Friday, October 7, 2011

Deuteronomy 8: The Next Generation Thanks The Lord.

Presented to Swift Current Corps of The Salvation Army
Thanksgiving Sunday, 09 October 2011
By Captain Michael Ramsay

Today in Deuteronomy we are dealing with Exodus: the Next Generation; the children of the children of Israel whom God delivered out of Egypt. In our text today, we are getting close to the point where they have the opportunity to cross into the Promised Land. We read last week how their parents’ generation about 40 years before came passed this same spot in the wilderness and beyond. They were on the precipice of the Promised Land where they could eat, be satisfied and be saved from their desert wanderings but they rejected God’s salvation and so they spent the next 40 years wandering around the wilderness. These were the parents of this generation before us today in Deuteronomy 8 today. They rejected God’s promise and so died outside of God’s promise (Deuteronomy 2:19-46, Numbers 14, Hebrews 4). They have now passed on. Their leader, Moses, himself, has only has a few months left to live. And most of this book of Deuteronomy is a collection of his last words to the Hebrews before he perishes along with the rest of this generation (and his children’s generation; Moses was 80 when he began the exodus from Egypt.) outside of the Promised Land.[1] This book is thus very important.

Chapter 8 reminds us of an important three-part truth that is important for us on this Thanksgiving Sunday. God, through Moses, in his speech here reminds the Israelites that:
1)      Deuteronomy 8:3 – Because He loves you, God hungered you causing you to rely on Him but
2)      Deuteronomy 8:10-11 – You are now about to enter a time of abundance; so give thanks to the Lord because
3)      Deuteronomy 8:19-20 – forgetting the Lord will result in your destruction

1) Because He loves you, God hungered you causing you to rely on Him

Moses is reminding and underscoring for the people of Israel that in the desert, Deuteronomy 8:3: “[God] He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD” (cf. Matthew 4:4, Luke 4:4).

We remember what Moses is talking about here, right? God loves the Hebrews but the people of Israel had grown proud. They were selfish. They weren’t thankful. They were focusing not on serving the Lord, instead they were concentrating on themselves and their own ability (Deuteronomy 2:19-46, Deuteronomy 9:7-29, Numbers 14, Hebrews 4). We remember that shortly after the Hebrews left Egypt, they already began complaining and on more than one occasion they wanted to turn their back on God and turn back to Egypt. It got so bad that they even began to glorify, in their own minds, the slavery under which they suffered. As we read last week in Numbers 14, when they arrive at the land that God had promised to give them, instead of simply following God into this land, they are fearful and reject Him and Moses and Aaron and they even threaten to kill them, choose new leaders and head back to Egypt (Numbers 14:4,10).[2] God intervenes and so the disobedient Israelites decide that they will go into the Promised Land after all but –as disobedient as they are- they decide to do this without God. They try and obtain their salvation on their own. And it is a result of that generation’s rejection of God that they all perish outside of His promise.

The good news here is that even though this generation rejects God’s promise and as a result of their faithlessness dies in the wilderness, God still keeps His promise of salvation for the children of these children of Israel and for the whole world (John 3:16-18). God still provides salvation penultimately for the next generation of Hebrews and ultimately for the whole world through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (cf. Genesis 12:1-3, 15:1-7; 2 Samuel 7).

We have a very interesting situation before us in our text today though. This next generation that God, through Moses, is speaking to in our text today. They have been wandering around the desert. They have grown up in the wilderness where food is scarce; water is scarce. They are nomadic. They do not have all of the luxuries of a settled people. They can’t just run down to the 7/11 in the middle of the night and pick up drink boxes for their kids lunches in the morning. The Hebrews are wandering around the desert following God through His angel in a pillar of cloud by day and a tongue of fire by night. When the wheels break off their carts, they can’t call the Automobile Association to come and help them. They are nomadic: they have no shop buildings, no convenience stores, nothing; they have nothing but God.[3]

God was testing them and God was teaching them, Hebrews 8:3, “that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” As this next generation of Hebrews followed God around the desert, He provided for them. Even their clothes - it says in verse 4 - did not wear out and their feet did not swell during this time following God around the desert. God provided for them in the desert. When they had nothing, God provided for them Deuteronomy 8:15,16:
He led you through the vast and dreadful desert, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. He gave you manna to eat in the desert, something your fathers had never known, to humble and to test you so that in the end it might go well with you.

