Deuteronomy 8: Two More First-Mentions, and the Subject of Humility

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Songdove books - bridalgownThree different thoughts on humility have come to me over the past few days.  The first encounter with this thought actually came Sunday morning via a tongues and interpretation moment in the service.  Christ was calling out to His Bride, the Church, asking her to humble herself and come to Him.

The second thought was quite similar to the first, and ties into it on a number of levels, that of how we come to God at all, in what attitude in what heart posture and in what mindset when petitioning for God to act on our behalf.

The last thought came to me while reading Deuteronomy 8, specifically the following two verses:

Deuteronomy 8:3  And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.

Deuteronomy 8:5  Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee.

This won’t be the first time I’ve written about humility in relationship with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.  Similar to the concept of gratitude, this idea of humility has made it into my writing a fair bit. On my blog for example, it shows up in such articles as:

Genesis 39: Grace, humility and God’s blessings and favour

Becoming the Bride of Christ: A Personal JourneyIt was mentioned between siblings in Christ in yesterday’s blog post on Deuteronomy 7, the recent article on Gratitude,  in relation to leaders God places over us, to leaders themselves in their obedience toward God’s directives, self-righteousness in the Church, and others.  Do a search for “humility” on my blog (top right corner of the website) and you’ll be able to click through the various articles at your leisure.  The terms “humility” or “humble” appear 101 and 72 times respectively in 13 of the 14 chapters of my series, “Becoming the Bride of Christ: A Personal Journey“.  Needless to say, this is a concept God has spent a fair bit of time dealing with me on over the years.

I saw a comment recently, can’t remember if it was a meme or merely a quote that someone had shared, but it observed that the closer we get to God, the greater our sense and need to be humble before Him.  This thought was echoed in the sermon Sunday morning as well.

The need for humility before God cannot be overstated or emphasized anywhere near enough in today’s Christian society.  Modern preachers, evangelists and teachers, especially those who get behind a camera on television, have created an incredible sense of entitlement within the Body of Christ across much of North America.  The promises God has made to mankind if they follow in His ways have become entitlements to the point where if a given promise appears to be withheld, rather than try to truly find out what in their life is halting God’s favour, they shake their fist at God telling Him and anyone who will listen that they’ve done everything right!  Why hasn’t God come through?!  They’ve been taught that God is there to ensure their comfort and pleasure in this life and that they aren’t blessed if they find themselves in need and should they find themselves in need, they get very upset when it appears the behaviour of the local church body hasn’t jumped to their beck and call at a moment’s notice or even observed the need without it having been shared.

The unsaved are somehow given the impression that when they come to Christ, all their problems will disappear, they will never be in want, and the blessings will be out of this world.  They fall away when they realize that the blessings God often speaks of in the Scriptures are not material, not aimed at one’s personal comfort level, and that “out of this world” literally means just that, having nothing to do with this physical place in which we live, but everything to do with heaven and life eternal.

A materialistic gospel has taken hold of the church and has produced a whole generation of church-goers demanding God come through for them, refusing to allow Him to behave sovereignly and expecting Him to prevent so-and-so from contracting deadly cancer, expecting Him to bring so-and-so back from the brink of death although in God’s sovereign will, it may have been that person’s time to go Home.  These people get disillusioned when their idea of what’s best for themselves or others is not deemed best in God’s eyes.  They can’t fathom why God would allow someone to die, remain ill, or continue to struggle financially.  All this in spite of the fact that Scripture is full of such stories wherein these kinds of human states were actually used to further the Kingdom of God, used to buff off rough edges and sharpen a person’s faithwalk, used to show the Light of Christ to those around them (think Paul and Silas for example).  The concept that God wants you happy wealthy and whole has fed these misconceptions of why God may allow things in a person’s life.  Believers in this concept of God’s grace take the verse:

Hebrews 4:16  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

and blow it out of proportion.  Suddenly we have a throne room filled with demanding, selfish, bratty, whining, pouting, and generally misbehaving Children of God!  What most of these people forget, is that the models in Scripture who boldly went before God to make their case, did not do so in a disrespectful manner.  They are often seen in the pages of Scripture has prostrating themselves before God, humbling themselves and even asking that whatever they are interceding for be done to them instead of to those on whose behalf they have come.  Instead what I see today, are people standing, shaking fists, disregarding God’s ultimate authority and pridefully proclaiming, ostensibly in the name of faith, that God said He would do this or that in the Scriptures, therefore they expect Him to follow through at that very moment, telling the person they are praying over to claim it as DONE before they see it.

Now there is Scripture to encourage us to claim as done those things that God has already done in the spirit realm, but such claims are neither prideful, entitled, nor demanding of God’s good graces.  The Holy Spirit must witness with the person’s heart that He has done it before they can claim He has.  Without that witness, the person can go away angry, upset, or as I’ve said a couple times now, disillusioned that what they were laying claim to has not come to pass.  However I am not seeing too many people wait for the witness of the Holy Spirit and trying to claim things He has not authorized yet in the spirit realm first.

