A. God’s work of building humility in Israel during the wilderness wanderings.
1. (1-2) God humbled and tested Israel.
Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers. And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.
a. Every command . . . you must be careful to observe: God called Israel to a complete obedience. This obedience was to be based on remembering what the Lord had done among them in the wilderness.
b. To humble you: God humbled Israel. He brought them to a place where all they could do was depend on Him. They had nothing else, and no one else to count on.
i. Some think that God’s work of humbling is accomplished just by bringing us into a humble place. But it is where our heart is while we are in the humble place that God is really concerned about. We may be in a humble place, but longing for something different. We may believe that God owes something different to us, and we will soon get it. Instead, God wants us to be content in the humble place He puts us.
c. And test you: God tested Israel. It was not because He didn’t know their hearts, but because they didn’t know their hearts. We have to constantly be corrected of our over-estimation of ourselves.
2. (3-5) God’s education of Israel in the wilderness.
So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord. Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. You should know in your heart that as a man chastens his son, so the Lord your God chastens you.
a. So He humbled you: All of God’s education begins here. Some never even make it past this first essential step. If we are not humble and not teachable, there is then no point to the rest of any of God’s education.
b. Allowed you to hunger, and fed you manna: The next grade of God’s education is total dependence on the Lord. Israel had to rely on God beyond their own knowledge (which you did not know), and beyond their own ability.
c. That He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone: In the negative, this was the lesson God wanted them to learn. In the positive, they had to learn that man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord. Sadly, many still live by bread alone, living only for material things, for what can be bought or sold or earned or possessed materially.
i. This statement is a command; but it is also a simple statement of fact: man shall not live by bread alone. You may exist by material things alone, but you will not live. Anyone thinking they live for bread alone is actually one of the living dead.
ii. Some don’t live by God’s word because they fight with God’s word: “The worst impliment with which you can knock a man down, is the Bible; it is intended for us to live upon, - not to be the weapon of our controversies, but our daily food, upon which we rejoice to live.” (Spurgeon)
iii. We live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, not by every feeling we experience. “You have never received spiritual life by your own feelings. It was when you believed God’s Word that you lived; and you will never get an increase of spiritual life, and grow in grace, by your own feelings or your own doings. It must still be by your believing the promises and feeding on the Word.” (Spurgeon)
iv. It is the word of God that is our food and substance, and not our own dreams or imaginations. If you are more excited about some dream or vision than you are about God’s word, then something is wrong. The prophet who has a dream, let him tell a dream; And he who has My word, let him speak My word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat?” says the Lord. (Jeremiah 23:28)
v. We live by every word: “In places where they cut diamonds, they sweep up the dust, because the very dust of diamonds is valuable; and in the Word of God, all the truth is so precious that the very tiniest truth, if there be such a thing, is still diamond dust, and is unspeakably precious.” (Spurgeon)
vi. Find life in every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord! “Oh, keep to the Word, my brothers! Keep to it as God’s Word, and as coming out of his mouth. Suck it down into your soul; you cannot have too much of it. Feed on it day and night, for thus will God make you to live the life that is life indeed.” (Spurgeon)
3. (6-10) Blessings in the land for Israel.
Therefore you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, that flow out of 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 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. When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you.
a. Therefore you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God: If Israel would put their focus on every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord, then the Lord would take care of all the material things - and bring them into a materially abundant land.
i. God is not against material things - except when they come between us and Him. God wanted to materially bless a spiritually obedient Israel.
ii. “The reference to iron and copper in the hills is remarkably exact. Ancient copper mines and smelters have been discovered in recent years in the Arabah below the Dead Sea, and geological survey has demonstrated the presence of ores of copper and iron in the nearby hills.” (Thompson)
b. Then you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you: This is the simple principle of Matthew 6:33 - But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
B. A warning against pride.
1. (11-17) The danger of pride in the blessed life.
Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today, lest; when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them; and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; who led you through that great and terrible wilderness, in which were fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty land where there was no water; who brought water for you out of the flinty rock; who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do you good in the end; then you say in your heart, “My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.”
a. Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments: When everything this fine and our lives are filled with abundance, it is not hard to have our hearts lifted up. We can easily forget the Lord Himself and forget it was all His work on our behalf.
b. My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth: This is rarely said with the lips; it is said instead in the heart. It is easier to say “God did it” or “It’s all the blessing of the Lord” than it is to really mean these words in the heart.
2. (18) The correcting principle against pride in the blessed life.
And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.
a. Remember the Lord your God: In times of abundance, it is easy to forget the Lord, or to at least no longer seek Him with the urgency we once had.
b. It is He who gives you power to get wealth: We often thinking highly of our own hard work and brilliance. Yet we must see that God gives us the body, the brain, and the talent. It is all of God.
c. That He may establish His covenant: This reminds us why God has blessed us. His plan is that it would ultimately further His eternal purpose. Therefore we have no right to use our material blessing to further selfish purposes; instead, we use our resources to advance His kingdom.
3. (19-20) The penalty of pride in the blessed life.
Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the Lord your God, and follow other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish. As the nations which the Lord destroys before you, so you shall perish, because you would not be obedient to the voice of the Lord your God.
a. I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish: Moses loved Israel, but he loved God more. Without hesitation, he would take the witness stand against a disobedient, proud Israel - and warn them before God that they will surely perish because of their pride and disobedience.
b. As the nations which the Lord destroys before you, so shall you perish: Israel would be tempted to look at the nations being judged in front of them, and to think, “We’re better than them, so we are safe. God would never deal with us that way.” But God would deal with them that way if they rose up in pride against Him.
c. So you shall perish: Pride is the greatest danger in the Christian life. It is the most Satanic of sins, because it was by pride that Satan himself fell. Satan prizes a proud believer over the most notorious sinner, because he looks at the proud believer and says, “Now there’s a man just like me!”
i. Pride of face is obnoxious; pride of race is vulgar; but the worst pride is the pride of grace.
© 2006 David Guzik - No distribution beyond personal use without permission