Remembering The Lord Your God
Part 3 of 4
Deu 8:15-17 "He led you through the great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water; He brought water for you out of the rock of flint. (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 in the end. (17) "Otherwise, you may say in your heart, 'My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.'
In the third part of this series entitled "Remembering The Lord Your God" we continue to talk about the perils of a prosperous nation and relate that concept to our individual lives. We live in such amazing times here in America. We have a first hand witness to examine the once most prosperous nation on earth literally falling before our eyes. Therefore, though there is nothing we can do to avoid the certain judgement of this nation, we can, we must as individuals who claim to be followers of the Lord Jesus Christ do as is commanded in the Word of God.
It is harder to walk with God in the sunshine of success than in the nipping frosts of failure. When Paul said, “I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound,” he put the hardest last. The one secret is to give all the glory to God, and to look always to the Cross, where we were crucified to the pride of the flesh, Php_2:7-11; Php_4:12. “I lay in dust life’s glory dead!” F.B. Meyer
Php 4:12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.
Let's look an another excerpt:
Moses directs to the duty of a prosperous condition. Let them always remember their Benefactor. In everything we must give thanks. Moses arms them against the temptations of a prosperous condition. When men possess large estates, or are engaged in profitable business, they find the temptation to pride, forgetfulness of God, and carnal-mindedness, very strong; and they are anxious and troubled about many things. In this the believing poor have the advantage; they more easily perceive their supplies coming from the Lord in answer to the prayer of faith; and, strange as it may seem, they find less difficulty in simply trusting him for daily bread. They taste a sweetness therein, which is generally unknown to the rich, while they are also freed from many of their temptations. MHCC
Both of these excerpts set the stage for this four part teaching in Deuteronomy. Let's now look at one last excerpt before breaking down verse 15.
The land on which they were about to enter is described as a good laud, fertile and well watered, and yielding abundant produce to its cultivators; and they are cautioned against forgetting, in their enjoyment of the gift, the bounty of the Giver, or congratulating themselves on having achieved the conquest of such a land, instead of gratefully acknowledging the grace which had sustained them during their protracted wandering in the wilderness, and by which alone they had been enabled to take possession of that favored land. Pulpit Commentary
Deu 8:15 "He led you through the great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water; He brought water for you out of the rock of flint.
What is this verse talking about-fiery serpants. There are all kinds of critters where I live, but I don't know what a fiery serpent looks like. In the Hebrew:
From H8313; burning, that is, (figuratively) poisonous (serpent); specifically a saraph or symbolical creature (from their copper color): - fiery (serpent), seraph.
This fiery serpent is a little hard to identify more specifically. I looked in several dictionaries and this is perhaps the best description I have found:
throprobably literally "theburning one," from saraph "it burned." Seraphs were traditionally regardedas burning or flaming angels, though the word seems to have someetymological sense of "flying," perhaps from confusion with the root ofArabic sharafa "be lofty." Some scholars identify it with a word found inother passages interpreted as "fiery flying serpent."
The scorpion mentioned is described in the Hebrew as a knotted whip. The term “ flint” seems to translate well as a hard rock. This desert wilderness the Israelites were “touring” was so awful as to be almost unimagineable. Verse 15 says this wilderness was “great” and “ terrible”. Of course the word “great” is notgreat as in good, but rather a better word to translate would be the adjective “insolent”-meaning boldly rude, disrespectful, insulting, contemptuous.
Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness,.... The wilderness of Paran, which was great and large, reaching from Sinai to Kadesh, eleven days' journey, and terrible to the sight, nothing being to be seen but dry rocks and barren mountains; see Deu_1:19, and especially for what follows: wherein were fiery serpents and scorpions; fiery serpents, such as bit the Israelites, of which see Num_21:6 and scorpions, a kind of serpents, venomous and mischievous, which have stings in their tails they are continually thrusting out and striking with, as Pliny says (u); and have their name from their great sting; for Aristotle (w) says, this alone of insects has a large sting: John Gill
This desert was an awful place, dry and barren. The biting stings of these creatures may have produced a fatal thirst.
Jer 2:6 "They did not say, 'Where is the LORD Who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, Who led us through the wilderness, Through a land of deserts and of pits, Through a land of drought and of deep darkness, Through a land that no one crossed And where no man dwelt?'
and drought where there was no water; a dry and barren place where no water was to be had; see Psa_63:1 or it may be rather another kind of serpents may be meant, which is called "dipsas"; and so the Vulgate Latin, Septuagint, and Samaritan versions render it; the biting of which produces such a thirst as proves mortal, and which must be intolerable in a wilderness where no water is; and from whence it has its name, which signifies thirsty, as does the Hebrew word here used: John Gill
Num 21:6 The LORD sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died.
