Wilderness Survival - Deuteronomy 8:1-20 - Pastor Eric
The people of Israel went through a time of wilderness as they journeyed through it for 40 years. Israel deeply understood what it was like to be in a place that nobody wanted to be, in a place of loneliness, and a place of discomfort at times. However, they learned many good and hard lessons from their wilderness experience.
We can feel like we’re living in a wilderness experience. We can feel hurt, pain and loss. We begin to question God, and we begin to wonder, is God really the God who He said He is? Is He going to keep His promises to me? Is God really a good God? How can God be good if the world around me feels like it keeps falling apart?
We praise God that His Word is not empty of truth to answer the tough questions of life. There is hope in the Word of God, because the Bible is filled with wilderness stories, which can bring us hope beyond our brokenness and beyond our loss.
The first truth is, remember God is still good to produce a divine purpose in your hardship. God is still a good and loving God even in the midst of extreme difficulty. God is right there in the midst of your firestorm and in the midst of your painful journey, because God has an eternal purpose for it. (Deuteronomy 8:1-5)
God reminds Israel of His covenant promise to His people. That if Israel obeys His Word and commandments, then God will bless them. Moses recalls for Israel the time of the wilderness. God reminds them they were to be tested, to be humbled, and to be disciplined.
God’s good purpose was to remove their natural props and supports, which they depended on. In the wilderness, Israel was fully at the mercy of God so that they might learn to fully depend on their God. The wilderness makes you fully dependent in ways that we never would have imagined or come up with by our own devices. It takes away all human self-sufficiency and human power to lay a person down before God in complete surrender and trust.
For God is doing right by you, not wrong. Like a good father discipling his own son, so God does the same for you and me. God uses hardship to sharpen us and to make us more righteous, more holy, and more like Him. There is a deep divine and external purpose for pain and suffering.
The second truth is that God is very good to promise a better day ahead. God has already secured and set out rich blessings and pure goodness. Beyond the wilderness, there will come a time when you will be free from pain, free from suffering, or free from hardship. This offers us hope for a certain and finer future. (Deuteronomy 8:6-10)
Moses reiterates God’s covenant promise. Now, God will soon fulfill that covenant promise to His people by bringing them into the Promised Land. The Promised Land would be very good full of luxury, richness, and blessing. But the church doesn’t receive the same blessing as our blessing will look different.
The blessing for the church is to look toward a new Promised Land, an eternal promise land, Heaven!!! Our ultimate home and resting place is in Heaven with God. (Revelation 21:1-5)
In Heaven, God will make all things new. God will bring Heaven down to earth and transform it completely. There will come a day when there is no more pain, no more tears, no more cancer, no more suffering, no more loneliness, and no more hurt. This is the eternal home and hope of every Christian. For around the bend of suffering is relief and freedom. In God’s everlasting resting place there is peace, tranquility, and splendor. There is a better day coming for you and for me. The hope of heaven!
The final truth is, remember God is always good to provide us with His abundant grace. God will graciously redeem us beyond our hardships and our sin. God is always good to give us His unmerited favor and love. God remains committed to His covenant love. (Deuteronomy 8:14-17)
Moses once again reminds Israel of God’s grand redemption plan. He brings them back to the salvation that they have already experienced through God’s providential and merciful hands from Egypt, wilderness, and into the Promised Land.
Their history is full of God’s goodness and grace to do good to them in the end even when they complained, even when they built a golden calf, and even when they followed other gods. God still loved them.
As New Testament believers, we have something more than Moses and Israel ever had. We have the grace of the cross. We know that because our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ died upon a cross for our sins and He resurrected from the dead in order to give us new life now and forever. From the beginning of time, God planned and set out a redemption and salvation of grace to us and for us.
So that Christ might bring us out of a house of slavery to sin, to deliver us through great and terrifying moments of wilderness, to save us from the fiercest fire of Hell, and to feed us with the everlasting bread of life and living water of God.
And if God can save our souls from the depths of Hell, then we can be assured God will save us from the depths of our wilderness today. For Christ is the answer to all of it, both salvation and suffering.
For it is God’s grace that not only saves us for eternity, but it is God’s grace that saves us for today. So that we can know our God is so very GOOD all the time, and He will be good to the very end of time.
Songs of Praise:
This Is Amazing Grace; God, You’re So Good; 10,000 Reasons; Doxology.
Thank you to Jondy Natividad, Mike and Yuko Acuna with On The Mission along with their 7 month old son Yuuki, and three of their team for coming from Chicago and Southern CA to say thank you for supporting them to be in Japan this past July 19 through August 4. There were many times of opportunity for them to reach out in the love of Jesus Christ through various interactions. Please pray as they look to 2020, to continue the mission with the additional challenges/opportunities of the Olympics going on at the same time.
Jondy Natividad shared about staying 2 months after the mission to explore possible long-term mission opportunities. Currently he is planning on returning to Japan in March of 2020 to teach English and serve alongside other missionaries when he can, plus join up with OTM in July. Please pray for this big decision and transition for him and his family.