Remember the Lord—Deut 8
Are we there yet? This has been heard by many parents on summer holidays. We all respond in different ways to make the journey more enjoyable. There is nothing more miserable that being stuck in a car with crying kids… Are we there yet, was on the lips of the Israelites as they journeyed in the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land. In the midst of their complaints and grumbles God provided water, quail and manna to sustain them on their way. 1 Cor 10:11 - reminds us that “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come…” This morning let’s discover a few more examples of things we can learn from God ad the Israelites as they moved forward towards the Promised Land.
Deut 8—“Are we there yet” Lessons
This chapter helps us in several ways as we journey in the “Not and Not Yet” of our Christian faith. There are several keys words that help us to understand the lessons to learn while following God; be careful, remember and (do not) forget. Moses comes across like a pastor/teacher as he reminds them of the hard lessons they experienced in the desert. He interprets those moments as examples of God’s love and provision. Lessons learned become those places of maturity in our lives; to some degree the more we grow in life experience the easier life gets. However, we must learn to maintain our faith in God and not our growing wisdom.
Lesson 1: be careful
Moses begins by exhorting the Israelites to “be careful” - Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the Lord promised on oath to your forefathers. It is God’s desire that his children enjoy (abundant) life and increase. God wants the Israelites to “be alive and stay alive” as they move forward in their journey and begin to confront their enemies. One of the main desires of God is for his people to increase, grow and multiply; this is to show forth to the world the source of their life - God Almighty. God does not stop with living and increasing, it is his purpose that they “enter and possess” the Promised Land. One of the main ways God’s kingdom continues to grow on earth is by Christians entering and possessing their “land” so to speak.
- How is all this possible? BY BEING CAREFUL… to follow or obey or heed… every and all… commands…
- Observe the commands of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and revering him. (Deut 8:6)
- Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. (Deut 8:11)
Jesus told his disciples to teach them to obey everything I have commanded you (Matt 28:20). The idea of being careful or being obedient is foundational for us all while we are in this journey of life. We can learn the lessons from the Old Testament so that we do not repeat them in our lifetime.
lesson 2: remember
The word “remember” stand like two book ends in Deut 8 as seen in verse 2 and verse 18…
- Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. (verse 2)
- But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today. (verse 18)
Remembering what God has accomplished in your life is foundational for a successful journey. Here are a few things that Moses wanted them to remember.
- God guides… God leads… There are times that when God leads he is checking to see whether you will follow. He is testing our hearts to see what is really inside; humility or pride, forgiveness or not, gratefulness or greed. Deut 8:-3 - He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Let’s remember how important the Word of God is…
- God provides… God plans… Over and over we are reminded of God’s generosity with Israel while they journeyed in the wilderness. We know that he provided water, quail and manna. In Deut 8:4 - we see - Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. In God’s provision we begin to see his plans and purposes. He is a good Father and has good plans for his people - For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with streams and pools of water, with springs flowing in the valleys and hills; 8 a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; 9 a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills (Deut 8:7-9). It is a good land because he is a Good Father, a land where you will lack nothing…
lesson 3: Do not forget
The opposite of remembering is forgetting. We begin to lose our way when we forget God, his character and his commands. Unfortunately we know that Israel lost there way in the wilderness because of forgetfulness. Moses actually tells the Israelites to “Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God” (Deut 8:11). Forgetfulness is not a good thing, missing car keys, missing birthdays, both of which I have experienced. It is even more serious when people begin to fall into dementia and lose their minds. It is even more important that we do not forget who God is are we journey through our own “are we there yet” experiences in life.
- Moses warns the Israelites not to forget the lessons of the desert. It was here that they learned that the Lord provides manna (verse 3); this is the chapter that Jesus quotes when the devil tempts him to turn stones into bread: “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4, quoting Deuteronomy 8:3).
- Another verse on forgetfulness in is Deut 8:14 — then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. The Israelites could fall into the idea that it was their hard work or skill or even their army that gained them the Promised Land. This would be their pride speaking when in fact it is God’s gift to them. They should be grateful rather than proud, and not forget all that God accomplished for them; from their deliverance from Egypt and the being sustained in the wilderness.
There is good news in Deut 8; it is the desire of God to bring his people into the Promised Land. He gave them all they need to live and increase and to enter and possess his plans and purposes. This passage of Scripture is to remind them of God’s love and care.
The concern in this chapter is that prosperity might weaken Israel’s resolve to depend on God. Moses uses Israel’s history to provide the backdrop for this potential problem. The Israelites should know by now that their success in the wilderness or in the Promised land depends on their God.
Moses was helping the Israelites to understand their relationship with God was foundational in their journey with him. Without a doubt they needed to be careful to obey. They were encouraged to remember God who is and all that He had done for them. And when they had arrived in the Promised Land not to become proud and forgetful but to remember that the Lord provides and give the human ability to produce wealth.
“Are we there yet”? This is a valid question to consider as we walk out our Christian faith. The lessons of this chapter are clear.
- Be careful to obey God.
In my own life there are times I wrestle with disobedience. Pride, unforgiveness, selfishness… I must bring those to Jesus at the cross and ask him to forgive my sins. If I don’t come to Jesus for personal freedom and righteousness it is like I have forgotten him.
Let’s take a moment to bring to God those areas the Spirit is convicting us this morning.
Let’s confess and repent and choose to live differently for God’s glory.
- Be careful to remember God.
I can tell you story after story of God’s faithfulness and provision. From laundry money, toothpaste, to freedom from debt, to healing and so much more. When I choose to remember God, his character and his abilities faith begins to rise in my heart. Faith is so essential as we journey forward in God. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6).
Let’s remember to remember God this week.
Tell someone something God has done for you.
Give testimony of God’s faithfulness.