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Humbly Obey God’s Commands (Deuteronomy 8)

Chatswood Baptist Church https://www.chatswoodbaptist.com.au


If you have ever been on any type of cruise, then you would be aware that within a couple of hours of boarding the ship you must attend a safety briefing. This is not something that you choose to do. It is something that is mandatory. There is good reason for this, for not only do you find out what you can and can’t do on the ship. You also find out what to do if something goes wrong. In other words to have a good cruise and enjoy the ship you need to obey the rules of the cruise.

As we continue our journey in God’s word through the book of Deuteronomy we see Moses continue to preach to the Israel about obeying God’s commands. I hope that as we look at chapter 8 today you will see that Moses is like a beautiful broken record. Now many of the younger members of the congregation might never have had a scratch on a record that meant that the same section of the record would be played over and over again. Only what Moses is saying is God’s words and so we need to hear the commands and warnings over and over again just like Israel did.

V1 – Only God’s way leads to flourishing

It is easy to think of commandments as burdensome. Do you when you first hear the word commandment, think, rules and regulations that are going to make my life harder? But friends we need to remember who it is giving these commands and the purpose that God has for these commands. And that is what we see as we come to chapter 8 of Deuteronomy.

Read verse 1 with me.

 Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors.”

When Larissa and I were married in November 1998 we entered into a covenant together. We promised to be joined as husband and wife in a faithful and exclusive marriage. We promised that this would be till death do us part.

Israel here in this passage is reminded that they are in a covenant relationship with YHWH.

In Deuteronomy Moses calls Israel to obediently follow God so that they may have life with God in the promised land.

Obedience is a response of love to God’s love.

To understand Deuteronomy is to understand obedience to God. No one can obey God’s commands unless they love Him. You don’t have to go further than the great commandment explained in Deut 6 to understand this. Deut 6:4,5

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

Love of God is the great commandment. It is also true that in keeping God’s commandments we show our love for God.

Jesus explicitly states in John’s Gospel that love for him is keeping his commands. In John 14:15, and 21 he states:

15 “If you love me, keep my commands…..

21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

In verse one we see that for Israel as a nation, they were again being assured that following God’s commands would mean living in the land that God had given them, the promised land. It would mean the covenant promises fulfilled. As Goldsworthy states God’s people, in God’s place, under God’s rule. That is how God’s Kingdom is to function. Moses is at pains to remind the people to obey God, that it may go well in the promised land.

V2-5 – Live humbly feasting on God’s words and trusting Him.

If love of God leads to keeping his commandments, then it makes sense that no one can follow God’s commands in love if they are full of pride, of self-love, and lack humility. While we see in verse one the goal. We then see in verse two the obstacle in achieving that goal. The obstacle is always us. It is our heart. We know that because scripture makes it clear

Deut 8:2

Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. 

God had led Israel for the last forty years. He led them for this amount of time so that He might humble them and test their hearts. (If their hearts had been turned to God then they would have been humbled before him and obeyed him). We are reminded in Proverbs of ensuring that we watch our heart.

Proverbs 4:23

Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.

God personally led Israel for those 40 years. He gave them everything that they needed. He humbled them by taking away their ability to find their own food.

Yet God always provided, in fact God gave them special heavenly food. He did this so that they would rely on him and not on themselves.

Look at verses 3-5

 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you.

God tested his people. He tested their hearts. He took away their food and then feed them with manna. In feeding them with manna God took away the people’s pride in being able to claim in any way that they had provided this food for themselves. Just a quick reminder of how God’s provision of manna worked.

Exodus 16:4-5

Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.”

God would provide each day just enough bread for his people, apart from the sixth day where there was double. But you get the idea. God provided. Without this daily bread from heaven there was no food for the people. They were being reminded that God is the one who provides everything that they need.

For God wanted them to learn that “man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” But what does this mean? Don’t trust in food, trust in God. Don’t find your satisfaction in food, but in God, in his word. Food is necessary for life, that is how God has designed us. Yet food isn’t lasting. God’s word is eternal. Now I am not anti-food at all. I enjoy food very much. However, Jesus perfectly shows us this verse in action.

In Matthew 4:1-4 we read:

 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.

Jesus quoted this verse while being tempted by Satan. In fact, Jesus as we read hadn’t eaten for 40 days. Friends Jesus was hungry. I dare say Jesus was hungrier than any of us in this room have ever been. Yet even in that state Jesus quoted scripture and showed the supremacy of God’s word over everything else. This episode in Matthew shows Jesus perfectly following the will of God. We do need bread to survive, however our higher need is God’s word. Jesus held God’s word above all things.

Do you have more joy in God’s word than in anything else? You can go without food for periods of time. Friends you cannot go without God, without his words.

