Man Does Not Live by Bread Alone


The book of Deuteronomy contains many reminders for God’s people that were given to them before entering the promised land of Canaan. They were reminded of the law, of their wilderness wanderings, and of God’s care for them. In the passage below, they were reminded of some of the blessings the Lord had provided, including how God sent manna from heaven for them to eat.

You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. 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” (Deuteronomy 8:2-3).

The Israelites needed food and God provided it. It may not have been what they would have preferred, but it was what they needed.

We continually face challenges in our lives – just as the Israelites faced after they left Egypt. During these times, we should consider some of the lessons from this passage.

Lessons from the Wilderness

As we read the surrounding context from which the passage above is found, there are some points that the Israelites were to understand and that we need to remember as well.

  1. Be careful to obey all of God’s commands – Before and after reminding them of the food God provided in the wilderness, Moses recounted God’s instruction to them to obey Him: “All the commandments that I am commanding you today you shall be careful to do… Therefore, you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him” (Deuteronomy 8:1, 6). We have the same responsibility today. As part of the Great Commission, those who would become Jesus’ disciples were to be taught “to observe all that [He] commanded” (Matthew 28:20).
  2. Remember God’s blessings – Not only did God feed the Israelites in the wilderness (Deuteronomy 8:2), He also blessed them by making it so that their “clothing did not wear out…nor did [their] foot swell” (Deuteronomy 8:4). God continues to demonstrate His goodness to us. James wrote, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow” (James 1:17).
  3. In hard times, remember what is important – The hunger and difficulty that the Israelites faced in the wilderness were likened to the discipline that sons would receive from their father (Deuteronomy 8:5) in order to teach them what was truly important. The hardships that we face in life can also remind us of what is truly important – serving God and reaching the ultimate goal of heaven. Referring to the difficulties he faced, Paul wrote, “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17).
  4. God is leading us to even greater blessings – The promised land of Canaan to which God was leading the Israelites was greater than any place they had experienced: “For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; a land where you will eat food without scarcity, in which you will not lack anything; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper” (Deuteronomy 8:7-9). Today, God is leading us to a place that is far better than that. We have “an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for [us]” (1 Peter 1:4).
  5. God will fulfill His promises – After describing the “good land” to which God was leading them, Moses said, “When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you” (Deuteronomy 8:10). He did not use the word “if,” but “when.” Their place in this good land was a certainty because God fulfills His promises. We can have the same assurance that God will fulfill His promises to us because “it is impossible for God to lie”; therefore, we can “have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us” (Hebrews 6:18).


During difficult times, it becomes easy to focus on this life and turn our attention away from God. Yet we must never lose sight of what’s important. True life comes from God and is found in His word.

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