Man Shall Not Live by Bread Alone
A correction I have made in previous sermons, and which I will make again in this one, is what the term “live,” as in “that you may live,” means. Joseph Benson, commenting on these verses, says it means, “Comfortably and prosperously, for life, in the Scripture phrase, signifies more than bare life, namely, happiness and prosperity.”
He then went on to cite various verses which have nothing to do with the context here. And, he is not alone. It is the generally accepted commentary on such verses. But it is wrong. We have seen this several times in Deuteronomy, and it was painfully obvious when we evaluated Leviticus 18:5, “You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am the Lord.”
In fact, a right interpretation of that verse is so important, that Paul uses it in both Romans 10:5 and again in Galatians 3:12. To “live” in this context means to not “die.” The meaning of that then has to be derived from the surrounding context.
Text Verse: “I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. 10 And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death.” Romans 7:9, 10
Paul is obviously speaking of spiritual death here. He is speaking in general terms of those who have law and who violate that law – such as Adam and Eve. They were alive, the law was introduced, and they died.
This is what Paul is referring to here in a general sense. Moses is speaking of physical life. Christ never died spiritually, having never violated the law. And yet He died physically. But that was on behalf of those who were spiritually dead.
Because this is so, He came out of the tomb, proving He had not violated the law. He could not stay dead – it was impossible. Therefore, Moses is saying that to be obedient to the law means to live. If you have participated in more than five sermons in Deuteronomy, you have certainly heard this. And it is sure that you will hear it again, and again. This is because it is important.
How do we find life? The answer is dealt with once again in today’s passage. It cannot be said enough, and so let us pay heed. For now, a small treat for you, a chiasm found by our friend Sergio about four years ago. He had actually forgotten he found it. I didn’t. It will help us to make our way through the chapter.
Deuteronomy 8:3-16 – Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God
In Abundance, Keep his Commandments, Judgments and Statutes (Discovered by Sergio Voitenko – 03/09/2016)
a 3 “humbled you.. And fed you with manna.. Nor did your fathers know”
b 4 garments did not wear out, foot didn’t swell for 40 years
c 6 “Keep the commandments of the Lord, walk His ways, fear Him”
d 7-9 you will lack nothing
e 10 “when you have eaten and are full”
x 11 “beware that you do not forget the LORD your God”
e 12 “lest when you have eaten and are full”
d 13 when in abundance of everything
c 14 “when you forget the Lord your God”
b 15 the Lord who led you through the great and terrible wilderness
a 16 “who fed you in the wilderness with manna which your fathers did not know.. And Humbled you”
Great things, such as chiasms, are to be found in His superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised
I. God Led You All the Way (verses 1-5)
kal ha’mitsvah – “All the commandment.” The words of this verse are appropriately divided in order to begin chapter 8, even though they fit with the thought of the previous chapter. Chapter 7 began with, “When the Lord your God brings you into the land to possess…” That same thought is provided in the second clause of this verse in Chapter 8.
After that opening thought of Chapter 7, many thoughts concerning possessing the land were given, and then in the final verses, the Lord gave specific commands concerning the possession of the land to sum the chapter up –
“And He will deliver their kings into your hand, and you will destroy their name from under heaven; no one shall be able to stand against you until you have destroyed them. 25 You shall burn the carved images of their gods with fire; you shall not covet the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it for yourselves, lest you be snared by it; for it is an abomination to the Lord your God. 26 Nor shall you bring an abomination into your house, lest you be doomed to destruction like it. You shall utterly detest it and utterly abhor it, for it is an accursed thing.” Deuteronomy 7:24-26
Because of this, one might think that verse 8:1 should have closed out Chapter 7. Indeed, some think the division should have come after verse 8:1. But by starting this chapter here, it calls to mind the previous words and then sets the tone for what lies ahead in the new direction it will take in verse 8:2.
Despite being a new direction, possession of the land and the thought of obedience to the commandments is still a central theme of Chapter 8. Understanding this, the words begin with, “All the commandment.”
Some translations say, “All the commandments.” This is incorrect. It is singular. Each individual commandment is united in thought as one body of law. The idea is that breaking one part of the commandment nullifies the entire commandment. It is what James refers to, saying, “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10).
