Food and Loathing: Man’s Hunger, God’s Provision

 One who is full loathes honey,
   but to one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet. (Proverbs 37:7)

 Man is always hungry, in need of nourishment both physical and spiritual, and constantly in search of food. How he decides what he needs, how he seeks it, how he appreciates it, how it nourishes him, and what it prepares him for, reflects his relationship with the Provider of all things, the Lord God.

 There are two sides to the equation of provider and consumer. The consumer, man, needs sustenance. He cannot provide it for himself; only God can. So man turns to God for his food, but in two different ways.

 First is the man who demands food from God, but he does not do it with humility, as is befitting a dependent beggar. This man is full of pride, full of demands. He wants only the food that he determines for his own plate. He rejects God’s choice for him. Further, he is not even grateful with what God has already given him, though God has sustained him and nurtured his very being from his birth. He is ungrateful. He is a rebel, and he dares to dictate to God what he needs. This hardness of heart and arrogance was characteristic of Israel while wandering in the wilderness. As told in Psalm 78, Israel rejected God’s menu, decided what it wanted to eat, and demanded that God improve the offerings!

They tested God in their heart
   by demanding the food they craved.
They spoke against God, saying,
    “Can God spread a table in the wilderness?” (Psalm 78:18-19)

 God was rightfully offended and expressed his anger, yet, as a God of mercy, satisfied their selfish demands.

He rained down on them manna to eat
   and gave them the grain of heaven.
Man ate of the bread of the angels;
   he sent them food in abundance…
he rained meat on them like dust,
   winged birds like the sand of the seas;
he let them fall in the midst of their camp,
   all around their dwellings. (Psalm 78: 24-28)

However, their wishes fulfilled, they paid a great price–the wrath of God was poured out on them for their ingratitude, disobedience and rebellion.

the anger of God rose against them,
   and he killed the strongest of them
   and laid low the young men of Israel. (Psalm 78:31)

Even this divine retribution failed to soften their hearts. Despite His working in their lives, in his miraculous intervention to feed and sustain them and in his punishment, they remained hard of heart. God repaid them in kind.

In spite of all this, they still sinned;
    despite his wonders, they did not believe.
So he made their days vanish like a breath,
   and their years in terror. (Psalm 78:32-33)

The second man acknowledges that God is his provider; he understands he is unable on his own to sustain himself. He is trusting in God completely and in whatever God offers and provides, he is grateful. For even if the portion that God provides is not the honey of this world, all who trust in Jesus know that his provision for them is the manna that comes from heaven. The good shepherd feeds his sheep.

All men are hungry, but only those whom the Father draws to Him understand what they hunger for and seek it. For God himself reveals the true source of our sustenance. Jesus told us:

I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35)

What does Jesus promise us? His bread will provide everything necessary, for he knows better than we what we truly need. Our sustenance is the word of God and it fills us with the promise of eternal life. If in this life we taste bitterness, failure, persecution, rejection, suffering, it is in order that we taste the ultimate victory in Christ–victory over sin by his conquest of sin, and victory over death in his death and resurrection.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. (Matthew 5:6)

We have no righteousness of our own. We can only obtain our righteousness by becoming partakers of the righteousness of Jesus, who made it available to us by his death, burial and resurrection.

 It is the attitude we have toward our sustenance and our sustainer that reveals our true health. We are fully nourished only when our hearts reflect the love of God for us in his provision. When we are prideful and determine our own fullness, and dictate to God what we need, it reveals a hardness of heart that keeps Jesus from working within us for our proper development. The story of the young ruler is a clear example for us. After his encounter with the young ruler, Jesus told the disciples:

Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24)

The young ruler was not only materially rich. He also had a rich opinion of himself. He thought he had all that he needed already. His stomach was filled with his own honey. He thought himself righteous by his obedience to the law and the commandments. But Jesus revealed his true wretched state to him when he held up the full mirror of the law. When Jesus told him to give all he had to the poor, the young ruler recoiled, and condemned himself by the law.  He was guilty of idolatry, since he valued his riches and possessions above his devotion to, and his trust in,  God. It was his self-righteousness that made him feel full, and led him to reject the sweet honey of salvation that Jesus offered him.

So today the world thinks itself full, completely satisfied by its own honey. The honey of rationalism. The honey of self-esteem. The honey of moral relativism. The honey of universalism. Everyone considers himself full. Everyone therefore rejects the food of God. Few know that they are starving. Few know that their sin fills their stomachs with a false sense of satisfaction. Few know that sin separates them from the food that can truly satisfy their needs and make them a new creation.  Each is content with his own worldly diet, and thus misses out on the bread of life that is found only in the person of Jesus Christ.

Let us pray that we always feel hungry and ask the Lord to provide for us in all things, and ask that through the Holy Spirit working in us, and through Jesus living within us, we are humble and thankful to our Father in heaven for our daily bread. For we trust in God that everything that He provides to his believers, whether honey or food tasting of bitterness, is for our eternal good.

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Published in: on February 11, 2010 at 1:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

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