Here is our outline of what we are studying from the eighth chapter of Deuteronomy:
The Promise of Prosperity - Deuteronomy 8:1
The Path of Humility - Deuteronomy 8:2-3
The Perspective of Faith - Deuteronomy 8:4-9
The Perils of Forgetfulness - Deuteronomy 8:10-17
The Persistence of Remembering the LORD - Deuteronomy 8:18-20
In "The Perspective of Faith" (Deuteronomy 8:4-9) we saw the need to faithfully look back at what God has done in our lives, so that we can faithfully respond to God and go forward into His will for our lives. Now, in Deuteronomy 8:10-17, we will consider "The Perils of Forgetfulness." Getting full and satisfied with the material blessings of God can produce a spiritual stupor - a spiritual food coma! Loving our gifts can lull us into disregarding the one who gives us our gifts. Praise God from whom all blessings flow! See Psalm 103:1-5.
Fully Blessed should make us fully blessing! Deuteronomy 8:10
We typically ask God to bless our food before eating. Have you ever enjoyed a meal so much that you felt like thanking God again after you ate it? It wouldn't be a bad idea. Imagine Mom making a great meal. We ingest the meal, say "thanks" to Mom, and then we go lay on a couch and doze off while Mom does the dishes! God gave us all things freely to enjoy, but we must not become possessed by our possessions (I Timothy 6:17 cp. I Corinthians 6:12). God's blessings should make us more attentive to Him. We should be occupied with thanksgiving and praise. See Psalm 33:1; 34:1-3; 103:20-22; 107:1-43; 116:1-19; 145:1-21; Ephesians 5:18-21; Philippians 4:4-8; I Thessalonians 5:16-19; Hebrews 13:15.
Forgetfulness makes us careless and disobedient. Deuteronomy 8:11
We are told, "Out of sight, out of mind." Things get away from us. Without reinforcement, our attention naturally drifts to other things. There is no excuse, when it comes to the blessings of God. They are everywhere, all the time. We have to shut our minds off and force ourselves to notice other things when we forget God. When we forget His goodness, we will then forget His ways. When we forget how much God has pleased us. We will forget to please Him. In other words, "Out of sight, out of mind, out of step!" Remembering is the key to faithful doing. We are not just trying to remember what to do, but to remember for whom we are doing it!
See Galatians 2:20; II Corinthians 5:14-15; Titus 2:11-14; Hebrews 12:1-3.
What did forgetfulness do to Israel? See Psalm 78:12-42; 106:7-15. Here are a few highlights:
- They provoked God - Psalm 78:17
- They tempted God - Psalm 78:18
- They spoke against God - Psalm 78:19
- They did not believe or trust God - Psalm 78:22
- They only sought God when they were in trouble - Psalm 78:34
- They flattered God (i.e. lied to Him) - Psalm 78:36 cp. Isaiah 29:13
- Their heart was not right with God. They were not faithful to their relationship with Him - Psalm 78:37 cp. Psalm 78:22,32-33,36-37; Hebrews 3:7 - 4:2
- They grieved God - Psalm 78:40 [Note the Hebrew means "to cause pain or sorrow." The Greek of Ephesians 4:30 has the same idea.]
- They limited God (i.e. they made it so that God could not bless them) - Psalm 78:41 cp. Isaiah 59:1-2; 64:7; Jeremiah 5:23-25
Psalm 106:12-15 gives this report: "They believed His words and sang His praise. Then soon forgot His works and waited not for His counsel. They lusted exceedingly…and tempted God..." We are told that God gave them the things that they asked for, but He also "sent leanness into their soul."
Many translations tell us God "sent a wasting disease/plague among them". The Hebrew word means "leanness or diminishing by disease, pestilence, or destruction." See Psalm 78:29-31. The "soul" can refer to physical life or to the inner man (mind/spirit). Doubtless, their inner soul was also diminished as well as their physical lives. They were miserable people!
What else did God do in response to the forgetfulness and unfaithfulness of Israel?
- God was furious and full of wrath - Psalm 78:21
- God gave them what they desired, along with deadly consequences - Psalm 78:29-31
- God consumed (used up) their days with vanity (futility) and trouble (fear) - Psalm 78:33
- God also had compassion and forgave them. He did not exercise all His wrath on them. He remembered their weakness with mercy - Psalm 78:38-39 cp. Psalm 103:7-16; 130:3-4.
Forgetfulness is a product of pride. Deuteronomy 8:12-17
There is a danger to being full.
See Deuteronomy 8:12-13 cp. Proverbs 27:7; 30:7-9; Ezekiel 16:49-50.
- Deuteronomy 8:14 - The heart can be "lifted up" with pride and forget that we need God.
- Deuteronomy 8:14-16 - We then forget that what we have, we have by the grace and goodness of God. We forget what God was teaching us through His life-lessons. We forget the lovingkindness of God. We question His motives.
- Deuteronomy 8:17 - We re-write history. Our memories become distorted and we give ourselves credit for success. We forget God did the blessing. We think we were clever, diligent, or just plain lucky.
Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit…" (Matthew 5:3). The word "poor" denotes a beggar. Jesus is promoting humility - the attitude that says, "I need the Lord."
Proverbs 16:18 tells us, "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."
See Revelation 2:1-5. What do you suppose caused the Ephesian church to leave their first love? They did not lose it. They left it.