"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .

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Wednesday, January 25, 2023

DEUTERONOMY: A REHEARSAL ON HOLINESS, A CALL TO FAITHFULNESS – Chapter 8

 Contributing commentaries by pastors Sonny Islas, Albert Lopez, and James Fire

DEUTERONOMY 8: “GOD HUMBLES US FOR OUR OWN GOOD” by Sonny Islas, check out the complete teaching here!

INTRODUCTION: We are now in Deuteronomy chapter 8. In this chapter we will find the word “humble” 3 times (in verses 2 ,3 and 16). God is always working on making us humble - He’s in the business of making us humble. Because in our fallen nature, we are naturally prideful and self-sufficient, self-dependent, and self-satisfied. Our sinful nature says, “Alright devil! Give me that forbidden fruit, I’ll be god instead!” Like our first mother.

And one of the main reasons God brought Israel to the wilderness for 40 years and allowed them to experience need and hardship, was to show them that God Himself is man’s greatest need. And that God alone is Sovereign and therefore consequently our faithful provider – He is ultimately the only true provider as He is the maker and source of all things. And that man doesn’t live another day, unless God says so – unless God makes manna come down from heaven and makes water burst from a rock – Israel doesn’t see another day or two or so.

Humility is the crown virtue (character and quality of a Christian). In all your getting, get humility – Christlike humility. Because as you know, Pride cast Satan out of heaven (Luke 10:18) while humility exalted Jesus to the heights of heaven (Phil. 2:5-11). Jesus places humility at the top in regard to Kingdom character and Kingdom status. i.e. in Matthew 18:4 Jesus says, “Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” The more humble you become, the greater in the sight of God, you become!

Genuine humility has the power to put everything in the right perspective regarding the greatness of God, the littleness of self, and the value of others. Humility gives you clear sight. It gives you the proper view of self. i.e. Humility causes us to yield to God and appreciate God. It also causes us to yield to one another and appreciate one another. Humility says, God is God, and I am not. It also says, I’m no better than the next man – everyone needs God’s grace.

1 "Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers.

“EVERY COMMANDMENT…” Just as God desired for Israel to take everything He said to heart and to practice in order to enjoy His blessings, we too as the Church are called to complete obedience to ALL that God has for His New Testament Church.

God loves when we open His Word or hear His Word with the sole purpose to know Him, know His will and to obey Him in everything and in every area of life. That every Word spoken by God, would be known, understood, treasured, and lived out.

The LORD takes little to no pleasure in those who cherry pick His Word – where some verses are obeyable while others are disobeyable. When we read or hear His Word, we say “This command is doable and valuable, but this one over here is not doable or valuable. Generally speaking, those who live like this, live fruitless and powerless lives. And those who obey, live full and rich lives.

This is where humility and blessedness start and grow – with obeying God’s Word from the heart.

2 "And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.

“REMEMBER…” Israel was to remember that it was God Himself who led them into the wilderness with the goal to produce humility in their prideful hearts. It’s the same for us today.

TO HUMBLE YOU AND TO TEST YOU… YOUR HEART…” God didn’t need to test them with trials so that He would know their hearts, but so that they would know their own hearts. Only God knows the true state and condition of every heart AND only He knows exactly what it takes to fix it. Jeremiah 17:9-10 makes this very clear, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.” (we also see here that the state of our heart causes God to either discipline us or reward us).

Our hearts can fool us into thinking that all is well, but it can’t fool God. So, God in His grace and omniscience may take us through wilderness times, dry times, tough times, lonely times, fruitless times, shameful times, vulnerable times in order to show us how committed we really are to Him - or not. The testing is not for Him, it’s for us.

The sad reality is that our hearts are exposed in times of testing and trials. Not so much when all is well. Who we really are and the level of trust we have in God is made known when we are afflicted. Fire refines but it also exposes impurities.

A while back I had a brother and a sister who were hospitalized for different reasons tell me that their sad situation brought them closer to the LORD. That their trials helped them see that they were drifting from God and really couldn’t see it. We can say that God humbled their prideful and straying hearts and He used some physical pain to do it.

King David also learned the hard way as he admits in Psalm 119:67 “Before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now I keep Your word.” - Look at what a good heavenly spanking can do! It can even make a king like David remember that he too is but a small servant of the LORD Almighty – the King of kings.

3 "So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD.

“SO HE HUMBLED YOU, ALLOWED YOU TO HUNGER”

Again the LORD may see the pride in us that we do not see in ourselves and therefore place us in a vulnerable position – like a desert with no food to eat or water drink – until we cry out to Him for help.

God may temporarily take away blessings and remove supplies that satisfy the flesh in order for us to see that our soul is starving and in dire need of God.

When the LORD shut down churches in America and around the world, at the start of Covid in 2020, some who were taking the local church for granted awakened to a renewed love and appreciation for this great blessing – we call the fellowship. Sadly, many realized that they could live without the LORD’s Body, but many realized that life is sad and empty without the LORD’s Body, without public preaching and corporate worship.

