Meditations in Deuteronomy : 24 : Don’t Forget
(Focus: Deut 8:6-20)
Deut 8:6,7 Observe the commands of the LORD your God, walking in his ways and revering him. For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land–a land with streams and pools of water, with springs flowing in the valleys and hills
Let’s quickly catch the context again: at the beginning of the chapter the command had been, “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 that the LORD promised on oath to your forefathers,” (8:1) and we commented that this was a command and conditional promise, obedience and success in taking the land were linked.
So it now is that Moses reiterates that command and spells out the blessing of the promise: “Observe the commands of the LORD your God, walking in his ways and revering him. For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land–a land with streams and pools of water, with springs flowing in the valleys and hills;” (8:6,7) The previous expression in verse 1 had simply referred to entering in and possessing the Land, but now Moses elaborates on that, for it is a “good land” with plenty of water. How different it will be from the desert they have known for forty years!
But he doesn’t leave it there; the water he has just referred to will enable them to grow crops and fruit in abundance, and where the ground will yield many minerals: “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.” (8:8,9) Remember, this is Moses encouraging the people and the encouragement is two-sided. Here the emphasis has been on the goodness of the land that they are about to take, but that was the outworking of their obedience to the Law. Keep all the laws and God will bless you in taking this wonderful land. The Law is still there in the background.
But the very thought of the goodness and fruitfulness of this land raises a concern about the future which Moses needs to present to them: “When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. 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.” (8:10,11) There is a grave danger when they enter the land, settle it and enjoy the fruits of the land, that they will settle into apathy and neglect their relationship with the Lord. In countries that are prosperous this is always one of the greatest dangers for the church. Who needs the Lord when you have everything? How foolish!
Moses expands on this danger: “Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, 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.” (8:12-14) There it is! When you are doing well and living in abundance, the danger is that you start thinking how well you have done and forget that it is the Lord’s blessing that has brought all this, and thus you turn from Him and start on a downhill slope! Seven times in Deuteronomy Moses warns Israel not to forget where they have come from and who it is who is the source of all their blessings! He, has prior to this chapter warned them not to forget in 4:9,23 and 6:12. In this chapter he warns in 8:11,14 and 19, and then later in the book in 25:19.
They need these warnings! They need to be reminded of their past experiences of the Lord: “He led you through the vast and dreadful desert, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. He gave you manna to eat in the desert, something your fathers had never known, to humble and to test you so that in the end it might go well with you.” (8:15,16) Yes, these are just some of the things the Lord did, examples of His goodness to them. There are, of course, many more things that they could remember. Don’t forget!
In their affluence in the future there is a very real danger: “You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” (8:17) How foolish we are to so easily forget and attribute our blessings to our activities. It is all because of the Lord’s goodness! So, “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 forefathers, as it is today.” (8:18). This is vital. Keep a right perspective. The Lord is our provider! There is a terrible danger lurking behind all this: “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. Like the nations the LORD destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the LORD your God.” (8:19,20)
If you abandon your relationship with the Lord, if you cease to rely upon Him, you will shortly become like all the other nations in their sin, and will incur the judgment of God. He seeks to deliver you from that but if you go the way of the rest of the world, why should you not be judged for your wrong doing? It is a sober warning!