March 03, 2018

The Food of Fasting

Deuteronomy 8:1-3; Matthew 4:1-4

Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

—  Deuteronomy 8:3

Israel had spent forty years of fasting on manna and water in the desert, but Moses still had to teach them what that long fast was all about. In their wanderings they needed to know that every moment of their lives depended on God and his Word for them.

Israel had plenty to eat when they left Egypt, for they had taken their flocks and herds with them (Exodus 12:38). But the food that really kept them alive was the daily manna God spoke into existence, and the drink that really quenched their thirst was the water that God sweetened and the water that flowed from rocks split by his mighty Word (see Exodus 15:22-17:7).

When Israel left behind the food of Egypt and limited themselves to their own herds, that was not fasting. In the desert God’s people received a new menu: “every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” In a nutshell it comes down to this: Love God with everything you have, and love your neighbor as yourself.

Fasting enables Christ’s disciples to eat from the new menu, the Word of God. Real fasting imitates the example of Christ, who did not give in to temptations to make his own food during his forty-day fast, who lived only by every word that comes from the mouth of God, and who repeatedly said: “It is written.”

Are you following Christ’s example today?

We thank you, Lord, for our daily bread. Help us to live by every word that comes from the mouth of God. Amen.

About the author — Arie C. Leder

Dr. Arie C. Leder is the Martin J. Wyngaarden Senior Professor of Old Testament Studies at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He previously served as pastor at Ebenezer Christian Reformed Church, Trenton, Ontario, and with Christian Reformed World Missions in Latin America. He teaches courses on the Pentateuch and on historical books of the Old Testament.

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