Daily Devotional

Moses and the Desert

by Simon Whitton

11 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.
12 Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down,
13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied,
14 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.
15 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.
16 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.
17 You may say to yourself, "My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me."
18 But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.

Deuteronomy 8:11-18 (NIV)

In this speech Moses described two completely different circumstances.  He looked into the future when the people of God would settle down in fine houses, grow wealthy and satisfied. Moses also looked back to when they went through 'the vast and dreadful desert' with its danger and pain.  Moses was concerned that when God's people settled down and grew in wealth and comfort, they would forget the Lord.

When all our needs are provided for and we have money to spare, we become self-sufficient and have little reason to look to the Lord.  Our relationship with Him can slip, and we may see the Lord's commands as stifling the freedom that wealth can bring.  We may even convince ourselves that it's our own hard work and common sense that has produced our wealth.

Moses described the 'vast and dreadful desert', alluding to the fear and uncertainty of having to live one day at a time.  Each day you have to trust the Lord for even the most basic needs of manna and water.  You have to look up to Him for healing, direction and miracles.  You quickly come to the end of your own strength and resources; the Lord becomes your only source of survival and hope.

The desert is a classroom, somewhere where we are humbled.  It's a place where we learn to depend on the Lord rather than our own ability and assets. We are made weak, but we learn to cling to God and to fear Him.

Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid. God has come to test you,
so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning."

Exodus 20:20 (NIV)

During the desert experience God trains us, so we won't 'forget the Lord or fail to observe His commands'.  And if we submit to the lessons and learn well, they will even stay with us during those times of comfort and wealth.

If you're in a place of comfort, humble yourself before the Lord and remember that He has given you everything you have.  Don't trust in your own strength and resources, but look to the Lord and fear Him, remembering to obey all His commands.

If you find yourself in the desert, know that the Lord is carefully leading you through these trials.  Put your trust in Him and embrace the hardship as training.  Understand that His great purpose in your pain and suffering is 'so that in the end it might go well with you'.

Spend some time in prayer...

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