Today’s Bible reading is Deuteronomy 8 and 1 Corinthians 15.
The children of Israel were on the doorstep. Forty years’ worth of wilderness-wandering was behind them. The Promised Land was before them. In Deuteronomy 8, Moses–their aged leader–was offering his final reminders.
“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. And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness…”
“Remember the whole way…” The way the LORD had led these people was significant. So in what “way” had he led them?
“…that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. 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.”
These people had been tested by God. They had been made to wander. They had experienced hunger and thirst. They had been fed strange food and led to drink water from rocks. But notice the reasons for the testing:
- That he might humble you
- That he might know what was in your heart
- That he might make you know that life comes from his words
“Your clothing did not wear out on you and your foot did not swell these forty years. Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the LORD your God disciplines you. So you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God by walking in his ways and by fearing him.”
Now, with forty years’ worth of wilderness-wandering behind them, Moses–their aged leader–can look them in the eyes and say, “Know then in your heart…”
There’s no doubt in my mind that some who will read these words today are in the midst of truly trying times. For some, the “Why?” is murky, the “How?” is foggy, and the “When?” is unknown. What is known is fear and worry and struggle and darkness.
If that sounds familiar, I hope this passage from the ancient book of Deuteronomy shines like a ray of light for you today. Tests are hard. Tests humble us. They challenge our faith and stretch our submission. But through the tests, perhaps we come to know what we did not know before. Through the tests, maybe we begin to appreciate what we took for granted for a very long time.
God kept a couple million Israelites alive in the wilderness, testing them, that he might make them know. Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. And on the back end of those tests? Knowledge to pass on. Life to be enjoyed. Praise to be offered.
“Know then in your heart…”