“Yea, they spake against God (Elohim) . . . and they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness ? . . . Because they believed not in God, and trusted not in His Salvation (H3444 – Yesh-oo-aw’) . . . !”
Psalm 78:19 & 22
“Give ear, O My people to My law: incline your ears to the Words of My mouth . . . for the Words that I speak they are Spirit, and they are Life ! . . . I will open My mouth in a parable . . . which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from our children, shewing to the generation to come the Praises of the LORD (Jehovah, Yehuwah), and His Strength, and His wonderful works that He hath done . . . !” Psalm 78:1-4 & John 6:63
“Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the world are come . . . !” I Corinthians 10:1-11
Are we not those of whom the LORD spake, and desired to make known His power and faithfulness ?
“Thou camest down also upon mount Sinai, and spakest with them from heaven . . . And madest known unto them Thy holy Sabbath (Rest), and commandedst them precepts, statutes, and laws (instructions in righteousness), by the hand of Moses Thy servant . . .
And gavest them Bread from heaven for their hunger, and broughtest forth Water for them out of the Rock for their thirst, and Promisedst them that they should go into to possess the land which Thou hadst sworn to give them . . . !” Nehemiah 9:13-15 & Hebrews 3:7 – 4:11
The miracle of the loaves teaches a lesson of dependence upon God. When Christ fed the five thousand, the food was not nigh at hand. Apparently He had no means at His command. Here He was, with five thousand men, besides women and children, in the wilderness. He had not invited the large multitude to follow Him; they came without invitation or command; but He knew that after they had listened so long to His instruction, they would feel hungry and faint; for He was one with them in their need of food.
They were far from home, and the night was close at hand. Many of them were without means to purchase food. He Who for their sake had fasted forty days in the wilderness would not suffer them to return fasting to their homes. The providence of God had placed Jesus where He was; and He depended on His Heavenly Father for the means to relieve the necessity.
And when we are brought into strait places, we are to depend on God. We are to exercise wisdom and judgment in every action of life, that we may not, by reckless movements, place ourselves in trial. We are not to plunge into difficulties, neglecting the means God has provided, and misusing the faculties He has given us.
Christ’s workers are to obey His instructions implicitly. The work is God’s, and if we would bless others His plans must be followed. Self cannot be made a center; self can receive no honor. If we plan according to our own ideas, the Lord will leave us to our own mistakes. But when, after following His directions, we are brought into strait places, He will deliver us.
We are not to give up in discouragement, but in every emergency we are to seek help from Him Who has infinite resources at His command. Often we shall be surrounded with trying circumstances, and then, in the fullest confidence, we must depend upon God. He will keep every soul that is brought into perplexity through trying to keep the way of the LORD.
Christ has bidden us, through the prophet, “Deal thy bread to the hungry,” and “satisfy the afflicted soul;” “when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him,” and “bring the poor that are cast out to thy house.” Isaiah 58:7-10.
He has bidden us, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15. But how often our hearts sink, and faith fails us, as we see how great is the need, and how small the means in our hands. Like Andrew looking upon the five barley loaves and the two little fishes, we exclaim, “What are they among so many?” Often we hesitate, unwilling to give all that we have, fearing to spend and to be spent for others. But Jesus has bidden us, “Give ye them to eat.”
His command is a Promise; and behind it is the same power that fed the multitude beside the sea !
In Christ’s act of supplying the temporal necessities of a hungry multitude is wrapped up a deep spiritual lesson for all His workers. Christ received from the Father; He imparted to the disciples; they imparted to the multitude; and the people to one another. So all who are united to Christ will receive from Him the Bread of Life, the heavenly food, and impart it to others.
In full reliance upon God, Jesus took the small store of loaves; and although there was but a small portion for His Own family of disciples, He did not invite them to eat, but began to distribute to them, bidding them serve the people. The food multiplied in His hands; and the hands of the disciples, reaching out to Christ Himself the Bread of Life, were never empty.
“For when God made Promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no greater, He sware by Himself, saying,
Surely (verily), Blessing (in praise and thanksgiving) I will bless thee, and in multiplying (giving to others), I will multiply thee !” Hebrews 6:13-14
“Give and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete (measure out), withal it shall be measured to you again !”
The little store was sufficient for all. After the wants of the people had been supplied, the fragments were gathered up, and Christ and His disciples ate together of the precious, Heaven-supplied food.
The disciples were the channel of communication between Christ and the people. This should be a great encouragement to His disciples today. Christ is the great center, the Source of all strength. His disciples are to receive their supplies from Him. The most intelligent, the most spiritually minded, can bestow only as they receive. Of themselves they can supply nothing for the needs of the soul. We can impart only that which we receive from Christ; and we can receive only as we impart to others. As we continue imparting, we continue to receive; and the more we impart, the more we shall receive.
Thus we may be constantly believing, trusting, receiving, and imparting.
The work of building up the kingdom of Christ will go forward, though to all appearance it moves slowly and impossibilities seem to testify against advance. The work is of God, and He will furnish means, and will send helpers, true, earnest disciples, whose hands also will be filled with food for the starving multitude. God is not unmindful of those who labor in love to give the Word of Life to perishing souls, who in their turn reach forth their hands for food for other hungry souls.
In our work for God there is danger of relying too largely upon what man with his talents and ability can do. Thus we lose sight of the one Master Worker. Too often the worker for Christ fails to realize his personal responsibility. He is in danger of shifting his burden upon organizations, instead of relying upon Him Who is the Source of all strength. It is a great mistake to trust in human wisdom or numbers in the work of God.
Successful work for Christ depends not so much on numbers or talent as upon pureness of purpose, the true simplicity of earnest, dependent faith. Personal responsibilities must be borne, personal duties must be taken up, personal efforts must be made for those who do not know Christ. In the place of shifting your responsibility upon someone whom you think more richly endowed than you are, work according to your ability.
When the question comes home to your heart, “Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” let not your answer be the response of unbelief. When the disciples heard the Saviour’s direction, “Give ye them to eat,” all the difficulties arose in their minds.
They questioned, Shall we go away into the villages to buy food? So now, when the people are destitute of the Bread of Life, the Lord’s children question, Shall we send for someone from afar, to come and feed them? But what said Christ? “Make the men sit down,” and He fed them there. So when you are surrounded by souls in need, know that Christ is there. Commune with Him. Bring your barley loaves to Jesus.
The means in our possession may not seem to be sufficient for the work; but if we will move forward in faith, believing in the all-sufficient power of God, abundant resources will open before us. If the work be of God, He Himself will provide the means for its accomplishment. He will reward honest, simple reliance upon Him. The little that is wisely and economically used in the service of the Lord of heaven will increase in the very act of imparting.
In the hand of Christ the small supply of food remained undiminished until the famished multitude were satisfied. If we go to the Source of all strength, with our hands of faith outstretched to receive, we shall be sustained in our work, even under the most forbidding circumstances, and shall be enabled to give to others the bread of life.
The Lord says, “Give, and it shall be given unto you.” He that soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he that soweth with blessings shall reap also with blessings . . . . And God is able to make all grace abound unto you; that ye, having always all sufficiency in everything, may abound unto every good work; as it is written,–
“He hath scattered abroad, he hath given to the poor:
His righteousness abideth forever !
“And He that supplieth seed to the sower and bread for food, shall supply and multiply your seed for sowing, and increase the fruits of your righteousness: ye being enriched in everything unto all liberality, which worketh through us thanksgiving to God.” Luke 6:38; 2 Corinthians 9:6-11
– Desire of Ages p.368-371