The Israelites had been taken to the border of Canaan forty years before, but they did not trust God. Instead they trusted in themselves and concluded that they could not take the land. Because of their lack of faith they trusted in themselves and not in God. The Lord sent the people into the wilderness for forty years to teach them these two things:
- Do not trust in yourself
- Trust in the Lord
In the wilderness did not have provisions for Israel to support themselves, but instead they were forced to rely on God.
Moses tells the second generation that had grown up in the wilderness that the Lord “humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna.” After having been assigned to a life in the wilderness with no food, and often, no water, the people learned their frailness and their human weakness. But, because God provided manna and the many other provisions for them during this forty-year period the people also learned to trust the Lord.
Moses was speaking to a generation of Israelites who had learned to rely on God and not on their own ability. They would demonstrate this as a nation when they crossed the Jordan and conquered the Promised Land.
Lack of faith often means confidence in self, instead of confidence in the Lord. Likewise, great faith also means realizing your limitations as a human.
Jesus subjected himself to forty-days of fasting in the wilderness to learn this same principle – that we do not live on our natural ability or our natural provisions alone, but we live by God’s power that defends and accomplishes his every Word.