Biblical Numerology: NUMBER FIVE Part V

Can Five Loaves Feed More than Five Thousand Hungry Men



Men works on the plan of addition, God, on the plan of multiplication.


Quoted from Desire of Ages, Ellen G. White, “Give Ye Them to Eat,” chapter XXXIX, pp. 364-371, based on Matt. 14: 13-21; Mark 6: 32-44; Luke 9: 10-17; John 6: 1-13: —

     “Christ had retired to a secluded place with His disciples, but this rare season of peaceful quietude was soon broken. The disciples thought they had retired where they would not be disturbed; but as soon as the multitude missed the divine Teacher, they inquired, ‘Where is He?’ . . . .The Passover was at hand, and, from far and near, bands of pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem gathered to see Jesus. Additions were made to their number, until there were assembled five thousand men besides women and children . .  

      “From the hillside He looked upon the moving multitude, and His heart was stirred with sympathy. Interrupted as He was, and robbed of His rest, He was not impatient. He saw a greater necessity demanding His attention as He watched the people coming and still coming. He was ‘moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd.’

      “Leaving His retreat, He found a convenient place where He could minister to them. They received no help from the priests and rulers; but the healing waters of life flowed from Christ as He taught the multitude the way of salvation. . . . The day seemed to them like heaven upon earth, and they were utterly unconscious of how long it had been since they had eaten anything. At length the day was far spent. The sun was sinking in the west, and yet the people lingered. Jesus had labored all day without food or rest. He was pale from weariness and hunger, and the disciples besought Him to cease from His toil. But He could not withdraw Himself from the multitude that pressed upon Him. The disciples finally came to Him, urging that for their own sake the people should be sent away. Many had come from far, and had eaten nothing since morning. In the surrounding towns and villages they might be able to buy food.


Jesus tests disciples’ faith

     “But Jesus said, ‘Give ye them to eat,’ and then turning to Philip, questioned, ‘Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?’ This He said to test the faith of the disciple. Philip looked over the sea of heads, and thought how impossible it would be to provide food to satisfy the wants of such a crowd. He answered that two hundred of pennyworth of bread would not be nearly enough to divide among them, so that each might have a little.

 A child’s portion is the crowd’s provision

     ’There is a lad here,’ said Andrew, ‘which has five barley loaves and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?’ Jesus directed that these be brought to Him.

Order is heaven’s first law.


     “Then He bade the disciples seat the people on the grass in parties of fifty or a hundred, to preserve order, and that all might witness what he was about to do When this was accomplished, Jesus took the food, ‘and looking up to heaven, he blessed and brake, and gave the loaves to His disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.’ ‘And they did all eat, and were filled. And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes.’ . . .

      “The simple food passed round by the hands of the disciples contained a whole treasure of lessons.  It was humble fare that had been provided; the fishes and the barley loaves were the daily food of the fisher folk about the Sea of Galilee. Christ could have spread before the people a rich repast, but food prepared merely for the gratification of appetite would have conveyed no lesson for their good. Christ taught them in this lesson that the natural provisions of God for man had been perverted. And never did people enjoy the luxurious feasts prepared for the gratification of perverted taste as this people enjoyed the rest and the simple food which Christ provided so far from human habitations.

      “If men today were simple in their habits, living in harmony with nature’s laws, as did Adam and Eve in the beginning, there would be an abundant supply for the needs of the human family. There would be fewer imaginary wants, and more opportunities to work in God’s ways. But selfishness and the indulgence of unnatural taste have brought sin and misery into the world, from excess on the one hand, and from want on the other.

      “Jesus did not seek to attract the people to Him by gratifying the desire for luxury. To the great throng, weary and hungry after the long, exciting day, the simple fare was an assurance not only of His power, but of His tender care for them in the common needs of life. The Savior has not promised His followers the luxuries of the world; their fare may be plain, and even scanty; their lot may be shut in by poverty; but His word is pledged that their need shall be supplied, and He has promised that which is far better than worldly good,–the abiding comfort of His presence.

      “In feeding the five thousand, Jesus lifts the veil from the world of nature, and reveals the power that is constantly exercised for our good. . . . The miracle of the loaves teaches a lesson of dependence upon God. When Christ fed the five thousand, the food was not near at hand. Apparently He had no means at His command. Here He was, with five thousand men, besides women and children, in the wilderness. [just as over a million Israelites were traveling through the Wilderness towards Canaan for 40 years]. 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 for food [in His adopted human nature!]. He who had for their sake has fasted forty days in the wilderness [where He was tempted by Satan] 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 relive the necessity.

Wonderful, vital lessons and promises for today


     “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. . . .

     “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 small fishes, we exclaim, ‘What are they among so many?’ Often we hesitate, unwilling to give all that we have, fearing to spend and 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 by the sea.

Continual imparting is secret of growth

      “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 though there was but a small portion for His own family of disciples, He did not invite them to eat [first], 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. 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 channels 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 turn reach forth their hands for food for other hungry souls.

Remember Jeremiah 17: 5 and Matthew 5: 13-16

     “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 Mater Worker. Too often the worker for Christ fails to realize his personal responsibility. He is in danger of shifting his burden upon organization, 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. . .

     “When the question comes home to your heart, ‘Where shall we buy bread, that these night eat?’ let not your answer be the response of unbelief. When the disciples heard the Savior’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. Commune with Him.  Bring your barley loaves to Jesus. . . .


     “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.”  (end of quote)

(Continued next week on Number Six)