Scripture: Deuteronomy 8
CREDITS (lest we forget)
(c) Copyright 2000 Rev. Bill Versteeg
1 Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the LORD promised on oath to your forefathers. Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you.
6 Observe the commands of the LORD your God, walking in his ways and revering him. For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land--a land with streams and pools of water, with springs flowing in the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills.
10 When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. 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. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, 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. 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. 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. You may say to yourself, "My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me." 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.
19 If you ever forget the LORD your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. Like the nations the LORD destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the LORD your God. (NIV)
People of God:
If you attend any movies you will have noticed something. When the movie ends and the credits come on, almost everyone leaves. There may be a few who stay, the few who hope to be entertained by the credits - maybe, but generally speaking, most people are just their for the show, they have no or little interest in who made the movie possible.
It is sometimes fun to watch the credits though, because in watching the credits, you tend to notice something. First of all, maybe one of your heros has been on the screen jumping from tall buildings and shooting up the bad guys. And how easily convinced we become of our hero's invincible qualities and indestructible hairdo - that is until we read the credits. There we discover that our hero did not get a scratch in his acting. It is all a charade. The real acting was done by stunt men, 20 or 30 or more stunt men, the real guys who do the hard work in Hollywood. Or maybe you watched your beautiful heroine, who manages to look good in the most difficult circumstances, until you read the credits, and you see all the people who were responsible for the makeup and the dress costumes etc. In truth, our great actors in Hollywood are only skin deep at best, they are made for the media by teams and teams of people who make them far larger than life. We buy into it! Our entertainment driven forgetful culture so willing to embrace the suspension of doubt embraces celebrities though we know that many of them are merely a movie production project. Credits, which could give us perspective on what is going on behind the scenes are forgotten. We're in it for the show, not much else.
Human nature is like that - we tend to be in it for the show, forget what or who made it possible.
Deuteronomy 8 is a warning about that very dynamic. Israel had traveled through the wilderness for 40 years, on the journey, an entire generation had died of old age and judgements. The memory of Israel was only of one thing - God's unending provision through 40 years of nothing. Manna fell from heaven daily. All they had to do was gather it and not to much lest it spoil. Water burst forth from solid rock to give them drink in a desert wasteland. An impossibility they could not take credit for. It's not pretty, but it's an amazing picture. Imagine 40 years of wearing the same sneakers, the same jeans, the same shirts. Their clothing did not wear out. 40 years of walking and their feet did not swell from arthritis or water retention. It was so very obvious to Israel that God, and only God, had made it possible for them to survive these 40 years of wilderness travel.
Now they stood at the edge of the promised land, the land of their dreams, and the warning was that they not forget who made this all possible. Now that the show was starting, they were not to forget who made it possible.
This passage seems to give three reasons why the people of Israel (and we) forget to give credit to whom credit is due.
The first reason is ABUNDANCE.
12. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God.
The modifying words in this passage are so instructive - satisfied, fine, large, increase, multiplied - the picture is one of abundance to the point of excess, of running over. The warning to Israel and to us is that in times of abundance, that is when we need to work that much harder to remember. And the reasons are many...
Counting our blessings becomes harder when there are too many to count, when the small blessings get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of everything that has piled up on top of them. It is difficult to acknowledge our blessings when there are so many that they are overflowing into landfills regarded as worthless junk. Abundance not only obscures our perception of God's blessings, it also swarms our lives with the business that chokes our time for and attention to God. Haven't we noticed in the last few decades how our abundance has made us busier people? Haven't we noticed how its harder and harder to find time for God, for church, for fellowship?
Connected closely with abundance is the second reason that this passage gives - PRIDE.
12 Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God.
The sense of pride in this passage has to do with status. It is the rich looking down their noses at the poor, the contempt of the powerful over the powerless. It is an arrogance that is based not in what a person is, but in what a person has. It is the things of this world defining our worth and when things come in abundance, our worth is entirely overvalued. And when we live in this kind of narcisistic egomania, God is hardly in the picture. In our largeness, God becomes smaller, insignificant, a flaw in our memory. This pride says
"I am important."
And God, the great "I AM" becomes a distant memory.
God opposes such pride - this inflated measurement of self, and he gives grace to the humble - those who know the source of their life, who give credit where credit is due.
The third reason this passage gives why Israel and we might forget God has to do with the theme of PERSONAL ACCOMPLISHMENT.
You may say to yourself, "My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me." 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.
There is no doubt that God's blessing, God's abundant provision makes us people who work hard. When God gives the crop, farmers are busy harvesting. When God gives us a market for our skills, our products, we produce, overtime, double time, 60 hour weeks. The danger though, is that we think that the prosperity we receive is something we have accomplished. The danger is that the sweat of our brow blinds our eyes to where our abundance, our wealth has come from. The danger is that we start taking credit for our formula's of success, our market strategies, our hard earned insights. This too is shortsighted blindness. For it is God who gives us the ability to work, to make wealth, to find success.
How sad it is when we, in the first world choose to live life simply for the show, without noticing the credits, before and after.
On this Thanksgiving, take notice of the credits that surround your life.
The first credit is straight forward - scripture tells us
"In the beginning God" (Gen 1:1)
Everything is from him and through him and unto him. Apart from God, there is nothing, no universe, no world, no land, no jobs, no people, no blessings, no accomplishments. In the beginning God!
And the last credit, which we celebrate as children of the living God are simply these words
"The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God's people." Revelation 22:21
It shows us that God's continued unmerited favour, his cornucopiatious blessings have everything to do with what Jesus did for us. Grace and blessings continue to be poured out today because Jesus, the Alpha and the Omega, has reconciled us with the Father. We are justified, sanctified, glorified, given blessing upon blessing , all because of Jesus.
As your devotions today - I encourage you to read the first and the last verses of the bible, reflect of them together, take the time to read the credits.
*(NIV) Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright (C) 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.