A small flame

A small flame

Wilderness

At Open Door, the classes at each age level, Kindergarten through adult, study the same passage of scripture each Sunday. A few months ago, Phil was asked to help write some of the lessons for an up-coming study through the Gospel of Luke. These lessons will be used by teachers at each age level to prepare age-appropriate lessons for their classes.

At one point, his study process led him to Deuteronomy and, Phil recently shared with me some things that I found so encouraging. I was thrilled when he wrote about them, because now I can share them with you ;o)


Meditations from the Trial of Wilderness Wanderings
part 1


1The 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. 2And 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. 3And 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 . . . 14who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, 15who 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, 16who 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. - from Deuteronomy 8


". . . God’s purpose was to humble and test the people. Moses focuses on God’s daily provision of manna. How humbling to admit that you can’t provide for your own family. You live in a desert where there is no food or water. No farming land; no crops; no gardens; no orchards; and no grocery stores! Imagine living in a country where you go to bed each night with an empty pantry, an empty fridge, neighbors who also have no food, the communal food pantries are empty, the grocery stores are empty, and no food is being grown on farms or gardens. An entire nation of millions with literally no food for the next day! You have no hope. You are all going to die. All you have is one thing: a promise from an invisible being that he will miraculously provide food the next morning. Humbling? Testing?

Moses tells the people that it was God who “let you hunger” (3). Their hunger was part of God’s doing. It was part of the testing and the humbling. God wanted them to “know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD” (3; hey, doesn’t Jesus quote this somewhere?). In this context, the “word” from the LORD by which the people must live is his promise that food will “magically” appear on the ground the next morning. That’s all they have. That’s all they can cling to. They can’t trust in riches or power or status. They can’t eat any of that. And they have no stores of food to trust in. All they have is the promise of God for the next day. What an amazing and humbling test! How would I have responded?

This test was “to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not” (2). Did God not know what was in their heart? Was he really trying to figure something out that he didn’t know? Of course not. The ones who needed to know the heart of the people were the people themselves. God put them through this test so they would know the tendency of their own hearts toward weakness and fear, but also the potential for daily faith. How could the condition of their hearts be judged? Not by what they said, but by their actions–their obedience or disobedience to the LORD’s commands. The heart is always revealed by actions. The tree is known by its fruit. What do my actions say about my heart?"

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