Father, Free Me From These Shackles!
Thursday, August 22, 2019
Devotional for Day 11
And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. — Deuteronomy 8:3 (ESV)
God’s people were in want and God brought them manna. This longing and hunger tested the people in obedience and trust in the Lord. How would they respond? Would they turn to God in their hunger and pain or turn to idolatry, longing for the enslavement that provided them with physical nourishment, yet shackled them, robbing them of their freedom? The wilderness revealed the state of their hearts, and God was faithful despite the sin and failings of his people.
God did not long for legalistic obedience. He desired the fulfillment of His greatest commandment: you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. He longed for steady obedience that flowed from the hearts of His people. The command is clear: it is love that keeps us physically hungry and spiritually full. When the pains get unbearable, we remember how He cared for us in the wilderness. How He journeyed with us through the desolate fields for a promise of something better, the Promised Land. We use our memory of God’s faithfulness to keep us warm in the cold and full in the emptiness.
After 40 days and 40 nights in the desert, Christ was hungry, thirsty, at His weakest physically. It was the devil who met Him in the midst of His pain and longing. He met the Lord with lies. He placed before Jesus a legitimate option: turn these rocks into bread, so that your hunger can be satisfied. Yet Christ recognized the lie. He saw that this was a ploy to take matters into His own hands and provide for Himself, turning away from the Father. Jesus chose the better way. He waited on the Lord to care for His needs. He fought off the temptation with the only weapon He had, God’s truth: Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. God’s promise was His shield. He reached into His heart for the reminder of what God had done for Israel and what He would do for Him in His temptation.
There will come a day when Christ will rule over the world with harmony and justice. When hunger will never be felt, where love will be unfettered, and where we will feast at God’s table forever. The longing is real, and the sacrifice leads us to a better way. The material world allows us to see how God nurtures and nourishes His created people, but ultimately it is the nourishment of His truth, His word, His promises that feed us, that gives us a hope for a life of flourishing and a future of beauty and mercy everlasting. It is this hope for the future and reminder of the past that gives us peace in the present.
Today, be nourished by the truth of His word and the memory of how He has met His people in the shadows of life’s most trying moments.
Father, free me from my idolatry of ease and satisfaction. As I place the good things You give far from me I long to see only You and meditate on the promises You give to Your people. The day is coming when I will not be hindered by the things of this world and I will feast at Your table in the glory of Your eternal presence. Give me the strength to live this truth today. All that I am and have is Yours. Hold me in Your grace in these moments of physical deprivation and want. Amen.
Ministry Fellow, Christian Union at University of Pennsylvania
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