Not By Bread Alone

We are often jaded by what we need as humans, even as those who consider themselves members of the people of God. We continue in our self-deception by forcing these needs and the meeting of them into the plan and even the character of God.

Deuteronomy 8:3 addresses one major need we have with two (I’ll call them) sub-needs that are very much in relationship with the major need. First the major need—it is clear not only from this passage but also from the exodus journey of the people of Israel that YHWH wanted them to learn one, simple, yet profound lesson that would determine the spiritual life of the nation for years to come. This is the Lord’s lesson for them and for us: “You need Me.” O how desperate we are for the Maker and Sustainer of life! Do we even know this? Are we Americans able to see that our materialism is a house built on a foundation made of sand? Every moment of our existence is dependent upon the gracious will and words of the one true God.

Second, there are two related sub-needs that jump out of Deuteronomy 8:3. We first learn that once we recognize our need for YHWH, we enter into a relationship with him dressed in humility. This is because his hand gives or withholds. The words of the songwriter, “He gives and takes away” are indeed true. How dare we presume upon the Almighty! Therefore, we should expect relationship with him to look like a school of humility—where we experience suffering and tests so that we may know from whom our provision comes and not be deceived.

The second sub-need is often neglected because we rarely discuss what belief really is. We tell others that they need to believe in God and in his Son Jesus Christ whom he has sent for us and our salvation, but we rarely discuss the nature of belief. In Deuteronomy 8:3, I think that the nature of belief is addressed indirectly. Reread the second half of the verse, “He did this to teach you that humankind cannot live by bread alone, but also by everything that comes from the Lord’s mouth.” This statement can be boiled down to this, “In what or in whom have you placed your trust?” Ultimately, you are even incapable of feeding yourselves should YHWH will it. Therefore, our second sub-need is a heart that is loyal to the Lord.

We have just exited the Easter season, which aims the heart of the Christian at the work of Jesus on the cross and in his resurrection—that which perhaps magnifies our needs the most. We need the Lord—more than anything else, for all things come from him and all things will return to him. In addition to this, when we enter into relationship with him, we are called to humility and to loyalty. My prayer is enter into a deeper awareness of these needs in my own life.

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