Deuteronomy 8 (NLT) “Be careful to obey all the commands I am giving you today. Then you will live and multiply, and you will enter and occupy the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors… Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. For all these forty years your clothes didn’t wear out, and your feet didn’t blister or swell. Think about it: Just as a parent disciplines a child, the LORD your God disciplines you for your own good. “So obey the commands of the LORD your God by walking in his ways and fearing him. For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land of flowing streams and pools of water, with fountains and springs that gush out in the valleys and hills. It is a land of wheat and barley; of grapevines, fig trees, and pomegranates; of olive oil and honey. It is a land where food is plentiful and nothing is lacking… “But that is the time to be careful! Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the LORD your God and disobey his commands, regulations, and decrees that I am giving you today. For when you have become full and prosperous and have built fine homes to live in, and when your flocks and herds have become very large and your silver and gold have multiplied along with everything else, be careful! Do not become proud at that time and forget the LORD your God, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt. Do not forget that he led you through the great and terrifying wilderness with its poisonous snakes and scorpions, where it was so hot and dry. He gave you water from the rock!… “But I assure you of this: If you ever forget the LORD your God and follow other gods, worshiping and bowing down to them, you will certainly be destroyed. Just as the LORD has destroyed other nations in your path, you also will be destroyed if you refuse to obey the LORD your God.
The Israelites barely were at the borders of their promised land and had not hasted the fruits of what God was to give them. Is that the time to lecture them and of course they wouldn't forget God after all He did for them. Would they?
Moses starts off by issuing a warning to the Israelites that they were to obey EVERY command God gave them. That was the pre-condition to being blessed by God. God did not want a people who simply followed the rules but rather, He wanted a people who followed His commandments because they loved Him and were passionate about living a meaningful life for His glory because of all He did for them. Is that not true of what He asks of us today?
The next important aspect is the testing. God purposely led the Israelites into a time of testing and it was vital to their faith. Many who were freed from slavery in Egypt did not see the fruits of this journey because of their sin and un-gratefulness to God for His great provisions and is that not true even today. Our Christian walk is not a bed of roses from the get-go but rather it seems like a bed of thorns with all that is thrown our way. It is not because God does not know our hearts but instead it is because we don't know our own hearts! We need to be constantly corrected about our over-estimation of ourselves.
Humbling the Israelites seems again like a hard lesson but it is key to our faith. Only when we can humble our hearts and admit defeat can we receive Jesus Christ as the only hope for our souls. It is at a point of complete brokenness and surrender that we see the beauty of the cross on which He was hung for our salvation. God's education begins with humbling and unless we are teachable, there is no point in the rest of the journey with God.
The next challenge is total dependence on God. We often hear this quoted by Bible teachers but seldom understand its significance and here today is proof of it. God reminds us that He humbles us to a point of hunger and then feeds us by His great provision. At the bottom of the pit when we are struggling for hope is when God feeds us, restores our lives and carries us back to strength but not strength of our own. As Christians, our hope and strength is in Christ and it is only through Him that we succeed in living.
Man shall not live by bread alone, rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. We may exist by material things alone but we do not live because of them. Anyone who thinks they live for bread alone is part of the living dead and I pray no one ever is because that's the greatest poverty in the world, spiritual poverty.
The word of God is our food and sustenance alone, not our dreams and imaginations as the world would have us believe. 'Follow your heart' is a theme that is commonly used by many as the solution to our problems but we must never forget that our hearts are what led us to points of self-destruction in the first place. Through the prophet Jeremiah, we are reminded:
“Let these false prophets tell their dreams, but let my true messengers faithfully proclaim my every word. There is a difference between straw and grain! Jeremiah 23:28 (NLT)
God is not against materialism or material things, rather, He wants to bless us with much and did so with the Israelites. However, He detests anything that comes between Him and us and this is a key lesson for us today. If we can stay humble and faithful, the much or little we have will not affect our love for our saviour and that is key to today's chapter.
When much comes our way, we should not be shaken because we know it is from God as is His provisions when we have nothing. All that we have achieved and have is not of our own doing but because of His graciousness and being able to submit and understand this is key to walking the good faith. Pride has no room in God's kingdom and I pray you and I will leave it at the door before we restart our walk with our loving saviour.
Moses' final warning stands good even today in our lives. He loved Israel but He loved God far more and did not hesitate to take the stand and warn them and us. Disobedient and proud people will certainly perish in the same way as the enemies of Israel were destroyed and that is a great warning for you and I today. In Christ there is great hope but without Him, there is great darkness and I pray that you and I will walk in humble submission to Him and not in pride away from Him into eternal destruction.
In His Loving Service,