Sunday, August 05, 2007


And He afflicted you and let you go hungry, and then fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your forefathers know, so that He would make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but rather by, whatever comes forth from the mouth of the Lord does man live.

These words were read in Synagogues this week all around the world. It was part of their reading from the Torah, and the words quoted above were taken from a Jewish website, I mention this, only to point out what drew my attention to these verses, on this occasion.

The New American Standard Bible puts it like this:

"He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD. Deuteronomy 8:3(Source

Satan Challenged Jesus
After Jesus was baptised in the River Jordan by his cousin, John, he was lead by the Holy Spirit, into the wilderness. He was there for 40 days. He did not eat during this time, and at a certain time, Satan came to him, and tempted him.

“If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become bread.” And Jesus answered him saying, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word of God.”

Satan went on and twice more tempted Jesus to put his own needs above those of His heavenly Father. Twice more, Jesus rebuffed the temptation, by quoting Scripture; however my focus this time is on the “first temptation.”

Firstly let us think a bit about the nature of that temptation. There was nothing wrong with supernaturally making bread – Jesus did this on two occasions, when he fed the 5000 and the 4000. Jesus’ very first miracle was to turn water into wine, at the wedding in Cana, and so we know that Jesus was most certainly not incapable of turning the stones into bread. Also, Satan was goading Jesus, saying “If you are the Son of God…” in effect, he was saying “Go on, prove it. If you really are the Son of God, prove it by turning these stones into bread.”

Satan wanted Jesus to draw attention to himself, and turning stones into bread would have made an instant celebrity out of Jesus. People would have put him up on a pedestal, and may have even worshipped him as the Messiah, but he knew that that would have interfered with the “plan of action” which was to train twelve disciples, and teach them during a period of three years, and then to die on the cross for our sins. In effect, Satan wanted Jesus to take a shortcut, bypassing Golgotha and the tomb, and proceed straight to the throne.

What shortcuts is Satan tempting you to take?

Jesus’ Answer

“It is written…”
As I said already these words are a direct quote from Scripture. Our Lord, who is Himself, God, chose to respond to temptation by quoting the Bible. We can learn that this strategy is the most effective, when we are tempted to do wrong, or to rely on our own strength when we should be depending on God.

“Man shall not live by bread alone…”
Bread in this context is not literally bread, in the sense of a single type of food. We all know that from the purely physical standpoint, this statement is true too, since we need the “balanced diet” comprising dairy, meat, cereals, fruit & vegetables (5 a day), water, various supplements, etc. However we know that Jesus was not speaking about physical sustenance here, but the feeding of our whole being. In this sense, we need a ‘balanced diet” paying attention not only to our physical needs of food, shelter and warmth, but to our spiritual need to be in relationship with our Almighty, and yet personal friend, the Lord God.

From a completely physical perspective, one can survive without relationships, but it doesn’t take a psychologist to tell you that everybody needs a friend, preferably a number of friends. However, you may be the most popular person in town, but if you do not know God, you are not having a balanced diet – and the effect will at some point, catch up with you.

But by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Speaking of a balanced diet, one can have an unbalanced diet, with regard to hearing or reading God’s word too. How is that? I hear you ask? Surely anything you read of God’s Word is good for you? It is, but you need to read ALL of God’s word and not only stick to your favourite verses. You need to read from both the New and the Old Testament, from the Prophets and the Pentateuch, From the Evangelists and the Epistles.

As with a physical diet, your diet of God’s word is not only about WHAT you eat (read or hear) but how you eat, the when and the how matter. Imagine a person deciding that they are too busy to keep sitting down to eat, and so they decide that at the beginning of the week they will have one major meal that they consume at one sitting. It is such a large meal that they take two to three hours to work through their 7 course meal. It perfectly balanced diet in the sense of having a correct balance of the various nutrients, and taken over a week, it is a reasonable quantity of food. However, any doctor can tell you that this person is in danger of killing themselves. Their bodies would not cope with all that food, and most of it would pass out of their system as waste. Directly after the meal, they would probably say, I could quite happily never look at another meal, but by the next day, their body would be craving more food and by Thursday, they will be listless, lacking energy and probably sick. Yes this is completely ridiculous, and nobody would think of operating in this way, and yet, when it comes to God’s Word, a number of people will try to survive on one or perhaps two meals in the week. How ridiculous is that?

As with our physical body, our spirits/souls need exercise too. If we eat a very balanced diet, but never exercise, or exercise too seldom, we do not burn up the energy that that food puts into our system and we become overweight, and our organs take strain. In order to be fit, we need to eat the right food, at the right time, and exercise too. The more we exercise, the stronger we become. James says “faith, without works, is dead.” (James 2:14) We may know our Bible thoroughly, but if we do not put that knowledge into practice, the knowledge itself is useless, and we remain, spiritually dead. No – we need to apply what we learn through reading or hearing God’s Word in our lives by our conduct. As it says in Philippians, we must work out our Salvation, “with fear and trembling.” (Phil. 2:12.) This does not mean we have to work to be saved – we cannot, but it means that having been saved, we live accordingly.

How balanced is your diet? Are you exercising sufficiently?