Not By Bread Alone


When Moses was preparing Israel to enter the Promised Land under the leadership of Joshua, he restated for them the entirety of the Law that God had given them on Mt. Sinai.  He also reminded them of all that God had done for them up to that time.  A key feature of this reminder is found in Deut. 8:3.  Here Moses said, “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.”

Moses wanted Israel to understand that there was a spiritual foundation for all that God had done for them, and for all that He required of them.  He was not interested solely in physically sustaining them in the wilderness.  He wanted their souls to be bound to Him by their reliance upon His word to guide every step they took in life.  This principle was validated by our Lord Jesus Christ when He faced temptation from Satan.

Satan began his temptation by telling the Lord to turn stones into bread because after forty days of fasting He was hungry.  The Lord responded to Satan by quoting Moses’ words from Deut. 8:3.  In Mt. 4:4 Jesus said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'”  Then, to underscore this truth, the Lord quoted scripture to defeat each of the other temptations that Satan placed before Him on that occasion.

The Lord’s reliance on the word of God to sustain Him in the face of temptation is a practical example of the principle of which Moses spoke so long ago.  While our bodies need physical food to sustain them, the most important need that we have is the word of God.  It is our most important need because it sustains our souls all the way to our home in heaven at the end of time.  Without it, we will perish.  It is just this simple.

The anonymous psalmist who wrote Psalm 119 said, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psa. 119:105).  There is no more simple or more profound statement in all of scripture.  Without the word of God we stumble about in the darkness, unable to see the path before us.  With God’s word firmly in hand, we can clearly see the path before us, and will find our way to the place being prepared in heaven for the faithful.

Some today mock those who rely solely on the inspired scriptures to guide their steps in life.  However, the scriptures declare that they are sufficient for this important task.  In 2 Tim. 3:16-17 Paul said that all scripture is inspired by God and that it equips us for every good work.  In 2 Pet. 1:3 Peter said that God has granted to us all things pertaining to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.  Therefore, we can turn to no other source in order to reach eternal life.

James called upon his readers to “receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls” (Jas. 1:21).  Paul reminded Timothy that from a child he had learned the sacred writings which “are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15).  For these reasons we must commit ourselves to diligently feast on the spiritual sustenance that God has provided for us by means of His inspired word.  Today, as it was in the time of Moses, we do not live by bread alone, but we live by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.