Summary: Giving is central to God's character and if we would be like Him we must learn to be givers too.
God’s Care for His People
I don’t remember how old I was, but I remember being in Bible class as a child and hearing about how the Israelite's clothes and shoes didn’t wear out during the 40 years in the wilderness. This comes from three passages in the Old Testament, only one of which mentions shoes.
Deut. 8:4, 29:5 and Nehemiah 9:21.
Think of it, clothes and shoes that lasted 40 years. L.L. Bean, eat your heart out! Now that’s some long lasting, durable stuff! Makes you wonder how many times they were washed, doesn’t it?
Today’s lesson application is from the last part of Deut. 29:5 and it is a challenge for us to be like our heavenly Father toward some needy people in Zimbabwe, Africa, where AIDs has left over a million children orphaned. But before we get to that, let’s read our passage in its context.
Deuteronomy 29: 2 Moses summoned all the Israelites and said to them:
Your eyes have seen all that the LORD did in Egypt to Pharaoh, to all his officials and to all his land. 3 With your own eyes you saw those great trials, those signs and great wonders. 4 But to this day the LORD has not given you a mind that understands or eyes that see or ears that hear. 5 Yet the LORD says, “During the forty years that I led you through the wilderness, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet. 6 You ate no bread and drank no wine or other fermented drink. I did this so that you might know that I am the LORD your God.”
Notice, God didn’t give his people lots of extras in the wilderness wanderings, did he? But he did feed them (manna and quail) and He also give them water to drink and God also keep them in clothes and shoes. God humbled them in the desert so that they would do… what? He tells us there in verse 6. God says, “I did this so that you might know that I am the Lord your God.”
But also notice Moses sad observation in verse 4: But to this day the LORD has not given you a mind that understands or eyes that see or ears that hear.
Question: What does God have to do for us or give to us so that we will know that He is the Lord our God? What does it take for Him to give us a mind that understands, eyes that see or ears that hear?
Let’s just think about what God HAS given us.
God has given us life itself. He has given us every good and perfect gift.
God has given us His only begotten Son. And when He came, what did Jesus, the Son of God give us? He gave us His body and his blood, His very life. Jesus gave everything He had. He even gives us His righteousness. When Jesus died on the cross, He was naked, without clothes or shoes. He had nothing left. Jesus, the water of life, died thirsty. Jesus gave us everything.
Say that with me if you believe it: Jesus gave us everything. One more time: Jesus gave us everything.
Is that true? Did Jesus hold back His best and give us His leftovers? No, Jesus gave everything up, didn’t he?
Michael Card’s song says it well: The just and gentle promised one would triumph over the fall. He conquered by His own defeat, and won by giving all.
That’s the Philippians 2 Christ song. That’s the song the heavenly hosts sing to the Lamb in Revelation. Jesus, the Lamb of God, is the price God paid to purchase you and me. God the Father is a giver. His Son, Jesus Christ, is just like Him.
Now let’s do a little exercise. Take a card and pen from the pew and write these things:
1. Write the word, “clothes” and beside it write the answer to this question: How many pieces of clothing do I own? Does anyone in this room actually know that? Counting pairs of socks, underwear, pants, shirts, sweaters, coats and everything, how many? Put down a number that you think is even close.
2. Next, write the word “shoes.” Now, write how many pairs of shoes do I own? This is probably a little easier for the men here. Go ahead, if you don’t know, write down what you think is close.
Now just think about this for a minute. What do you have that God has not given to you?
Just how generous has God been to you? How generous ought we to be toward God? The Bible talks a lot about both of these. One I’d like us to look at in particular: