How does God “Feed Us?”
World War II made us destitute, homeless, landless, nationless, and left us starving. Our father stood hours in lines for a loaf of bread, and had to come up with means to feed us. When I lost the use of my hands, I had to learn to make a living in different ways. Both, my father and I, learned that God had put more skills in us to earn bread than we thought we had. And the Lord had made everything available that we needed for preparing our own meals. Like the miracle of the manna from heaven, the Israelites had to collect and prepare it to be edible — and so is the fullness of the earth God gave man to manage and use (Genesis 1:26-31; Exodus 16; Psalm 24:1). I, myself, had to suffer to earn my bread for my “Journey of Grace.”
Man must raise his “own Bread” and “feed Himself”
Contrary to the presumptions that God will supply our needs, the Lord used the Philippians to help Paul (Philippians 4-14-19). God’s Command to Adam was and it still is in force today. Paul made this sobering charge. And Jesus, the Lord, laid down this Law. Man cannot live on bread alone, but can he live without it?
“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth to you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:17-19).
“Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, we did not eat any one’s bread without paying, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not burden any of you. It was not because we have not that right, but to give you in our conduct an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: If any one will not work, let him not eat. For we heard that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work in quietness and to earn their own living. Brethren, do not be weary in well-doing.
If any one refuses to obey what we say in this letter, note that man, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. Do not look on him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother (II Thessalonians 3:6-15).
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterward He was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But Jesus answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:1-4; Deuteronomy 8:3).
Breadmaking must be controlled by “God’s Law”
Moses’ people were allowed to gather only what they could use. It is tragic when bread is used to gain advantage over the less fortunate. I was born in such a part of the world were the system, in power, forced the unwanted starve to death. This brought on a revolution and a war, which took seventy million lives. What we are facing shall cost a billion and more human lives. That is why we should heed Jesus’ warning and the warnings of the individuals God has sent into the world. I only repeat what God’s messengers have taught, and history has proven them accurate.
There is another and much larger reason why life cannot exist on bread alone. Life depends and exists because of the Creator’s Word (Deuteronomy 8:3). In the Bible, a number of individuals were chosen to be the Creator’s mouthpiece. According to Jesus, these individuals were Moses and the Prophets (Luke 16:29-31). Moses received the Law and the Prophets preached the Law. Some, like the Psalmists, had inspirations (Matthew 22:43). But, the highest representation of the Word of the Creator was in “Life,” itself. The Word was embodied in the Life of Jesus, the Christ (John 1:14). Christ’s Mission was to bring back the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 5:17-20).
“Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth will pass away, not an iota, a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:17-20).
Thus, Christ lived by the Word and the Law! And Jesus Christ set an example for us. Jesus also separated the “Law of God” from the “Jewish tradition,” which had replaced the Law Moses had received. Jesus cited this example:
And Jesus said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men. You leave the commandments of God, and hold fast the tradition of men.”
And He said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God, in order to keep your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him surely die’; but you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, What you would have gained from me is Corban’ (that is given to God)—then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God through your tradition which you hand on. And many such things you do” (Mark 7:6-13)
How did the “Law of Moses” deal with the poor?
The poor were not allowed to steal, but they could glean. Landowners were commanded to drop some ears of grain and leave some fruit on their trees for the needy, who could follow the harvesters and pick, like Ruth did for herself and her mother-in-law Naomi. Boaz was generous and gave the widow from Moab a little more grain than she had gleaned (Ruth 2). The people who could no longer glean had their family members gather food for them. Everyone had to work and earn their bread. The disabled did depend on alms and the generosity of the kind-hearted. Jesus did encourage almsgiving (Matthew 6:1-4). The government was not in the alms’ program, like ours is today. The government has become the largest employer and alms distributor by exacting taxes from the declining property owners and producers of bread. The tax base is now in the minority, and bankruptcy is imminent. I lived in three such countries for the first twenty-one years of my life, and I see it being repeated in America. Then we will go back to Moses’ Law, like we had to at the end of World War II. People were coming from the cities into the fields and woods to gather edibles. My mother and I also gleaned in the woods, after we had spent almost all of 1945 in a small farm wagon pulled by two light horses.
We settled in the American Zone, across the river from the British Zone, where the railroad station was located. There was a small bridge and the Americans had stationed some German guards who did not interfere with the people who crossed into the American Zone. We earned part of our bread by transporting starving people from the railway to towns where food was still available. I had no trouble taking the people where they wanted to go, but I could not return them the same way. The German guards began to confiscate and prey on the misfortunate people for their benefits. I did take some to alternative places where the river could be crossed. At the time, I was fifteen and sixteen years old, and the German border police warned my parents and I had to desist my secret service. Father had to trade the younger horse for food and shortly after, the older horse died of congestion. The horse had provided us with a fair living. So, we had to find other ways to earn our bread, when there was no work available. And, there were no farms or orchards where gleaning was allowed.
“When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field to its very border, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 19:9-10).
How does “Grace abound?”
Where I come from, grace was not handed out in chunks or in large bundles, but in small crumbs, which fell off some one’s table. As I look back to the time when we were made homeless and strangers in the world, I am reminded of a mother who begged Jesus for some crumbs for her child.
And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from the region came out and cried, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely possessed by a demon.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly (Matthew 15:21-28).
Let me continue our “Journey of Grace” how it met our needs in the next chapter.