By dividing the thought as “All the commandments,” it can give the incorrect idea that as long as everything comes out in the end, then missing the mark on the details is acceptable. It is not. Understanding that, Moses next says…
1 (con’t) which I command you today
The “you” is singular. It is the corporate body of Israel being told that obedience is required across the board. The phrase, “which I command you today,” is repeated again and again in Deuteronomy. It is saying that what Moses speaks out, during the entire time of the giving of this book, is included in “today.”
Therefore, Moses isn’t dividing up the portions of law into sections to be individually obeyed, but he is rather continuing on with a body of law that comprises each and every section into one unit.
Each “which I command you today” simply adds onto the already impossible weight of law that began when Moses first opened his mouth to start conveying it. Despite this, the entire body of law is that which…
1 (con’t) you must be careful to observe,
tishmerun laasot – “you shall keep to observe.” From this point on, the addressee goes from the singular “you” to the plural “you all.” In other words, “All the commandment that I command you (Israel) today, you (all) shall keep to observe.
Here the importance of the difference between “All the commandment” and “All the commandments” is highlighted. The entire body of law, of which what Moses spoke of until now, and of which he will add to now, and of which he will continue to add to throughout Deuteronomy, must be observed.
What is not observed is not a simple slip of a law, but it becomes a transgression of the law. Guilt comes upon the entire body because of such a transgression, whether they know it or not. This takes the reader back to Leviticus –
“Now if the whole congregation of Israel sins unintentionally, and the thing is hidden from the eyes of the assembly, and they have done something against any of the commandments of the Lord in anything which should not be done, and are guilty; 14 when the sin which they have committed becomes known, then the assembly shall offer a young bull for the sin, and bring it before the tabernacle of meeting.” Leviticus 4:13, 14
In that same chapter, there are offerings for individual sins, sins committed by a ruler, and even sins committed by the high priest. In the case of the high priest, it said, “…if the anointed priest sins, bringing guilt on the people, then let him offer to the Lord for his sin which he has sinned a young bull without blemish as a sin offering” (Leviticus 4:3).
When the high priest failed to uphold a precept of the law, he brought guilt on all of the people. This is because he was the mediator between God and them. In his guilt, the mediation was harmed. God saw his imperfection, and that imperfection was transferred to those he mediated for. The importance of being free from sin, a precept already brought forth several times, is…
1 (con’t) that you may live and multiply,
l’maan tikhyun u-rebitem – “to end purpose you may live and multiply.” The idea of living does not mean “full and abundant life.” It means “not dying.” The law’s purpose was to give life. Paul makes that abundantly clear in Romans 7:10, which was our text verse.
Obviously, this couldn’t be understood by the people of Israel at the time, but it is a truth that is confirmed in the overall body of Scripture both implicitly and explicitly. Israel (and indeed most readers of the Bible) looked to Moses’ words as a promise of full and abundant life, and great multiplication of the people.
But the typology clearly shows that it is referring to true life, meaning not dying, and greatness of reward. The word rabah can speak of many descendants, much increase, a length of time, of greatness of reward, and so on. The greatness of reward is seen, for example, in the promise to Abram –
“After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.’” Genesis 15:1
The intent of the law is life. Violation of the law then means death. The lesson we are repeatedly seeing in Deuteronomy is that the law is given as an instrument of learning for the people of the world. Life was lost in Eden, life was promised to come again, but it is not by law that life will come about, except in the fulfillment of it by the God/Man. As Paul says –
“Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. 22 But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.” Galatians 3:21-25
The continual repetition of the same thoughts, in sermon after sermon, is to remind you that these things are so. This is what Moses is doing, and thus, this is what we are to do – to contemplate the lesson of the law.
Of this process, John Lange says, “It is less a repeated, than a continuous (this day) enduring law-giving.” The many pronouncements equal one law and that one law is to be fully obeyed. The reward of perfect obedience to the law is next noted…
1 (con’t) and go in and possess the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers.
For Israel, the idea is that the possession includes not just crossing the Jordan, but obtaining all of the promise – from north to south and from east to west. However, the typology of Israel crossing the Jordan is seen in Christ.