Humility!  Humility admits that God knows better than we do.  Humility admits that we are a far cry from understanding God’s thoughts and God’s ways.  Humility understands our place before Him and that we are powerless to bring about the situations we are presenting to Him.  Humility understands that God is more powerful, sees the big picture, and will do what is best not only for the situation, but for the person(s) encountering it as well.

Humility prays as Christ prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane:  “but not my will, but Yours be done”.  As God has taught me about drawing near to Christ as a bride comes near to her bridegroom, I am realizing that coming to Christ in humility is far closer to the husband/wife relationship that God longs for, than the attitude of demanding I see around me so often.  As one pastor put it, there are those who have a business relationship with God and then there are those who have an intimate relationship with God.  God longs for the latter.  There are examples of both in the Scriptures, but God longs for the latter.  One could say that the materialistic entitlement displayed before God these days is more of a business relationship, but if so, it’s being patterned not after Scripture although teachers will use Scriptures to back themselves up.  Instead it is based more on the pattern of business out in the secular world.  The whole concept of “what’s in it for me?!” has pervaded much of seeker-sensitive dialogue aimed at “selling” the gospel to the masses, and then teaching them how to get the most out of God once they are “saved”.

Humility before God strips away that entitlement, strips away that “what’s in it for me” mentality, strips away the pride and selfish behaviour, and leaves one standing before God in one or more of several states of spiritual nakedness before Him.  For myself it began with dropping my need for self-preservation and self-sufficiency.  Dropping those garments really did leave me feeling naked before God!  No questions asked!

Songdove Books - Slot MachineHowever, the garments of pride, selfishness and entitlement need to fall off as well or we begin to treat God like the great slot machine in the sky, the great genie in the clouds, or the world’s greatest housemaid waiting at your beck and call.  Remember pride was the original sin and from it has grown all manner of evil around the world today.  Going before God in a prideful manner keeps God at arms’ length.  Going before God in a prideful manner creates perceptions of God as merely a business partner or worse, a servant to do our bidding.  While God gave examples of servanthood regarding Himself in the Scriptures, He did this to show the world that the way to the top was not through climbing over people’s backs, but through service to one another.  Christ Himself said:

Mark 10:42-45  But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.  43  But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister:  44  And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.  45  For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Does this mean we should treat God like a servant?  The writer of Hebrews answers that question decidedly!

Hebrews 12:28-29  Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:  29  For our God is a consuming fire.

Who is serving who here? With what attitude? Why? Interesting that Hebrews 12 would end with that comment about God being a consuming fire, but this is not the first place you’ll find such a comment.  We ran into this phrase back in Deuteronomy 4 and will run into it again in Chapter 9.  This concept of God being a consuming fire came to me in some very strongly-worded/pictured scenes as I learned more about God’s love years ago.  Those pictures were so strong that I’ve never forgotten them!  God’s love consumes the dross away from our lives, consumes and burns up anything that smacks of hell-damning sin in our hearts, consumes all that is not pleasing to Him!  In fact, the fires of God’s love (and a chapter in Volume Two of Becoming the Bride of Christ: A Personal Journey is even titled that in the Table of Contents) burn so hot that a person can be forgiven for the temptation to recoil and attempt to run around the flames to carry on their journey!  Running away from God’s cleansing fire however does not make us fit for the Kingdom of Heaven.  Just as the verses in Deuteronomy state:

Deuteronomy 8:3  And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.

Deuteronomy 8:5  Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee.

Sometimes it is necessary for God to do the humbling of His son or daughter.  I’ve quoted the verse often, but it bears repeating again:

Matthew 21:44  And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.

These are the words of Christ Himself, who just happens to be called The Rock of Offense, the Chief Cornerstone, the Stone that the Builder’s Rejected, etc.  When we humble ourselves before God, we are allowing ourselves to be broken before Him, to be cleansed by the Fire of His Love as the Holy Spirit sweeps through every corner of who we are to weed out, cleanse and restore areas of our lives that need it.  This cleansing does not always feel very good, and sometimes those fires can get so hot that we mistake them for attacks from the enemy or feel that God doesn’t love us anymore because of how dire things seem to have become.  But Deuteronomy 8:5 is echoed in:

Hebrews 12:5-11  And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:  6  For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.  7  If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?  8  But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.  9  Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?  10  For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.  11  Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

Take another look at verse 8 in the passage above!  Compare that to my earlier comment about a throne room filled with brats.  Use Control-F on your keyboard and type in the word: room, to more quickly find that paragraph again and reread it.  Scroll back down here when you’re done and reread the above passage again.

Songdove Books - Hawaiian_Thrones_(1899)2Would it not be more advantageous for the Child of God to come before the Throne humbly, not timidly or hesitantly, but humbly as an obedient and reverent child willing to accept whichever answer God may in His wisdom feel is best for the request being made?  Does not a husband appreciate his wife more when she shows respect for his role as head of the house when coming to him with her request?  God built that into mankind as yet more evidence of man being created in His image.  We have a natural tendency to respond favourably to each other when approached respectfully and with honour due whatever position we hold amongst each other.  Men and women, children and adults.  There are acceptable ways to approach each other, and acceptable ways to respond to each other.  God’s already established His ways of responding to us, but it may be wise for the Church to re-establish what it means to be humble before the Lord and show respect to His ways.

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