Food storage and stockpiling have become increasingly popular in recent years. With concerns over potential food shortages, economic uncertainties, and natural disasters, many people are turning to building up emergency food reserves. But what does the Bible have to say about stockpiling food and other emergency preparations? In this comprehensive blog post, we will examine the Scriptural principles and perspectives on food storage and preparedness.
The Bible does not explicitly prohibit or condemn keeping reasonable emergency food reserves. However, it does provide wisdom and caution about relying on stockpiled supplies versus relying on God’s provision. Here are some key takeaways about what the Bible teaches regarding stockpiling food:
- Stockpiling can reflect a lack of trust and faith in God’s provision
- However, responsible preparation is prudent and taught by scriptural principles
- Do not stockpile out of selfish motivation or greed
- Avoid hoarding more than your family’s reasonable needs
- Use wisdom and moderation in building reserves
- Be willing to share with those in need during hard times
- Keep eternal spiritual sustenance your priority over physical food
In examining Scripture, we find stories of both famine and plenty, preparation and provision. A balanced perspective takes both God’s sovereignty and human responsibility into account. We must avoid presuming upon God or ignoring principles of wise preparedness.
Old Testament Examples and Teachings
The Old Testament provides us several examples that reveal timeless principles about preparing for challenging times. During times of famine or hardship we see those who wisely prepared, and those who faced scarcity with faith and reliance on God.
Joseph in Egypt
One of the best examples is the story of Joseph in Genesis 37-50. Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dream to mean there would be seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. Joseph led Egypt to prepare by storing surplus grain during the good years to provide for the bad years (Genesis 41:28-36). This is one of the clearest biblical examples of emergency preparedness and stockpiling. At the same time, the people still had to cry out to Pharaoh for food during the famine (Genesis 47:13-26). Their stores were not unlimited. This teaches moderation in stockpiling.
Proverbs 6:6-8 on the Ant
Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, Which, having no captain, Overseer or ruler, Provides her supplies in the summer, And gathers her food in the harvest. (Proverbs 6:6-8)
Here we are exhorted to follow the ant’s example – it stores up and prepares ahead of time. This teaches foresight and diligence in making reasonable provisions for our households. At the same time, ultimately God is our provider and we cannot rely only on our efforts and planning, but must have faith and reliance upon Him. As Jesus said:
Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. (Matthew 6:31-32)
Condemnation of Hoarding
In the Law, God condemned selfish hoarding of food. Farmers were commanded:
And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field when you reap, nor shall you gather any gleaning from your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the stranger: I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 23:22)
This principle taught providing for the poor and limiting overindulgence. Hoarding excessive supplies out of fear or greed goes against biblical values of caring for one’s neighbor and the less fortunate.
At the same time, in the Law God did make allowance for selling produce and household goods, and even lending with interest to foreigners (Deuteronomy 14:21, 23:20). The Bible strikes a balance – trading and commerce are appropriate but not greedy exploitation of others’ needs. Reasonable reserves are acceptable but hoarding at the expense of others is clearly condemned.
Trust During Scarcity
During times of lack, God often provided miraculously if the people trusted in Him:
Then Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son. For thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the Lord sends rain on the earth.’” So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days. The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke by Elijah. (1 Kings 17:13-16)
This passage shows God honoring the widow’s faith and providing for her needs in the midst of famine. At the same time, we see the virtue of stewarding limited resources carefully until God sends provision.
The primary lesson is that God ultimately sustains His people, if they trust in Him, walk in obedience to His commands, and seek His kingdom above all else. Stockpiling can be done in moderation, but extremes of hoarding or seeking security primarily from stores, rather than from the Lord, is misguided. As Psalm 20:7 states:
Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the Lord our God.
Prioritizing the Eternal Over the Temporal
Jesus taught that material wealth and earthly provision should not be our priority or security:
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)
While meeting basic needs is appropriate, stockpiling excessive reserves can reflect misplaced priorities, fear, and lack of faith. Our true sustenance is from God’s Word and Spirit:
But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4)
In the Old Testament, God humbled Israel with lack to remind them that faith was more important than full barns:
And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the Lord your God, and follow other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish…Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today, lest when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them; and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God…then you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.’ (Deuteronomy 8:18-20; 11-12; 17)
The peril of abundance is forgetting that God is the true provider and source of life. When our focus shifts to material security and comfort, we can lose sight of what truly matters most – our relationship with God and His kingdom.
