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The Food Supply

The Food Supply poster

Sermon preached by Paul Rader, April 29, 1917.

And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written that man shall not live by bread alone but by every word of God.”—Luke 4:4

When God put man in the garden of Eden He put luscious fruits all around him, and all man had to do was to reach up and get them or reach down and pluck the herbs. There was plenty of food and the supply never ran short. There was no sweat or worry or pestilence and nothing to harm or poison or destroy until sin came in with its awful curse; and you will never have peace on the earth and never have the food supply settled until Jesus comes and sin is absolutely wiped off the map, and then we will have everything He has promised.

Sin is at the foundation of shortage in every line. Any kind of philosophy or government or scheme or economical process that men put into operation for the betterment of men that does not have at the bottom of it the handling of the sin question—all the social service you can do that does not strike at the sin question in any section of our city, in any part of our nation or in any part of the world will be of no lasting avail. It would seem in the study of history as if a nation is sweeping on to marvelous victory and the food supply and water supply, the education and culture supply, the money supply and production was all fixed up and something happens and the whole thing goes to pieces and down goes the nation. It is written back yonder in history again and again. Why did the nations go down? They did not strike at the sin question; and any nation that does not handle the sin question must sooner or later go down.

There cannot be a greater patriot on Earth than the man or woman that talks to his nation about sin. I might walk out a thousand times and give my life, but no man can have more patriotism than to stand in a pulpit and plead with the American people to go before God and stop sin and put it away, and you will find out if the nation will do so God will begin to work. No greater work can be done for any people than to talk to them about sin and the Christ who puts out sin. Our nation has always known this truth and our constitution is made with this truth in view. A man’s conscience is after all the highest power in the United States. It takes a great conscience to make a great constitution.

Thank God men come over seas from other countries and come under the blessed stars and stripes and find liberty of conscience. Oh, how we love that old flag tonight that stands for liberty of conscience, liberty of speech and liberty of men to pursue their business and to find their God as their souls seek after Him. No people on Earth have the inheritance that the American people have tonight under that starry banner. Think of it, gathered under that beautiful banner tonight are men and women from every country on the face of the globe. We are the sixth German city of the world, the second Scandinavian, the second Polish, and I could name nine other such seconds in the population of the city of Chicago. If I should ask the Swedes to stand up tonight there would be a crowd on their feet all right; and none of us are fussing. We are mixed from everywhere, but we are Americans and bless God we are learning to love each other in this old town. Under the stars and stripes it is the marvelous privilege of men to follow the dictates of conscience. The government is safe when men have a right conscience about sin. God has a hand in governments for God sees and judges sin and thus the food supply and every other great question.

You can thank God that conscience has such a high place in this “land of the free and the home of the brave” and that what God has had to say has borne great weight. The greatest crises we have ever had in this country have been settled by the direct hand of God and so acknowledged by the Government, and I will prove it to you tonight. God has heard prayer and we have acknowledged it from the highest seat of authority in this country; clear confession of sin at the crisis hour made it possible for God to bring us to the place where we are tonight.

The Problem

The food supply has always been the greatest problem of civilization. Wherever civilization has gone forward men have had to find methods and means of bringing not only food but a varied food supply. The question of a food supply is a serious problem in times of peace, but when men come to war it is more serious. When men are manufacturing and writing books and teaching school and digging ditches and paving streets and building buildings it is a serious problem, but, oh, when they go to the open field and leave everything behind, their manufacturing implements and the fineries of civilization and put on their khaki and throw the musket over their arms and go down to the trenches, the food supply becomes a greater problem still, for they are taken away from the supply force and are unproductive and must be fed themselves. Those at home must take the burden on themselves and fill this gap.

Always, when men have marched off to war the commissary department has been a serious problem. If you are a student you have read how this battle and that battle was lost because the food supplies were cut off and the base was cut off; and as soon as they cut off the bread basket and the hard-tack and that little bit of meagre rations that the soldier had and turned him loose, he might have had a gun and ammunition, but a few days only told the story.

