Deuteronomy 7-8 - “God’s Treasured Possession”

We looked at how love for God is the fountain for obedience last week, but we need to ask: What is the fountain for disobedience? And then, how is this fountain for disobedience fixed? These two chapters offer 

If you want to understand the purpose of the Law, go to last week’s sermon on the church website and take a listen to the first half of the sermon. In a nutshell, the Law was given to God’s people to tell them how they were to conduct themselves in the Land they inherited from God.

Deuteronomy 8.1-10

Notice the purpose of obeying the commandment: that you may live and multiply. This is alluding to the promise made to Adam and to Noah and to Abraham: Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. Like these men, they don’t obey to get. They get and they obey. They are given the Land. They have already received the inheritance from God’s own hand. THEREFORE, obey. Their receiving of God’s grace was not dependent on their actions.

Is this not what is implicit in the second verse? “That he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.” And what was shown to be the case? That they were a stubborn people. That they had not done anything worthy to receive the Land. In fact, they were downright ungrateful. They murmur. They complain. They rebel. Wanted to reveal their hearts and still give them the Land of Promise!

Again, notice the reasoning given for the wilderness wanderings: That he might humble you. This is the prerequisite for approaching God. To have a relationship with God. To have genuine and true communion with God, you must be humble. You must recognize that everything you have is a gift. This is what is behind my practical suggestion last week of starting and ending your day with verbally thanking God for one thing. It creates in you an attitude of thankfulness. If you don’t start with life being a gift, then you will never be able to see God in the midst of your day-to-day mundane life. 

So the first stream to the question for the fountain of disobedience is PRIDE. God is at pains to teach his people that they must rely on him every hour of every day. Do you feel this in your own life? When your family is fighting? When your not seeing light at the end of the tunnel? When you feel like you’re on a treadmill—working so hard and seeming not to go anywhere?  V.3: And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.

This humbling is not the kind of embarrassment or guilt or shame that we often have experienced when someone says: “I’m going to make you humble.” No, this humbling process is gentle and kind and gracious. It’s like Odin sending his son, Thor, to earth so that he might be humble and be worthy of the hammer that he had already given him. V.4: Know them in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the LORD your God disciplines you. // Humility is the key to the treasure chest of the Gospel. The word “Repent.” This is another way of saying, “I have tried to run my life and live my own way. I am done. Teach me to walk in your ways.”

Here are some diagnostic questions, my friend, Joe Thorn offers that I hope serve you: 

When was the last time I confessed my sin to another person? // When was the last time I apologized without qualification or equivocation? // When was the last time I asked for help? // When was the last time I genuinely thanked someone? // When was the last time I sought to lift another up or encourage someone?

It is vital to start with a posture of humility and to cultivate gratitude everyday, because if we don’t then we can fall prey to the second stream of disobedience.

Deuteronomy 8.11-20

The second stream is FORGETTING. We must remind ourselves where we were before the Lord saved us. We must remind ourselves what he has done in sustaining our every breath. If we forget, then the first fountain of PRIDE is fed yet again. 

This was the issue with God’s people. And this continues to be the issue with us. God intends to bless and multiply. And we forget. And then, v.14: Then your heart be lifted up (that is, pride), and you forget the LORD your God. 

Psychologists tell us there are a couple ways we forget things: (1) Decay
This occurs when you do not 'rehearse' information—that is, you don't contemplate it; (2) Displacement: When new memories replace old ones.

We have to remember the right history. Golden Calf: Behold, your gods that brought you out of Egypt. This is why so much time is spent on cleansing the Land of the idolatry. That’s what chapter 7 is all about. Just take a quick look. Ch.7, V. 4: For they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods; V.16: You shall consume all the peoples that the LORD your God will give over to you. Your eye shall not pity them, neither shall you serve their gods, for that would be a snare to you. V.25: The carved images of their gods you shall burn with fire. You shall not covet the silver or the gold that is on them or take it for yourselves, lest you be ensnared by it.

Forgetting can be reversed by rehearsing the Gospel to yourself. That is, telling yourself what God has done for you in Jesus each day. Doing what Israel was told to do. Remember that you were a slave and God redeemed you. Write down on the doorposts of your house, the tablets of your heart, that God has chosen you as his beloved son and daughter. And you begin to reinterpret who you are in light of your past. So instead of a rebel, you are a friend. Instead of a life of sin and listlessness, those were God’s means to bring you to his side. But not simply rules to memorize.

Notice: It’s not forgetting what the Lord commands. Notice V.11: Take care lest you forget the LORD your God. Same story in V.14: Forget the the LORD your God. As has been said before, God is not after your sheer obedience. He’s after you. He wants you. 

This is the REMEDY for these two fountains of disobedience. Indeed, we saw last week that love is the fountain of obedience. But we have to dig a bit deeper. You see. The love that your obedience streams from has a source. And we see that we love God because he first loved us. God’s love is the source of our love. He is the ever-flowing fountain of grace and mercy and love, if you will come to him. This is clear from 

Deuteronomy 7.6-11

Perhaps you are proud this morning thinking that “I obey God. I do what I’m supposed to do.” And you subtly think you’re entitled to whatever you think is best. You need to be reminded that it is the Lord who gives you the strength. 

Perhaps you are downcast this morning. All too well aware of your inability to obey. You see that you forget more than you remember. You see day after day your coldness to the things of God. You have tried to obey but there is no love. You’re just grinding it out. By sheer willpower you’re getting up each morning. 

As someone has written: “The LORD has chosen a sinful people, a terminally stubborn nation who are not qualitatively different from the Canaanites, and who record to date does not hold out much ground for hope. Isreal may be the people of God,” but they are just like Canaan…only saved by the grace of God because he loves them.

To both of you, the LORD would say to you: I. Love. You. You are enough as you are. I have made you holy. That is, I have set you apart. I have married you. You are my Beloved. I chose you. Not because you were mighty and capable and savvy. But look again at v.7: It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, 8 but it is because the LORD loves you.

And what is that love, my friend? Love is patient. It is kind… 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends (1Cor 13).

God’s love for you never ends. He is the fountain from which our love and obedience flows. He is the source for our goodness. He is the root of the tree that bears the fruit of the Spirit. And so, call out to him. If your heart is cold. If your heart is lifted up. Call out to him to fill you with his Spirit. The Spirit of love. Love for him. Love for others.

Our love is fickle. We forget. We are proud. We look at others and criticize. We look at God and judge him for how he rules his Creation. We look at our obedience and can get puffed up or downcast. We must continually throw ourselves on the mercy of God. We come to his table to receive from him. Bread that represents the One who also was in the wilderness and quoted our passage: Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that falls from the mouth of the Lord. Like a mother bird feeding her children, so God is offering you the Bread of Life this morning if you will come confessing your pride and putting on the robes of humility.

Matt Wireman