Deuteronomy 7-8, John 13
Beware lest you say in your heart, “My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth”. – Deuteronomy 8:17 ESV
God had blessed the people of Israel in amazing ways over the four decades since He had released them from captivity in Egypt. Not only had He arranged their release through a series of spectacular and devastating plagues, He had also fed them with manna from heaven and water from a rock. He prevented their clothes and their sandals from wearing out. He had revealed the glory of His power and presence through the pillar of fire by night and the pillar of cloud by day. He had promised to give them a land of their own, providing for them vineyards and fields they never had to plant, as well as homes and cities to live in that they weren’t required to build. God had shown these people favor after favor, extending mercy and grace beyond measure. But as they stood on the edge of the Promised Land, Moses warned them. He knew their hearts. He was well aware of their tendencies. He had struggled with these people for over 40 years. So he gives them some much-needed last-minute advice.
What does this passage reveal about God?
God was going to do His part. He had gotten them this far, and He would make sure that the land He had promised to them made it into their possession. Moses knew that this second generation were no different than the first. As soon as they saw the strength and size of the enemies in the land, they would panic. But he reminded them that God was clear out all the nations before them. He would literally give them over to the Israelites for destruction. Their job was to fight and, ultimately, to wipe out the nations who occupied the land. As harsh as this may sound, God had a very good reason for the extermination of the pagan nations that lived in the land of Canaan. He knew that they were idol worshipers and worse. They were the antithesis of what He wanted the people of Israel to be. If left to live in the land, it would just be a matter of time before the Israelites intermarried with them and took on their gods. They would end up co-habitating with the enemy and compromising their convictions. So God ordered their complete annihilation. He wanted the full attention and devotion of the people He had chosen. God wanted to bless them, but that was going to be impossible if they risked betraying their loyalty and devotion to Him.
What does this passage reveal about man?
Moses told the people, “The whole commandment that I command you today, you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land that the Lord swore to give your fathers” (Deuteronomy 8:1 ESV). “So you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and by fearing him” (Deuteronomy 8:6 ESV). But he also provided them with a sober warning to “take care lest you forget the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 8:11 ESV). How would they forget God? By failing to keep His commandments. By accepting His blessings and enjoying the God-given wealth of the land, but allowing pride to rise up and cause them to wrongly assume that “my power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:17 ESV).
He warned them not to forget God. To do so would be to betray Him, to turn their back on Him. And yet, they would be constantly tempted to do just that. God would give them victories and they would attempt to take credit for it. God would bless their crops and increase their wealth, and they would assume responsibility for having made it happen. Moses knew that God was going to bless them, because He had promised to do so and God could be trusted to keep His word. But Moses also knew that the people would be prone to betray God by refusing to obey Him and give Him the glory He deserved. One of the greatest ways men can honor and glorify God is to recognize His activity in their lives. Acknowledging the presence and power of God all around us brings Him glory.
How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?
Jesus lived His life on this earth to glorify the Father. He said, “The time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory, and God will be glorified because of him. And since God receives glory because of the Son,he will soon give glory to the Son” (John 13:31-32 NLT). Jesus complete obedience to the will of the Father in this life brought glory to God. His death on the cross brought glory to God because it was the ultimate expression of His unwavering obedience. His resurrection from the dead brought glory to God because it was the work of God. And now, Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven, restored to His former place and glorified by God Himself.
Jesus was not going to betray His Father. He would not assume credit for the work of the Father in His life. He spoke only what His Father commanded Him to speak. He lived in obedience and submission to the will of God. And He has called all His disciples to live likewise. We are called to live like Christ, to live in humble submission to God and willful obedience to His Word. Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, not as a ritual to be repeated, but as an example to be followed. Jesus humbled Himself. He served others. In just a few hours from the moment He toweled off the feet of the last disciple, Jesus would be hanging on a cross, the ultimate expression of servanthood. He would give Himself as the sacrifice for the sins of mankind. Jesus wanted His disciples to follow His lead. He wanted them to honor God rather than betray Him. Peter claimed that he was willing to die for Jesus, but Jesus begged to differ. “Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times” (John 13:38 ESV). Jesus had already revealed that Judas was going to betray Him. Now He tells Peter that, he too, will betray Him. The betrayal of God is a constant threat to each and every one of us. Turning our backs on God will always be a real temptation as long as we live on this earth. But we have been called to live in obedient submission to His will, giving Him the glory He deserves by recognizing His constant hand in our lives. Nothing we do is accomplished apart from God. Our greatest achievements are due to the grace and mercy of God. Rather than betray Him, I should live to display Him to the world around me. Christ in me, the hope of glory.
Father, I am nothing without You. I can do nothing without You. Forgive me for taking credit for and control of my life. I want to live in obedient submission to You, recognizing Your role in my life and remembering all that You have done for me over the years. May my life bring You glory and honor as I recognize Your activity in my life. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men