Deuteronomy 8:5 “Thus you are to know in your heart that the Lord your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son.”

Observation: Forty years have passed since the Hebrews began their odyssey through the wilderness. Instigated by their intransigence toward the commands of God, He none-the-less proved to be a faithful provider through all their desert wanderings. He had allowed them to become hungry so they might appreciate His provision of manna and “understand that man does not live by bread alone but by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.” (v. 5)

He reminds them that though they were on history’s longest hike their clothing had not worn out nor had their feet swollen (v. 4). Then comes the nub: “Thus you are to know in your heart that the Lord your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son.”

Application: Is this comparison really to be trusted? God sends His chosen people through 40 years of blazing sun, cold nights and withering thirst and hunger, to what end? That they might ultimately be delivered into a “good land, (v. 7) a land where they would “eat without scarcity” and “not lack anything”. (v. 9)

I should remember that the vision Moses now paints comes at the end of the desert’s disciplines, and the listening crowd is a completely different bunch than those who first began the journey. Death had at the end claimed all who had begun except for a couple of courageous spies. Like bodies sloughing off millions of dead cells each day to be replaced by young, vital ones, so the Hebrews had died off by the millions to make way for a fresh generation. Through the telling and re-telling of the story, they were equipped with memory of a God who provided in the midst of every need. From Pharaoh’s pursuing army to all the other desert hardships, the God who provides had overcome. And then He compares Himself to an earthly father who disciplines his own son.

“An inheritance gained quickly will not be blessed in the end.” (Prov. 20:21). How willing am I to take this to heart? God could have allowed His people to skip the disciplines and proceed straight to the Promised Land, but they would have arrived without the knowledge of generous provision the Lord has for those submitted to Him. And I wonder, how inclined am I to provide an overly generous inheritance for loved ones who have not yet experienced the disciplines of moving from dependence upon an earthly father to a heavenly Papa, a Papa who knows far better than I how to bless those who fall deeply into dependent love with Him?

Prayer: Father, as I survey my own life I am struck once again by how much growth has come in my desert places, those places where earthly resources were at an end and my only choice was to reply upon you. Make me wise, Lord, as my family transitions from dependence upon me to utter reliance upon you. Your disciplines are eternally good and are always available no matter the depth of my distress. Thank you for the desert places you have brought me though. In Jesus’ name, Amen.