Summary: The Way God led these people is very instructive for us. It was a strange mixture of difficulty and divine intervention—both hunger and provision.
When was the last time you sat down with your family and just reflected upon your journey together up to this point in time? When was the last time you dug out the old photo albums and relived birthdays, vacations, graduations, etc. This May Jeanie and I will have been married 30 years. We have shared a lot of experiences together since that fateful evening on May 31, 1975 when we stood before the preacher and said, “I do”. There were little babies born along the way. Those babies grew up and went to school. One of them just got back from Africa. The other two have married and have babies of their own. So today one of my most prized titles is “Paw Paw”. And Jeanie is “Nana”. As I was preparing this message I was thinking how pleasant it would be to sit down with her and reflect upon our journey thus far. Most of us don’t get near enough reflection time. We are so busy keeping up with the demands of our hectic schedules that we don’t slow down long enough to draw the full meaning out of our experiences.
In our text this morning Moses is doing that with the people of Israel. For 40 years they have been on a spiritual journey together. They have learned some valuable lessons that should not be forgotten. Their journey up to this point is not just about yesterday; it is preparation for today and tomorrow. Moses is about to go home to be with the Lord. The nation of Israel is about to cross over the Jordan River into the Promise Land.
So here in Deut. 8:2 Moses invites Israel to take a stroll with him down memory lane. It’s not just a sentimental journey. It’s instructive. It’s a reminder of what was learned during those 40 years. Listen to Moses speaking to Israel in verse 2 of our text, “Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years...”
The power to remember is a wonderful gift from God. The power to consider what our experiences mean is a wonderful gift from God. “Remember” says Moses.
Remember first that the Lord led you. Your experiences these past 40 years have not been mere chance and happenstance. The eye of the Lord was watching over you. He was overseeing the journey. “The steps of a good man are ordered of the Lord.” God was doing something important for you during those years. There was a divine purpose behind it all. David understood the Lord’s leading when he wrote the 23rd Psalm, “The Lord is my Shepherd...He leads me beside the still waters. 3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness...”NKJV Jeremiah acknowledged it when he prayed, "O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.” ( Jerm. 10:23 NKJV). Moses wants these people to recognize God’s leading in their lives.
But the central issue is:
I. How God led them. “Remember how the Lord your God led you...”
The Way God led these people is very instructive for us. It was a strange mixture of difficulty and divine intervention—both hunger and provision. verse 3 tells us that on the one hand, God allowed these people to suffer hunger. He led them in a wilderness—not a tropical paradise, not a land filled with mild and honey but a dry, dusty dessert. There’s not an abundance of food in the dessert. You can’t just go over and pick a few bananas off a tree or kill a deer or eat a coconut when you’re in the dessert. It’s even hard to find water to drink
Moses describes that place this way in verse 15, “He led you through the vast and dreadful desert, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions.”
Now I am convinced that the same God who parted the Red Sea could have with one stroke wiped out every snake and every scorpion in that dessert. But He didn’t do that.
Instead he allowed His people to contend with snakes and scorpions and hunger and thirst. Why doesn’t God just remove all the difficulties you and I encounter in life? Why doesn’t He just kill the devil and be done with it? Why does He lead us in this particular way? God has some objectives in mind for you and me.
We know about some of the struggles these people experienced while in the wilderness. There were times when they thought they were going to die of thirst. At Meribah (Ex 17) these people panicked and were ready to stone Moses. They thought they were going to die of thirst right then and there. But what happened? God intervened and supplied water from the rock. The rest of verse 15 and the first of verse 16 says, “...He brought you water out of the hard rock. He gave you manna to eat in the dessert, something your fathers had never known...” They don’t have a closet full of designer clothes. But verse 4 says, “Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years.” (Another miracle that God worked in their behalf)