Lust as body function suffers without adequate food, water, and rest, when the spiritual needs are not satisfied the spiritual condition also suffers and becomes weak.
God desires that His children will trust in Him as children trust in their earthly parents to supply all of their needs. After recognizing God as our creator, honoring His name in every activity of life, and requesting that His will be done in our lives, then, as citizens of His kingdom we have a perfect right and every confidence to begin that series of petitions which involves our needs. Our first requirement is for our daily bread, not what we need for next week or next month, or even for tomorrow, but that we will have what we need for today to sustain our physical and spiritual lives.
The Bible gives a very powerful illustration of God’s attempting to teach His people to simply trust Him to provide for their needs when the children of Israel went through the desert on their journey to the Promised Land. The Bible says there were 600,000 men besides women and children (Numbers 26:51). Thus there is no doubt that it was a very large company of possibly several million who passed through the barren and desolate wasteland where there was no vegetation or source of water. It would be natural to be concerned about how the food and water were to be provided.
God had a plan and rained down manna from heaven daily, but the Israelites complained about it. The Lord told Moses that He had heard the complaints and they would have more to eat than they knew what to do with. The next day, the Bible says, “So it was that quails came up at evening and covered the camp, and in the morning the dew lay all around the camp. And when the layer of dew lifted, there, on the surface of the wilderness, was a small round substance, as fine as frost on the ground. So when the children of Israel saw it, they said to one another, ‘What is it?’ For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, ‘This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat. This is the thing which the Lord has commanded: “Let every man gather it according to each one’s need, one omer for each person, according to the number of persons; let every man take for those who are in his tent.” ’ And the children of Israel did so and gathered, some more, some less. So when they measured it by omers, he who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack. Every man had gathered according to each one’s need. And Moses said, ‘Let no one leave any of it till morning.’ Notwithstanding they did not heed Moses. But some of them left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them. So they gathered it every morning, every man according to his need. And when the sun became hot, it melted.” Exodus 16:13–21.
God provided manna for them every day. They gathered only what they needed for that day and any excess would spoil. Their needs were supplied. “And so it was, on the sixth day (Friday), that they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one. And all rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. Then he said to them, ‘This is what the Lord has said: “Tomorrow is a Sabbath rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord. Bake what you will bake today, and boil what you will boil; and lay up for yourselves all that remains to be kept until morning.” ’ So they laid it up till morning, as Moses commanded; and it did not stink, nor were there any worms in it. Then Moses said, ‘Eat that today, for today is a Sabbath to the Lord; today you will not find it in the field. Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will be none.’ Now it happened that some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather, but they found none. And the Lord said to Moses, ‘How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My laws? See! For the Lord has given you the Sabbath; therefore He gives you on the sixth day bread for two days. Let every man remain in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.’ So the people rested on the seventh day.” Exodus 16:22–30.
Notice that this incident was before the giving of the Ten Commandments. There are some people who, because of lack of careful study, do not seem to understand that when the Ten Commandments were given on Sinai, it was not the first time that the law was given. On Sinai it was simply a review of the principles of God’s law that were ever in existence. You can find all the principles of the Ten Commandments in the book of Genesis. While in slavery, the children of Israel had forgotten much of what their fathers had instructed them. So on the mount the Lord reviewed with them all the principles of His law.
The Ten Commandments existed before they were given on Mount Sinai. In fact, the Sabbath existed at the foundation of the world. You can read about the institution of the Sabbath in Genesis 2:1–3. Some of the Israelites did not have enough faith in God’s provision for them and went out to gather it on the Sabbath. To their surprise they found none. Every week they gathered the manna. Every day, five days of the week they gathered enough for that day. On the sixth day they gathered twice as much to provide for the Sabbath. The portion held over did not spoil. Every week the cycle began again. How long did that go on? “And the house of Israel called its name Manna. And it was like white coriander seed, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey. … And the children of Israel ate manna forty years, until they came to an inhabited land; they ate manna until they came to the border of the land of Canaan.” Verses 31, 35.
Each day for forty years God provided bread for them to teach them just to simply depend on Him and trust in Him. Hundreds of years later, Jesus spoke about how God provided for the birds of the air and the beasts of the field. They do not worry about where they are going to get food to eat. Thus man should not worry either.
Jesus said, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:25–34.
Jesus does not want us to spend our lives in anxiety and worry over temporal things but to trust in God to provide for what we need. Those who are not His children and do not have faith in God and His word are dependent on themselves or maybe their parents, or the government, or somebody else. But if you are God’s child, your dependence is on Him to provide the things that you need.
Although my parents called themselves New Testament Christians, my father often said that they worked eight days a week. What that means is that they worked morning, noon, and night, never having time to stop. But after they became new covenant Christians, they only worked six days because they knew God has promised that He would provide for them. However, when God makes that promise, He does not mean that you have nothing to do, but you do not need to spend your life worrying and fretting about how you are going to make ends meet.
The Lord provides for the birds of the air and the beasts of the field but He does not put the food in their mouths. Their part is to go and gather it. In the same way, when we pray for our daily bread, we must understand that we have a role to play in obtaining it.
After man sinned, God told Adam how he would have to work to get his bread. He said, “Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. … In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread.” Genesis 3:17, 19.