One of the strategies in war is to cut off the food supply and leave a nation to starve—to hem around a city and close it in and keep it there until the city cries for bread.

This War

This war in which we are now engaged rests, I believe, on the food supply for victory. It is all a question as to whether the supply can be gotten to the lines, and if the supply is gotten there there seems to be no reason why the war shall not come out with victory to the Allies. Even most of the military men are not asking for soldiers or ammunition, but asking for loans of money and shipments of food. The English people think they have enough food themselves to last. As Lloyd George has made the statement, England faces the problem of feeding forty-five million of people but there are hundreds of acres that haven’t been touched that they had turned into the playgrounds of men, and forests where men kept their hunting grounds, and the government has provided a million new acres, and now they have a plan to supply three million more acres, so that within the next year as he says, they will be able to make their own food supply, unless something unforeseen happens in between this and the 1918 crop. And besides that, they will make three or four times as many ships as they made last year. All these things, the European government believes, will keep up the food supply if everybody will do his part; but they wonder if every fellow is going to do his part. They are calling on this country to raise a bumper crop, and the president has given out his message to the farmer and housewife and husband, and instead of using all your sweat to mow your lawn you ought to raise a little garden yourself in your backyard, and if you haven’t a backyard raise it in your window box instead of sweet peas. It is our business to take the acreage and plant it. Our leaders believe that this war will depend to a great extent in a material way on the food supply, and men who are patriotic are called upon to do their little bit in the raising of a crop.

Drive Out Booze

I hope tonight that something will happen to drive every bit of booze out of this old land. What a splendid thing that would be. Some men that never spent a night at home will learn they have a home and a sweet wife and some children. Wouldn’t it be great to walk down the streets of Chicago and never see a booze joint? If that thing ever slips off of America’s neck it will be hard to stick it on again, even after the war is over. If Russia could strike her vodka off the map, we ought to be able to put booze on the toboggan.

These are some of the material things you ought to do. You know your duty as a citizen of Chicago. Every person who lives in this nation under the stars and stripes has their part to do. I want to say I will shed for this country myself every drop of blood in my veins and give to it all the time and prayer and effort that God may give to me. I have stated my opinions about war, but I want to say to you there doesn’t live a man in the city of Chicago tonight that loves the old flag that waves over this country more than the heart that beats in this bosom; but I say to you, my friends, I am too high a patriot tonight not to sound out the alarm God wants me to sound out and tell Christian people what they ought to do. The highest patriots a country can have are the men and women who try to get their country into the right relation to God Almighty, through humiliation, confession of sin and prayer.

Now let us go to some of the crisis hours that have come in the history of this great country and see that some of the greatest things that have been done in this country, have been done by men who believed in the power of prayer and believed that God would take a hand in governmental things; and so I want to stand in my pulpit and cry to my nation that I love and ask that nation to go in prayer to God and see what God will do for a humble, sin confessing nation. If today America would put God to the test and drop on its face as a people in fasting and prayer, God would stop the war so quickly we would be stunned at the silence. He makes a way where there is no way. God would do it. He has done it before. I want to show you tonight from the pages of history that God Almighty has done it.

Where Victory Hinged

Some man has written a book called “The Unwritten Chapter” and has sent it to me, and I want to use some things in it tonight. I think his name is Hutchison. These facts referred to are on the pages of history and you can go and get them and see for yourselves. He has picked out some of these things. I love United States history and love to go into the story of the Civil War; but not until lately did God bring my eyes to see the great thing on which that war hinged. I used to say—“Why did the Confederacy fail?” “Why was it that the great Lee had to hand over his sword?” Everything seemed in his hands’ reach at one time. And many historians ask that question. Why did the Union persist, and why was it held up when it looked like she was all gone? You know it was so far conceded that the Confederacy had won, that other nations were throwing themselves and their influence with the Confederacy, and that poor sallow faced man with the wrinkled brow standing in the White House felt the darkness, and surely you will admit that previous to Gettysburg it was awfully dark for the Union.