To cross the Jordan is to cross through Christ. To cross through Christ means possession – complete and finished possession. The singular “you” which is then changed to the plural is given to show Israel that as an obedient body, national salvation will result.
Thus, they must get the relationship with Christ right first. Obedience to the law means all of the law. And only in coming to Christ can perfect obedience to the law be imputed.
Just note the order – observe / you may live and multiply / and go in and possess. Keeping the law comes first, not last. One receives Christ’s fulfilment of the law, then life and greatness comes, then comes possession. And how evident that is from the next words…
2 And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness,
The words return to the second person singular – you (Israel). In this, Moses returns to the time of wilderness wanderings. It is the time of receiving the law, and then punishment for disobedience of the law. But despite their disobedience, the Lord continued to lead them, meaning keep them as a people.
In saying, “the way,” it isn’t referring to a particular path that they took, but how the Lord conducted them. In other words, during the entire time of punishment, He still gave them manna, water, relief from the poisonous snakes, and etc.
Despite being consigned to die in the wilderness, they were also brought through the wilderness alive as a people. The covenant promises to them were upheld by the Lord, despite their own covenant unfaithfulness.
Those years of wandering are typical of the time after rejecting Christ. They have been punished as a people, and yet they have been given the grace of being kept as a people. Whether they acknowledge it yet or not, it is the Lord who has so kept them. The words of this clause are remembered by the psalmist –
“To Him who led His people through the wilderness,
For His mercy endures forever;” Psalm 136:16
This leading them in the manner in which He did was for a set and good purpose. It was…
2 (con’t) to humble you and test you,
l’maan anotekha l’nasotekha – “to end purpose chasten you to test you.” The people had disobeyed. They had failed to go up into the land (a picture of receiving Christ) in Numbers 14. In their refusal, the Lord set about to chasten them as a means of testing.
But the fact is, those twenty and above were set to die without entering Canaan. But they were provided the opportunity to look to the bronze serpent and live. Thus, while Israel collectively was punished, individuals could obtain life. Therefore, they would have passed the test.
As a whole, the chastenings were intended to eventually bring them to the point where they would voluntarily cross the Jordan (picturing coming to God through Christ) as a nation. As this has not yet happened, even though Israel is, even today, in the land of Canaan, it is evident that living in the land is not the promise.
Rather, coming to Christ and finding life through Him is. Their chastening, in other words, is ongoing. And it will continue until the day they call out to Christ – “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” Understanding both the literal, historical record and also the typological pictures, Moses continues…
2 (con’t) to know what was in your heart,
This is not for the Lord to learn something He did not know. Rather, it is to bring to light what the heart conceals. As Charles Ellicott says, “What God Himself knows by omniscience He sometimes brings to light by evidence for the sake of His creatures.” This is, for example, what He did to King Hezekiah –
“However, regarding the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, whom they sent to him to inquire about the wonder that was done in the land, God withdrew from him, in order to test him, that He might know all that was in his heart.” 2 Chronicles 32:31
In the case of Israel, Moses says it was to know…
2 (con’t) whether you would keep His commandments or not.
Here, Moses uses the same word, shamar, that he used in the previous verse. He told them they shall “keep to observe” all the commandment so that they could enter the land. Now, he says the Lord tested them to see whether they would keep His commandments during the wanderings.
They failed to do so, and so he chastened them to test them. If they did not enter Canaan before because they did not believe (have faith in) the Lord, then their keeping His commandments cannot be what will bring them in this time either. Rather, it must come through faith.
The chastening of Israel to test them concerning the keeping of His commandments, then, cannot be for granting them life. It is obviously a way of showing them that life is not possible through it. As Paul says, the law is a tutor to lead people to Christ.
John Lange, at least partially, picked up on this when he said, “…thus the pedagogical significance of the wilderness agrees well.” The wanderings were intended to teach them what they otherwise could not learn.
Everything we are seeing here must be taken in relation to the work of Christ. He came. He fulfilled the law. They rejected Him. They were punished to test them concerning the law. They failed, are failing, and will fail, to meet its demands. Only when they meet it through Christ’s perfect obedience will they find life. That continues to be seen in the next words…
3 So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger,
This verse begins the chiasm we saw during the introduction. The humbling mentioned here precedes the giving of the law. The Lord led Israel out of Egypt, and purposefully waited until they were hungry before providing for them.
