Man shall Not Live by Bread Alone

TEXT: (Mat 4:4 KJV) "...It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."

Many years before, God led the Children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage by the hand of Moses, and into the Land of Canaan, a land that was said to "flow with milk and honey."

Between the Egyptian slavery and the fruitful Promised Land lay FORTY STRENUOUS YEARS OF WILDERNESS WANDERINGS during which God miraculously fed these children of Israel with "bread from Heaven," or "manna," as they called it. Concerning these forty years, God told the Israelites in Canaan: (Deu 8:2-3 KJV) "And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. {3} And he 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."

Then in our text from Matthew chapter 4, Jesus had been led out in the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. He had been there fasting, not for forth years, but for forty days. (Mat 4:2-4 KJV) "And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered. {3} And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread." It was at this point that Jesus remembered the 40 lonely years of the Children of Israel in the wilderness, and to the devil "...he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."

As we take this phrase as our text today, I believe it has a powerful meaning for all of us: "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."

But exactly what DOES it mean? Think about it: "BREAD" stands for physical FOOD. The word for bread is occasionally simply translated "FOOD."

And thus, what Jesus is saying (and what God was saying to the Israelites) is that mankind needs more than physical food alone to live.

Bread is important. Jesus had been without bread for 40 days. That meant that He was very hungry. In the Lordís Prayer, Jesus indicated that we should ask God for our food, our "daily bread." (Mat 6:11 KJV) "Give us this day our daily bread."

The "Prodigal Son" lamented his lack of bread, or physical food: (Luke 15:17 KJV) "And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my fatherís have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!"

Bread is important. We talk of providing food as "keeping bread on the table."

When there is no more bread in the house we feel the urgency of going to the store to buy groceries.

Jesus was not minimizing the importance of bread (or, Physical food.). He was simply saying there is something else just as important, or even more important. "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."

A LOOK AT SOME OTHER RELATED PASSAGES:

(Mat 6:24-33 KJV) "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. {25} Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? {26} Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? {27} Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? {28} And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: {29} And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. {30} Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? {31} Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? {32} (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. {33} But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."

Jesus is certainly not saying we should let our children starve, or not work for a living. He does not deny our need for food and drink. As a matter of facrt, He says God knows we have need of all these things. But what He is saying is that there is something infinitely more important. The summary is in verse 33: "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Put spiritual things first, and there will be a way for the material. Man shall not live by bread alone; there are spiritual needs that are more important.

THE MESSAGE: There is something more important than physical food.

(Mat 6:19-21 KJV) "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: {20} But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: {21} For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."

It has been said (and rightfully so) that we can take nothing with us when we die. But though we canít take it with us when we die, WE CAN SEND IT ON AHEAD. If we die, having made no preparation for the life to come, we will be devastated. And thus Jesus emphasizes the importance of laying up treasure in Heaven ahead of time. He told the rich young ruler, (Mat 19:21 KJV) "...If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me."

Man shall not live by physical things alone; the spiritual is even more important.

(Luke 12:16-21 KJV) "And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: {17} And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? {18} And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. {19} And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. {20} But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? {21} So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."

God richly blessed this farmer. But when his bountiful harvest came in he didnít think about God. He selfishly made plans for his own returement. The tragedy of his life was not that he had been blessed in the physical realm, but that he placed that first, and made no provision for the spiritual realm. Jesus said, "So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."

(Col 3:1-4 KJV) "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. {2} Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. {3} For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. {4} When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory."

The things of this world are going to look mighty frail and worthless as we sail off into eternity at the end of this life. If we have not prepared to meet God and made arrangements for a home in Heaven, we will have missed it all. All the achievements of this world will be nothing, then.

BREAD IS IMPORTANT. Food for the body is important. We have to have it to live. Our families need food. God knows thatóas a matter of fact, His Word says, (1 Tim 5:8 KJV) "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." If a child or family member gets sick, and wonít eat, we know there is something seriously wrong, and we become concerned.

But one day this old body that we have nourished so well, will die. There is nothing we can do to prevent that. (Heb 9:27 KJV) "...it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." Physical food is good in that it sustains the body while it is alive. But Jesus is saying we need to take care of the soul as well. The successful farmer of Luke 12 looked out for physical things, but neglected his soul. When he died, he had all eternity to regret it. He was going to take it easy, eat, drink and be merry. "But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?" And then Jesus adds, "So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."

Is that not what the preacher has been trying to tell us: we need to think about our souls?

Is that not what your Mamma tried to tell you: Go to church, Live right and be right with God so you can go to Heaven when you die.

Well, thatís exactly what Jesus is telling you when He says, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."

Men live like they would never die. And God says that is a mistake. (Psa 49:7-13 KJV) "None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him: {8} (For the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever:) {9} That he should still live for ever, and not see corruption. {10} For he seeth that wise men die, likewise the fool and the brutish person perish, and leave their wealth to others. {11} Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling places to all generations; they call their lands after their own names. {12} Nevertheless man being in honour abideth not: he is like the beasts that perish. {13} This their way is their folly: yet their posterity approve their sayings. Selah."

(Luke 13:24 KJV) "Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able." (Luke 13:28 KJV) "There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out."

But are we going to listen to what Jesus is trying to tell us? Are we going to listen to what our mamma tried to tell us? Are we going to listen to what the preacher tries to tell us?

In Luke chapter 16, Jesus tells the story of the "Rich man and Lazarus." After a life of luxury, the rich man dies lost AND HE WANTS TO COME BACK TO EARTH AND DELIVER A MESSAGE TO HIS FIVE BROTHERS HE LEFT BEHIND. He and his brothers had lived a life of luxury. They had anything their heart would desire to eat. The beggar lay just begging the crumbs that fell from their luxurious table. The sad things is, they had made no preparation to meet God.

AND WHAT DO YOU THINK THE RICH MAN WANTED TO COME BACK AND TELL FIVE SURVIVING BROTHERS? I think I know. I think he wanted to tell them something like: "...It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."

(Luke 16:19-31 KJV) "There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: {20} And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, {21} And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich manís table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. {22} And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abrahamís bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; {23} And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. {24} And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. {25} But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. {26} And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. {27} Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my fatherís house: {28} For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. {29} Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. {30} And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. {31} And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead."

It was too late for them. But it is not too late for you and me, not yet. Will we heed the warning of Jesus, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."

(Amos 4:12 KJV) "...Prepare to meet thy God, O Israel."

Bread is important. If your family was hungry, you couldnít rest until something was done about it. If you were hungry, you couldnít rest until you did something about it.

But how many of us are malnourished for spiritual food? How many of our family members are starving for Godís Word? How many are "Not rich toward God"?

The question is, Are we going to do something about it?

If your child wouldnít eat, youíd take him to the doctor, whether he wanted to go or not. Youíd try to put something appetizing on the table. But are you that diligent with spiritual food? Do you take them to church? Do you read the Bible to them, and talk to them about the Bible? Do you say, "Iím not going to try to MAKE them do it"? Would you have the same attitude if it were physical food?

And what about your state of spiritual nourishment, today? (3 John 1:2 KJV) "Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth."

What would we look like if we turned it the other way around? What if we looked into the mirror, and saw the fitness of our body in proportion to the health of our soul? If our body prospered as our soul prospers, would we be able to get up and walk, and go to work, or school, or play?

If you are not prepared for the life to come, we hope you will carefully consider these truths from Godís Word. And if there is any way we can help you in making that preparation, please contact us, or your local congregation of the Lordís church.

--Emerson Blythe

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