How many people forget God? How many ignore God? Neglect God? Reject God? How many atheists are there, people who say that God does not exist; therefore they seldom if ever think about God? How many agnostics are there, people who say God may or may not exist; therefore they, too, seldom if ever think about God? How many people attempt to push God out of their minds because they want to live in some sin? They want to live like they want, when they want, and not like God says.
How much time throughout the day do you personally think about God? Can it be said that you forget God? Measure yourself. How much time throughout the day do you spend in prayer, thinking about God and talking with Him? How much daily time do you spend reading and studying God’s Holy Word, thinking about Him and what He has to say? How much time do you spend in witnessing and sharing Christ with others? Prayer, Bible study, and witnessing are three strong measuring rods to show how much thought you give to God. Do you forget God? Ignore, neglect God?
How can a person guard against forgetting God? This was the great concern of Moses as he stood preaching to the people. Remember, the Israelites were camped in the plain of Moab, close to the Jordan River, right across from the great city of Jericho. They were poised to enter the promised land. But before they entered, Moses was preparing them to lay claim to their inheritance. The success of their campaign depended upon their obedience to God. Moses had to prepare the people, warn them: they must continue to follow God and keep His holy commandments. If they were faithful and obedient, God would give them the promised land. He would guide and protect them, giving them victory over all the enemies who stood opposed to them. One preparation was the message of this sermon, a message that forcefully speaks to our hearts as well. This is the message that Moses now preaches: How to Guard against Forgetting God, 8:1-20.
- Obey every command (v.1).
- Remember the wilderness wanderings (v.2-6).
- Praise the Lord for the promised land and its wonderful provision (v.7-10).
- Guard against forgetting God (v.11-20).
(8:1) How does a person guard against forgetting God? Be careful! Observe! Follow! Obey every commandment of God. If a person obeys the commandments of God, his mind is set upon God. He is not forgetting God; rather, he is thinking about God, seeking to please and fulfill the will of God. If a person is concerned about the commandments of God, his mind and thoughts are upon God. He is meditating, fellowshipping, and communing with God. The energy and drive of his heart is to know God personally and intimately. He gains this knowledge by living in the Word of God and by obeying the commandments of God. How then does a person guard against forgetting God? By obeying every commandment of God, every single commandment.
Now note the wonderful gifts promised to the person who obeys God. First, there is the gift of life. The person who places his life into the hands of God is looked after by God. God takes care of the person, guiding and protecting him throughout all of life. Therefore, when it is time for the person to go home to heaven, God takes him. His life is under the care of God until God is ready for him. His life is not cut short by sinful behavior such as drugs, alcohol, gluttony, guilt, and a host of other emotional and health problems caused by sinful behavior. Nothing cuts his life short, for God looks after him, giving him every day he is supposed to live upon the earth.
Second, there is the increase in fruitfulness and in population growth. Common sense tells us that people who obey God’s commandments will live longer and healthier lives. And people who live longer and healthier lives will probably bear more children. Keeping God’s commandments means less adultery and divorce, less assault and murder, less stealing and bankruptcy, less lying and broken relationships, less gluttony and abuse of the body. All this means longer and healthier lives and the blessing of a larger number of children born out of fruitful lives before God.
Third, there is the gift of an inheritance in the promised land. The person who obeys God will enter and inherit the promised land.
- How can we guard against forgetting God? Be careful! Observe! Follow! Obey every commandment of God! Obey ever single commandment!
(8:2-6) How does a person guard against forgetting God? Remember God’s guidance through the wilderness wanderings. The word “remember” (zakar) means to mark out, recognize, be mindful of, recount, record, bring to remembrance, consider, recall, remind, reflect on, review. It also has the idea of keeping or observing. That is, to remember something is to keep, observe, carry it out, do it. Standing there preaching to the people, Moses wanted them to remember God’s guidance through the wilderness wanderings. He wanted them to remember and trust God’s guidance as they looked forward to entering the promised land.
