Saturday after Oculi
Scripture: Deuteronomy 8:1-20 (NKJV)
1 “Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers. 2 And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. 3 So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord. 4 Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. 5 You should know in your heart that as a man chastens his son, so the Lord your God chastens you.
6 “Therefore you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him. 7 For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, that flow out of valleys and hills; 8 a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; 9 a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing; a land whose stones are iron and out of whose hills you can dig copper. 10 When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you.
11 “Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today, 12 lest—when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them; 13 and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; 14 when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; 15 who led you through that great and terrible wilderness, in which were fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty land where there was no water; who brought water for you out of the flinty rock; 16 who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do you good in the end— 17 then you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.’
18 “And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. 19 Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the Lord your God, and follow other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish. 20 As the nations which the Lord destroys before you, so you shall perish, because you would not be obedient to the voice of the Lord your God.”
In the Promised Land, there shall be no lack…but in the wilderness wandering, lack shall be in abundance! But, why? Why does God have His people suffer want and deprivation? Only so that when they are fed they may know and remember that He is the One Who feeds them. Without such suffering, how shall one who still has the desires of fallen flesh ever learn that hedonism is not the answer?
Luther teaches us to look for God’s hand in such suffering. While we rightly remember that the devil is ever on the attack and that the consequences of sin are always weighing upon us, in all that is brought against us to lead us to despair in our anguish, we must learn to look as Joseph did upon what his brothers had done to him those many years earlier: “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive” (Gen. 50:20). Certainly, the devil does not mean to work for us good, but evil; yet, since what Satan was before his fall was the good creature of God, in everything he does, he must end up serving his Creator: all that he does intending evil has lying behind it God’s continuous intent for our good.
In every trial, this is a great comfort: what the devil, world, and flesh intend to separate us from God, our Lord uses to drive us ever deeper into His arms; the very thing with which they would rob us of faith makes us cry out to Him and brings us once again to hear His Word, to receive His body and blood!
Grant us, O Lord, in every time of trouble to hear Your promise, that we may call upon You and glorify You as You deliver us for Jesus’ sake. Amen.