I never felt what those burdens are that come upon a president as I have lately. When I think of Mr. Wilson standing hour after hour, week after week, month after month, being called every vile name men could think of, all because he wanted to keep this country out of war! What a fight that man has put up, and reluctantly at last, he could not hold out any longer, had to let the old ship of state slip out into the waves of war.

Oh, we ought to pray for our executives. Our mayor needs our prayers tonight. God bless Thompson tonight and open his heart and brain to God so that he will count God into all that he does and stand firmly for God in these dark days. We ought to pray for every official. It is a great big opportunity, and God pity you if you fail in it. Oh, what the Christians ought to do before the throne of God in this crisis hour! May God lay it upon your heart, and while you raise your garden and do all the rest, in God’s name don’t neglect the one great thing that will solve every issue, and that is the Christian’s prayer. God help you to pray, and since we are called a Christian nation let us prove to the world that we can find the throne of grace and the ear of God in this dark hour for the world, and come to our faces in repentance and in tears for our sins; for we have been awful sinners.

Twenty-nine days from the day Lincoln took his seat as president, Fort Sumter was fired on and in July the war was really on in earnest. By the end of August the wail of sorrow was all abroad—we had had our defeat at two battles of Bull Run and the brief summer weeks ended with 14,500 killed, wounded or missing, with thousands of others leaving the ranks not to return. The public debt had reached an awful figure. By the middle of September Harper’s Ferry fell with great loss in rifles, artillery and prisoners. The next campaign was also disastrous, with a loss of 12,500 prisoners of war—not many, you say, in these days of awful war figures, but this, coupled with other losses, let a discouraging gloom settle over the homes of the north. The slavery question cried aloud in the smoke of battle, to add to the crisis. Horace Greeley wrote an open letter to Lincoln in the New York Tribune, called “The Prayer of Twenty Millions.” Lincoln’s telegraphed answer was in part: “My paramount object is to save the Union and not either to save or to destroy slavery,” yet in a month was made the Emancipation Proclamation, and though made, did not in any way deal with slavery so that God could call the action repentance and come to the aid of the Union. Slavery was so handled that it increased the darkness. The election time came on. Treasonous agitators were about to bring more gloom and increase the cry against Lincoln and criticized the administration. The public debt went higher. The disastrous defeats and small success of the army made the sky cloudy with fear. The foreign powers were more favorable to the Confederacy. Taxes were pressing. The war was talked of as a failure, which threw hope into the heart of the enemy and only increased the strain under which the administration was struggling. When Mr. Lincoln was elected president ten big states stood by him to the big majority tune of 208,000, but now they threw back at him a majority 36,000 the other way. We see a House and Senate now standing with our president, but behind Lincoln’s back was an election enough to take the heart out of him more than the blows of the enemy on the battlefield. Our own state and his own cast 16,500 votes against him. Thus his policy was slapped from all sides….and his Emancipation Proclamation found its repudiation in a blow that dazed Lincoln, and it must have been at such an hour that, seeing all the darkness about him, he sought the hand of God. God was dealing with the nation, friends, about sin. It was a dark hour, and in the dark hour if a nation or an individual will humble itself and cry to God, God will, I say He will find a way out. Another dark cloud was Napoleon III reaching out from France for empire, through the revolution-rent throne of Mexico. Maximilian of the House of Hapsburg was chosen for the crown and ruler of an independent confederacy. Napoleon was warned by Seward, Secretary of State, only to have the warning ignored. The whole scheme awaited only the crowning of Maximilian. Oh, how dark in the ranks, in the nation and without, and how threatening the victory of the enemy. I say in the ranks, for in the election the soldiers in the field voted one in four against the administration. Yes, it was dark. This was the darkest period of our country’s history and it grew increasingly dark. Horace Greeley said that “the ten days before Gettysburg were the darkest hour of America’s history.” We were driven to God. Thank God for the little group of men in Ohio who could see God’s ways well enough to meet for deliberation and prayer and for the Company in Sparta, Illinois, who adopted this pledge: “To labor to bring the nation to repentance toward God and to a faithful administration of the government, according to the principles of the Word of God.” Senator James Harlan of Iowa voiced the spirit of such men as these that met for prayer and deliberation, by bringing a resolution to the Senate that called the whole nation to prayer. I want you to listen to that resolution. Jesus Christ’s name, with His office and finished work and glorious redemptive powers, was brought to our Senate floor and made the very substance and heart and core of the resolution that brought victory for the Union in that darkest hour of the Civil War. 

