Do you nourish yourself and your family with God's word?
Creatures care for their offspring instinctively, whether it’s an antelope that gives birth whilst the herd is on the move, or a bird that sits for weeks on its eggs. The moment the infant arrives the process of feeding begins and, as this month’s cover photograph indicates, that feeding process can continue for quite a while. It seems that woodpeckers, like some adult children, can stay around to be fed as long as free meals are still being served!
Not all parents can feed their children, however, as famine conditions spread in parts of East Africa. Heart-rending pictures from Ethiopia, Somalia and Northern Kenya have shown how the absence of rain for several years has changed once fertile ground into dust. Crops have failed year after year and, in the absence of grazing, livestock have perished. The only thing left for anxious parents to do was to trek to refugee camps, carrying their children, in the hope of food and medical help. All too often the help provided was too little and too late.
With governments and charitable organisations warning that the present crisis could become a catastrophe, a huge appeal has been launched to get more relief to the thousands of displaced people who would otherwise have no hope. And even though times are hard for everyone at present, people are often generous when they see the desperate state of things in famine-struck parts of the world.
God has a plan to feed all children everywhere, but it requires a total change in the way the world is run. Instead of human governments being in charge, with their limited ability to deal with problems, God is to establish a government of His own, ruled over by the Lord Jesus Christ. Long ago the prophets foretold that when there is a righteous king ruling in Jerusalem, he will put everything right.
"He will deliver the needy when he cries, the poor also, and him who has no helper. He will spare the poor and needy, and will save the souls of the needy. He will redeem their life from oppression and violence; and precious shall be their blood in his sight" (Psalm 72:12–14).
Many times we are told in the Bible that then the desert will blossom and even the high places of the earth will be fruitful. The Psalm continues:
"There will be an abundance of grain in the earth, on the top of the mountains; its fruit shall wave like Lebanon; and those of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth … Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only does wondrous things! And blessed be His glorious name forever! And let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen" (Psalm 72:16–19).
Not just food
Having enough food will be just one of the wonderful features of God’s coming Kingdom, when King Jesus reigns. Other blessings will be that people will live together in peace, for war will be no more; there will be fairness and justice for everyone; and people will learn how to worship God in the right way. It was the prophet Amos who once warned Israel that they were about to experience hardship and deprivation, like famine conditions, but the famine would not be an absence of food:
" 'Behold, the days are coming,' says the Lord God, 'That I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord'" (Amos 8:11)."
A balanced diet, as God provides it, is not just enough to eat and drink. We need to feed the mind as well with things that are good, honest, lovely and of good report. That is something we should be doing every day if we want to be spiritually fit and healthy. It was something that the infant nation of Israel was instructed to do, as they were journeying through arid country, looking for better pastures. Moses told them that they should love God as their first priority and then he added:
"These words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up" (Deuteronomy 6:6–7).
A Gift from God
Children are described in Scripture as a blessing from God (Psalm 127:3), and it is natural for parents to want the best for their children, even if that feeling is not instinctive in the way it is in the animal kingdom. Parents care for their children because they love them and what Moses was saying to the Children of Israel was that the greatest good they could do for their children was to properly instruct them in the things of God. That way they would be fed with something that could enable them to live forever.
Of course, children can be choosy eaters and the food their parents offer them might not always be to their taste. Many a child sent to Sunday School, or taken to a religious service on a regular basis, has made a different choice later in life. For the worship of God has to be a matter of individual decision – just as that young woodpecker might prefer a quite different diet when it is finding its own food.
A parent can only do so much. But the example they set and the quality of their own interest in the things of God is likely to be hugely influential. So feed yourself first the things that really matter and don’t forget to feed the children.