It wasn’t just food that God supplied each day. He also ensured that their clothes lasted 40 years, that their sandals lasted 40 years. These verses had a little bit of extra meaning for me this week as I found a decent sized hole my favourite pair of jeans. I wear them often and the denim has started to become thin and then broken. The same happens to me with my shoes, over time my sandshoes get holes where my big toe is. They wear out. This usually happens within a year or so. But for God’s people their clothes didn’t wear out for forty years. God provided for their food and clothing so that the people would learn to humbly rely on God.

These forty years in the dessert were discipline. God was with his people.

V6-9 God’s Blessing of The Promised Land.

God’s way is the only way. God saved his people out of slavery in Egypt. He has given them all that they need for these forty years in the desert. He has trained them and made them ready. They have had forty years of training in humble obedience. You are about to enter the promised land. God’s good provision.

Look at what God has in store for his people. V6-9

Observe the commands of the Lord your God, walking in obedience to him and revering him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce, and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills.

Moses continues in this section by repeating his command to remember God and do it by obediently following his commands and honouring and glorifying God. And then we see in verse 7 that God is keeping his promise and bringing his people into the land that he has promised them. The allusion to the Garden of Eden is probable when you look at this being called a good land, with much water. The phrase you will lack nothing evokes an Eden like paradise for God’s people. What a stark contrast these words must have been for Israel after their long desert journey.

What an incredible picture of God’s goodness. It speaks of incredible blessing, of abundance. It caused me to remember Paul’s words in Romans 1:20

20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

These verses are indeed a glorious picture of God’s creation. What God provides is always best.

These blessings are to be enjoyed by God’s people. But they must also lead to thankfulness to the blesser.

V10 Thankfulness is part of observing God’s commands

10 When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. 

Remember that all good things come from God. The plenty that you have is from God’s hand. How easy it is to feel good and secure when you have a full belly. But we either praise ourselves for this or we praise God. Moses is giving the Israelites and indeed us here today the right way to live. He is saying when good things happen remember to thank God for them, for they are from him.

V11 Failing to keep God’s commands, laws and decrees is a failure to remember God. Remembering equals obedience, forgetting equals disobedience.

Already Moses in this part of his sermon has said what amounts to ‘remember the LORD’ 3 times. And then in the very next verse he does it again, however this time by saying don’t forget.

11 Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. 12 Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down,13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied,14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 15 He led you through the vast and dreadful wilderness, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. 16 He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known, to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you. 

We need to remember God when we have nothing and remember God when we have plenty. For it is God who is the giver and sustainer. You can’t say that you love God and that you revere him if you don’t follow his commands, laws and decrees.

Here in these verses Moses is looking forward to what will be. He knows that when the people enter the promised land, the land flowing with milk and honey. The land that we have just read about in verses 7-9. He knows that God’s people will have plenty of food and a lovely place to live. Fields full of sheep and lambs and much wealth. And then friends it can be harder to be constantly thankful to God. Why? Well as the passage says in verse 14 “then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”

For us today. We remember that God brought Israel out of Egypt with power. With miraculous signs and wonders. That God saved his people through the water and led them to the promised land. The people were to constantly remember God saving them out of Egypt. For us this side of the cross, for us who trust in the risen Christ. We are to remember constantly that God has saved us through the death and resurrection of his own dear Son our Lord Jesus Christ. Through the new covenant. This is what we are not to forget. We need to constantly rehearse, preach, recite and remember the Gospel. We need to remember that it is God who saves, God who gives us ever good gift. For it is easy to be filled with pride and forget God. Moses now warns the Israelites about this.

V17 Everything we have, every good ability is from God

17 You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.”18 But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.

Pride is perhaps the easiest trap in the world for people to fall into. Satan doesn’t have to do much to push us all in the direction of self-congratulation. Success, houses, cars, money, wealth, security. Look at me, I’ve done well. This is forgetting the Lord. This is remembering ourselves, and forgetting God. And we have the antidote in the very next verse. V18 “But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.

Remembering God in all things and being thankful to him leads us to being humble before our God. To obediently serving him with all that we have because we know that it is God who has given us all that we have.

V19-20 Forgetting God leads to destruction.

The choice of life and death was laid out in front of the Israelites. They could essentially live life in the promised land with God. Living His way, following His commands and flourishing. Or they could choose another god to follow and be destroyed.

Our final two verses in today’s passage are indeed a grave warning.

19 If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. 20 Like the nations the Lord destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the Lord your God.

Jesus always remembered the Father. Jesus was always obedient to everything that God said.

When we look to remember the LORD and be lovingly obedient in all that we do, we are not left wondering. We have the perfect example. Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who in every way obeyed the Father. John 14:31 sums up how love and obedience come together.

31 but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me.

Jesus loves the Father and therefore out of love obediently follows YHWH’s commands. Jesus is the true Israel. He is the only one without sin who perfectly followed the law.

Jesus commands us to do the same in John 15:9-10 we read:

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.

Friends we have the choice of life and death before us just as the Israelites did. Remain in the love of Jesus by following his commands or reject Jesus and face judgement by disobeying his commands.

If we love Jesus we will follow his commands.

Let’s pray.