Wilderness Day 15 Wilderness Faith: Digging Deeper

Digging Deeper Days

Finding the original intent of Scripture and making good application to our everyday lives as we become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

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The Questions

1) What was the purpose of the Israelites’ 40 years of wilderness wandering? (verse 2)

2) Why was God disciplining the Israelites? (verse 5)

3) Why does Moses remind the people about the good land God is bringing them into? (verses 7-10)

Deuteronomy 8:2-10

Remember that the Lord your God led you on the entire journey these forty years in the wilderness, so that he might humble you and test you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you by letting you go hungry; then he gave you manna to eat, which you and your ancestors had not known, so that you might learn that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothing did not wear out, and your feet did not swell these forty years. Keep in mind that the Lord your God has been disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son. So keep the commands of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and fearing him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with streams, springs, and deep water sources, flowing in both valleys and hills; a land of wheat, barley, vines, figs, and pomegranates; a land of olive oil and honey; a land where you will eat food without shortage, where you will lack nothing; a land whose rocks are iron and from whose hills you will mine copper. 10 When you eat and are full, you will bless the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.

Original Intent

1) What was the purpose of the Israelites’ 40 years of wilderness wandering? (verse 2)
Just before entering the Promised Land, Moses reminded the Israelites why the Lord had led them to wander the wilderness, “Remember that the Lord your God led you on the entire journey these forty years in the wilderness, so that He might humble you and test you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep His commands.” (verse 2) The Lord used the wilderness to teach the Israelites to trust Him and to turn their hearts to Him instead of focusing on themselves or their circumstances. He was cultivating heart-humility that relied on Him. He wanted Israel to love Him; by obeying Him, they would demonstrate their trust of His ways over theirs. Scott Hubbard asserts, “If Israel was ever going to stand in the Promised Land with their hands full of bread and say, ‘I know how to abound,’ they would first need to walk through the wilderness, with God’s word in their hearts, and say, “I know how to be brought low.” (Philippians 4:12) They would need to learn how to look around at a wasteland of sand and sing for joy to the One who gives and takes away.” God’s purpose in the wilderness was to teach His children to rely on Him for everything. If they depended on God for their clothing and their daily bread (Deuteronomy 8:3-4), they would obey His commands because they knew He could be trusted. The next time you are going through a wilderness of your own, remember God can use your struggles to make you more reliant on Him. Trust His provision and let Him cultivate humility and obedience in your heart as you depend on Him in the midst of hard times.

2) Why was God disciplining the Israelites? (verse 5)
In verse 5 Moses reminded the Israelites that God was disciplining them as a parent disciplines a child. Proverbs 3:12 tells us “the Lord disciplines the one He loves, just as a father disciplines the son in whom he delights.” God disciplined Israel because He loved them and wanted them to learn humility and obedience. The Israelites continually rebelled against God by disobeying His commands. He used the time in the wilderness to teach and correct them. Hebrews 12:10-11 tells us God disciplines us “for our benefit, so that we can share His holiness. No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” The Israelites’ wilderness experience was meant to make them faithful and obedient later on when they entered the Promised Land. God’s discipline was necessary because “The sad reality is that fallen people like you and me readily fixate on God’s gifts and ignore their Giver. At some point, this degenerates into worshiping the created thing rather than the Creator.” (Thegospelcoalition.org) God disciplined Israel so they would know Him as their source for everything. He wanted them to look to Him when they had nothing so they would learn to rely on Him in the land flowing with milk and honey. (Deuteronomy 26:9) If we don’t learn dependence on God when we are penniless, we will continue to rely on ourselves when we have plenty. Scott Hubbard says, “Those chastened by the wilderness will enjoy God’s gifts, not abuse them; delight in them, not put their hope in them; bless God for them, not forget him in them.” I purpose to welcome the loving discipline God brings for my good so I can focus on the Giver of all good gifts and not fixate on the blessings He bestows.

3) Why does Moses remind the people about the good land God is bringing them into? (verses 7-10)
After reminding the Israelites that God led them in the wilderness for 40 years to discipline them, Moses described God’s gift of the Promised Land. (verses 7-10) He detailed the beautiful, fertile land where they would lack nothing. Moses detailed the coming goodness of the Promised Land as a reminder that the difficult challenges of the wilderness were nothing when compared to the blessings that awaited them. Moses exhorted the people to be thankful for God’s tremendous blessings. Matthew Henry suggests Moses provides this reminder to “show the great difference between that wilderness through which God had led them and the good land into which He was bringing them. (…) To show what obligations they lay under to keep God’s commandments, both in gratitude for His favours to them and from a regard to their own interest, that the favours might be continued.” Moses wanted them to keep in mind that learning to trust in God had brought them this far, and continuing to trust Him would assure they remained in God’s Promised Land. Jen Pollock Michel suggests this blessing from the Lord “was a picture of the gospel, which is the good news that in Christ, God gives us something we didn’t work for, something we didn’t earn. (Ephesians 2:8–9) Like Israel’s house and vineyard, well and field, salvation is a gift we can enjoy, but for which we can take no credit.” May we reflect on how God has brought us out of our own wilderness of sin and self-reliance into the land of abundant grace where we have earned nothing, nor do we deserve its richness.

