Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy 8

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Deuteronomy 8

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"Beware That You Do Not Forget the Lord Your God" 

Moses reminds Israel of God's mighty power with which He kept them alive in the wilderness for 40 years, and He warns them not to forget God when they enter the Promised Land and become prosperous, seeming to have everything they need. It is easier to remember God when we see we are in desperate need for His help than when we think we can make it on our own. In a materialistic society, when many have money in the bank and food in their refrigerators and cupboards, they can easily neglect to sincerely pray "give us this day our daily bread" (Matthew 6:11). God allowed Israel to hunger in the wilderness to test them and to find out what was in their heart (Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 16). He gave them manna to teach them that man does not live by bread alone. Rather, man lives by carefully observing God's Word (verse 3). As long as we seek first the Kingdom of God and God's righteousness, all our physical needs will be provided for (Matthew 6:33). When tempted by the devil, who told Him to make bread out of stone to satisfy His hunger, Jesus Christ quoted this very passage of Deuteronomy 8:3, showing that He understood the importance of truly living by God's Word at all times (Matthew 4:2-4). After the devil ceased from tempting Him until another opportune time (see Luke 4:13), God's angels ministered to the hungry Jesus by bringing Him the physical things He had need of (Matthew 4:11).

Continuing on, Moses impresses on the new generation of Israelites how vital it is that they remember their total dependence on God. Moses knows human nature. When people are full with blessings and no longer conscious of need, they are susceptible to concluding not only that they can get along without a Provider, but that they themselves had somehow gained their abundance through their own power and strength (Deuteronomy 8:11-17). So Moses admonishes the people, "You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth" (verse 18). Tragically, the ancient Israelites would forget God—and so will their descendants, the nations of the modern-day Israelites.

In the midst of the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation remarking that this very thing had happened among the American people. He eloquently stated: "We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of [God's] redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us! It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness" (April 30, 1863, Proclamation for a National Day of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer). If only today's national leaders would see it the same way.