We were given rules to live by. The Lord gave us the Ten Commandments reiterated in Deuteronomy 5:6-21. He then told us that one commandment predominated those. That it was the commandment which is expressed by the Ten. God told us foremost that He is the Lord Our God, One and that we are to love Him with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our might (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). The Ten are not like the rest of the Law which were fulfilled in Jesus Christ. He did fulfill the Ten as well as the greatest, but they are still carried out, not to earn salvation, but because they are the manifestation of Love in us. They are the manifestation of The Spirit of Jesus Christ in us. When we fall short of the image and nature of Christ, He loves us enough to discipline us and bring us back into congruence with Him.
Moses urged Israel to remember the whole Commandment, that is the greatest as lived out by the Ten. Verses 1-2 read,
“The whole commandment that I command you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land that the Lord swore to give to your fathers. 2 And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.”
Moses exhorted Israel to remember their forty years in the desert, how the Lord had led them and humbled them, and how He had tested their faith. It was God through the wilderness experience who had made them able to handle the great battles that awaited them, who had them able to enter the rest and wealth of The Promised Land.
Do you know anyone who was born privileged or wealthy, who never lacked or wanted or suffered? Do you know anyone who has never been disciplined by a loving parent? These are often the people who feel entitled, have no ability to sympathize or behave as if rules don’t exist for them. There are some people who go through suffering, but never reflect on the good it brought, the change it enabled, or the disciplines they learned. What about you? What have you learned from the bad times in your life? What did the suffering bring to you? Who did the discipline make you? Verses 3-6 read,
“And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. 4 Your clothing did not wear out on you and your foot did not swell these forty years. 5 Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the Lord your God disciplines you. 6 So you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and by fearing him.”
Had the ex-slaves of Egypt not gone through the wilderness, they would not have become the free people of Israel, God’s treasured possession. They would have been afraid to fight the giants that inhabited Canaan; they would have been too weak to fight nation after nation to claim their land; they would not have had the faith to obey the Lord and defeat Jericho by walking around its walls.
If I had not been humbled and lost my home to fire, I would not have had the faith to stand up for the Gospel, depend completely on The Lord, or become God’s treasured possession instead of a spinster of the world. What about you? What have you learned from the bad times in your life? What did the suffering bring to you? Who did the discipline make you? His promises, His bounty, and His treasures await us. Verses 7-10 read,
“For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills, 8 a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, 9 a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. 10 And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.”
We remember the suffering but we are also told to enjoy the blessings, to appreciate that we do not lack anything in God. We are told to delight in the blessings and bless the Lord for them. But once again we warned to remember the discipline of the wilderness. Verses 11-20 read,
“Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, 12 lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, 13 and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, 15 who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock, 16 who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end. 17 Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ 18 You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. 19 And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. 20 Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the Lord your God.”
We are told to remember the suffering, not the sins that caused the discipline but the wilderness and how the Lord carried us through it. We remember that so that we won’t let the abundance of blessings make us forget, make us prideful, or make us slip back into sin.
Was it Israel who provided the manna? No, it was The Lord. Is it you who brings home the bacon? Or is it the Lord who provided you the job which pays you? Everything belongs to God. It is all His. Psalm 24:1-2 says,
“The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof,
the world and those who dwell therein,
2 for he has founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.
Don’t take credit for God’s great work and generosity. It was not me who found shelter after the fire, provided the food and clothes I needed, found me a new place to live, or replaced all my lost possessions not once but twice. It was The LORD, my God. If I pat myself on the back for a job well done, I glorify myself, I worship my strength, and I forget who God is and who I am in Him.
Believer, the Lord disciplines you because He loves you. Don’t let His discipline be wasted by forgetting the wilderness and forgetting to love as He loves. He loves you with every word, every deed, and every tear, His entire self. Love Him back the same way with all your heart, soul, and strength.