God often called His people to remember. In Deuteronomy 8, we see a particular case of Moses calling the people of God to do that very thing. Although it can be difficult for us to remember previous seasons in our lives, there is value in remembering where we have been and how the Lord has been faithful to us in every season–in good and bad, in discipline and in assurance. Just as Moses calls God's people to remember, we are called along with the people of Israel to remember as well.
1. We must remember the Lord's faithfulness.
Remember that the Lord your God led you on the entire journey these forty years in the wilderness, so that he might humble you and test you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you by letting you go hungry; then he gave you manna to eat, which you and your fathers had not known, so that you might learn that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothing did not wear out, and your feet did not swell these forty years.Deuteronomy 8:2-4
God didn't want the Israelites to walk through the wilderness for forty years so that they would forget what He had just brought them through. They had acted sinfully against their God. Their rebellion and lack of faith in the God who had chosen them is what led them to the wilderness. He didn't want them to forget this season of discipline so quickly. Rather, it was here, in the wilderness, where God is reminding them that He is faithful. And for this reason, their remembrance of His faithfulness should provoke their faithfulness to Him–trusting Him, following His commands, and believing that He is the sustenance of life. In their hunger, He reminded them that He alone is the provider. And He sends manna. He did not allow their clothing to tether or their feet to swell. In His gentle correction, He preserved their clothing. He maintained their health. There were those who perished, but it was not due to physical needs; they were those who did not cling to God. He was faithful to them every step of the way, and even when it seemed that He withdrew His hand, it was only enough to humble them and point them to His all-sufficient, sustaining power and care for them. We must remember that it is not physical things that will give us life but only what comes from the mouth of our God that will preserve us for all of eternity.
2. We must remember that God is both teaching us and disciplining us as His own.
Deuteronomy 8:5 tells us to "Keep in mind that the Lord your God has been disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son." Disciplining our children is hard. Sometimes we do giggle at things our children do but shouldn't do, and yet we bite our tongue and discipline because we know that it shapes who they are becoming. But oftentimes, disciplining is hard. It stings us at the core. It may even cost us tears long after our child's tears are gone. But we still do it. Why? Because as parents, we want our children to walk in such a way as unto the Lord. We want to shape them to do the right thing, and that requires discipline. In the same way, we become sons and daughters of the Most High God upon salvation. And as sons and daughters, the Lord cares for us, and that includes disciplining us. Discipline from the Lord is often painful and not as brief as with our own children. But God desires our good. And it is our good to become more and more like Jesus. So, to become more and more like Jesus, He doesn't let us stay in our sin. He doesn't allow us to continue to walk according to the course of the world, but rather, He calls us to confession, to repentance, and to root out our sin and actively kill it. So, in these seasons of discipline, though it is hard, we must remember that He is disciplining us because we belong to Him. We are His own.
3. We must remember that the Lord is good; therefore, we are to be faithful to keep the Lord's commands.
So keep the commands of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and fearing him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with streams, springs, and deep water sources, flowing in both valleys and hills; a land of wheat, barley, vines, figs, and pomegranates; a land of olive oil and honey; a land where you will eat food without shortage, where you will lack nothing; a land whose rocks are iron and from whose hills you will mine copper. When you eat and are full, you will bless the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.Deuteronomy 8:6-10
The Lord is good, and He gives His people good gifts. The Lord provided for His people a good land with an abundance of water and vegetation, a very echo of the garden of Eden–a place where there is a lack of nothing. Despite Israel's disbelief and unfaithfulness, God still promises their good. They had been through this season as a consequence of their sin and to teach them so that they would not repeat history. In these forty years, the Lord was preparing them to go into the Promised Land and conquer it. For the Israelites, I doubt that they considered the wilderness to be a gift, but what the Lord was teaching them during this season would enable them to go into a land, trusting in the Lord to do the impossible, and they would be beneficiaries of this land where they would lack nothing. It was a gift He was giving to His people, if only they would be obedient. We must remember that following the commands of God means trusting Him–trusting that He is good and will provide for our needs. There will be seasons where it doesn't feel like the gifts He is giving to us are good, but what we know in the moment, He sees from start to finish. So, we must walk in faithfulness, trusting that God is working for our good.
4. We must remember the Lord.
Be careful that you don't forget the Lord your God by failing to keep his commands, ordinances, and statutes that I am giving you today. When you eat and are full, and build beautiful houses to live in, and your herds and flocks grow large, and your silver and gold multiply, and everything else you have increases, be careful that your heart doesn't become proud and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery. He led you through the great and terrible wilderness with its poisonous snakes and scorpions, a thirsty land where there was no water. He brought water out of the flint rock for you. He fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers had not known, in order to humble and test you, so that in the end he might cause you to prosper. You may say to yourself, ‚ÄòMy power and my own ability have gained this wealth for me,' but remember that the Lord your God gives you the power to gain wealth, in order to confirm his covenant he swore to your fathers, as it is today.Deuteronomy 8:11-18
This passage of remembrance ends with warning to the people not to forget the Lord their God. It is a tendency of not just the Israelites but also of us all to become self-sufficient in our thinking when things start to go our way. Instead of praising God for the food we have to eat, the houses we live in, and so many other things we are blessed with, we become prideful as we look at all we have gained for ourselves. Moses is warning them that this would be an incorrect response to the goodness of God toward them. And so, Moses recalls the kindness of God through reminding the Israelites once again of what God did for them in the past. God has done the impossible–He brought water from a rock–a rock! This is a God who is all-powerful and takes care of His own. He provided manna, which provided for them exactly what they needed daily. And so, Moses is reminding them that everything they will have in this new land is from the Lord, and they should never forget that it is all from Him. All of the provisions that the Lord has provided and will provide in the future testify to His faithfulness to His people. Like the Israelites, we must be careful–intentional–to remember the Lord. All that we have is from Him and points us to His faithfulness toward us.