 Even though one generation of the Israelites were faithless, that did not nullify the faithfulness of God (Romans 3:3,4). God provided this desert experience for them and their children as a means to their salvation. God, through Moses here, is reminding the people not to forget this: in the desert, God and God alone provided for them, preparing them to receive this Promised Land.   This brings us to point 2.

2) You are now about to enter a time of abundance so give thanks to the Lord.

Israel, the next generation here should definitely give thanks to the Lord. It is God who is providing for them in the desert when they have nothing and they are thankful. It is God also who will provide for them in Canaan when they have something. They need to remember this. In their abundance, they need to remember to celebrate their thanksgiving to God. God, through Moses, says that in the Promised Land, Deuteronomy 8:10-14:
When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

This is important. This is all too common. Last week, as well as looking at Numbers 14, we examined Judges 4. The book of Judges again and again repeats a similar refrain to Judges 2:10-11, “After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD…” The very next generation after God delivers his people into the salvation of the Promised Land, instead of thanking God for all that He is providing, they reject Him but even then God is still gracious enough to hand them over to their enemies so that they will return to Him. But alas when things start going well for them again they again forget that all that abundance comes from the Lord and they reject Him again.

Deuteronomy 8:12-14: ‘…when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God…’

Canada was founded upon the Word of God. O Canada is a hymn that can be found in many Canadian hymnals complete with a second verse offering praise to the Lord. After the horrors of the 18 Century’s Atheist (or Deist) Revolutions,[4] Sir Samuel Leonard Tilley insisted that Canada be founded on the Word of God. Our motto, A Mari usque ad Mare, is based on Psalm 72 and it declares that God shall have dominion in this land from sea to sea.  In 1879, Canada officially legislated a day of Thanksgiving to the Lord and in a generation previous to our current one, on Thursday, January 31, 1957, the Canadian Parliament specifically proclaimed: “A Day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed.” Our forefathers and mothers have given thanks to our Lord in this country for what He has done and for what He has provided.

We need to continue to do so but I fear that now, like with the Israelites when they settled in the Promised Land, another generation is growing up who neither knows the Lord nor what He has done in Canada. God has allowed Canada to become one of the most prosperous countries in the history of the earth but, instead of thanking Him for this, we seem to have forgotten this and we seem to have forgotten Him.

God’s Name and the Gideon Bibles are quickly being removed from our schools. The Lord’s Prayer that was spoken in the schools in my memory, even in secular British Columbia, is no more. I was teaching in the schools when we were instructed to remove all reference to Christ and even all reference to Christmas. We needed to refer to the Christmas time as a winter festival or something like that. Even in our time in Saskatchewan in recent years, I have responded to people who have publicly called for Jesus’ name to be deleted from Remembrance Day ceremonies[5] and when Susan was conducting a service in the Tisdale hospital a few years ago, they handed her all their Bibles and said, ‘we don’t need these anymore.’

Deuteronomy 8:12-14: ‘…when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God…’

3) Forgetting the Lord will result in destruction

Deuteronomy 8:19-20: “If you ever forget the LORD your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. Like the nations the LORD destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the LORD your God.”

Israel was no more immune to destruction and being removed from the Promised Land than were the people’s God had there before them (Cf. Amos 3:2).[6] There is a very important passage in Genesis to which the author of Deuteronomy is referring: it is the covenant ceremony whereby God ratifies His covenant with Abraham that
a)      all the nations of the earth will be blessed through him (Genesis 12:1-3); and that
b)     Israel will (for a time anyway) occupy this Promised Land (Genesis 15:17-21)
Genesis 15:13-16 records one reason why the land promised to Abraham’s descendants by God is not given to Abraham in his lifetime. This is because God is extending four hundred years of mercy to the current inhabitants of the land. As the Amorites don’t shape up in this 400-year grace period that God is giving them then God will take this land away from them and give it to the descendants of Abraham. Our text today, like so many others in the Old Testament, is telling us that as the Israelites are unfaithful they too will be removed from the Promised Land (Leviticus 26; 2 Chronicles 36:20-21; Jeremiah 25:11-12, 29:10; Amos 3:1-2; cf. Lamentations 4; Ezekiel 21,22; Joel 1-2:10; cf. also Romans 6:23).[7] And as they were unfaithful, they were removed. Judah fell in 586 BCE. Israel fell in 721 BCE. The Israelite Kingdom never rose again.[8]
1)      Deuteronomy 8:3 – God hungered Israel causing them to rely on Him but
2)      Deuteronomy 8:10-11 – when they entered a time of abundance they forgot to give thanks to the Lord, indeed they forgot Him altogether and
3)      Deuteronomy 8:19-20 – that resulted in their destruction

