If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
To begin with, the children of Israel had been wandering the desert for nearly 40 years. Before they enter the promised land, all the adults present when they rebelled against God at the Jordan River except for Joshua and Caleb will have died. In Deuteronomy chapter 8 Moses is instructing the next generation, he reminds them of the faithfulness of God in their past, the presence of God at this moment, and the promises God has made for their future. As we study, think about your life. Where were you when God stepped in? What has he rescued you from? What have you learned about God’s truth and justice or his love and mercy? Did you learn it the hard way? As you pass the torch to your family, what would you have them know about the God you serve? What pain could you spare them if they would learn from your experiences? If we make it to Heaven, we will have to walk this Christian journey on our own, but it is critical to listen to the wisdom of those who’ve walked the same road before us.
All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers.
It’s easy to believe that when we come to Christ all our problems are over. Actually, we are entering into the battle of our lives. However, Christ has already guaranteed victory through His finished work on the cross. The people of Israel must have been overjoyed to finally see the land that God had promised. In the previous chapters of Deuteronomy, Moses reminded them of the law, sharing God’s truth about obedience and disobedience, and God’s promise to keep the covenant made with their fathers.
The land is theirs, God has proclaimed it, but the fight is real and they will have to trust God enough to obey Him. Moses is saying, Don’t forget. It isn’t the enemy you need to fear, but your own unfaithfulness to do what you know God has asked you to do. Some commentators feel that entering this land of milk and honey is a type of entering into Heaven. Yet, the nation of Israel is warned about battles. Since battles are not mentioned in regard to Heaven, it seems more realistic to see this land of Canaan as a picture of the Christian life. You’d better believe that your Christian journey will be filled with giants, fierce strongholds to be breached, deceptive enemies, and a daily battle to submit yourself to the God we are striving to know.
2 And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.
While true that we cannot dwell on our past, it doesn’t hurt once in a while to take a good look at where we’ve come from and see where we are at the moment. Moses is reminding them of all the things they have been through in the last 40 years. The deaths, failures, revolts, golden calf, fiery serpents, Manna, quails, and complaining they saw with their own eyes and heard with their own ears. It has been a progression of learning done to humble and prove them. What does it mean to humble and prove? To become humble one must realize that we are not God. We must bow respectfully to God's authority, power, and wisdom. God cannot be manipulated and we cannot put him in a box- He is unlimited and very unlike us. He is God Almighty. We cannot think more highly of ourselves than we ought by taking credit for the things only God can control and accomplish. Humility or being humble before God is not a phrase that is used very often these days. In modern society, we are encouraged to look out for ourselves, master our own fate, and not let anything get in our way. God proved them, allowing the tests of their faith that made the choice between following God and rejecting him abundantly clear. You have to choose who you will serve and you are responsible for your choice.
3 And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live.
Have you heard this before somewhere? It is the same rebuke that Jesus gives Satan during his temptation in the wilderness after fasting 40 days. 3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:3-4) Jesus’ rebuke is our example. Jesus showed that we are more than physical beings. Our spiritual hunger is more important than our physical hunger. Waiting on the Lord to provide for our needs, as He promises He will, is much greater than compromising with Satan to receive immediate satisfaction.
57 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live forever. (John 6:57-58)
4 Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years.
They are moving about in a hot desert. Dry, dusty, cold at night, but their clothes do not become old and tattered. Their feet do not swell. Their shoes don’t fall apart. God provides for his people in the harshest of circumstances. His blessings are abundant and his tender mercies are present even when we are reaping the seeds that they have sown. They wander in the wilderness for 40 years because they failed to obey God, yet God shows benevolent compassion.
5 Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee.6 Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him.
There is no chastening mentioned in heaven. There is chastening in the Christian life. Isn’t it interesting that God uses the family dynamic to help us understand how He corrects us? As a man (father) corrects his son, God will correct us. The role of Godly parents is critical in a child’s life but Godly parents scold at times for the wrong reasons. It can be very difficult to understand the role of a loving father. Many people have not had a father around in their childhood or maybe they had a really bad father that did really bad things. God is a good father. He’s the best father. He will never scold or discipline out of selfish, spiteful, or sinful reasons. His goal is to bring you closer to him. God trains us, teaches us, models for us what we should do, gives help when we need it, allows us to practice his principles, and reap the rewards. There is so much more to the word chastening than just punishment for wrongdoing. Just as a side note: dealing with your children will also tell you a great deal about your relationship with God. The things that absolutely drive you to the edge with your children, might be the very same actions and attitudes that you give to your heavenly father. Regardless, as a Chrisitan, we are the children of a loving God, who corrects us for our benefit.
