There is a lot worth reflecting on in these chapters. Moses reminded them that they were not chosen because they were in any way worthy. It’s so easy to fall into the mindset that we deserve or have somehow earned the blessings we’ve received. It’s important to remember that we were simply chosen. That we are blessed because God loves us, because he is keeping his word.
He frames the manna as a lesson in humility. God didn’t forget to feed the Israelites until they cried out. He let them feel their hunger so that they would better understand the need that God was miraculously fulfilling. Sometimes I feel like we need to strip away some of the luxury in our lives, or at least identify it, get down to the real needs and how the Lord is meeting them.
The Israelites had no idea what manna was, where it came from, even what they were to do with it. They only knew they were hungry. Sometimes our needs are met in ways we never could have predicted, much less looked for. Sometimes our needs are met in ways we don’t even understand until we take time to sit in the stillness with God, to pray through the need with an open heart. Sometimes we can’t understand how he’s providing for us until we take time to understand what our true needs are. I’ll admit: I have found myself praying about the wrong problem once or twice.
Moses also points out that God disciplined them the way a father would a son. He may be described as a jealous God, but he isn’t petty. He doesn’t take offense and lash out. He doesn’t punish his children to be cruel. God’s discipline is out of love, out of a desire to correct and reconcile, sometimes a desire to protect the others in the family, but always out of love.
Moses reminds them, again, that God isn’t giving them the land because they have earned anything. He is keeping his word to their fathers, and he is passing judgment on the current inhabitants. He didn’t take Israel into Canaan generations earlier because the Canaanites’ sin wasn’t complete, they didn’t deserve to be wiped out yet. The people of Canaan had time to change, time to repent and seek God. Now Israel was ready to enter, and Canaan had reached the point of judgment.
God had chosen Israel, yes, but he wasn’t wiping out tribes and peoples at random just to take their land. Israel wasn’t so much better than anyone else that God would stand against decent people for their sake. This is important. It’s important to remember that God wanted to bring the whole world to himself through Israel. Israel wasn’t chosen over everyone else, but to lead everyone else. The judgment of Canaan and the promised inheritance of Israel was God multi-tasking.
And Moses reminds them, again, of how close the rebellion of their fathers came to getting them all wiped out. Yes. I definitely think there’s a significant attempt to scare them into vigilance against corruption or distraction.
Mostly, I think these chapters are about the necessity of humility. You have to be humble to admit you don’t deserve what you are receiving. You have to be humble to admit that you have a need you can’t meet on your own. You simply have to be humble, to remember your place in the covenant with God. You are chosen because you are loved, not because you earned anything.