Food For Thought
Give us this day our daily bread . . . Matthew 6:11
Wouldn’t you know, I’d come across this verse on a day when my pantry was chock full after a trip to the grocery store. It gave me pause because ‘stocking up’ has been somewhat engrained in many of us. For those who live in the country, it’s just good old horse sense to buy extra. Trips into town are more purposeful, especially in light of current gas prices and during wintry months when navigating unplowed country roads are a challenge.
I was too young to remember the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, when fear of possible nuclear war drove people to panic shop. But the 1999 Y2K scare at the turn of the millennium I do recall. Nations braced for a possible crash in computer programs that could potentially “bring down worldwide infrastructures”, causing power outages, bank closings, and massive chaos. [i] Then of course, there was our recent panic buying on account of Coronavirus. I’m still not fully recovered from the toilet paper shortage.
So, what’s a person to do when prophetic voices keep warning of tough times ahead? We can ignore them, I guess. But that seldom works out well. Do we stock up because it’s the wise thing to do? Or is that not trusting God? Should we hold out for Him to supernaturally provide? Or might that line of thinking fringe upon presumptuous sin where we assume all responsibility falls on God’s shoulders? If the devil tempted Jesus to “Go ahead, cast yourself off this temple, God will give His angels charge over you to bear you up”, then perhaps we should keep our eyes open for him to try something similar with us. [ii]
I’m no theologian, but I find strong arguments in the Word for both sides.
The first argument for the case of those who lean toward prepping, of course would be the flood in Genesis 6. Per God's instructions, Noah builds an ark. He brings his family of eight and two of every living thing into it and takes with him every sort of food that is eaten, and you shall collect and store it up, and it shall serve as food for you and for them. [iii]
Some might argue, “Yes, but that was the flood. God promised He would never destroy the earth with a flood again.” [iv] True, but Matthew mentions famines among other troubling signs in the last days and ends with, As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man . . . And they did not know or understand until the flood came and swept them all away—so will be the coming of the Son of Man. [v] In Revelation 6:8, Jesus opens the sixth seal and John is invited to come and see a pale horse. And its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and . . .
There’s the Proverbs 31 woman—you know, the one we either idolize or snub with green-eyed envy. You can’t tell me that with all her looking well to the ways of her household, clothing them for winter, and her meal preparations, that there’s not some measure of ‘prepper’ blood in her. [vi]
Proverbs 6:6–8 tells us to Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider her ways and be wise! — Which, having no chief, overseer, or ruler, Provides her food in the summer and gathers her supplies in the harvest. Sounds to me like a stocked pantry.
Proverbs 27:12 says, A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself; The simple pass on and are punished. Foresight generally produces an action.
‘Storing up’ does not condone hoarding. It’s not every man for himself. The story of Joseph in Egypt confirms that. [vii] In preparation for a forewarned seven-year drought, Joseph heads up a gargantuan food pantry operation with corn as the sand of the sea, very much, until he stopped counting, for it could not be measured. His godly wisdom saves nations and preserves Israel’s posterity. [viii] We are to Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. [ix] Matthew 24:45 says, Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time?
What about the spiritual aspect of prepping for hard times? Amos 8:11–13 says, “Look! The days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD, “when I will send a famine throughout the land—not a famine of food or a thirst for water—but rather a famine of hearing the words of the LORD.” In Matthew 25:1–13, a shortage of oil for lamps finds some virgins out begging at the last minute because they failed to prepare for their Bridegroom's arrival. God’s Word must be hidden in our hearts that we might not sin against Him. [x] The oil of Holy Spirit’s presence must be personally maintained so we are prepared to meet Him.
This is much food for thought!
Of course, there are valid arguments for the case of God’s supernatural supply as well. Could anyone deny God’s abundant provision in Israel’s trek through the wilderness? After the Exodus, people dined on manna from heaven, drank water from rocks, and after grumbling, feasted on a torrential downpour of fowl. [xi] For forty years they did this!
Elijah, after prophesying that there would be no dew or rain (for what turned out to be three and a half years), heads for the brook Cherith. There, he hangs out as instructed while ravens bring him bread and flesh in the morning and bread and flesh in the evening, and he drank of the brook. When that resource dries up, God sends him to a starving widow and her son, where He again supernaturally provides for them until He sends an abundance of rain. [xii]
Then there’s the story of the starving residents of the city of Samaria. They had been under God’s judgment, and thus under siege for months from a massive Syrian army. People within Samaria’s walls had resorted to eating their children to keep from starving. At the city’s gate, four lepers figure they have better chances with the enemy, so they head out for the Syrian camp. What could they possibly lose, being at death’s door already? Upon arrival, they find no one home, for the Lord had frightened all the Syrians away in the night. After they merrily eat, drink, and plunder, their consciences urge them to do what’s right and to share. As promised through the prophet Elisha, God brings a complete turnaround for the city. The food scarcity the night before is forgotten in the timely abundance. [xiii]
So many scriptures favor God’s supernatural provision. Jesus multiplies a few loaves and fishes to feed the five thousand plus, and again to feed four thousand plus. He sends His disciples out to preach, allowing them no provision other than what those who receive them offer. There are the hand-to-mouth types like John the Baptist whose daily diet consists of locusts and wild honey. In times of judgment, God used locusts to devour the land and hurt people. John ate locusts as a meal.
Jesus also invites us to Consider the ravens. They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And we can’t ignore, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body what ye shall put on, or the Lord’s prayer, Give us this day our daily bread. [xiv]
With this much food for thought, I’d say our best bet in whatever hard times we encounter ahead is to be led by the Spirit of God, to listen for our Teacher’s voice behind us saying, This is the way; walk in it, when you turn to the right hand and when you turn to the left. He will navigate us through. And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. [xv]
[i] Year 2000 Problem – wikipedia.org [ii] Matthew 4:5–7 [iii] Genesis 6:21 [iv] Genesis 6; Genesis 9:11–17 [v] Matthew 24:6–8, 37–39; Luke 21:10–11 [vi] Proverbs 31:14–16, 20–21, 27 [vii] Genesis 41–42 [viii] Genesis 41:49, 57; Genesis 45:5–8 [ix] Malachi 3:8–10 [x] Psalm 119:11 [xi] Exodus 16; Numbers 11:8–9; Psalm 78:23–29; Exodus 17:1–3, 5–6; Numbers 20:1–11 [xii] 1 Kings 17:1–16; James 5:17–18; 1 Kings 18 [xiii] 2 Kings 6:24 – 2 Kings 7:16 [xiv] Matthew 14:13–21; Matthew 15:30–39; Matthew 10:1–11; Exodus 10:1–20;
2 Chronicles 7:13–14; Luke 12:24; Matthew 6:11, 19, 25 [xv] Romans 8:14; Galatians 5:25; Isaiah 30:20–21; Philippians 4:19