“… that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do you good in the end” (Deuteronomy 8:16)
Moses told Israel that God’s purpose in Israel’s wilderness wanderings was twofold: to maintain a humble mind and to test their hearts with specific regard to obedience.
The way in which God maintained a humble heart in Israel was through making their dependence upon Him very obvious. When they hungered and cried out to Him He supplied manna (v 3) and when they thirsted He provided water. Miraculously their garments did not wear out and their footwear was always just the right size (v 4). In addition He maintained humility through chastisement (v 5). This is a model for all parents, especially fathers, to follow. We have the evidence of unrestrained and undisciplined youth all around us. Many are not so youthful age-wise any more but they carry the marks of a lack of training and discipline in their youth. They fit the description Paul wrote to Timothy (2 Timothy 3:1-5). With each generation humility is not only less evident but being seen as an undesirable trait. We should not be surprised that bullying has become more prevalent among children and that it remains with them into adulthood.
The tests that God presented to Israel were to reveal what was really in their heart. Did they really trust God or just give Him lip service? Obedience to His commands would reveal their heart and ours. If we believe someone who cares about us to be trustworthy we will do as they ask.
Recently a doctor prescribed a medication for me but I have not taken it. He was unable to convince me that he understood or believed what I was saying and I did not understand his words due to his accent. There was a period of a minute or two when he spoke that I did not recognise any English word. I have not obeyed his instructions because I do not believe they were necessarily in my best interest.
When we choose not to obey the word of the Lord we are saying that we do not understand His instruction, don’t trust His wisdom or we do not believe that He has our best interest at heart. He tested Israel and He will test us regularly. At Ai, under Joshua’s leadership, Israel failed this test (Joshua 7) but they learned from it (Joshua 8) and that is the purpose of chastisement.
God is at work to maintain humility in His people and to test us as to our trust in Him and obedience. He states that it is “to do you good in the end.” If we believe this then we will accept His hand that may sometimes withhold that which seems good to us, and His chastisement, with all grace and joy.
“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction; for whom the Lord loves, He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights” (Proverbs 3:11, 12)