Devarim / Deuteronomy 7:12 - 11:25
For the week of August 15, 1998
23 Av 5758
On What Do Our Lives Depend?
The fifth book of the Torah reflects over what Israel went through during its wilderness wanderings. While these were difficult years it was also a unique time of miraculous interventions on God's part. An ongoing miracle was the provision of manna, the bread-like substance that was formed on the ground each morning.
Moses said that God had a specific purpose in leading Israel through a barren land where growing food wasn't possible and then miraculously feeding them. The purpose is clearly stated here:
The Israelites needed to learn, as we do today, that we do not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
Often when we read this verse, we understand it this way: We do not only have physical needs, but spiritual ones as well.
But that is not what the verse says. The "but" in the verse is not expressing something in addition to living on bread alone. It is contrasting living on bread alone with another way to live, that is "on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord."
This verse is actually contrasting two lifestyles: The first is a life centered and consumed with our physical needs - living on bread alone. The second seeks to live according to God's directions.
One of the Lord's goals for his people was that they would learn that he wanted to take care of their physical needs, so that they could be free to do his will in the world. To try to do both (focus on our physical needs and live a spiritual life) is impossible. As Yeshua said many years later, "You cannot serve both God and Money" (Matthew 6:24).
This is not to say that the physical and material realm is unimportant or that we should not have what to do to with the everyday affairs of life, or that we should not provide for our families, etc. What this is speaking of is an approach to those things. It is wrong to think that by our being consumed with our material needs, we will have what it takes to make it in this life. On the contrary, the way to find the most freedom in terms of these things is to put God first.
It is also important to realize that this is not saying that a little bit of religion is good for you. We need to be daily dependant upon God for our lives. We need to be attentive to him moment by moment so that we will have the guidance we need to be all that we were meant to be.
Again as the Messiah said so well:
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