- BFF Home
- About us
- Life Truths
Purpose: Deuteronomy 8:1-20's Living Commentary, page 3 of 4, shows the improtant place understanding our life's experience in light of God's Word has in our spiritual development.
We deepen our intimacy with the Lord by remembering how He has wonderfully worked in our past and has set out beautiful plans ahead for us. He desires to establish a more blessed estate by helping us faithfully serve Him in our present circumstances. (Deuteronomy 8 specializes on giving us an overview of life of those under His covenant. I hope you belong to God's covenant. Otherwise you will be overwhelmed by an unbalanced perspective of life and perish. God's grace is found only in those who find refuge in Jesus Christ where we can become the children of God.
Remember all that we experience in life enhances the teachings of God's Word. God brings foundational spiritual experiences into our life to help shape our special spiritual knowledge. Many of them did not have God's Word to regularly teach them. They, like us, had to interpret their life experiences from God's perspective in order to help guide them. Let's look at how God does this through the experiences He takes us through.
"And He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD" (Deuteronomy 8:3).
I can remember a lot of experiences that the Lord has taken me through. Some of them have been rough, sometimes because of my fault. For example, about one or two years after I was saved I stopped attending extra church activities like Bible Studies. I thought I was gaining but later discovered that I was perhaps the saddest teen around. I enjoyed playing basketball with my friends, but I missed out on what real life was like. I was so glad to get back to the Lord.
The Lord brings us from difficult circumstances to blessings. Every child of God is cultivated in God's love. His love will help us through difficult times. Those who are raised in homes where there is no love tend to doubt God's sincere and loving purposes. God, however, always loves His children. He has promised to take care of them.
"In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, in order that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have strong encouragement, we who have fled for refuge in laying hold of the hope set before us" (Hebrews 6:17-18).
The Lord wants us to understand the whole process by which closeness and intimacy with God is developed. This was Moses' clear purpose for writing this passage. No matter how deprived we were in our former years, the Lord wants you to know how He kindly deals with you.
Let's look more closely at how God highlights this through what Moses has seen and known about God's working with His people under His covenant. There are three stages: The need, the solution, the understanding. We could also say: crisis, relief and insight.
Moses says that God brought His people through humbling circumstances. I do not know if you ever went through such difficult circumstances, but whoever is in them will all have one common feeling. Escape. Relief. Help. Exit. ￼The situation might differ. In the case of the Israelites, they ran out of food. Most of us would think about buying more food, but this is not so easy in the wilderness, especially with several million people. What if they found one quail, even ten? Would they not argue and fight over the limited food resources?
Unless they entered such difficult circumstances, they would not gain some basic knowledge about God that they needed to know. What did God do? God has a good purpose. He brought relief.
He provided manna, an unknown food that only lasted during their time during the wilderness traveling. Once they actually got into the Promised Land and ate the local food there, the manna stopped. Since then manna has become history. But during those forty years, God provided miracles day by day.
Notice in Deuteronomy 8:3 it is God that humbled them. "He humbled you and let you be hungry." God will do such things in our lives. He has done such things in our lives. He is not being malicious. It is the way one deals with children. You never give them everything they need. You carefully evaluate things and give them at the proper time so that their learning experiences are maximized.
Let me share one of these foundational spiritual experiences I went through. I remember trying to go on a short term mission trip connected to my training in foreign missions. Time quickly passed. The deadline for determining whether one was going came close. The mission called up asking about financial support. I had hardly anything. I asked how many days left before the latest deadline. They said three days. You can be sure that I really sought the Lord during this time. On the last day possible, He miraculously prompted someone to immediately give. These lasting memories shape my life and faith.
In Deuteronomy 8:4 Moses goes on and speaks about how their clothes and shoe wear did not wear out during the long forty years. This is the miracles that these Israelites saw. They should have no reason to doubt God and His care for them. All of our experiences differ. Your experiences are different from mine, but we all see how special God works in the lives of His people.
Don't doubt God when going through such times or you will be confused and experience much pain. Instead patiently wait for God to deliver you and seek Him to help you. The key is to focus on the lesson and delight in the provider than escape from the difficult situation.
God is not just trying them but building up their faith that they would grow in their understanding and be better prepared for life. If I always provided for my children and made them dependent upon me, then they would not be prepared for life. They need to wean off the parents' provision and find that they themselves need to trust in the Lord. They have to go out on their own and get that job and face difficult and uncomfortable circumstances.
It is quite clear that God wanted to impart to them some special understanding of Him so that He brought these circumstances into their lives. God is sovereign and carefully works through all things to train up His people. What does the Lord say here that He was trying to help them know?
"That He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD."
It is essential that all of God's children understand the relationship between the physical and spiritual. Many major philosophies and religions have gone wrong by a wrong interpretation of the world in which they live. It is extremely hard for us to rightly understand life just by living in it. We need special understanding. This is more easily understood when we acknowledge there are spiritual principles.