In their hunger, they moaned against Moses and Aaron. But it wasn’t they who resolved the matter. Rather, it was the Lord. He humbled them. He allowed them to hunger…
3 (con’t) and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know,
In their hunger, the Lord then did something completely unique by feeding them with ha’man, or the manna. In this, Moses reminds them that what was provided was completely unknown before or since. In saying, “the manna,” it provides an emphasis. The word comes from mah, or “what.” Thus, Moses calls it “the whatness.” It is completely set apart from anything else.
The manner in which the manna came, the volume in which it was provided, the way that it degraded in a night for five days but lasted over Friday and the Sabbath, and so on – all of this was to separate the manna as something completely unique and wholly of the Lord.
And this is parallel to Christ, the true Manna. Though a Man, there is a “whatness” about Him that sets Him completely apart from all others. The manner in which He came, the abundance He provided, the fact that He was crucified on Friday and yet did not see corruption through the Sabbath etc., – all of it showed that He was the fulfillment of the pictures from Israel’s past. This was so…
3 (con’t) that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone;
In this, there are two articles that should be considered, “the man,” and “the bread.” Also, the word “by” should read “on” or “upon.” The Lord is teaching “the man,” meaning the Adam in every man, that he shall not live on “the bread” alone.
In providing the manna, the Lord was showing that what He spoke is what comes to pass. To eat, then, isn’t what ultimately sustains a person. That which has come to pass – meaning anything that we see, feel, eat, smell, and so on – came to pass because the Lord spoke it into existence.
The manna is a demonstration of this. It never existed, nobody ever knew of it, and yet it appeared. As it came at the command of God, just as the universe came at His command, then the truth is that man lives not by bread that is a result of the command, but from the spoken word (the command) itself. As Moses says…
3 (con’t) but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.
ki al kal motsa pi Yehovah yikhyeh ha’adam – “for upon all outgoing mouth Yehovah lives the man.” These are the words Christ Jesus spoke back to the tempter. The exchange said –
Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”
4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:3, 4
Jesus prevailed where Israel failed. They had the manna, and yet they continued to complain against the Lord. Jesus, understanding that the manna only existed because the word caused it to exist, conveyed to the tempter that the bread was only a part of God’s proclamation.
To default to commanding the stones to become bread in order to satisfy His personal hunger would be to not rely on all that proceeds from the mouth of God. But later, we see that the manna was only a shadowy type of Christ Himself – the Word of God –
“And Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.’” John 6:35
As Christ is the Word of God, He is everything that is needed to have life. The bread of the world can sustain life, but it cannot make man live. God who gave the manna in the wilderness showed that He can sustain a man apart from the common food of man. As He can do this, then He can make man live. How does the man live? He lives through Christ.
4 Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years.
The obviously miraculous intent of the words here are all but destroyed by most commentators. Many commentators try to diminish the miraculous by saying that the supplies for making clothes didn’t run out, or something stupidly similar to that.
Others, following Jewish fables, say that the clothes of the children actually grew with them like a snail’s shell. Neither of these matches the obvious nature of the words.
Rather, the simple and understandable reading is exactly what happened. The clothes that people wore did not wear out. It would be ridiculous to speak of the manna in one verse, a unique and miraculous event, and then to speak of something plain and common like obtaining supplies to make new clothes.
For added surety of this, a complementary verse is found in Deuteronomy 29:5 –
“And I have led you forty years in the wilderness. Your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandals have not worn out on your feet.”
The obvious reason for the change from feet swelling to sandals not wearing out is to show that both occurred, and both were miraculous. Otherwise, if Moses only spoke of clothes and sandals, it might be assumed by those who came later that it was just speaking of an ample supply of material always being available.
In this verse, the words are still in the singular. The Lord is speaking to Israel collectively. Like the manna, it was a lesson concerning the Lord’s faithfulness, even in Israel’s time of punishment.