- Remember that God humbled and tested you in the wilderness wanderings (Deut. 8:2). The desert was dry and hot, no doubt sometimes reaching temperatures over 100 degrees. Under such circumstances, perspiration flows freely, soaking a person’s clothes and dripping down his face into his eyes. Thirst then becomes a problem. Life and work become uncomfortable and sleep during hot nights almost impossible. There were also poisonous snakes, scorpions, and other dangerous animals that required a constant watch for protection. There were few trees in the desert, little grass, and no vineyards, vegetables, or fish to eat in the desert. Life in the desert was hard and strenuous. The people often experienced…
• heat exhaustion
• exhausting work
Whatever a person would experience by living in the desert, the second generation of believers had experienced for forty years. But their parents—the first generation—had been condemned because of their sin, condemned to wander about in the desert until they had all died. They were barred from ever entering the promised land. But not the children: the promised land was to be their inheritance. Now the children, the second generation of believers, stand before Moses as he preaches. He reminds them that the oldest among them have wandered about and suffered the hardships of the desert for forty years. But through all the hard, strenuous times God had guided them. He had been humbling and testing them to prove their character, their obedience or disobedience. Would they fail like their parents or would they follow and obey God? Would they complain, murmur, and grumble like their parents or would they praise God? Would they turn away from the promised land and suggest returning to Egypt like their parents or would they go forward and enter the promised land, laying claim to their inheritance? “God is humbling and testing you by these hard, difficult times. What is your decision?”
- Remember God’s provision of food (Deut. 8:3). He provided manna for you, a bread-like substance that looked like resin or coriander seed. (See outline—• Exodus 16:31-36; and note—• Exodus 16:31-36 for more discussion.) He met your need of hunger. This He did to teach one great truth: man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. The point is clear: do not forget God like your fathers before you. Do not grumble and complain about having little or no food. But trust God and obey Him. Keep every word He has spoken. And God will give you the provision of food. He will meet your need of hunger.
- Remember God’s provision of clothing and strength (Deut. 8:4). This is an astonishing statement: the clothes of the Israelites did not wear out and their feet did not swell during the forty years of wilderness wanderings. Obviously, this was a direct miracle of God. For believers down through the generations, the application would be that God would meet the necessities of life for His dear people. Whatever a believer needs, the Word of God declares that God will meet that need.
- Remember God’s discipline in the wilderness wanderings (Deut. 8:5). Just as a father loves and corrects his child, so God loves and corrects you. When the Israelites went astray, God disciplined and corrected them time and time again.
- Remember God’s expectation: obedience (Deut. 8:6). Throughout all the wilderness wanderings, God expected His people to obey Him. He expects no less of you. You must, therefore, walk in His ways, fear and revere Him.
- How can we guard against forgetting God? By remembering how God guides us through the wilderness wanderings of this life. God guides us through all the dry, desert experiences of life—through all the trials, tribulations, and temptations of life.
1) God humbles and tests us through the trials and temptations of life. By helping us to conquer the hard and troublesome experiences, He strengthens us, makes us far stronger and more able to face difficult times in the future. He proves our character, whether we will obey or disobey Him.
2) God provides food, clothing, and strength for us. All the necessities of life are promised to the genuine believer who obeys God.
3) God disciplines us. This too will keep us from forgetting God. Just as a father loves and corrects his child, so God loves and corrects us.
4) God expects obedience from us. If we profess to know God, we must obey Him. We must revere Him, follow after Him and walk in His ways.
(8:7-10) How does a person guard against forgetting God? By praising the Lord for the promised land and its wonderful provisions. All the hopes of the Israelites were wrapped up in the promised land. Camped by the River Jordan, many an Israelite spent an evening walking along the shores of the Jordan, looking over into the promised land and longing for the day when they would receive their inheritance. Possessing the promised land was the longing and ache of their hearts. Moses knew this. He also knew that as long as the hope stayed alive, the people would remember God. They would obey Him and follow Him. With fire burning in his heart, he preached to the people, challenging them to praise the Lord for the promised land and its wonderful provisions.