Even though we have to work for the bread that we receive, there are some people who do not want to. The Bible has a lot to say about this attitude. In fact, the Bible has many counsels and cautions and actually curses against those who are sluggards, or lazy, or do not work. The Bible teaches that every person should be a worker. Notice what the wise man said in Proverbs 6:6–11: “Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which, having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer and gathers her food in the harvest. How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep—so shall your poverty come on you like a robber [prowler], and your need like an armed man.”
God expects for us to have at least as much wisdom as the creatures that set aside stores during the summer and during the time of harvest for the winter months.
How does God provide for our daily bread? Well, He provides more than enough in the harvest season so that those who gather the food will have food for a time when no food will grow. This is a principle that is taught throughout the Bible. In the very first book of the Bible, you can read the story of a very famous man who was called Joseph. Concerning him, the Bible says that he interpreted Pharaoh’s dream to mean that there were going to be seven years of plenty and after that there would be seven years of famine.
“Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went throughout all the land of Egypt. Now in the seven plentiful years the ground brought forth abundantly. So he gathered up all the food of the seven years which were in the land of Egypt, and laid up the food in the cities; he laid up in every city the food of the field which surrounded them. Joseph gathered very much grain, as the sand of the sea, until he stopped counting, for it was without number. … Then the seven years of plenty which were in the land of Egypt ended, and the seven years of famine began to come, as Joseph had said. The famine was in all lands, but in all the land of Egypt there was bread. So when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread. Then Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, ‘Go to Joseph; whatever he says to you, do.’ The famine was over all the face of the earth, and Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold to the Egyptians. And the famine became severe in the land of Egypt. So all countries came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain, because the famine was severe in all lands.” Genesis 41:49, 53–57.
Notice the principle that was taught in this story. When God provides abundance, you store up for the winter months or for the time when there will not be any. Praying for our daily bread is not inconsistent with storing up food in the time of harvest for a time of scarcity. When we pray that we might be given our daily bread, we are not just asking that we might be given physical bread. When the devil tempted Jesus in the wilderness to turn stones into bread, “He answered and said, ‘It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” ’ ” Matthew 4:4. God supplies all of our needs from His riches in glory (Philippians 4:19).
Our heavenly Father is immensely rich and abundantly able to care for all of His children. The message of the Bible is to trust in the Lord and do good and you will dwell in the land, and be fed (Psalm 37:3). To the person who walks in the ways of righteousness, the Lord says that “His bread shall be given to him and his water shall be sure.” Isaiah 33:16.
Not only that, but God has assured His people that they will not be ashamed in the evil time and in the days of famine they will be satisfied (Psalm 37:19). David, talking about this very same subject, makes the statement: “I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread.” Psalm 37:25.
In this petition, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11), we ask the Lord to give us that which we sometimes think we can get on our own, but the fact of the matter is that we would not be able to get it if the Lord did not first provide it. In Psalm 145:15, 16, it says, “The eyes of all look expectantly to You, and You give them their food in due season. You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.” After the worldwide flood of Noah’s time, God promised that, “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease.” Genesis 8:22.
Although there are over seven billion people in the world today, God is able to feed all. If all were following in the ways of the Lord, all would be fed and we would not see people starving to death, as we see in the world today. We cannot make food because food must be given life before it can impart life to the one eating it. Since God is the Life-giver, the only Source of life, food is a gift from God. When we ask for our daily bread we are not asking for something that belongs to somebody else but for our portion of that which has been abundantly supplied for every living creature.
We ask for food that will impart, not drunkenness, but strength, as noted in Ecclesiastes 10:17. One of the problems we have in our modern world is that there are people spending their money for that which is really not good for them. The Bible addresses this very problem in Isaiah 55:1, 2. “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen diligently to Me, and eat what is good. And let your soul delight itself in abundance.”
The Bible says, “Eat what is good.” When we ask for our daily bread, we’re not asking that we might have something that will injure ourselves. We are not asking for food that will be injurious to our bodies, but we ask for that which will produce health and strength that we may do God’s service. Many Bible students, in studying the Lord’s Prayer, have concluded that the main subject of this petition, “Give us today our daily bread …” is a petition for both physical food and spiritual food. Actually, spiritual food is even more important than the physical food.
The day after Jesus fed the five thousand, they were still excited about that miracle. And Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.” John 6:26, 27.
The daily physical food that we need strengthens us that we may work and that we may have health day by day, but the food that we eat day by day will not provide eternal life. This is a different kind of food. To receive that food Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” John 6:35. And He went on to tell them, “Your fathers ate manna in the wilderness, and are dead.” Verse 49. Even though God provided the physical food day by day that they needed, they still all died. But if you eat the spiritual bread that comes down from heaven you will never die because He will raise you up at the last day.
The people had a problem understanding what Jesus meant by this saying so He explained it in John 6:63. He said, “It is the Spirit Who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.”
Are you eating God’s word? Are you studying His word every day? As you study this Word and receive the thoughts of God into your mind, by beholding Him you will be changed and receive His character into your mind. Jesus promised that if you do this you will receive life. His word is indeed the bread of everlasting life.
(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New King James Version.)
Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church of Free Seventh-day Adventists in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.