I’ve been sharing favorite Bible verses. Last week I introduced you to Exodus 33:11, a jaw-dropping verse that ought to keep us up at night. Equally powerful? Matthew 4:4:
“Man shall not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
A little context: Jesus is facing down the devil, who’s just barely tempted Christ to take a shortcut with his calling by turning limestone into sourdough. I can picture Jesus sighing. His answer to the enemy changed me—and the implications astound me to this day.
Maslow is wrong
Okay, Jesus didn’t actually say that. But never mind the pyramid of universal human need, which puts food and water—survival—at the base of the pyramid. Jesus says our greatest need, more than the food we eat, is to hear from God.
He says hearing from God is spiritual food that enables us to live, no less critical than eating a healthy breakfast. He’s quoting Deuteronomy 8:3, where God fed the Israelites in the desert with miraculous manna. The manna that became their staple food, nutritious enough to sustain them and help them grow in and of itself, for forty years.
But this isn’t just descriptive, it’s prescriptive. He’s saying, “Live for hearing the voice of God. It’s your lifeline to the Father.”
And it’s not just for us. Jesus himself modelled this lifestyle. If he needed it, how much more do I?
While Jesus quotes scripture here, the image is not just, “Read the book. Meditate on what I’ve already said.” The picture is, “Words are continually coming out of my Father’s mouth. I want you to hang on his every word.” It’s phrased present tense.
Biblically speaking, “God’s word,” or “the word of God” is not referring narrowly to scripture, but whatever God says, however God chooses to say it. Throughout scripture, dreams, visions, tongues, prophecies, angelic messages, and more are all called his word.
God’s written word is the perfect and complete theological framework from which we build our entire spiritual life and relationship with God, using it to discern everything else we hear and experience. That said, it’s also designed to lead us past itself to Jesus.
And not just some words, not just picking and choosing. “Every word.” Every. Single. One. Which means my selective hearing costs me.
Geeks, we should love this. We’ve been planted behind enemy lines with ongoing instructions fed to us by our commanding officer. Me? When I find myself pressured to cave in, to acquiesce to sin and darkness, in the words of Malcolm Reynolds, “I intend to misbehave.”
So my question is this: Are you learning to live by every word that comes from the mouth of God? Is this a wakeup call?