- Moses describes the great provision of the promised land (Deut. 8:7-9). Note that he calls it a “good land.” It is a land that has everything to meet man’s need, a land that will provide a full and fulfilling life for man.
- It has an overflowing water supply: brooks or streams, fountains and pools of water, with springs flowing throughout valleys and hills. In contrast to the desert experience, the people will have a full supply of water for themselves, their livestock, and their crops.
- It has an abundance of food (Deut. 8:8). The land is fertile and productive, a land with wheat and barley, fig trees and pomegranates, olives and honey—anything and everything that a person could ever want for food.
- It is a land that has no scarcity, no insufficiency, no deficiency—nothing is in short supply. The people will lack nothing in the promised land.
- It has a rich deposit of minerals (Deut. 8:9). Note that iron and copper in particular are mentioned.
- Moses gives a strong charge to the people: always praise the Lord for the promised land and its wonderful provision. Remember the source of your prosperity in the land, God Himself. He is to be praised for the gift of the land and its abundant supplies. Thanksgiving is due Him. Without God, there would be no promised land and no abundant supply of provisions. So praise and give thanks to Him.
- How can we guard against forgetting God? By praising the Lord for the promised land of heaven and the wonderful provisions of life. We should always be praising God and giving thanks to Him, for everything we have is from Him. God is the source of all our prosperity: the source of the overflowing water supply of the earth, the abundance of vegetation and food, the rich deposit of minerals. Praise is due God for all His wonderful provisions.
(8:11-20) How can a person guard against forgetting God? He must beware! Be careful! Diligently guard against forgetting God. This is an excellent message on “Forgetting God.”
- Note the causes of forgetting God (Deut. 8:11-14). What is it that makes a person forget God? Some people seldom think about God. Occasionally, the thought of God crosses their minds, but not often. God is not a major subject of their thoughts, neither of their lives. Their world does not include God; their lives are not focused upon God. To them God is way off, out of reach. To some people, God may exist or may not (agnostics). To other people, God does not exist (atheists). Therefore God is not a subject to occupy their minds. God is rejected and denied; thus, there is no need to give thought to God. God is forgotten.
But standing there preaching under the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit, note what Moses proclaimed: Beware! Be careful! Diligently guard against forgetting God. Three things will cause you to forget God.
- Failing to obey God’s holy commandments will cause you to forget God (Deut. 8:11). You must obey God’s commandments, keep your mind upon obeying them. If you neglect and ignore His commandments, you will grow cold and indifferent, soon forgetting God. Your conscience and mind will become dull, insensitive, hard, callous, and dead to God. The thoughts of God will soon pass from your mind. You will forget God.
However, if you obey God’s commandments, then God will be active in your heart and life. Your mind and thoughts will focus upon God, seeking to fulfill His commandments. Step by step throughout the day, you will seek to please God by obeying Him. God will be alive in your heart and thoughts. You will not forget God. Keeping God’s holy commandments is the way to guard against forgetting God. But failing to obey God’s holy commandments will cause a person to forget God.
- Being prosperous, at ease, satisfied, and complacent can cause a person to forget God (Deut. 8:12-13). This was the great concern of Moses for the Israelites. Once they had conquered and settled down in the promised land, there was the danger that their prosperity would cause them to become satisfied and complacent. They would become at ease in Zion. Note how Moses warns the people against becoming complacent and satisfied with their prosperity:
⇒ They would have plenty to eat and become full, satisfied (Deut. 8:12).
⇒Comfortable housing: They would have fine housing and be settled down, be perfectly comfortable.
⇒Wealth: large herds and flocks–gold and silver–all has multiplied. They would be wealthy in the eyes of the world with large herds and flocks, gold and silver. Everything they had would be multiplied (Deut. 8:13).
In the midst of all their prosperity, God’s people must guard against becoming complacent, self-satisfied, at ease, comfortable. They must not become apathetic, lethargic, indifferent, sluggish, stagnant, cold-hearted, unresponsive to God. They must not forget God.