The Lord brought them through this land where there was no water. God performed a miricle for them-He brought water out from the flint rock, something which can only be explained as the hand of God.
Num 20:11 Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation and their beasts drank.
Psa 78:15 He split the rocks in the wilderness And gave them abundant drink like the ocean depths.
Psa 114:8 Who turned the rock into a pool of water, The flint into a fountain of water.
Here is something interesting:
who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint; which was done both at Horeb and Kadesh, Exo_17:6 and was very extraordinary; by striking flint, fire is ordinarily produced, and not water. Dr. Shaw observes (x), that it may be more properly named, with other sorts of graphite marble here to be met with, "the rock of amethyst", from their reddish or purple colour and complexion. John Gill
I remember being fascinated as a child watching the reddish colored rock called a flint produce a spark in the old type cigarette lighters common back in those days. Dad would replace that flint every so often.
What did they eat in such a harsh land? It is not like they could hunt deer or go fishing.
Deu 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 in the end.
The first question becomes this: what is manna? Well, the answer is literally “what is it”?
From H4100; literally a whatness (so to speak), that is, manna (so called from the question about it): - manna.
Exo 16:15 When the sons of Israel saw it, they said to one another, "What is it?" For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, "It is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat.
Deu 8:3 "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 understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.
Verse 16 goes on to say that He might humble you,and that He might test you, that discipline seems to be the thing here.
Deu 8:2 "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.
That he might humble thee - By keeping thee in a constant dependence upon him for every day's food, and convincing thee what an impotent, helpless creature thou art, having nothing whereon to subsist, and being supported wholly by the alms of divine goodness from day to day. The mercies of God, if duly considered, are as powerful a mean to humble us as the greatest afflictions, because they increase our debts to God, and manifest our dependance upon him, and by making God great, they make us little in our own eyes. To do thee good - That is, that after he hath purged and prepared thee by afflictions, thou mayest receive and enjoy his blessings with less disadvantage, whilst by the remembrance of former afflictions. thou art made thankful for them, and more cautious not to abuse them. Wesley
Verse 16 finishes out by saying "to do good for you in the end". The end spoken here is not the end of life, but rather the end of this period of discipline. None of us like to be disciplined, but in the end it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
Heb 12:11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
Jas 1:12 Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
The reason for discipline: to keep pride in check. We go to verse 17:
Deu 8:17 "Otherwise, you may say in your heart, 'My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.'
And thou say in thine heart,.... These words are in connection with the former part of the Deu_8:14,
and thou forget the Lord thy God; the author and giver of all the good things enjoyed, and think within themselves, though they might not express it in words at length:
my power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth; so ascribing that to themselves, their labour, and diligence, which ought to be ascribed to the bounty and blessing of God; see Hos_12:8. Gill
Reality check (pride check):
Deu 9:4 "Do not say in your heart when the LORD your God has driven them out before you, 'Because of my righteousness the LORD has brought me in to possess this land,' but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is dispossessing them before you.
Hos 12:8 And Ephraim said, "Surely I have become rich, I have found wealth for myself; In all my labors they will find in me No iniquity, which would be sin."
Can we say they may have been a self-righteous people?
in all my labours they shall find none iniquity in me that were sin: here again Ephraim, or the people of Israel, vainly ascribe all their wealth and riches to their own labour, diligence, and industry, and take no notice of God and his providence, or of his blessing upon them; and pretend to be very upright and honest in their dealings, and that what they got were very honestly got, and would bear the strictest scrutiny; and that if their course of trade was ever so narrowly looked into, there would be nothing found that was very bad or criminal, that they could be justly reproached the; only some little trifling things, that would not bear the name of "sin", or deserve any correction or punishment; so pure were they in their own eyes, so blinded and hardened in sin, and fearless of the divine displeasure; like the adulterous woman, wiped their mouths when they had eaten the sweet morsels of sin, and said they had done no wickedness, Pro_30:20; or which was involuntary, and not done knowingly, as Kimchi and Abendana: or rather, as Ben Melech renders it, "no iniquity and sin"; and so others: or, best of all, "no iniquity or sin", as Noldius (a); no iniquity, or any kind of sin at all. Thus, as Ephraim was charged before with idolatry and lies in religion, so here with fraudulent dealings, and getting riches in an illicit way in civil things; and of whose repentance and reformation there was no hope. Gill
In conclusion let's think upon these things as they apply to our own lives, that we may not become foolish and so arrogant that we do not gove God the glory for His blessings.
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