Besides being quoted by Jesus Himself when meeting Satan’s temptation in the wilderness, Deuteronomy 8 showcases the character of God in ways that cut into many preconceived notions about God. First of all, Yahweh is leading and guiding Israel, even though they have messed up (v. 2). We usually think that God leaves us when we have sinned, but here God is working with them, and helping them to know their own hearts in the trials they are facing. God does not ever leave us or forsake us, but He desires a heart change, to humility instead of pride, to relationship instead of legalism (vv. 3–5).

Second, God is the giver of all physical health and material wealth, and He longs for us to be healthy and wealthy and happy (vv. 10–18). Although we live in a sinful world, and being healthy, wealthy, and happy is not always possible due to the great controversy, it is God’s desire. Almost every follower of God in the Bible experienced difficulties and privation and trials, but this does not mean that God was not with them. Even Jesus, as the only perfect human, was not wealthy and went through much suffering and an early death. Ultimately, God will fulfill His desires to bless His people for eternity in heaven. But we have a foretaste here, in all the blessings God gives to us. Amazingly, even when we bring the dangers on ourselves, God feeds and protects us (vv. 3–5). This picture of God’s grace and forgiveness, working with our feeble and sinful selves, paints a very different picture of the Old Testament than is usually considered.

Third, God and His word are life, and forgetting God is tantamount to eternal loss. God longs for us to remember all that He has done for us in the past. Deuteronomy 8 makes it clear that our remembrance of His works is not for His satisfaction (although He deeply desires a relationship with us), but for our own good. As Yahweh is our Father, we need discipline and correction from Him. God wants to bless us with good things, but when we forget Him, He cannot do good to us in the end (v. 16), the covenant is broken (v. 18–20), and the end result is to perish.

Jesus sees the end from the beginning, and ultimately wants us to be in heaven with Him, so is willing to sacrifice our happiness and comfort on earth to bring us to Him and repentance. When looking in the Bible for God’s will, almost every passage has something to do with the big things like salvation and peace and joy, not so much individual decisions. God will pull out all the stops to change our hearts so that He can be with us for eternity!