Moses makes a point throughout all Deuteronomy to make the Israelites remember the blessings of God during their travel in the wilderness. In chapter 8, he does not mention the great big miracles like crossing the Red Sea or the victorious battles they fought. Rather, he focuses on the very basics—that their feet that were not swollen, their clothes that did not wear out, and that they were fed with manna every single day. In fact, Moses mentions it twice in the entire book (29:5).
Often, these are the things that we take most easily for granted.
The journey in the desert wasn’t just a regular ol’ hiking trip: it was a “great and terrible wilderness, in which were fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty land where there was no water” (Deut 8:15). However, this was also the time when the Israelites saw the guidance of God most clearly. It was a time that God cherished the most with them (Jer 2:2) because it was a time that their faith was the purest for God.
Likewise, it may be that the toughest times in our lives become the most valuable experiences in our journey of faith. These experiences may not be marked with grand signs and wonders but rather with the continual, silent, and patient guidance of God. What God provides to us during those times may not be what we prefer or what we feel comfortable with, but God’s way is always for our good in the end. Moses reminded the Israelites that their way in the wilderness was in fact continually showered with the love of God, even though their eyes were blinded to it (Deut 29:4). God Himself fought for them, carried them, went before them to show them the way they should go (1:31-33).
Therefore, before the Israelites entered the land of Canaan and started a new chapter of their life, Moses took the chance to remind them unceasingly of all of the blessings of God during their journey in the wilderness—not just the big ones, but also the small ones.
Why was it so important for them to remember the seemingly ordinary blessings from God?
As humans, we are weak.
When we are in smooth-sailing times, it is easy for us to forget God (Deut 8:7-20). Likewise, when we are in harsh times, it’s also easy for us to doubt the faithfulness of God (Ps 92:1-2). However, if we learn to number God’s blessings like the ant stores up food during the summer (Prov 6:8), we will not easily waver in our faith when trouble arises. On the contrary, we will realize that being led in the “great and terrible wilderness” is a form of God’s love because we are being humbled and tested for our good (Deut 8:2; 16).
Why must He humble and test us?
Moses says, “You should know in your heart that as a man chastens his son, so the Lord your God chastens you” (Deut 8:5). All these experiences are for our training so that when God does bless us with prosperity, comfort, and success, we do not go so far as to forget the One who gives us all things (1 Tim 6:17).
Make it a point to remember, give thanks for, and to repay the love of God toward us. Write it down! In the times we need it the most, we will always be reminded that:
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.
‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul,
‘Therefore I hope in Him!’
Just God has always blessed us in the past, He will definitely guide us in the future. To have that kind of faith in the face of pressing trails, we must learn to count the Lord’s mercies toward us regularly. Indeed, His mercies are new every morning. Do we take the time to notice them?
Questions for Reflection:
- Do you have any experiences of how God taught you not to take certain things for granted?
- How can we remember to give thanks and notice God’s blessings more often?