Chapter 8 brings another warning to the Children of Israel. The previous chapter had been a warning to not take on the ways and worship of the people already in the land that they were soon set to enter and occupy. The warning in chapter 7 to stay away from others was given in the harshest of language. The warning in chapter 8 is one for the people to be on guard not only against not those beyond themselves, but to be on guard against their own pride.
The first 10 verses of chapter 8 recount all the ways that God had guided and provided for them during the hard time of wandering in the wilderness. The warning begins in verse 11: “Take care that you do not forget the Lord your God.” As the passage continues, Moses warns the people once they have settled and built houses, planted crops, built up herds of animals… once they are no longer wandering in the wilderness but settled in comfort….Moses warns them in their comfort not to forget their continued dependence on God.
With verse 17, the warning grows sharper. In their comfort they were cautioned against patting themselves on the back and giving themselves credit for their good fortune, “Do not say to yourself, ‘My power and the might of my own hand have gotten met this wealth.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the power to get wealth.”
The class had much discussion about how these words speak to us today. In what ways do these words speak to our pride in “pulling ourselves up by our boot straps?” On whose shoulders do we stand?