Every time some one quotes these words from the Bible “Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” to me, I always response with a tongue-in-cheek question: “Really? Have you tried it?” Shocked (that I would ask such a question), they would look at me blankly. Immediately, I knew that they haven’t.
Christians should not go around quoting Scripture just because it sounds good (or even right) or because everyone else is doing it. Scripture, at least parts of it, is God’s Word, and we don’t want to use it in vain as much as we are warned against using God’s name in vain. (As a matter of fact, the Bible tells us that God has exalted His word above His name (see Psa 138:2).)
The verse (we are discussing here) comes from Deuteronomy. “What? I thought it was Jesus who spoke it.” Yes, Jesus did use these words during His temptation in the wilderness. But it originally came from Deuteronomy 8:3. There, Moses was telling the people what God’s purpose was for taking them through the wilderness. Jesus was right in quoting this verse (or at least part of it) because the situation He was in was identical to the one the Israelites had just gone through – the Wilderness Journey.
The Wilderness Journey is not the same as the Dark Night of the Soul, where, as described by many Christians, God seems so far away and the sky is like bronze. No. God was very real to the Israelites during their sojourn in the wilderness. He appeared to them as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. He fed them with manna daily and gave them victory over all hostile enemies.
There is one important thing about the Wilderness Journey that you must know, and that is, no one enters or begins this journey by himself. God must be the one who leads you into it. It was God who led the Israelites into the wilderness, and it was the Spirit who led Jesus into the wilderness. See the pattern?
God led my family and I into the wilderness in 2008; and kept us there till 2010. You can read about our experience in My Wilderness Journey. At times during the journey, we were not sure where our next would come from (or if there would be a next meal). Though we were never at the verge of starvation, these were anxious times. I could fully understand why the Israelites acted the way they did. But it was all for a reason. It was the only way to build up our faith, complete faith, in God. You may say that you have faith in God now. But wait till He takes you into the wilderness where you cut off from all your securities and have nothing left to rely on. Then you will know that what you had was not faith at all. Then you will know that food can only sustain your body, but the Word of God is able to sustain your body, soul and spirit.