Full Stomachs and Empty Heads
by Joseph Franks
Moses is coming to the end of his days, and he is preaching his final sermons. He longs to finish his race well. With excellence, he desires to pass on the baton of leadership to Joshua. He also has a great passion that his people might walk in greater holiness than their forefathers. Moses is desperate for his Hebrew friends to learn from history and from God’s Word. He is somewhat concerned that Israel might forget God and not remember his character, his commandments, his disciplinary measures, and his gracious blessings. Therefore, in the book of Deuteronomy, fourteen times Moses instructs Israel to remember. Ten times he warns them not to forget. Spiritual amnesia is disastrous.
And when was the danger greatest? Moses wrote:
And when the LORD your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you—with great and good cities that you did not build, and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant—and when you eat and are full, then take care lest you forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. (Deuteronomy 6:10-12)
As hard as it was for Israel to remember God in the wilderness, it would be much harder for them to do so in the land flowing with milk and honey. Israel proved they could still forget God as they wandered about in the desert, but the danger of forgetting God would increase as they began to enjoy their land, cities, houses, wells, vineyards and olive trees. Having a full stomach and a forgetful head seemed to go hand-in-hand.
Is not this the case in our lives? When we have perfect health, a surplus of money, marital intimacy, children that are progressing nicely, and the right people in public office, we are less desperate for God. We do not find ourselves on our knees as in days of trouble. We do not pour over God’s Word looking for principles and promises. We do not find ourselves desperate for the house of God and the people of God as once we were. We take blessings for granted and give ourselves far too much credit for our past and future successes.
Does this have to be the case? Must God keep us in the “school of hard knocks” in order to help us remember him? Must God keep our stomachs empty in order to keep our heads focused on him?
Let us not waste our days in the wilderness. God has us here for a reason. He is helping us be humble, teachable and dependent. Such wilderness seasons are not so enjoyable, but they are greatly beneficial. In our pain, let us run to God and God’s people.
Then, let us not forget God in our more prosperous days. Even there, God would have us be humble, teachable and dependent. He would have us pray without ceasing and fellowshiping with the saints, even when our stomachs grumble no more.