This is sad but there is some good news. On this Thanksgiving Day today in Canada we can still give thanks and experience God’s blessing. In Canada there is still time to return to our Lord. As long as we exist as a nation there is still the opportunity for our nation to return to God. We, as Christians should do our best to help build God’s Kingdom here as it is in heaven. As long as we exist as a nation it is not too late, we can still return to the Lord and one good way to start doing this is to obey Canadian law and give thanks today to God Almighty for His bountiful provision (cf. TSA doc. 10).

We know that as far as Israel is concerned, their Messiah has come already. Jesus was their Messiah. Jesus was born, died, and rose from the grave. We know that there is even more good news than that too. We know that Jesus will come back and he will reign forever not only as King of the Jews but also as King of the whole world (cf. TSA doc. 6). We know that Jesus Christ is the Messiah of not only Israel but also Jesus Christ is the Messiah and the saviour of the whole world (John 3:16-18; cf. Revelation 21). There is no other saviour. We know that Jesus died and rose again fulfilling God’s promises to humanity and we know too that Jesus is coming back. This is certainly something for which we can all give thanks today: Jesus is coming back and he is coming back soon and when he does what a day of rejoicing that will be.

Let us pray.


[1] Earl S. Kalland and Kenneth L. Baker, Note on Deuteronomy 1:1 in NIV Study Bible (ed. Kenneth Barker; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002), 244.
[2] Captain Michael Ramsay, Salvation, Take it or Leave it! Presented to Swift Current Corps of The Salvation Army, 02 October 2011. Available on-line:
[3] Cf. J.A. Thompson,: Deuteronomy: An Introduction and Commentary. Downers Grove, IL : InterVarsity Press, 1974 (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries 5), S. 151
[4] Cf. Robespierre, Benjamin Franklin’s journals and Thomas Jefferson’s Bible that strips the Word of God of the miraculous among other evidence of the horrors of the Franco-American Revolutions, the reign of terror and ensuing wars.
[5] Cf. Captain Michael Ramsay, Not an Atheistic Society in Tisdale Recorder (November, 2011). Available on-line:
[6] Cf. Ronald E. Clements, The Book of Deuteronomy, (NIB II: Nashville, Tenn.: Abingdon Press, 1998), 355.
[7] Other reasons for their removal from the land include their contempt for Him, and their disrespect for the land (Leviticus 25:1-23), and the poor, the widow, the immigrant (Cf. Exodus 23:6,11, Leviticus 19:10,15, 23:22, 27:8, Deuteronomy 15:7, 15:11, 24:12-15, 1 Samuel 2:8, Psalms. 22:26, 34:6, 35:10, 82:3, Isaiah. 61:1, Ezekiel 16:49, 18:12, 22:29, Amos 2:7, 4:1, 5:11-12, 8:4-6, Zechariah 7:10.); and their disregard for His very important covenant (Cf. Genesis 12-17; Deuteronomy 4-26, 31; Leviticus 25:1-23; Jeremiah 52:4-27; Amos 3-4; Lamentations 4; Ezekiel 21,22; Joel 1-2:10). The people are removed from the land, just like the Lord told them they would be if they disregarded His covenant and they are removed for the period of time that God told them that they would be removed for disregarding His covenant (2 Chronicles 36:21; Jeremiah 25:11-12, 29:10). God told them that they would earn the loss their territorial inheritance if they continued to sin but they continued so they earned the wages of their sin (cf. Romans 6:23). They did. This was a traumatic time and it caused a lot of people to lose their faith and even their identity – the whole concept of the ‘missing tribes of Israel’ relates to the deportations starting with Assyria and some of these deportees’ descendants never did come back home. Cf. Donald E. Gowan, Amos. (NIB VII: Nashville, Tenn.: Abingdon Press, 1996), 347, 383.
[8] Cf. Thomas E. McComiskey, The Expositor's Bible Commentary,  Pradis CD-ROM:Amos/Introduction to Amos/Theological Values of Amos/The doctrine of election in Amos, Book Version: 4.0.2; cf. also Willy Schottroff, “To Perceive, To Know,” in Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament, Volume 3 eds. Ernst Jenni and Claus Westermann (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, 1997),516.