RESOLVED, That, devoutly recognizing the supreme authority and just government of Almighty God in the affairs of men and of Nations, and sincerely believing that no people, however great in numbers and resources or however strong in the justice of their cause, can prosper without His favor, and at the same time deploring the National offenses which provoked His righteous judgment, yet encouraged, in this day of trouble, by the assurance of His word, to seek Him for succor ACCORDING TO HIS APPOINTED WAY, THROUGH JESUS CHRIST, the Senate of the United States do hereby request the President of the United States by his proclamation to designate and set apart a day for National prayer and humiliation, requesting all the people of the land to suspend their secular pursuits and unite in keeping the day in solemn communion with the Lord of hosts, supplicating Him to enlighten the counsels and direct the policy of the rulers of the Nations and to support the soldiers, sailors and marines, and whole people in the firm discharge of duty, until the existing rebellion shall be overthrown and the blessing of peace restored to our bleeding country.”

Resolved and carried by the United States Senate without one dissenting voice. Hallelujah! That is the day Jesus Christ got into the Senate on His own merits, in His own way; and the resolution carried. If you don’t believe Abraham Lincoln knew what he was doing, and that he was close up to the throne talking about these things, and knew the way to get God to act, listen to the words of his proclamation. You can read the Gettysburg address, but if you want a classic for taking a nation out of war, you read this classic. May God put that on some monument so that our nation will know, and nations will know what this man thought of the way to get God to operate for a nation. Oh, there are lots of nations praying for God to bless their armies; but there is nothing written like this document. The deep humiliation, confession of sin touch at the very heart and core of the whole matter of getting God to act. Abraham Lincoln did it with his own pen. Here is the crisis hour in the Civil War. The nation is called to prayer now, watch what happens in the darkest hour, after men pray. Here is his proclamation* [see Editor’s note at the end of the article; italics added by Pastor Rader]:

Whereas the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the supreme authority and just government of Almighty God in all the affairs of men and of nations, has by a resolution requested the President to designate and set apart a day for national prayer and humiliation; and

Whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord;

And, insomuch as we know that by His divine law nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.

It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.

Now, therefore, in compliance with the request, and fully concurring in the views of the Senate, I do by this my proclamation designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting, and prayer. And I do hereby request all the people to abstain on that day from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite at their several places of public worship and their respective homes in keeping the day holy to the Lord and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion.

All this being done in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope authorized by the divine teachings that the united cry of the nation will be heard on high and answered with blessings no less than the pardon of our national sins and the restoration of our now divided and suffering country to its former happy condition of unity and peace. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this 30th day of March, A. D. 1863, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-seventh.

By the President: ABRAHAM LINCOLN
WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State

The day of prayer came April 30th and on the 19th day of June, in a still darker hour, Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation that was no war policy, but a document which put slavery, a nation’s sin, away from the United States forever. Then, in two more weeks the sky was flooded with victory. By the morning of the 5th of July, Lee was on his way in retreat to the Potomac with one-quarter of his whole army gone and seventeen miles of wagons with the wounded. The tide had turned. Vicksburg had fallen and there was victory at Gettysburg. Running like fire went the shouts of victory throughout the nation. Cannons, flags and rockets signaled the victory. A new cry was in the air. The clouds had lifted. The Union was preserved and the words uttered by Daniel Webster over thirty years before in his reply to Hayne, words that rang around the old Senate Chamber, now the Supreme Court room, were doubly true: “Liberty and union, now and forever, one and inseparable.”

