our physical sustenance. Food is absolutely fundamental to physical life, but what about when we face mental and spiritual challenges or obstacles? Is a good physical diet enough to carry us through?
     Matthew 4:4 gives us the answer: “…Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Our bodies require physical food, but we need more than physical food alone if we are to consistently and successfully triumph over the obstacles. We must maintain a proper spiritual diet as well. The proper spiritual diet begins and ends with the words that proceed “out of the mouth of God.”
     Let’s examine the tie-in between the spiritual food of God’s Word and physical food. The Biblical accounts we’ll look at illustrate that feeding on God’s Word is essential to overcoming challenges and obstacles. And we will see how we can overcome by maintaining a proper spiritual diet. God’s Word is what provides the nourishment and strength necessary to triumph over any obstacle.
     Throughout the Scriptures, spiritual food is likened to physical food. The Book of Jeremiah illustrates this.
Jeremiah 15:16:
Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts.
     Jeremiah didn’t literally eat the Word as we might eat a piece of bread. Rather, this verse expresses that he mentally digested the Word and assimilated it to the end that it was the joy and rejoicing of his heart. He lived on it; it was his life. More specifically, to “eat” is an idiom that communicates the intensity of expectation with which Jeremiah put those words in his heart and mind.
     Job also associated God’s Word with physical food.
Job 23:12:
Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.
     Job compared his spiritual diet to his physical diet. Here he communicated precisely how vital God’s Word was to his very sustenance. Job didn’t say that he esteemed the words of God’s mouth more than his favorite magazine or book or news program; he compared the significance and value of God’s Word to one of the most basic human needs—physical nourishment!
     Jeremiah and Job are certainly not the only ones noted in the Scriptures who included God’s Word as a necessary part of their diet. The children of Israel sustained themselves on God’s Word too, and this aided them in overcoming the serious challenge of surviving forty years in the wilderness.
     While the children of Israel were in the wilderness, God taught them the value of living on every word that came from Him. Interestingly, God’s teaching technique included physical food as well as spiritual food.
Deuteronomy 8:3:
And he [God] humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live.
     Previous to this, manna was not known to the children of Israel or their fathers. We also see that it was something unfamiliar in the meaning of the word “manna,” which is, “What is it?” God fed the children of Israel with manna and gave them specific instructions regarding it to teach them that they could not survive on physical food only—they also needed every word that proceeded from Him. By living on God’s words, they were nourished and strengthened physically and spiritually. They learned that regardless of the circumstances, God could absolutely take care of them—and that His supply was not limited to what was known or familiar to them.
     To further develop our understanding of how God taught the children of Israel that man does not live by physical food only, we’ll look at the record where God first provided manna for Israel. The children of Israel had been in the wilderness for about a month, and they began to murmur against Moses and Aaron, saying, “Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger” (Exodus 16:3).
     They were admittedly challenged with their circumstances, to the point that….

This is an excerpt from the July/August 2005 issue of The Way Magazine.
Copyright© 2005 by The Way International. All rights reserved.
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