New Testament Principles on Priorities and Provision
The Rich Fool
Jesus told the parable of the rich fool who obsessively stored up goods for himself but was not “rich toward God” (Luke 12:16-21). This reflects misguided priorities rather than prudent preparation. Our lives do not consist in possessions no matter how abundant (Luke 12:15).
Treasures in Heaven
We are instructed to store up eternal treasures rather than temporary earthly ones:
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)
God Knows Our Needs
Rather than obsessing over material goods, we are to seek God’s kingdom first, trusting that He knows our needs:
“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ Or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:31-33)
The Lilies and Birds
Jesus reminds us that if God clothes the lilies and feeds the birds, He will provide for us when we are faithful:
“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” (Matthew 6:28-32)
“Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? …Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:26-27, 31-33)
The Bread and Fish
When Jesus fed the five thousand with a few loaves and fish, there were even leftovers (Matthew 14:13-21). This miraculous provision reflects how God can multiply limited resources when we trust in Him. It also illustrates His compassion in caring for people’s needs.
Dependence on God, Not Riches
Generosity Over Greed
The early church shared with all who had need and gave sacrificially (Acts 2:44-45, 4:32-35). Hoarding resources for oneself goes against the biblical principle of generosity to others, especially the poor and needy. As John says:
But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? (1 John 3:17)
God’s Faithfulness and Sufficiency
Ultimately God promises to supply all our needs in Christ:
And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)
With God all things are possible (Luke 1:37). His grace is sufficient for every circumstance (2 Corinthians 12:9).
The consistent message is that God will provide what we truly need, especially spiritual sustenance, when we trust in Him and keep His kingdom first place in our lives and hearts. With this eternal perspective, provisions and possessions can be kept in their proper place.
Principles for Wise Preparation
While material security should not become an idol, Scriptural wisdom does teach making reasonable preparations and provisions for our households. Trusting God does not negate using sound judgment. Here are some biblical principles for striking the right balance:
- Make provisions in moderation without hoarding – “The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down” (Proverbs 21:20).
- Prepare with wisdom, hard work, and good stewardship – “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!” (Proverbs 6:6).
- Avoid presuming on God to bless neglect or poor decisions – “One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys” (Proverbs 18:9).
- Be willing to share, especially in times of need – “If one of your brethren becomes poor, and falls into poverty among you, then you shall help him” (Leviticus 25:35).
- Use resources prudently without needless extravagance – “Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost” (John 6:12).
- Guard against selfish attitudes and trust in riches – “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God” (1 Timothy 6:17).
- Focus on eternal priorities more than material wealth – “What profit has a man from all his labor in which he toils under the sun?” (Ecclesiastes 1:3).
- Place faith in God to provide as needed – “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7).
With these wise principles, we can prepare and stock reasonably for potential difficulties, while keeping material things in their proper place. Our true sustenance and security come from the Lord, His Word, His kingdom and His righteousness.
Conclusion and Application
In assessing all of Scripture, we find that stockpiling and emergency preparation are not directly condemned, though extremes and improper attitudes are. With wisdom, moderation and generosity, building reasonable reserves according to one’s means appears to be biblically prudent. At the same time, anxiety over material security can become misplaced. Our faith, values and priorities as followers of Christ must remain rooted in God and His eternal kingdom rather than physical treasures.
We live in a fallen world filled with uncertainties. It is wise to make practical preparations for our families’ well-being. However, it is most vital to nourish our souls on the Word of God and our relationship with Him. We must guard our hearts against fear, greed and misplaced hope in material things. Our security is ultimately in our Savior, not in stockpiles. When our focus is on pursuing Christ and His righteousness, we can be confident that He will sustain us regardless of circumstances. We can live with open hands – using what God provides prudently but also giving generously.
By practicing biblical principles of wisdom, faith and eternity-focused living, our outlook remains centered on God rather than the uncertainties of this life. We can prepare practically while still leaving outcomes in His capable hands. With Christ as our rock and refuge, temporary shortages will not shake us because our foundation is secure in Him.