“THAT HE MIGHT MAKE YOU KNOW…” What we must understand is that God commanded that manna to float down from heaven – so it was God’s Word that kept them alive not the bread necessary. At the same time, physical food gives temporary life. Spiritual food (God’s Word) gives eternal life.

We live forever, not by eating pizza, burgers, carne asada and tacos – we live forever by believing and obeying God’s Word. Those in the wilderness who only ate the manna (physical bread) and not God’s Word perished forever. And those who ate both, went to heaven. And in God’s goodness, He supernaturally provided this manna for a long time: from Exodus 16 to Joshua 5.

Jesus understood the significance of obeying God’s Word. When He was being tempted by Satan to turn stone into bread for Himself, He rebuked Satan and defeated Satan by quoting and obeying Deuteronomy 8:3.

When Jesus was asked by His disciples if he has eaten anything, in John 4:34, ‘Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.” (My main food is to obey God My Father)

4 "Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. 5 "You should know in your heart that as a man chastens his son, so the LORD your God chastens you. 6 "Therefore you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him. 7 "For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, that flow out of valleys and hills; 8 "a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; 9 "a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing; a land whose stones are iron and out of whose hills you can dig copper. 10 "When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which He has given you. 11 "Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today, 12 "lest-when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them;

13 "and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; 14 "when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; 15 "who led you through that great and terrible wilderness, in which were fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty land where there was no water; who brought water for you out of the flinty rock; 16 "who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do you good in the end- 17 "then you say in your heart, 'My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.' 18 "And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. 19 "Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the LORD your God, and follow other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish. 20 "As the nations which the LORD destroys before you, so you shall perish, because you would not be obedient to the voice of the LORD your God.


Notice that God supernaturally preserved their clothing from wearing out, and their feet from swelling, the entire time in the wilderness - incredible. (Nor did their sandals wear out – Deut. 29:5).

Here we see God’s consideration of us. He takes food away for a time while at the same time keeping them neatly clothed.

We can say that God will do what He has to do to get the results He wants without going overboard.

5 “You should know in your heart that as a man chastens (lit. with blows) his son, so the LORD your God chastens you.” Verse 6 tells us that obedience to God’s Word is the reason for chastisement or discipline.

Hebrews 12:8
says,
“But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.” 

Proverbs 13:24 says,
“He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly.

Hebrews 12:10 says,
“For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit (16 “to do you good in the end”), that we may be partakers of His holiness.’” (His likeness - pure and full of spiritual fruit).

Hebrews 5:8
“though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.”

When God disciplines us, it’s to make us more humble, loving, grateful, dependent, wise, teachable, correctable, impressionable, yielded, willing, surrendered, and useful.

I think it’s safe to say that - God lovingly beats the pride out of His children! Why? Because pride belittles God and ruins us.

Romans 8:28 says that
“God works all things together for our good…” The lying devil would tell us otherwise.

True and heavenly produced humility is understanding that we need God above all else – then thinking like it, talking like it, and acting like it. God above self, above food, above houses, above wealth, above ministry, above personal dreams and aspirations, above entertainment, above all other relationships, above careers, and accomplishments. Placing God and His Word above all else is true humility. True humility I return allows us to enjoy all the good gifts of God.

And when that is no longer our genuine perspective and heart attitude, we’re no longer expressing humility. Pride leads to forgetfulness; forgetfulness leads to disobedience and disobedience leads to idolatry. As we see in this chapter. Pride spirals downward, Humility spirals upward.

This is why God takes drastic measures at times to humble our pride, because it belittles God and hurts us and others.

God had to prepare Israel for the blessing because He knew that they wouldn’t be able to handle the blessing. That it would all go to their head and cause them to think that they got everything on their own power.

I believe that this is one of the reasons why God holds back on blessing some of us with much more, because He knows that it may ruin us.

Vs. 9 Tells us that Israel would be able to “dig copper” in the Promised Land/Canaan: This is true. The Timna Valley, which is located in Sothern Israel is rich with copper. Our state of Arizona is the state that produces the most copper in America. Arizona has 10 major copper mines that produces anywhere from 23 to 632 million pounds of copper yearly. The country of Chile is the world’s top copper producer and exporter.

11 “Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments…’ Again, as it was with Israel, too much good may do us bad. Too much blessing may prove to be a curse. i.e. The blessings that God lavished on Israel caused them to become puffed up and rebel and commit idolatry by trading God in for false gods. In God’s goodness, He blesses them, in their evil, they forget the Blesser.

We too need to beware of this trap. Our blessings can cause us to forget God. Think about the blessings of technology, cell phones, internet, material things of all sorts, and entertainment galore and how this has caused so many Christians in one sense to forget god, to ignore God.

A young man that came to our church a while back wanted a car so badly and when God blessed him with a car, he used that car to go everywhere - except to church.

Another young man wanted God to bless his business and God did – the young man hasn’t been back to church ever since. This sounds like Mark 4:18, 19 where it says, “Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the Word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the Word and it becomes unfruitful.”

Let’s be sure to take heed to the warnings of Moses, because we too can become prideful, forgetful, disobedient, and idolatrous. May the LORD help us all to remain focused on the LORD and His Word.

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