Back in Deuteronomy 6, God gave his people a warning: When you enter the land and have eaten your fill (when you start to prosper), do not forget me or what I brought you out of.
Now, in Deuteronomy 8, God has something similar to say:
When you have eaten your fill and have built fine houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks have multiplied, and your silver and gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied, then do not exalt yourself, forgetting the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery,
So what can we make of this? I want to offer some ideas. Feel free to fight with them.
Being Full is Bad For Your Memory
I almost wrote “soul” instead of “memory” but then I remembered that this was about remembering.
Israel is in the most danger not when they are in slavery, not when they are wandering through the great and terrible wilderness, and not when they are in the throws of battle, but when they are well fed and prospering.
It is then that they will be tempted to forget.
It is then they will start thinking they earned everything they got.
It is then that the memory of slavery and rescue and deliverance and God himself will fade away.
But God Leads Them Into Fullness
Before the verses I quoted above, there is a lovely description of the land that the Israelites will be entering. It ends with “You shall eat your fill and bless the LORD your God for the good land that he has given you.”
So why does God lead them into a place where he knows they will be tempted to forget him and his commandments? Why does he put them somewhere where they will almost certainly fail?
God is so risky!
I wonder if you can’t have it both ways. I wonder if a land being good does not mean it is free of temptation. I wonder if there is something unavoidable about forgetting your story.
Also, does this remind anyone else of Genesis 2? There is this beautiful abundant garden where all of humanity’s needs are met. And yet a serpent slithers around a deadly tree right in the middle of it all.
When Do You Forget?
I know that I most forget my story and what God is up to when I don’t do anything. Basically when I sit on my butt.
It is when I am out engaging with my students, loving them, talking to them, inviting them to trust God more and more; that is when I remember my story.
When I am obedient.
When I’m not being obedient, I forget.
Maybe there is something to this whole Deuteronomy thing.
What about you? When are you tempted to be disobedient and forgetful?
I often forget about God and his goodness when things are at their highest and/or lowest. Everywhere in between seems like I remember him, but for some reason, I forget him in the extremes.
The danger in being full is that you believe that you were the one responsible. You exalt yourself. You have to purposesely determine that it really isn’t about you.
And that is exactly what God warns them about.