The Lord Takes Care
1Israel, do you want to go into the land the Lord promised your ancestors? Do you want to capture it, live there, and become a powerful nation? Then be sure to obey every command I am giving you.
2Don't forget how the Lord your God has led you through the desert for the past 40 years. He wanted to find out if you were truly willing to obey him and depend on him, 3 so he made you go hungry. Then he gave you manna, a kind of food that you and your ancestors had never even heard about. The Lord was teaching you that people need more than food to live—they need every word that the Lord has spoken.
4Over the past 40 years, your clothing hasn't worn out, and your feet haven't swollen. 5 So keep in mind that the Lord has been correcting you, just as parents correct their children. 6Obey the commands the Lord your God has given you and worship him with fear and trembling.
7The Lord your God is bringing you into a good land with streams that flow from springs in the valleys and hills. 8-9You can dig for copper in those hills, and the stones are made of iron ore. And you won't go hungry. Wheat and barley fields are everywhere, and so are vineyards and orchards full of fig, pomegranate, and olive trees, and there is plenty of honey.
Don't Forget the Lord
Moses said to Israel:
10After you eat and are full, give praise to the Lord your God for the good land he gave you. 11 Make sure that you never forget the Lord or disobey his laws and teachings that I am giving you today. If you always obey them, 12you will have plenty to eat, and you will build good houses to live in. 13You will get more and more cattle, sheep, silver, gold, and other possessions.
14But when all this happens, don't be proud! Don't forget that you were once slaves in Egypt and that it was the Lord who set you free. 15Remember how he led you in that huge and frightening desert where poisonous snakes and scorpions live. There was no water, but the Lord split open a rock, and water poured out so you could drink. 16He also gave you manna, a kind of food your ancestors had never even heard about. The Lord was testing you to make you trust him, so that later on he could be good to you.
17When you become successful, don't say, “I'm rich, and I've earned it all myself.” 18Instead, remember that the Lord your God gives you the strength to make a living. That's how he keeps the promise he made to your ancestors.
19-20But I'm warning you—if you forget the Lord your God and worship other gods, the Lord will destroy you, just as he destroyed the nations you fought.
Three things make us happy in our communities, according to Richard Florida(1). First is living in a physically beautiful place. Next is the ease of meeting others, followed by social diversity with equality of opportunity. The land that Moses describes certainly has the first attribute. It was a land that could make you happy and economically successful.
Success, this passage seems to say, is a gratitude test. At heart it is a matter of who you trust. Israel was tested. Jesus was tested too. It was testing at its most basic. “What do you want, Jesus?” Satan invites. “Is it freedom, water, food?” When Jesus was tested, commentators have noticed, his answer came right from scripture, especially this section of Deuteronomy (2).
Remembering that God is our grounded source of provision and facing our fears is required of us all. We are not the source of our success. Paul pointed this out to a wildly shouting gentile crowd (Acts 14:15-17). We do not cause the sun to shine, the grass to grow, or the rain to fall.
It is a human tendency to forget to give thanks. We begin training our children early in the ritualized phrases and cadences of proper thanksgiving. In this passage we are reminded that the land is a test. It is a test of sufficiency and of trust. Who do you rely on? Where is your trust? Remember, Moses tells them, you have nothing to be proud of in yourselves. It was not your own strength, cleverness or good education that got you here. God seems to place the gratitude test before us again and again. I think of this in three questions: What do I want in life? What will I do to get it? And, who do I trust?
(1) Florida, Richard. The Great Reset: How new ways of living and working drive post-crash prosperity. Random House Canada, Toronto, ON. (2010). p 86.
(2) Sweet, Leonard and Frank Viola. Jesus: A Theography. Thomas Nelson, Nashville, TN.(2012) pp 121–125.
Gracious and giving Father, hear us today. Your hand is always open. We see the riches you are pouring into our lives. Your provision is there for all our needs. Help us see that each success is from your hand. Stir our imagination as we seek your will today. Amen.