Deuteronomy 8 is a hard passage to read right now. As students of the Bible, sometimes having to work a little bit to make a connection to the present times can be a comfort. But, when you read a passage that ties instantly to your life’s experience and produces a bit more of a gut check… well, that can be tough.
As I was preparing for the sermon on Yahweh Nissi, “The Lord is my Banner”, Deuteronomy 8 is one of the passages that I kept coming upon. As it repeatedly surfaced, I began using it as a lens with which to view our world. So much is wrong right now… so much that is difficult to process. Sometimes, in the midst of the election drama, the pandemic, the continuously variable school schedule, and the swirl of emotions and thoughts that we all wrestle with in this tumultuous 2020 experience, we find it hard to keep our eyes fixed on God. So many issues, circumstances, and concerns distract us. We turn to different forms of medicine – throwing ourselves into work, worry, whiskey – whims that only widen our world of wilderness.
It is hard to fathom that God can use this wilderness season for our good. It’s hard to imagine what God might be trying to accomplish. We could play the “What if?” game for hours, speculating about why God has allowed the world to enter into such a difficult experience, or where God will take us through it… or how He will deliver us from it?
But then, Deuteronomy 8 calls me back to basics, back to my relationship with God, and His pursuit of the world. “Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.” All His efforts on my behalf to deliver, defend, and direct me have not been in vain, “For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land.” He has. He is bringing us into a good land. My mind leaps forward to John 3, “God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son.”
God’s power is at work. His hand is not short. The Good Shepherd’s rod and staff still comfort us, no matter what wilderness valley you and I might be journeying through.
Perhaps we need to step back, like Moses asks of the people of Israel, and view all these current issues in the broader history of God’s deliverance. We, too, can then step out in obedience and let His light shine through us in this present darkness.
What has God blessed you with?
While you may feel more bound… masked, burdened, and isolated… take stock of the freedom God has provided you through Jesus Christ. What has He freed you for?
How is God pursuing you in this season?
How might God be preparing you to engage someone with His love and grace?
How is He inviting you to shine His light in the world?
Pastor Kevin Heeres