Tomorrow's Bread Today

When you pray, "Give us this day our daily bread," do you know what you are really asking for? It's not what you think.

When we ask God for "the bread of tomorrow," we are petitioning him to let us taste the goodness of redemption today. (Image © Bigstock)

The first three petitions of the Our Father prayer are best understood as prayers for the coming of the Messianic Era. When we pray, “Hallowed be your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done,” we are asking God to bring the Messianic Era. When the Messiah comes, God’s name will be hallowed (sanctified) among the nations; the Kingdom of Heaven will be established on earth, and God’s purposes will be accomplished. The fourth petition, “Give us this day our daily bread,” seems to shift the theme of the prayer away from the coming kingdom in order to focus on our personal needs, beginning with the most basic human need—daily sustenance.

The Hebrew word “bread (lechem, לחם)” has a broad range of meaning and can be understood simply as “food.” The Greek of Matthew 6:11 employs the unusual word epiousios (ἐπιούσιος), which most English translations render as “daily.” Hence, “Give us this day our daily bread.”

The daily bread of the ancient world—the primary food staple—required a daily ritual of grinding, kneading, and baking. The day’s bread represented basic survival. But the word epiousios actually implies “coming-day.” If so, the petition translates as “give us today bread for the day that is coming.” This translation accords with the version that appeared in the now-lost Gospel of the Hebrews which read, “Give us today the bread of tomorrow.”

The unusual term “bread of tomorrow” alludes to the banquet of the Messianic Era. By asking God to give us the “bread of tomorrow,” we are not merely asking God for daily provision. Instead, we are asking him to provide us with a foretaste of the Messianic Era today. Yeshua referred to it as “the children’s bread” (Matthew 15:26). It is the fulfillment of the Messianic promises about the coming kingdom.

In this way, the fourth petition of the Our Father prayer is about more than just food, sustenance, and material provision. When we ask God for “the bread of tomorrow,” we are petitioning him to let us taste the goodness of redemption today. The simple petition for “daily bread” points us to the coming Messianic Era and the central good-news message of the kingdom: the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

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