“Bread today for a brighter tomorrow” is the headline on a web page “Bread for Israel.”
“In the country known as ‘the Land flowing with milk and honey,’ it’s hard to believe that anyone goes hungry. Yet every day, millions of children and adults throughout Israel are facing hunger or food insecurity.” According to this non-profit organization, almost 20% of Israeli families are “suffering from food insecurity.” Almost a third are children.
The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization estimates that about 795 million people in a world of 7.3 billion people are suffering from chronic undernourishment. Approximately 13% of people in developing countries are suffering from extreme poverty and hunger.
However, as sad as it is to know there are hungry people in the world, there is another kind of hunger that is even worse. Spiritual hunger. Spiritual malnourishment is a worldwide epidemic.
From a Bible text that has become a proverb, Jesus said, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.” Then He adds, “but by every word of God.'” (Lk 4:4).
These words were spoken by the Savior to Satan when he was tempted following forty days of fasting. No doubt Jesus was hungry. And the thought of turning a stone in the wilderness into a source of sustenance would have been tempting. He could have used His divine powers for His own physical needs.
Yet, Jesus resisted. He appealed to Scripture with the words “It is written,” with a quote from Moses’ exhortation to Israel in Deuteronomy 8:3. The great Lawgiver reminded Israel that God fed them in the wilderness with manna from heaven. However, there is a manna that is more important. Of greater value. And of surpassing significance to the soul. The manna of God’s Word.
While bread represents the fundamental necessities of life, it also symbolizes spiritual sustenance. Jehovah used the Passover bread to remind Israel of their deliverance from bondage and His protection and provision for them. Physically eating serves as a metaphor for our spiritual nourishment. The Psalmist penned, “Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. (PS 37:3)
In the New Testament, Jesus proclaimed, “I am the bread of life.” He is the Bread of life because He is the incarnate Word of God. And so He promised that “he who comes to me shall never hunger” (Jn 6:35).
What bread is to the body so is the Word to our soul. It provides nurture, nutrition, and nourishment. It strengthens us. Energizes us. And sustains us. Without the bread of life, we will become spiritually malnourished, grow weak and finally die a spiritual death.
Feed on the Word. Taste it as an appetizer. Make it your main course. Enjoy it as your dessert. And rely on it for a quick snack. The Word of God has value as a short devotional as well as an in-depth study. It can bring us joy and delight. Sometimes just a single verse can provide the energy to keep us going.
There is a hunger of the soul that only the Word of God can satisfy. As we “hunger and thirst after righteousness” realize that we can only be fulfilled by feeding on the Bread of Life. In fact, the Psalmist said that God’s Word is “sweeter than honey” (Ps 19:10).
Jesus was not discounting the need for physical nourishment, nor are we unconcerned about hungry children in the world today. But please be advised that it is only the Word of God that can satisfy the famished souls that are starving for meaning, purpose, and hope beyond this life.
The proclamation of Jesus offers this wonderful promise: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever…” (Jn 6:51).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman