Moses told them..
1. God led You to the Promised Land
"Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these 40 years.."
On their way to the land filled with milk and honey, there was NO food. No retail stores, no farmlands, nowhere to get their food. Water was also scarce, and most of the time, nowhere in sight. You'd probably be wondering how they got to their destination after 40 years and still alive.
Well, in all 16,400 days, some crazy unimaginable things happened. These cannot be in any way replicated by the most advanced technology ever discovered on earth. Food rained down from heaven. Water came from hard rock. All these miracles were made possible by God Himself.
When they were hungry, God gave them food; when thirsty, God gave water. They always had enough clothes and sandals to protect their feet. "Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you. " (8:4)
Thus, it was by God's grace that they were led through the dry and dreadful desert, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. (8:15)
2. To Humble You
".. to humble you.."
You may say to yourself, "My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me." But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth.. (8:17-18) In the whole 40 years, while there were no opportunities for them to create livelihood, they learned to depend on God for every necessity.
It's also a timely reminder for many of us who are working or studying or engaged in business. Our ability to produce wealth comes from him. Our skills in marketing, I.T., communication, entrepreneurship, teaching, arts, music have all been given to us by God (whether or not we acknowledge it). And all the opportunities that have opened and are about to open are known and planned (or agreed upon - since Satan can also plan) by Him.
Sometimes the waiting periods, those long and dragging stressful moments push us to the depths of despair. Many of us would feel worthless, maybe because we feel we are not capable of doing something worthwhile, or maybe because others have been moving forward while we're still stuck in this dry desert land. It's okay. We need these humbling moments because we really are worthless, worth less than worms even. Apart from Christ, we are nothing.
3. To Refine You
"... to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep His commands.."
This line doesn't mean that God did not know what was in the hearts of the Israelites. That would make Him less than omniscient. This means that waiting time is a period of refining, where God lets people wander until their hearts are ready to obey him.
Based on experience, the more I follow my own liking, the more I get frustrated. There more I lift up aspects of my life to God (for Him to lead, and I to obey), the more circumstances and elements fit perfectly and the more joyful I become.
4. To Teach You His Word is Life
"... to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord."
Real life derives from God, and not from bread or works of man. The Israelites had to learn this during the whole 40 years of waiting. Like them, we need to realize that God's Word is more precious than gold (which is the most sacred element on earth) and sweeter than honeycomb (the sweetest thing we can ever taste). It is more desirable than our highest goals.
I know of a man who graduated with honors, got a high paying job in a multinational company in the States, lived a luxurious life, dined in a thousand dollar meals and traveled first class several times a year. He's also a believer in Christ. He seemed to have everything, huh? But he felt miserable. He was not able to find the joyful and contented life he longed for, even with all the comforts this world had to offer. He then went up to a mountain on one of his trips and stayed there for a while to have silence and solitude. He asked God, "Lord, I have everything already in this world. But why am I not happy? What do You want me to do? I won't go down until You tell me." He followed God's calling that very same day. He quit work and became a pastor.
A joyful and peaceful and loving life indeed comes only from Him.
5. To Focus on God
"Observe the commands of the Lord your God, walking in His ways and revering Him."
A word of warning from God through Moses "If you ever forget the LORD your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. 20 Like the nations the LORD destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the LORD your God." (Deut. 8: 19-20)
Once we've gotten or achieved whatever we hoped and prayed for, we enjoy it. Nothing wrong with that, but many times we forget that God was the One who led us through it all. The path of forgetfulness leads not only to pride and but also to idolatry. When we focus on our goals, our earnings, our work, our power, we forget God, who is supposedly our main focus.
May this timeless reminder encourage you as you endure the painful moments of waiting. There might still be lessons to learn and character to refine. Just hang-on and look up. In His time, He'll lead you to your promised land.