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. 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.
Deuteronomy 8:2-3 (NIV)
Who’s been testing your patience in the household lately?
At this point in the desert of social isolation, someone has to be pushing your buttons. Just yesterday, our son was stuck on the “Mom. Dad. Mom. Dad.” eternal repeat cycle.
I was able to withstand the first three hours.
We often test each other through misunderstandings, a lack empathy, or sheer grumpiness...
Whyyyyyy are they doing this to me!? Why am I the chosen one, the punching bag of all humanity!? (insert more melodramatic inner dialogue here).
Thankfully, God’s patience (or “longsuffering” in some translations) puts ours to shame…
A Different Kind of Testing
The more I read the Scriptures and see how God interacts with people, I am amazed by the nuance and merciful detail about God’s heart.
In the wider context of the Biblical narrative, the word “testing” (or “tempting”) is used in a few main ways:
- When people test God with their impatience, injustice, and sin.
- When God tests people to lead them, to teach them, and to humble them for their betterment and for His glory.
- (I’ll discuss a unique third situation next week)
The writer of Deuteronomy emphasizes God’s purpose for testing the people of Israel in the wilderness wanderings:
- To test their hearts.
- To humble them.
- To teach them reliance on God, not on their comfort.
- To grow their trust.
- To help see the sweetness and sufficiency of God’s words and promises.
The manna God had provided tasted sweet. It formed with the dew each morning for the Israelites to collect and to live off. But, they could only collect what they needed each day (no hoarding allowed).
This happened for 40 years so they wouldn’t perish. And along the way, God “allowed them to hunger,” helping them to rely on His “daily bread.”
Sadly, their appetites led to complaint. Several times they wanted to return to Egypt, back into bondage, for at least there they had some meat.
Today’s dab of Scripture is deeply profound for three reasons:
1.The Prosperity gospel Dismantled
It completely dismantles the prosperity gospel preached by charlatans.
In that warped view of grace, God grants healing and prosperity to those He approves of but relegates poverty and pain to those He is displeased with (didn’t Jesus suffer?). In that gospel, the main mark of righteousness is material blessing. To be sick or hungry—well, that’s just a sign of one’s “lack of faith.”
Deuteronomy teaches us God may allow some pain in our lives to test us, to humble us, and to lead us. As well, comfort and complacency often insulate us from God and others.
2.God's Gracious Provision
This passage also shows God’s gracious heart.
So our trust in God grows with acknowledging, appreciating, and following His daily provision. Some may only see God’s good hand when everything is hitting a pleasant baseline.
"Deuteronomy teaches us God may allow some pain in our lives to test us, to humble us, and to lead us."
The Scriptures, though, show God is good whether it’s a hill or valley.
3.The Bread of Life (our real provision)
Lastly, this Scripture points to Jesus as the “Bread of Life.”
The New Testament often alludes to today’s passage, so we will explore a related story next week!
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