For example, many people in ancient times would give much devotion to a grotesque feminine idol of fertility. This multi-breasted wooden piece was thought to bring fertility to the women. How could they think this way? Perhaps it is no different than the person who thinks that man shapes his future or is the savior of the environment. He might even have some good motives but without the whole picture in mind, he is apt to make colossal policy mistakes. Balance is needed.
Notice how Moses was not saying that man did not need food. Man does need material things for his body to live. Each day we eat. All of us eat. Many in our society, however, have wrongly concluded that this is all we need. People say, "Everything depends on money." This is another deluded perspective. If we accept this perspective, then we will greatly suffer due to this distorted view. One person offers food to the fertility goddess, while another uses cash to obtain carbon credits. If we just absorb the values around us without scrutinizing the scriptures, surely we will be of no good to the Master. We need understanding.
The point is that if we only have a secular perspective, then we will never be able to rightly evaluate things. God said things about fertility in Deuteronomy 7 and 1 Samuel 1 to 2. He speaks about the place creation has in other places. We need further insight to think the right way and make right life decisions.
So what is it that we are suppose to know that will help us live out proper lives? It is this truth here in Deuteronomy 8:3 that Jesus quoted and stands today to condemn secular living. Secular living states that everything operates around the material world. ￼Even though the evidence of a spiritual world along with the physical world is so strong and getting stronger every day, man gets more and more stubborn resisting the fact of God's presence. Man has become so resolute that he forms his own religion. The old religion that has sabotaged most universities and societies is secular humanism.
A more recent one is an outgrowth of this. How popular and influential it will become, who knows. In each man becomes his own god, describes his plight - global warming, shares man's salvation - carbon substitutes. Sin is when man breathes or lives. Redemption is when we by a tree in Kenya to offset the carbon dioxide that we have created.
Environmentalism is just another of man's attempts to feel good about himself in a world where he does so much evil. It is another form for those in power to deceive people and collect tithes. It is not wrong to want to help Kenya replenish the tree population in the Rift valley but why do you do it. What motivates you? If it is because of this faddish religion or unbiblical philosophy, then you have succumbed to a belief about redeeming the sin of your existence.
God says that life can only be understood by recognizing that "man lives by everything that proceeds from the mouth of God." In other words, the spiritual and material worlds are both created and sustained by God. Even if we really faced global warming,6 we should use the scriptures to interpret our experiences. God says a lot about these matters and more.
We often want to understand things only in the context of what we see. Psychology is a clear example of this along with its more pronounced impact in our society: psychotherapy. I give this one example because it means the 'study of the soul' but rare is the psychologist that even believes in the soul. They are a false priesthood. But there is much warped knowledge around. It is an incomplete knowledge.
I am astonished how many people, even Christians, will give their money and life in the hands of people who professedly only live for the material things of the world. Even health. All these things we have are from God. ￼Should we not repent of the secularism that has so impacted our minds and turn back to a sound perspective of the world. God wanted to give them a basic and sound perspective of life. We asked what a person would do if he was seriously ill, no one said what James tells us to do, "Ask the elders to come and anoint him with oil and pray."
My point is not to be extreme. Does it sound like I am? Actually this just shows how extreme the world is. They are the ones that left God and His wisdom out. We are the ones that go about in our daily lives without consciously thinking about our relationship with God. The scriptures point us back to God. I expect soon that we will have a huge financial problem throughout the world.
The governments will try to reform themselves and be a savior. They largely are more interested in power than help. The question is how would you handle it if you could not get a job for two years? What would happen if we no longer had internet access or truckers bringing food to the places we live? Don't panic. God would just be trying to waken us up to how He was there all along. God solved this food crisis for the Israelites, didn't He? We can trust Him. "Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God."
Keep balance. Seek help from people who understand this balance. Those who have not remembered these special lessons from God will have odd perspectives, evil motives and wrong decisions.
When we look at these verses, we might be a little surprised by God's great desire to bless His people.
"For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; a land where you shall eat food without scarcity, in which you shall not lack anything; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper." (Deuteronomy 8:7-9).
You can bad mouth God if you want, but you are taking a totally wrong turn in life when you do. If you or I conclude at any point in our lives under His covenant that He has lost His love for us or that we could find a better love or care for our lives other than in His commands, we are quite mistaken. Did you see where the Lord was leading His people? A beautiful land. Full of natural resources and ability to harvest rich crops.