There is one new and rare word introduced, batseq. It is found only here and Nehemiah 9:21, where Nehemiah cites this verse. It is from a primitive root, and it means maybe to swell or blister.
Their garments not wearing out, and their feet not swelling or blistering, was a clear demonstration to Israel that they were being sustained by the Lord as a people, even as they were dying in the wilderness. The same lesson should be learned by Israel today, if they will just think.
They rejected Christ, they are under the punishment of the curses of the law, and yet they are being sustained as a people. As miraculous as garments not wearing out and feet not swelling (or blistering) for forty years, so is the miracle of Israel’s continued existence over these past two thousand years.
They rejected Him, and they have neglected His word, but He has neither rejected them, nor neglected them. That this is the correct interpretation of this is found in the next words…
Many years you wandered after failing to believe
And during that time, you fell in the wilderness
My promised blessing you did not receive
But you failed to consider how you got in that mess
For many generations, you lived in the land
And there were times of want and times of prosperity
But through it all, you failed to understand
That your state was a result of your treatment of Me
And so, for many years you wandered after failing to believe
And during that time, you fell in a global wilderness
I held out nail-scarred hands to you that you failed to receive
And even today, you still won’t consider how you got in that mess
II. In Which You Will Lack Nothing (verses 5-9)
5 You should know in your heart that as a man chastens his son, so the Lord your God chastens you.
The context of their being provided the manna, their garments not wearing out, and their feet not swelling, is that it is done through chastening.
The lesson of the chastened son is explained in Hebrews. There, the author writes to Israel, specifically believing Jews, but He carefully shows how Israel – the collective whole – experiences God’s redemptive hand of blessing, cursing, judgment, salvation, and so on. Of this group, he says –
“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
6 For whom the Lord loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.
7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:5-11
What is clearly evident is that Israel, under the chastening hand of the Lord during this dispensation, is considered a son. They are being corrected by the Lord to teach them the lesson they will eventually learn.
This is all the more evident because the word Moses uses for “chasten” is the same word used three times in Leviticus 26 for the punishment Israel would receive in their rejection of Him.
And yet, at the end of that passage, the Lord promises that He would remember the covenant that He made with their ancestors when He brought them out of Egypt. Their rejection of Christ is not the end of their story. With that understood, Moses again turns to the law…
6 “Therefore you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him.
We have been talking about Israel and their relationship to the Lord. The reason for their exile (meaning rejecting Christ), and God’s faithfulness to them, even in their time of punishment. How can it be, then, that if their rejection of Christ was the reason for their exile, that Moses now, again, harps on them concerning keeping the commandments of the Lord?
If Christ offers grace, how does keeping the commandments of law fit into that? It is, as we have seen – time and again – because the Law of Moses anticipates both the coming of Christ and the ending of the law. Hence, to “keep the commandments of the Lord your God” is to believe in Christ unto salvation. As it says in Deuteronomy 18:18, 19 –
“I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. 19 And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him.”
This is further anticipated by Jeremiah, a prophet under the Mosaic Covenant, who said that the Lord would cut a New Covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. Therefore, to obey the commandments of the Lord God is to come to Christ – the One who embodies, fulfilled, and annuls the Mosaic Covenant.
It is this act which then will bring Israel into the harmonious relationship with God. Theirs will finally be a heavenly promise, of which crossing the Jordan into Canaan only anticipated…
7 For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land,
Moses now describes what is an almost idyllic setting. And it is intentionally meant to be that way. The description of Eden and its garden is described no more beautifully than what Moses speaks of now. Further, Moses ensures that they know it is the Lord their God who brings them in.
They rejected Canaan the first time by simply not believing the Lord. They will enter only through believing the Lord. It takes us back to verse 1. They were to observe so that they would live, receive the reward, and go in and possess.
But if this is speaking of only Israel’s entering Canaan, it makes no sense. Moses will speak out the words of the law, ascend Mt. Nebo, and there he will die. There will be a period of mourning for him, and then Israel will enter Canaan.
The obvious typology is that the observing of the command is to receive Christ by faith and then enter the promise. That will become as obvious as the nose on one’s face in Joshua. For now, the description of the land continues. It is…
7 (con’t) a land of brooks of water,
erets nakhale mayim – “land wadis water.” This speaks of flowing water, typically of wadis that run during the times of rain.
