Lord of Sufficiency

Deuteronomy 8:2-5

2 You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. 3 He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you [a]understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord. 4 Your clothing did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. 5 Thus you are to know in your heart that the Lord your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son.

I have read this particular chapter many times and it never really made an impact.  What has changed that is a better understanding of grace along with Romans 8, Matthew 6 and the ordeal of Job.  This impact slowly moved its way across to how I saw Jesus’ parables as well as how He disciplined the twelve. It called into question of how I lose hope; do I blame God or just lament to God.  It showed me my motivation of worship thus revealing the difference between a sinner, a saved sinner, and a self-proclaim saint.

On the surface of Deuteronomy 8 we see God getting rid of the bad people after the golden calf incident.  We also get a false sense of earning God’s provisions.  The reason for this is that instead of seeing what God is doing, we are trying to read ourselves into a blessing.  We read to find out how to apply it but only the good things.  When we read the bad things, we use it as a measuring stick to re-enforce our receiving the blessings.  It is our lack of learning of God’s character and His will, that leads us to ruin.  When we are forced to see what God is not only saying but doing to all of Israel we are shocked.  This shock leads to us trying to rationalize what God is saying and doing as if He requires our defense as well as justification.  In the dark moments of life we craze hearing that the blessing is coming.  But what God wants to hear is our lament for His presence.  God uses the dark to give us a deeper love of the Sun above any explanation, blessing, healing, and rescue.  God wants us to not desire a heaven without Him there on the throne.  Our flesh destroys the freedom our creator is giving us in the midst of the wilderness.  Fear of not being comfortable leads to grumbling against God.  Not having the life we lust for and not receiving what we feel like we should have drives us into hell’s arms.  We don’t want to be satisfied but engrossed and engorged with the tangible created things of this world. As soon as God calls us his, we feel entitled to.  It is due to this attitude of entitlement that caused Israel to ignore God’s commands and seek to create their own god who would give them what them wanted.  Our pride causes us all to do this, success leads many men astray.  It is not success that’s the problem but the sinful heart seeking to be god.

In the wilderness we craze what the flesh wants and desire it above all things.  When we allow our sinfulness to guide our life and sit on the throne of the heart, suffering reveals our altars.  What our minds are focused on show up proudly and the culture that we live in makes it okay to feel that way.  When our roots in God are shallow our situations causes us to turn to what gives us comfort.  We find peace in the controllable things that control us.  But it all leads to death, a death that we welcome because everyone else is doing it.  As long as we live this way, we can never please God because He isn’t our god at all.  In this state we are unwilling to receive, can’t receive and don’t even recognize the gift that is being given.  When we finally start to see things clearly every conflict is seen as cruelty from God.  Every conflict is a attack on our comfort as we associate comfort and wealth with obeying God and having faith.

Romans 8:17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Our appetites have turned our bellies into our gods and the absences of its offerings bring sufferings that we call foul towards God.  As God fed them  with manna they grow tried of sufficiency and desire pleasurable abundance.  Being filled no longer appeased their true god as it cried out for more.

Romans 8:28-29  And we know that [a]God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;

When obeying God leads to the starvation of our idols our faith decays as a flower planted in shallow soil.  When having faith in the commands of God causes our comfort level to be pushed we doubt God’s love for us.  We doubt his love because we equate love to give and take, plus our definition of love always ask what’s in it for me? It demands that everyone loves us in a way that is acceptable to our standards.  We don’t understand that when we love this way and when we based God’s love in this manor, it’s not real.  The things in our lives that we center everything around is out of fear, a fear of losing control. Whenever fear is around love or even when it motivates love, love is no longer love, no matter how well it imitates real love.

This fear in the wilderness erodes the love for God and his commands became burdensome as they felt out of control.  They had placed their trust in Moses and not in the God that was using Moses.  When Moses went up the mountain and had not come back, they began to fear.  The anxiety set in and began to work on hearts that had no real relationship with God.  They merely heard the stories of the fathers, Abraham, Issac and Jacob but they didn’t know God themselves.    As God speaks in the chapter I’m reminded of the verses in Matthew 6:

32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

The Hebrews had lived among the Pagans of Egypt, a rich nation who trusted in their might which God had given them.  They felt it was all their own doing.  In Egypt the Hebrews had some control or better yet an understanding of what laid ahead as in the wilderness the support of bondage was gone.  Their hope was in a certainty of a future in slavery and not the freedom God gave.  Not all felt like this but in the midst of suffering their cries are loud.  But in these verse Jesus calls for our hope, faith, trust and our eyes to rest on a fellowship with God.  It zeros in on a dependency on the sufficiency of God to satisfy both the spiritual and physical aspect of their lives.

When we cry out against God as our comforts  and idols are being pulled from us, we prove Satan’s charge against Job.  That charge was that Job only worshiped God because of the things God had given to Job.  Satan felt that if Job suffered the lose of his comfort, he would curse God.

P. C. Craigie

The wilderness tested and disciplined the people in various ways. On the one hand the desolation of the wilderness removed the natural props and supports which man by nature depends on; it cast the people back in God, who alone could provide the strength to survive the wilderness.  On the other hand, the severity of the wilderness period undermined the shallow bases of confidence of those who were not truly rooted and grounded in God.  The wilderness makes or breaks a man; it provides strength of will and character.  The strength provided by the wilderness, however, was not the strength of self sufficiency, but the strength that comes from a knowledge of the living God.
Looking at the quote from P. C. Craigie I’m reminded of Job as the support around him vanished and we was left with only God.  If you look at the scriptures from Romans 8, Paul lays out that we can’t on our own please God even if we wanted to.  Paul presents to us that through our sufferings we are made Heirs with Christ.  He further shows that our sufferings are for our good as the purpose is to make us Christlike.  Christ was humble and depended on the Father for everything He did.  Jesus did nothing on His own but did what the Father had empowered and prepared for him to do.  Jesus also said that those that followed him were given to him by the Father.  Jesus displays how we are to depend on God and that his grace is sufficient.  In Matthew 6 the entire chapter leads us to abandon self-sufficiency for the Lord of sufficiency.  We can’t learn this as long as we are holding on to our comfort and the natural supports mankind creates for himself.  God causes the hunger just to feed us from His own hands, with what we need and nothing more. Not to punish but to lead us as our eyes are always bigger than our stomachs.  The wilderness sanctified the Hebrews for the path ahead as God doesn’t use what is not first made holy.

Deuteronomy 8 16 In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you [a]in the end.17 Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’ 18 But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. 19 It shall come about if you ever forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I testify against you today that you will surely perish.

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