One of the things that comes to my mind during this Fall season and Thanksgiving is warm buttered bread. The smell and the taste of it produces cravings in me that must be satisfied. I have used butter substitutes that were said to be healthier, but just could not match up to the taste of real butter.
Deuteronomy 8:2-3 NLT states, “Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands. Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”
Maybe up to this point, you viewed Israel’s wandering in the desert for 40 years as only punishment for failing to go into the promised land. Yet, in these two passages we gain insight that it was more than dishing out punishment. God was giving them an opportunity to grow in their faith and trust in Him.
Being led into the wilderness, the Israelites were suddenly removed from all the familiar ways of obtaining what they needed to live. Even as slaves in Egypt, they knew where their next meal was coming from. The wilderness did not provide a ready supply of water, a variety of crops, olive oil, etc. They soon realized that they could not survive without God’s provision. This passage says their trials came to humble them, to prove their character, and to find out whether they would obey His commands. He was not trying to find out something He did not know. He was revealing to them their own rebellious nature so that they might repent and turn to Him.
God provided manna daily (a food previously unknown to them; a bread-like substance that fell from heaven – Psalm 78:24) that was needed to sustain their lives. Deuteronomy 8:4 NLT states, “For all these forty years your clothes didn’t wear out, and your feet didn’t blister or swell.” Each of these miracles lasted 40 years and demonstrated the faithful love and care of God. If they tried to provide for themselves by hoarding manna for the next day, the food always spoiled.
Their existence depended on obeying the commands of God. Even Jesus when hungry in the wilderness, was tempted by Satan to rely on His own self-provision by turning stones into bread rather than trusting God for provision. Jesus fought back by stating also “that man shall not live by bread alone…” (Matthew 4:3–4)
Their existence did not depend on the manna (bread) or anything else, but on every word that came out of the mouth of God. God alone is the source of all life and all that is needed to sustain it.
A Lesson for 2022
The results of the pandemic, foreign war, politics, etc. have caused lack in various areas of life. Affordable housing, food and essentials have become a crisis. The Israelite’s disobedience was equivalent to forgetting what God had done for them. Their trials came to humble them, to prove their character, and to find out whether they would obey God’s commands. Do you think we have learned this lesson as a nation? Have you learned this lesson yourself? Who are you relying upon for your provision?
Like the craving I have for warm buttered bread with real butter, I crave the warmth of real love that flows only from God. Only He can and will provide the essentials of life for each one of us (James 1:17 / Deuteronomy 8:18).
Remember how the Lord your God has kept you, and have a Happy Thanksgiving as you worship God Almighty.