ESV Deuteronomy 8:1 “The whole commandment that I command you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land that the LORD swore to give to your fathers. 2 And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. 3 And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. 4 Your clothing did not wear out on you and your foot did not swell these forty years. 5 Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the LORD your God disciplines you. 6 So you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God by walking in his ways and by fearing him. 7 For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills, 8 a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, 9 a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. 10 And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land he has given you.
“Give us this day our daily bread.” The Lord’s prayer has a number of parts to it. That is the 4th part (or “Petition”). Martin Luther sat in his German office some 500 years ago writing, for instructional purposes, what those words mean.
Luther’s meaning goes on to state that whether we acknowledge it or not, God gives daily bread. He gives the things the world needs – not just to those who gather on an eve of Thanksgiving like this – but to everyone. The sun shines. The rain falls and waters the earth. Animals and vegetation multiply themselves to beautify the world, and to provide us with various needs. These things happen by the hand of God, Who created them.
Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” not because it wouldn’t happen otherwise (it would happen otherwise, that God would provide it).
He taught them to pray it because it would be wickedly presumptuous not to. To do otherwise than to pray for daily bread would be to indicate that God owes us daily bread (or that somehow we provide it for ourselves, without His help). To do otherwise than to pray for daily bread would be to indicate that we are entitled, and that God couldn’t at any moment remove from us what He so graciously gives. It would be entirely unacceptable for us not to pray for daily bread, and to give thanks having received it.
The prayer is for our benefit. God doesn’t benefit from hearing it. We benefit from considering before we eat our meals, and as we nestle into our comfortable homes for the night, and as we receive all of God’s blessings that that is exactly what they are – God’s blessings given to us, though we could never deserve them. The 4th petition of the Lord’s Prayer urges that we remember the Lord’s blessings.
The intent of our text is the same. Moses instructs God’s people who will enter the Promised Land that they must acknowledge God’s giving of daily bread, and receive it with thanksgiving. These who are God’s covenant people, who look forward to His salvation of the world in the Savior that He would provide in their family line must remember the Lord their God. Should they forget Him as their provider, they will surely become like the pagans all around them, who have no fear of God, and no love for Him. He says to them, You shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. 3 And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.
Of course, those are the words that our Savior quoted during His temptation by Satan in the wilderness. Satan promised Him food for His stomach. He was in great hunger from fasting for forty days. Jesus demonstrated perfect obedience to God by quoting these words that indicate that everything we truly need comes from the LORD. He certainly provides food for our stomachs; but even more importantly, His Word that gives faith for salvation.
It can be difficult for us to see ourselves as being in any way helpless or dependant. We have so many blessings in this country. Many of those who are considered to be in poverty here are rich by the standards of people in other countries. It is difficult to be poor anywhere; but with so many options available to us, we take much for granted.
The Israelites who left Egypt under Moses, and wandered for forty years in the wilderness came to know what it is like to be dependant and helpless. Initially, they even thought it would be better to return to being slaves in Egypt where they felt they knew where their next meal was coming from (at that time they sooner believed that the Egyptians would take care of them before God would).
But God demonstrated to them that He provides daily bread. They weren’t always excited to be eating Manna (described as “like wafers made with honey”); but it nourished them every day – along with the meat that He provided. Moses points also to the fact that for the forty years in the wilderness, their clothing never wore out.
Furthermore, God was bringing them into a new land of their own, described as, good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills, 8 a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, 9 a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. 10 And you shall eat and be full.
In many ways, that list of all of the things the Promised Land would be to them resembles what we have right here in this place. The Lord has certainly provided daily bread for us, and continues to do so. We have reason to make long lists in our prayers of all of the things for which we might thank Him.
To acknowledge daily bread with thanksgiving isn’t to say that life has no difficulties. It has many. In the same that way Moses tells the people in our text that God tested them, we might see Him testing us in our own lives. Just as it was for their good that He caused them to feel helpless at times, so it is for our good.
In seeing the Lord as the provider of our daily bread, we harbor no delusions about having power and authority that we don’t have, and could never have. It is best for us that we never forget that everything good that we have has come to us from the Lord’s gracious hand.
So we pray to our Creator, Redeemer, and Comforter, “Give us this day our daily bread.” We list with Luther all of the things the Lord gives that we need for this life, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, fields, cattle, money, goods, God-fearing spouse and children, faithful servants and rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, order, honor, true friends, good neighbors, and the like. It’s amazing how little the things we need have changed in 500 years! And we add to the list all of the other things with which the Lord provides us every day. We don’t live in pagan presumptuousness about daily bread, as if we provide it for ourselves, or deserve it for some reason. The God Who has provided for our forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation in Christ’s blood also provides for every need of our lives in this world.
We go acknowledging this, and receiving our daily bread with thanksgiving. Amen.