7 (con’t) of fountains and springs,
ayanoth u-tehomoth – “eyes and depths.” The ayin, or literally “eye,” speaks of a spring that issues forth water from the ground. The tehom, or “depth,” would be the much larger fountains that produce a river right at its issuing forth. It is where vast amounts of water gush forth to water the land.
7 (con’t) that flow out of valleys and hills;
yotseim babiqah u-bahar – “flowings out in the valley and in the mountain.” The meaning is that at any point in a given valley or mountain, there may be either, or both, of these flowing forth to water the land. And that then leads to other abundance…
8 a land of wheat and barley,
erets khitah u-seorah – “land wheat and barley.” There is promised both grains – the greater and the lesser. The wheat is for standard human consumption and the barley for both the poor and for cattle and horses.
The story in Genesis 26 of Isaac reaping one hundred-fold would be happily anticipated by those to whom it had been conveyed. The labors would be well-rewarded for those who entered the promise.
Because there are two crops, it means two harvests. The barley began around Passover and the wheat began around Pentecost. The account of the supplies for King Solomon in 1 Kings 4:22 shows the magnificent abundance the land could produce.
8 (con’t) of vines and fig trees and pomegranates,
v’gephen u-teenah v’rimmon – “and vines, and figs, and pomegranates.” The vines for grapes can be found in every climate of Israel, from the wettest to the driest spots. Each produces its own special grape for its own particular use/taste.
The fig is mentioned throughout the rest of the Old Testament and in almost every book. It is noted abundantly in the New Testament as well. The prominent use of it carries its own symbolic meaning – that of a connection to God, or its lack. This can be seen as one winds through the Bible and notes its many uses.
The pomegranate is derived from a word that signifies high or exalted. It gives the sense of mental maturity. It is seen much less in the Old Testament than the fig, but it is highlighted in the little book the Song of Solomon where it is mentioned six times – more than any other book in the Bible.
8 (con’t) a land of olive oil and honey;
erets zeyit shemen u-debash – “land olive oil and honey.” Olive oil has multiple uses and much value, and the land is filled with areas where it grows in abundance. Again, the account of King Solomon and his dealings shows the immense amount of oil that was used and traded as a commodity.
Honey signifies both abundance and health of the land. Where there is honey, it means bees have been productive. Cross-pollination occurs, the flowers will bloom, the fruit will come out, and the byproduct of honey can be gathered.
However, the term honey can mean more than just bee honey, it is also believed to extend to dates, and even syrup made from grapes. The word comes from a root meaning to be gummy, so all are possible.
After the first exile, the people had returned from Babylon and were still in troubled times in the land. However, the Lord spoke through Haggai of the blessing He would again pour out upon the people, speaking of all of these commodities except honey, He said to them –
“Consider now from this day forward, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, from the day that the foundation of the Lord’s temple was laid—consider it: 19 Is the seed still in the barn? As yet the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree have not yielded fruit. But from this day I will bless you.” Haggai 2:18, 19
This is what Moses’ words now anticipate – a land of the Lord’s blessing. And that only looks forward to the true land of promised blessing which can only be realized for humanity through God’s provision of Jesus Christ. For now, Moses continues…
9 a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity,
erets asher lo b’miskenuth tokal bah lekhem – “land which no in scarcity you will eat in bread.” Here is a word found only this once in the Bible, miskenuth.
It comes from misken, meaning poor. Thus, there will be a great abundance which anticipates wealth and prosperity if rightly handled. Therefore, there will always be bread on the table and abundance for the family. It is a complete contrast to what the Lord promises when they reject Him –
“When I have cut off your supply of bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall bring back your bread by weight, and you shall eat and not be satisfied.” Leviticus 26:26
Again, Moses continues with a greater note of abundance…
9 (con’t) in which you will lack nothing;
Certainly, the words here extend to more than just what the land produces, but to that which can be traded for. In other words, a great amount of trading is noted in the Old Testament. So much so that there were commodities not available in the land that could still be easily acquired.