What is happening in Deuteronomy itself is a good example of God's care. God's intention was to bring them there 40 years earlier, but it was the stubbornness and unbelief of His people that kept Him from doing this. So out of His pocket God brings miracles such as wear-proof clothes and the perfect sandal. My sole fell off from from sandal just two weeks ago. I probably have not worn them more than 80 days. Forty years has 14,600 days. I am sure my living conditions were nothing compared to the hot and rocky wilderness journey. God could have just let their clothes wear out. He did not have to provide manna to the complaining group. We see He went completely out of His way to help them. This is a remarkable proof of God's great patience toward His people. One generation might have rejected God's good gifts, but He still tries to give it to the next generation.
"Now let us see the purpose God has for providing so nicely for them. "When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which He has given you" (Deuteronomy 8:10).
When people are satisfied, they are reminded of God's good ways towards them and give thanks to the Lord. God uses these blessings to foster a deeper admiration for God. This is true today too, but many people do not give sincere thanks even for their food not to mention the many other good things that they have. They might say thanks but are not very conscious of God's part or appreciative of His provision
This is where the important lesson of Deuteronomy 8 comes in. God explains in Deuteronomy 8:10 that when they eat and are satisfied that this satisfaction and delight should cause man to bless God. Our experience should lead to appreciate which in turn leads to further obedience.
Of course, if we forget or somehow do not fully appreciate God's blessing in our lives, then we will not be appreciative and will not find a pleasant teaching experience. The Lord speaks of this too.
Starting in Deuteronomy 8:11 Moses begins to clearly identify why we often go through difficult times.
"Beware lest you forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you today; lest, when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them, and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold multiply, and all that you have multiplies, then your heart becomes proud, and you forget the LORD your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery." Deuteronomy 8:11-14).
If God uses blessings to refresh our hearts of His goodness, what happens if one no longer connects his blessings with God? Do you have a computer? Do you really thank God for it and sense a stream of appreciation building up in your heart because of it? I regular meet people who have little or no resources. Like one pastor I will soon visit in India whose motherboard died. They live on $30 a month. Or what about the other pastor I just visited in Nigeria who asks me to find a used laptop for him. He has no resources to secure one on his own.
Maybe we should make an inventory and started thanking God from the bottom of our hearts until we mean it. This procedure might sound rather funny but is it possible we have already depreciated the value of God's good gifts? Have we ourselves started to drift away from the Lord?
We can safely conclude from these verses that if we are no longer appreciative of God's provisions from our homes to our transport to our household machines to our food, then we have already started to backslide. We need to be thankful and not just say thanks, though that is a good beginning. This turning away from God is exactly what this passage warns us of, especially those in a materialistic age.
￼The process is somewhat highlighted here. God's people are first warned. They are not to forget the Lord their God. When you see yourself excusing yourself for your lack of appreciation, you have reached this dangerous point of turning away from the Lord. Let's see how it works within this context.
The verses go on and explain how this works out in our busy lives. Good things are suppose to remind us of God's goodness to us and cause us to draw closer to Him and obey Him. But at a certain point, something other than thankfulness enters our minds, maybe just a slight callousness or focus on the way we earned something. The scriptures clearly articulate this process. If we are not careful, these good things that inundate our lives will make us not only full and satisfied but proud. Pride leads to spiritual amnesia. Pride leads us to forget the many great things God has done for us. Self-sufficiency is a delusion and a mockery of God who so kindly provides for us.
In the case of the Israelites, their fathers crossed over out of Egypt. Probably many of them were still bilingual and still knew Egyptian. These people more than others should know that God was very good to them. He rescued them from slavery. They should remember these things but when things go well, we are susceptible to forgetfulness. We forget those who helped us get to that place. This list includes our parents, governments, friends, teachers, and always God.
In verse 15 the story of God's amazing goodness to the Israelites is further amplified.
"He led you through the great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water; He brought water for you out of the rock of flint. "In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end" (Deuteronomy 8:15-16).
We already mentioned the ever-wear clothes and sandals and even the manna, but equally important is the protection from fiery serpents, scorpions and thirst. The Lord brought water to them out of the rock of flint. Flint is a very hard substance. How can water come out of it? It did. Again, it is a special way that the Lord provided for them to build up their faith. These great and marvelous things unfortunately do not always build up our faith.
If we doubt God's good intentions, then we question the whole incident and forget the great thing He had done for us. We shouldn't do this but it happens. It happens so much that Moses warns them of this and through them God warns us.
I find it helpful, and it reminds me that I ought to more deeply express my appreciation for the great many things that I have. The Giver is more important than the gifts. As you go through the day, start thanking the Lord for the many good things He has given you to use. Be specific. Think about how good the washing machine and running water is. He has given you the power of wealth.
It is critical that we understand life's experiences. This is the point of bringing us through such experiences. If we go through them and do not meditate on God's goodness or just forget about them in the busyness of life, what good is it? We instead are to deepen our intimacy with the Lord by remembering how He has wonderfully worked in our past and makes wonderful plans for us in the days ahead. Everything that we go through is to give us a greater understanding of God's ways to build up our relationship with Him and further obey Him.