- Possessing pride and a sense of self-sufficiency can cause a person to forget God (Deut. 8:14). A person can begin to feel that his prosperity is due to his own knowledge, ability, and skill. He can easily forget that his life, health, and strength—his very existence upon this earth—are due to God. It is God who willed him to be born and who had established the laws of reproduction through which he was born. The believer must guard his heart from becoming proud and self-sufficient, from thinking that it is he himself who has produced the prosperity. He must not forget God: everything he has comes from God. God has willed for him to prosper; therefore, the believer produces the products and possesses the things he owns. God is the primary, ultimate source of everything a man is and has: his ability, skill, health, and possessions. Man does not live upon this earth unless God wills him to live. Consequently, there is no place for pride or self-sufficiency within the heart of man.
- Note the results of forgetting God (Deut. 8:14-17). The results of forgetfulness are tragic, most tragic. They cut the heart of God, grieve His Spirit to the depths of its core.
- If you forget God, you will forget your salvation (Deut. 8:14). You did not save yourself nor create the hope for the promised land within your heart. It was God who saved you and gave you the hope of salvation. He delivered you from Egypt, saved you out of the enslavement of this world. This He did to give you the hope of the promised land. But if you forget God, you will forget your salvation. You will forget the very purpose for which God saved you, the very reason why you were living in the promised land.
- If you forget God, you will forget the guidance and protection of God (Deut. 8:15). You will forget that it was God who led you through the wilderness wanderings, through all the terrible trials and difficulties of the wilderness. You will forget that He protected you from venomous snakes and scorpions. If you forget God, you will lose the guidance and protection of God. You will be left all alone upon this earth, left only to what you can personally do for yourself and what others are willing to do. In facing the trials of life such as disease, accident, financial difficulty, job or business problems, relationship difficulties, family and school problems—any problem or trial of life—the only help available will be the arm of flesh, only what you or some other person can do to help you. You will have lost the guidance and protection of God—if you forget God.
- If you forget God, you will forget His provision (Deut. 8:15). It is God who provides the necessities of life: water to drink and food to eat. But if you forget God, you lose God’s day-by-day provision, lose the assurance of having Him look after you. You have no guarantee of the necessities of life. Keep in mind that God had given the Israelites water gushing from a rock and manna to eat day by day out in the desert. They had no excuse for forgetting God.
- If you forget God, you will forget the humbling experiences (Deut. 8:16). You forget that God tests you in order to make you stronger and to make things go better for you. (See outline—• Deut. 8:2-6; and note, pt.1—•Deut. 8:2-6 for more discussion.)
- If you forget God, you will forget humility (Deut. 8:7). You develop a sense of self-sufficiency.
- Pride and a sense of self-sufficiency will lead a person to forget God; therefore we absolutely must guard against these.
- Note the protection against forgetting God (Deut. 8:18-20). With flaming passion, Moses declares the solution, the answer to the problem of forgetting God. Two actions will protect a person from forgetting God. 1. Remember the source of all things: the Lord your God (Deut. 8:18). It is God who gives you the ability to work and produce. Your ability is due to God, not to you. But even more than this fact, there is another fact that you must grasp: God fulfills His covenant, the gift of the promised land. It is of critical importance to remember this. No person can enter or possess the promised land apart from God. The promised land is a gift of God, not the creation of man. God alone can give the promised land to a person. God and God alone is the source of all things. This fact should keep a person from forgetting God. 2. Remember the judgment of God (Deut. 8:19-20). You must not forget God nor engage in false worship lest the judgment of God fall upon you. If you forget God, His judgment will fall upon you, destroying you just like it did the nations and peoples before you (Deut. 8:19-20).
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Source: The Preacher’s Outline & Sermon Bible – Deuteronomy, (Chattanooga: Leadership Ministries Worldwide, 1996), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “G. The Safeguards to Assure Obedience to the Commandments of God: How to Guard against Forgetting God, 8:1-20”.