7 For the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills;8 A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey;9 A land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass.
God’s vision for your life is a good one. There will be troubles, temptations, and difficulties, but without a doubt the Christian life is the best life. God promises to meet our needs. He promises to go “with us alway, even to the end of the world.” The Lord blessed them with a good land, full of abundance, and full of the resources needed to build a great nation. The church has also been given tools and resources for building the kingdom of God. We have the gospel, we have the presence of the Holy Spirit, we have the truth of the Word of God. Christ has brought the believer into good land with living water, the bread of life, and a peace that passes all understanding.
We will have battles. We would be destroyed without them. Our challenges teach us to rest in Christ, believe his word, and accomplish his will in this world. God is raising up a church that represents His Son. A Good Father will address selfish spoiled children stomping their feet if they don’t get their way.
God removed the nation of Israel from slavery, and He had given them their own land. The born-again child of God is no longer a slave to sin, we’ve been given an inheritance in Heaven. We make choices and our heavenly father promises blessings to those that believe, but he also allows us the choice to reject him, and we will receive the curses that come with that decision. God always keeps his word.
10 When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the Lord thy God for the good land which he hath given thee.11 Beware that thou forget not the Lord thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day:
Here is the warning. When we find this land of blessing and we become content with its bounty, we cannot forget to praise the Lord for all that he has given us. The way we handle blessing is actually a more critical battle than the way we handle adversity. Once we are living in the land of promise, we cannot forget that it is God who brought us there and God who keeps us there, and God, the Creator and the Sustainer of life, who has the right to receive our obedience, reverence, and praise.
Do we have situations where we fear the outcome more than we trust God? Has that caused a refusal to step up and do what God has asked us to do?
Compare the “wilderness” of our disobedience to God to the wandering in the desert?
It is called entering the Promised Land because God promised Abraham that the land would be for his heirs. What promises can you name that God gives to us when we accept Christ as savior and start walking in the newness of a Christian life?
What things did God teach the Israelites as they wandered for 40 years? How does God teach us the same?
Where is Jesus?
For this lesson, Jesus is everywhere. Acceptance of Him brings us into a good land, full of blessings and fullness. It is a choice we make as we stand at the edge and look in. Do we believe in him or not? He is the bread that sustains us. He is the water of eternal life. He is the Word of God. He will be the sacrifice that carries us to and allows us to enter into the eternal gates of Heaven. The scarlet thread continues in this lesson as God’s promise to Abraham has now grown into a nation of people. The nation of Israel will set up in their own land and prepare for the coming Messiah.
Life is full of twists and turns. Sometimes we wander about for years before we give in and submit to God or become obedient to a calling. Humans are quite fickle in our thinking. One minute we know without a shadow of a doubt that God is able to handle everything and the next we panic and wonder how things will ever work out. As an older Christian, I wish I could say that I never doubt, that I never question, that I always do whatever God asks, but to say that would be a lie. For me, the most important line in this lesson is that he humbles us and proves us. He knows everything so who is He proving things to? He has proven to me over and over what my nature is and how unChrist-like I really am. Yet he loves me and has set me free from the bonds of sin. The longer I am a Christian the more steadfastly I look for that good Heavenly land of abundance that right now, I can’t even imagine.
There are times when we feel like the pressures and demands of this life will drown us. We wonder why it can’t be easier since we are Christians, we wonder if we’re being punished when things are overwhelmingly hard. The truth is God uses all these things we would like to avoid, to bring us closer to him, to make us a better witness for his Son, and in order to bring us into a place of blessing where we will appreciate his abundance and kindness. A word of advice for those in the thick of it, make God and your relationship with Him your number one priority. That means letting go of some things, and maybe even people, that you hold dear. Secondly, do what you know is right in the very next situation in front of you, don’t try to figure everything out. Just do the next right thing. And Finally, you cannot lose if you don't quit. How gracious is God to share with us in His word the end of the story? God will accomplish what he set out to accomplish in your life. Jesus has done everything required to secure your place in Heaven. He has already won every battle that you will engage in. Don’t quit.
Thank you for studying with us! God bless!