What did it? Prayer, my friends, prayer. Men who can get the government in touch with God are the greatest asset to any nation. You may say, Oh it was a coincident. But you, maybe, were not there. Let the tall man with the deep lines in his face, who waded through that long night, answer as to what did it. His next act proves where he stands on the question of what brought victory. He orders now a time of thanksgiving to God for the nation. Not a time of celebrating victory by long winded speeches and telling how brave we were. No gloating over the enemy, and mind you, too, in his call to prayer, there was nothing thrown at the enemy and no argument to God about the justice of our cause. Now he asks for a day to thank God, who had given victory. The day of thanksgiving Lincoln fixed as August sixth in his proclamation, which read: 

It has pleased Almighty God to hearken to the supplications and prayers of an afflicted people and to vouchsafe to the Army and the Navy of the United States victories on land and on the sea so signal and so effective as to furnish reasonable grounds for augmented confidence that the Union of these States will be maintained, their Constitution preserved, and their peace and prosperity permanently restored.”**

We are now taking our place in the greatest war the world has ever known. It is an hour for serious thought and more so for prayer. While I say to you that it is absolutely necessary on the natural side that men do all they can to preserve the food supply, and while Christians do that particular thing, Oh, may God help us to go to our knees and into our closets and cry out to God, “Oh, God, bring this old arrogant nation with her high head and highbrows and her bunch of infidels and colleges that have swung away from God—bring her down in the dust and bring us down before God and let God sweep in.” It is our business to pray in such an hour as this and see what God will do.

My text says “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God;” and let those who are scientific enough to study history look back and see how God started with the forefathers when they dropped on the sands in prayer, and prayer has been the big thing through our country’s history. God help us tonight to drop back to the old standard and trust the Supreme Power. The Lord of hosts is with us yet and will still bring us to the place where we ought to be as a people, humbled before God. “Why this calamity? Why these clouds? If you will speak, Lord, thy servants will hear and we will confess and humble ourselves before Thee.” “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God,” and the nation lives by God’s words, and men live by God’s words.

Some of you here think by your natural prosperity, lovely homes, and your surroundings and business you live. Wake up! These things are not life. Man doesn’t live by these things, nor the power of intellect, nor business sagacity; but faith in the spoken word of Jesus Christ. This is life to every human soul that has ever taken His words.

You will not come unto Me,” He said to the Jews, “that ye might have life.” God help you as an individual to humble yourself before Him. Oh, my friend, He is King of kings and Lord of lords, and He will soon come to this old Earth. The old checker board holds a great battle tonight. There is much moving around and God is judging men and nations for their sins; and He is trying to get your ear tonight. You will either come to Jesus Christ in love, or you will have to go down in judgment. Look down the pages of history and see the judgment of God moving on. Famous empires are brought down into the dust and the mightiest men into the grave with the dirt. “Dust thou art and to dust shalt thou return,” and then to answer at the judgment seat, “for it is appointed unto men once to die, and after that the judgment.” All that you may seek after is but vanity if you don’t find God. The highest work we can do for your soul is not to give you a million dollars and serve you with the luxuries of life, but the highest thing we can do for you is to put you in the right relation to God Almighty through the blood of His precious Son; and that is what I am after tonight. I am fighting for your souls. God help you to see that you cannot win outside of Jesus Christ.