In this, the people would have no lack at all. The ground would be so fertile and productive that there would be a superabundance by which to amass even greater wealth. And finally, of these promises of the abundance, Moses continues with…
9 (con’t) a land whose stones are iron
Some scholars see the term “whose stones are iron” as referring to basalt stones, meaning dark volcanic stones. There is no reason to accept this. Iron, even if limited in quantity, is noted throughout the Old Testament. The words simply mean that iron will be available to mine and to use by the general populace. And finally…
*9 (fin) and out of whose hills you can dig copper.
u-meharareha takhtsov nekhoshet – And out of who hills you dig copper. Copper mines have been found in the Timna Valley in southern Israel. Copper mines have been found in the countries surrounding Israel as well.
As a note of correction, if your Bible says, “thou mayest dig brass” (KJV), please underline that, note that it is in error, and correct it to read “copper.” Brass is an alloy produced by man. It is not found naturally. Copper is dug up and then combined with other metals to produce such alloys.
The point of Moses’ words is that the land promised to Israel was one of abundance, and in which that abundance would keep the people from any lack at all. This is first, and immediately, speaking of the truth that Israel will prosper if they heed the Lord and are obedient to His law.
It is, however, more fully anticipating the abundance that is found in Christ and what He promises His people. Israel was rarely obedient to the Lord. At times, they prospered, and at others, they did not. The time of the law was a time for our learning.
Israel was the object lesson, and we are the recipients of that. Rote observance of the law, without a heart for the Lord, was as unacceptable to Him as ignoring His law. The lesson is given through Israel in many ways, showing that we simply cannot do without grace.
In Christ’s coming, that grace is offered. For Jew or Gentile alike, that offer comes by simply calling out to Him and believing the gospel. For Israel as a nation, that will come when they call out to Him collectively and submit to Him.
Next week, we will take what we have learned concerning the promises today, and we will again evaluate the warnings that come with such abundance and blessing.
The back and forth lessons of Deuteronomy are necessary to have a full and complete understanding of what made life for Israel so difficult over these past millennia. In this, it will allow us as individuals to avoid such great pitfalls.
Closing Verse: You crown the year with your bounty,
and your carts overflow with abundance.
12 The grasslands of the wilderness overflow;
the hills are clothed with gladness.
13 The meadows are covered with flocks
and the valleys are mantled with grain;
they shout for joy and sing. Psalm 65:11-13 (NIV)
Next Week: Deuteronomy 8:10-20 If you don’t do it, you will be a complete clod… (And You Shall Remember the Lord Your God) (30th Deuteronomy Sermon)
The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. But He also has expectations of you as He prepares you for entrance into His Land of Promise. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.
Man Shall Not Live by Bread Alone
“Every commandment which I command you today
You must be careful to observe
That you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land
Of which the LORD swore to your fathers; from these things
———-you shall not swerve
And you shall remember that the LORD your God
Led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness
———-that terrible trying spot
To humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart
Whether you would keep His commandments or not
So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger
And fed you with manna which you did not know
———-nor did your fathers know
That He might make you know that man shall not
———-live by bread alone
But man lives by every word that proceeds
———-from the mouth of the LORD, not a word he shall forgo
Your garments did not wear out on you
Nor did your foot swell these forty years; such it did not do
You should know in your heart that as a man chastens his son
So the LORD your God chastens you; and you are better off
———–in the long run
“Therefore you shall keep the commandments of
———-the LORD your God
To walk in His ways and to fear Him, on the path that you trod
For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land
A land of brooks of water – just imagine the daffodils!
Of fountains and springs
That flow out of valleys and hills
A land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees
———-and pomegranates too
A land of olive oil and honey; marvelous delights for you
A land in which you will eat bread without scarcity
In which you will lack nothing; the place is over the topper
A land whose stones are iron
And out of whose hills you can dig copper
Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true
And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days
Hallelujah and Amen…
“Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers. 2 And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. 3 So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord. 4 Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. 5 You should know in your heart that as a man chastens his son, so the Lord your God chastens you.
6 “Therefore you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him. 7 For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, that flow out of valleys and hills; 8 a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; 9 a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing; a land whose stones are iron and out of whose hills you can dig copper.