Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Battle in the Wilderness: Better than Bread (Luke 4:3,4)

And the devil said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread." And Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'Man shall not live on bread alone.'" (Luke 4:3, 4 NASB)

In Jesus' time, there were no printing presses to produce large quantities of printed materials. That would not come until Gutenberg in 1450. There had been other forms of movable type printing, but nothing that could handle large quantities until Gutenberg's invention. In Jesus's time, the only "books" were painstakingly handwritten scrolls. There were no children's Bibles for young ones to handle and read.  Instead, young Jewish boys were schooled in local synagogues, where they were trained to memorize Scripture. The boys were supposed to memorize the books of the Torah - the first five books of our Bible. (The girls were taught Psalms and Proverbs by their mothers.) It was an incredible feat of memorization that we have, sadly and to our detriment, abandoned today. 

When the enemy tempted Jesus to turn the stone into bread, Jesus responded by quoting a verse from Deuteronomy 8:3. (Matthew records the entire quote, "Man does not live by bread alone, but by everything that proceeds from the mouth of God.") This was a particularly astute use of Scripture because this passage is one in which the children of Israel had just spent forty years in the wilderness. They were about to enter the Promised Land, and it was Moses job to teach them how to live obediently once they entered. In this passage, Moses was explaining the purpose of the wilderness. He said that God had allowed the wilderness to humble them, test them, reveal what was in their hearts, evaluate their willingness to obey Him, and to discipline them. It is the purpose of our own wilderness times today. They are designed to make us more willing to obey and more like our Lord. 

Jesus clearly understood that His time in the wilderness was also a time of testing and preparation for what God had prepared for Him. He was determined not to fail and realized the test was not yet complete. This final part was a critical portion in testing His willingness to submit to the will of God.  The verse Jesus quoted was speaking of the manna God had given the Israelites in the wilderness. Moses said that God allowed them to experience hunger, then fed them with manna so that they could understand that they "didn't live by bread alone."  Jesus understood that God could and would provide in His timing. 

What we ingest orally is not nearly as important as what we ingest into our hearts and minds by what we choose to read, watch, and hear. Jesus clearly felt that the Scriptures provided a nourishment that bread alone could never provide. Are we filling ourselves with Scripture? Do we ingest daily nourishment from the Word of God? In Jesus's own words, bread is not enough. To really live, we desperately need the Word of God. Are you receiving a steady diet of God's word? Do you spend enough time with Him to be nourished and strengthened for your day? Perhaps during our own wilderness experiences, those difficult times that come to all of us, we drew strength from God, but have we moved away and begun to rely on ourselves? 

Today, consider the Spiritual nourishment you ingest every day. Do you need to spend more time studying the Bible? Memorizing Scripture? 

Pray today that God will help you move to greater strength via the Word of God. Pray, too, that God will bring every verse our children and loved ones have memorized back to their minds and use it to draw them back to Himself.