2018-02-13 The Gospel and World Hunger?

Good Morning!

Yesterday I wrote about Sabbath rest and used Matthew 6:27, 31-34 as a reference. Later in the day, my bible reading plan led me through Psalm 37. In it, there is a verse that is related to the passage in Matthew. Let’s look at these two, plus one other.

Matthew 6:27, 31-34 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?…Therefore, do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Psalm 37:25 I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.

Isaiah 51:14 He who is bowed down shall speedily be released; he shall not die and go down to the pit, neither shall his bread be lacking.

I’m no expert, but I have read the bible through a few times, and I cannot recall a time when God did not provide the basics for his people. Yes, it is true that some of the Israelites starved, but that was a result of divine judgment after how much warning after warning. We also see Jesus providing meals for probably tens of thousands on two occasions. And there is one time that chokes me up every time I read it. It’s about a young girl who died, about twelve years old.

Luke 8:52-55 And all were weeping and mourning for her, but he said, “Do not weep, for she is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But taking her by the hand he called, saying, “Child, arise.” And her spirit returned, and she got up at once. And he directed that something should be given her to eat.

Wouldn’t that have been a joy! Don’t tell me that Jesus isn’t compassionate or doesn’t understand how humans work!

Who knows where to stop quoting scripture on this, but let me add just one more passage.

John 21:9-14 When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

Oh, and the net full of fish? That was Jesus’ doing. Peter and the boys spent the entire night and caught nothing. Jesus tell them, from shore, to cast the net and, voila!

Here’s where I’m going with this. Are we seeing a promise of God through these passages (and many, many more)? Are we seeing that God has promised to feed us? I think we are. And, for qualification, “us” are those who believe and seek him. “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” “I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.” “He who is bowed down…neither shall his bread be lacking.”

Could this be true? Is this a promise of God, and, if a promise of God, something we can count on?

Certainly, God doesn’t promise to provide food for everyone. In fact, we are commanded to exclude some specifically – fellow believers.

2 Thessalonians 3:10-15 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.

Hmmm. Another difficult passage.

Anyway, consider this. If we truly care about about the starving of this world, what better way can we feed them but by sharing the gospel? Let’s consider this for a minute. I figured it out one time, and it would cost less than one percent of the US Gross National Product to feed all the hungry of the world. Less than 1%! Do you think we, as a nation, could scrape that together? Of course, we could. And so could Europe or any other rich region of the world. The glaring question is this: why don’t we?

Have we considered that it is God who provides? Have we considered that even though human hands may participate in the growing of food, it is really God who provides? Have we considered that human compassion will only go so far? We will love only those neighbors closest to us, if even them.

So, why doesn’t God feed everyone? Can we be satisfied that God is most interested in our commitment to follow him. Yes, God makes the sun rise and rain fall on the evil and as well as the good (Matthew 5:45), but he doesn’t promise to feed everyone – except those who follow and obey him.

The implications of this are staggering. What’s our best hope of fighting hunger? The Gospel.

We’re not talking heaven on earth stuff, folks. Yes, eternal life MUST start on earth because saving faith is possible only when one is alive. Our life on earth is nothing compared to life eternal, but born-again happens on this side of heaven’s gate. For those of us who believe and do, we have no needs or wants.

None.

One last comment. Is the gospel simply about feeding us? Nope. Is it just about eternal life? Nope. The gospel also includes all the warnings. Heaven AND hell. Life AND death. Mercy AND judgment. Does it not? Jesus didn’t leave out the unpleasant stuff. Hardly. Nor did anyone else in the bible. Neither should we.

Copyright © 2018 Scott Powers

 

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