Saturday, September 10, 2011

Man shall not live by bread alone...

The Scripture is usually covered with layers of meaning to be discovered by the soul that is diligently searching it. Proverbs 2:4 declares that one must seek for G-d's words, knowledge that he has revealed and the understanding thereof as seeking for hidden treasure. This implies taking an active approach to Bible reading and study. Psalm 1:2 mentions that there is a blessing for the man that delights in the law of the Lord and in it meditates day and night. As a result, I am convinced that there is so much meaning and layers of interpretation to be derived from scriptures.

One such scripture that I appreciated more this week was verse 3 of Deuteronomy 8. It says (in King James Version):
And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.

Today, making money is sometimes likened to making bread or getting/eating food (In Jamaica - it's 'eat a food'). In the chorus of a song by the hip-hop artiste Nelly, money is described as leading one to feeling good and satisfied (Nelly "Take a Ride with Me"). Today's philosophy is that money satisfies.

McIntyre describes the modern philosophy of leisure and pleasure seeking, otherwise known as hedonism

Pleasure is viewed as a feeling of contentment when various physiological or social needs and expectations are satisfied (e.g. the taste of food when hungry, TRAVEL to exotic destinations, sleeping when tired). Much leisure ACTIVITY is centred on seeking pleasure through amusement and ENTERTAINMENT, and significant energy, time and money is expended in pursuit of this goal. Hedonism is the belief that seeking pleasure is the prime goal of life. In modern times, this extreme pursuit of pleasure has come to be associated with the CONSUMER SOCIETY, which links commodity consumption to life satisfaction. However, it is argued that this quest is ultimately unsatisfying in that the ‘day-dreams of pleasure (as promised by consumption) are never matched by the reality of experience’ (Rojek 1995:114).
For humanity today, pleasure is the pursuit of money and profits. This also similar to how the term is used in Isaiah 58:13, a verse that has traditionally been used by Sabbath keepers to decide what not to do on Sabbaths. However, if read in context with the whole, starting with verse 3 which discusses that while Jews were fasting or attending their religious ceremonies and holidays/holy days, in their businesses, employees had no rest day and had to be working. In essence, while the Jews were taking the time out to seek G-d, they did not give their employees the opportunity to do so as well, but kept them on the job in order to increase profits and financial gain.

Man's pleasure is derived from his ability to make money for the purpose of consumerism. Or so the world feels.

But the Bible declares that consumerism (or the eating of bread) is not the only thing that satisfies. In fact consumerism alone cannot keep us alive and healthy. Our health, wellness and life comes not only from the drugs that we can purchase, the food, clothing, shelter, homes and other possession that we have. Jesus reiterated that in Luke 12:15 when he warned us to beware of greed and that a man's life does not consist of an abundance of things.

So while it is good to have possessions,  it is also important to take time to actively find out about G-d's revealed will for you and your life.

As such, the secret to a satisfying and fulfilling life is found in Joshua 1:8:
This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
Money may answereth all things (Ecclesiastes 10:19), but without G-d, it can not bring full joy and satisfaction. Ecclesiastes 5:12 reveals that the rich cannot sleep properly because they have too much. "All the labour of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled" (Ecclesiastes 6:7 KJV). However, if G-d's words proceed from our lips, and we actively study it and apply or practice it, then we shall be satisfied. Let our bread be that like what Jesus declared:

"My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work." (John 4:34)


McIntyre, N. (2003) Enjoyment. In J. M. Jenkins & J. J. Pigram (Eds.), Encyclopedia of leisure and outdoor recreation. London: Routledge.

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