Everyday Application

1) What was the purpose of the Israelites’ 40 years of wilderness wandering? (verse 2)
An old music video by Reba McEntire called “Is There Life Out There?” portrays a woman going to college while also working and raising a family. She gets upset when her kids spill coffee on her hand-typed assignment (long before the days of electronic submissions!). With no time to re-do the paper, her family works together to calm her down and dry the pages. When her professor tells her the work is good but he could do without the coffee stains, she declares she learned more from the coffee stains than the assignment. It’s true for everyone that we grow and learn the most during challenging times. This was one reason the Lord allowed the Israelites to wander 40 years in the wilderness. He wanted them to learn humility and obedience. (verse 2) Through those hard years, “God sought to bring them into and keep them in a right state of mind towards Him—a state of humble dependence, submissive obedience, and hopeful trust.” (The Pulpit Commentaries) When I reflect on the most challenging times in my life, I see how God matured me while providing what I needed. Many times I called out to Him, powerless in the situation, unable to do anything but seek Him and trust Him. He was always faithful to provide for my needs and bring His peace. (Philippians 4:19) His faithfulness built my confidence in relying on Him instead of myself for He knows best (Romans 11:33-34) and is in control of everything (Proverbs 16:9). While I don’t welcome hard times, I do recognize these seasons of wilderness are allowed and used by my gracious, good, trustworthy God to build my endurance (Romans 5:3), cultivate humility (Judges 7:2), and teach me dependence upon Him (2 Corinthians 1:9).

2) Why was God disciplining the Israelites? (verse 5)
My least favorite part of being a parent and teacher is discipline. Nobody likes being disciplined (myself included), but it is also not much fun to be the “bad guy,” reinforcing rules and giving consequences. But God’s view of discipline isn’t negative. In Revelation 3:19, Jesus says, “As many as I love, I rebuke and discipline.” To God, discipline is an act of extravagant love to help His children grow and mature. The wise author of Proverbs said, “The one who will not use the rod hates his son, but the one who loves him disciplines him diligently.” (Proverbs 13:24) Job 5:17-18 also describes the goodness of God’s discipline, “See how happy is the person whom God corrects; so do not reject the discipline of the Almighty. For He wounds but He also bandages; He strikes, but His hands also heal.” Discipline can seem harsh and unpleasant, and our first reaction might be to reject it or run from it, but God’s correction leads us to enjoying life. (Proverbs 6:23) J. Gary Millar suggests “God was ‘disciplining’ them as sons, training them in humble dependence. This fact must shape the way they live in the land.” God’s discipline of the Israelites was meant to provide safety and structure as they moved into the Promised Land and gained victory over their enemies. They needed to confidently know they could rely on God for everything; His discipline provided this lesson. I want to focus on God’s discipline as another aspect of His love so I can readily accept it, and cooperate with His correction, in my life.

3) Why does Moses remind the people about the good land God is bringing them into? (verses 7-10)
I have a file in my office filled with kind notes I’ve received from parents and students during my years of work in education and children’s ministry. My mom kept one of these files, too, and labeled it Roses to symbolize the gift of kind words. When work or ministry feels frustrating or difficult, I pull out the file to remind myself of the blessings and benefits of working with kids and families. It can be easy to focus on the problems and pressures surrounding us and lose sight of the calling, blessings, and promises from God. Remembering all the gifts and treasures I have received from serving others with “salt and light” (Matthew 5:13-16) is encouraging and refreshing. When Moses reminded the Israelites of the blessings of the Promised Land, he wanted to encourage them with the bounty of God’s promised provision. David Guzik asserts, “God is not against material things except when they come between Him and us. God wanted to materially bless a spiritually obedient Israel.” God had disciplined and trained the Israelites in the wilderness for 40 years (Numbers 32:13), and He was ready to reward them for following His commands. We learn that “the end of the discipline to which they were subjected was that they might keep His commandments and walk in His ways, so as to enjoy His favor.” (The Pulpit Commentaries) When trials come, be sure to take time to reflect on all the ways God has blessed you (Ephesians 1:3) while looking ahead with confidence to all the promises God has made in His Word. (Jeremiah 29:11) Let His faithfulness and goodness encourage you as you endure hard times, for He Himself is your constant reward! (Psalm 23:6)

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Digging Deeper is for Everyone!

1) Take this passage (or any other passage).
2) Read it, and the verses around it,
several times
3) Write down your questions
as you think of them.
4) Ask specific culture related questions and be ready to dig around for your answers. Google them, use www.studylight.org, or look them up in a study Bible and read the footnotes (click on the little letters next to a word and it will show you
other related verses!). (www.esvbible.org)
5) Check your applications with other trusted Christians that you are in community with and embrace the fullness of God
in your everyday!

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Why Dig Deeper?

Finding the original meaning is a huge deal when we study Scripture and can make all the difference in our understanding as we apply God’s truths to our everyday lives.

In our modern-day relationships, we want people to understand our original intention as we communicate; how much more so between God and humanity?!

Here’s a little bit more on why we take Digging Deeper so seriously.

Study Tools

We love getting help while we study and www.studylight.org is one of many excellent resources, providing the original Hebrew (Old Testament) or Greek (New Testament) with an English translation.

Want to know more about a specific word in a verse? Click on “Strong’s Interlinear Bible” then click the word you’d like to study. Discover “origin”, “definition” and hear the original pronunciation – That Is Awesome!

Want more background? Click “Study Tools”, then pick a few commentaries to read their scholarly approach, keeping in mind that just because a commentary says it, doesn’t mean it’s true. (just like the internet :-))

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