Some of you are sore pressed in the battle and discouraged and tired and sad. Maybe you are foot-worn and weary. Maybe your poor heart is locked in a grave, the loved ones you once loved are gone and the little nest you feathered is no more. Oh, there is comfort and solace in Jesus that outshines the sun, and this old world, for the heavens shall roll up like a scroll and fade away like a June rose, but Jesus will be living still, the life, the truth, the way. When the stars of heaven fade and melt away and all the powers of it, Jesus will still stand and say, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” “I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No man shall pluck them out of my hand.” Oh, give Him a hold on you tonight. The words that He speaks these are Spirit and these are life; they are bread, eternal food and drink. When the rivers have all dried up and the forests have been blown away and the earth has been melted into a new wonderful world that God shall make, Jesus will still be Lord of lords and King of kings and rule over the whole Earth. When home shall have faded away and the children of today playing around your knees (if time shall last and He tarries) shall grow gray and wrinkled and drop into the grave, Jesus will be dearer and sweeter as the years of eternity roll. Oh, hook up with Him tonight.

Hear me, the problem of civilization has been a food supply. The problem of a soul is a life supply. Have you got it, a life supply? Life—life—life. He says, “I give unto them life and they shall never perish.” Oh, the devil may cut into my right flank and left flank and shoot in the front or in the back, but thank God he cannot cut off my food supply. He cannot cut off my Christ and my God from my heart! They could stone Stephen and bury him, but he was with the Lord, and Jesus stood and gave him a reception before he ever went through death, and Stephen said, “I see Him standing on the right hand of God.” Your food and your drink is Jesus,—your life, my friend. Millions have lived like this audience. Where are you going? Down with the dust of the empires of the past, or are you going to walk up that dusty trail of sawdust and into that little room and say, “Thank God I am not going down into the hell of darkness and eternal night where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. I am going to Jesus, the life, the truth and the way. He spoke the words to my heart, and the minute He did it the work was done.” Thousands of folks have heard the voice of Jesus in their hearts, and have gone forward into life. He said, “Follow me,” and they have followed.

A great crime had been committed in the city of New York, and it was supposed that one of the rich men of New York City had committed that crime. His wife and children and many friends awaited the verdict. He was a young man of 42, possessing a large fortune and had a great array of lawyers who fought the case pro and con through the days and weeks and months, until it had dragged out to a tortuous end. Finally there came that great moment when the case was in the hands of the jury, and the men and women were waiting. The word went forth that the jury would soon reach a verdict, for they had been out for some hours. The mother, the wife, the children and friends of the man who as being tried for his life gathered in the courtroom. The jury filed in at 1:30 in the morning, and slipped an envelope to the judge.

It was silent as night all over that courtroom as the judge took the envelope and tore it open and slipped his hand on the inside and brought out the slip and held it in his hand for a moment. He looked down at the prisoner, and his poor white face looked up. It all depended upon what was written. What the jury had said made a lot of difference to the mother, the sister, the brother, the wife, the children and friends, and oh, so much to the prisoner. The judge had the verdict, but had not spoken, and he held it out, and not a breath was stirring; people hardly dared to take their breath; he held it up to view. The poor prisoner’s hand began to shake on the chair. The judge, holding the paper firmly, turned his face again to the man. The silence was a torture. Then he yelled it out: “Not guilty!” Oh, everyone took a leap, the prisoner took a jump and grabbed his wife, the children ran to his arms. The judge dropped down in sheer exhaustion himself, for he had listened to every bit of testimony and had wonderfully instructed that jury.

Oh, at the throne of God what matters what medals you have won, what money you have had or what your reputation was, if God says, “Guilty.” You have turn Him down. Jesus, the Son of God, has life to give you tonight.

Brother, in God’s name I would come up out of that seat tonight and walk down that aisle if it took every last bit of blood in my veins, and close in with Jesus and have Him say, “Though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow. Though they be red like crimson they shall be as wool.” God knows what your heart is tonight. Your eternal life or eternal death and hell depends upon His words. Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.


*Editor’s note: The original text by Mr. Rader was not complete. The entire Proclamation has been inserted instead. The proclamation can be found here: Proclamation

**Entire text can be found here: Thanksgiving Proclamation