Parsha Ekev: Debarim/Deuteronomy 7:12 - 11:25
"It was the best of times. It was the worst of times."
"Is that going to be on the test?"
I never finished reading that book (thankfully, we were never tested on it). However, one book I did finish is Debarim, and this week’s Parsha Ekev reminds me of that opening line. In recounting Yisrael's experience with the manna, Moshe teaches us that it's all a test.
Debarim/Deut. 8:1-3 “Guard to do every command which I command you today, that you might live, and shall increase, and go in, and shall possess the land of which יהוה swore to your fathers.
(2) “And you shall remember that יהוה your Elohim led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you, prove you, to know what is in your heart, whether you guard His commands or not.
(3) “And He humbled you, and let you suffer hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, to make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of יהוה.”
A Dual Test
The whole wilderness journey was a test for Yisrael to see if they would guard YAHUAH’s commands or not. The main test was the manna. For 40 years, YAHUAH rained bread from Heaven to feed Yisrael.
How was this a test?
Firstly, YAHUAH gave Yisrael specific commands to follow regarding the manna. They could only gather enough for one day but double on the sixth day. If they gathered any more than that and tried to save it, then it would spoil (Shem. 16:4-5) Would Yisrael obey YAH's instructions diligently? That was one test.
The other more important test was to see if Yisrael would learn to depend on YAHUAH. Every day they had to trust that YAHUAH would provide food for them. They couldn’t save any "just in case." In other words, they had no reserves, no savings, no emergency supply, no back-up plan, and no rainy-day fund. Day in and day out, they had to rely completely on YAH.
Would Yisrael worry, fear, or suffer anxiety wondering where their next meal would come from? Or would they trust that YAH would provide?
From another perspective: Given that all their needs were met every single day, would Yisrael depend on YAHUAH?
They really had need for nothing in the wilderness: they had bread from Heaven, water from a rock, clothes that didn’t wear out, and clouds of esteem that sheltered and protected them. All of their needs were met with hardly any effort on their part.
If they wanted food, all they had to do was walk outside and pick it up. Every day, without fail, for 40 years, food was just laying there waiting for them - a table in the wilderness (Teh/Ps. 78:19).
Yisrael lacked and wanted for nothing. Did they continue to depend on YAHUAH?
Or did they begin to take it for granted that it would rain bread everyday? Did it start to become “normal” after so many years? Did they forget Who was responsible for their “prosperity”?
The manna, therefore, was a dual test - both a test of poverty and a test of prosperity; the best of times, the worst of times. On the one hand, they didn't have enough. Yet, at the same time, they had everything.
However they saw their situation, it was still a test of dependency on YAHUAH.
Do we depend on YAH when we don’t know if, when, or how our needs are going to be met?
Do we depend on YAH when we have no needs?
Everyone is tested. It doesn’t matter what stage of life we’re in or what our financial status is, we’re still tested.
If we’re struggling to make ends meet, living paycheck to paycheck, do we trust and depend on YAH? If we’re doing well and prospering without financial stress, do we trust and depend on YAH?
The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. No matter who or where we are, in the best of times or in the worst of times, we’ll still be tested. The rich man, the poor man, and everyone in between must learn to depend on YAHUAH.
All Comes from YAH
The manna was bread that literally came down from Heaven. This shows us that all our sustenance and support comes from YAHUAH.
YAHUAH is Master and Elohim over all. He opens His Hand and satisfies the desire of every living thing (Teh/Ps. 145:16). Bread doesn't sustain us. YAHUAH does. Money doesn’t sustain us. YAHUAH does.
We can’t look to anyone or anything else for bread, money, sustenance, or support. Anything else we look to for provision would be like the idols of the lands that YAHUAH commands us to put away (Deb. 7:25-26). We have to depend solely on YAH because He is Elohim, and He is in control of all things.
We're not in charge of our life the way we think we are. Ultimately, YAHUAH is in charge of what we have or don't have. He's in charge of whether we prosper or not (Deb. 8:18). He determines our livelihood - not us.
YAHUAH tells us to work six days a week and to live productive, creative lives because He wants us to make an impact on the world around us.
Our actual place of employment either facilitates us making an impact on the world or simply creates the channel for Him to flow our livelihood down to us.
Oftentimes, we start focusing on the channel bringing the sustenance into our lives (our job) and lose sight of Who's at the other end sending it our way.
We have to remind ourselves constantly that our work is just a channel through which YAH’s blessing flows from Heaven down to us. It is YAHUAH who takes care of us. He provides our livelihood. Everything comes from Him.
The bread from Heaven tested Yisrael to make them understand that everything came from YAHUAH. Their livelihood, sustenance, and very existence came directly from Him.
We have to keep our eyes on YAHUAH always. He is the One and only One we can truly depend on because everything comes from Him.
Recognizing the Sovereignty
“And He humbled you, and let you suffer hunger, and fed you with manna… to make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but by every Word that comes from the mouth of יהוה.” ”
YAHUAH let Yisrael suffer hunger...and He fed them with manna. Man lives by whatever comes from the mouth of YAHUAH.
It’s one thing to know that everything comes from YAHUAH and that we must depend completely on Him. Sometimes, it's enough to get to just this level of understanding.
But going a step beyond that level…
Our life is in YAH’s Hand. Our life is the way it is because for whatever reason YAHUAH wills it and decreed it to be this way. It came forth from His mouth.
When we accept this fact, it is the ultimate acceptance of YAHUAH’s Sovereignty.
Yisrael had to learn that whether they suffered hunger or were fed to satisfaction, it was according to YAH’s will and desire. He determined their state - good or “bad.” They lived by whatever came from His mouth.
If Yisrael could learn and acknowledge that YAHUAH was in complete control, then they would be able to obey all YAH’s Torah. When they acknowledged His ultimate and supreme Authority in the earth and over their individual lives, then they would humbly submit to Him and keep all His commands. Then, YAHUAH would bring them in, increase them, and cause them to inherit the Land (Deb. 8:1).
That's why it was a 40-year test.
We too have to come to learn and acknowledge that all is in the Hand of YAHUAH. He is in control of all. Whatever He decrees, stands. Whether we’re struggling financially or prospering, all is decreed by YAHUAH.
This is the level of understanding we must work toward. First, we must know and understand that all comes from Him and therefore, we must learn to depend solely on Him.
Then, we must come to the understanding that regardless of our state, YAHUAH is in control. Whether we’re lacking and suffering “hunger” or all our needs are met to satisfaction, it is all determined by YAHUAH. He is in control of all.
When we fully realize that our life is completely determined by what YAHUAH decrees from His mouth, then we understand His Sovereignty. We understand that He is Elohim, and we are His people. We will then humbly submit to Him and obey all His commands. Then, and only then, are we ready to enter in, increase, and inherit our blessing.
Manna is the key to all Torah obedience. It’s the key to the Promised Land.