Tech in the Promised Land

In the exodus, God supernaturally sustained his people’s material needs (Dt 8:2–4, 14–16). As he did, he was leading them to an earthly home, to the Promised Land, a land “flowing with milk and honey” — the repeated shorthand slogan for its riches. God’s good land will lack nothing. It will have water and wheat and vineyards and olive groves and honey and never-ending bread, “a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper” (Dt 8:7–9). Israel will lack nothing, in part because all the metal tools and technologies she will need was already pre-infused into the land. In this we behold the generosity of the Creator’s covenantal love and the spring of human innovation, his created order, a globe stuffed with elements he invented, created, and distributed throughout the earth at his pre-determined scale, depth, and location — a sort of bait to lure discovery and invention from us, to behold God’s ancient generosity to us in the new, shiny things we make today.

But this richly infused land came with a divine warning to “take care lest you forget the LORD” (Dt 8:11). Material prosperity goes together with forgetting. “When you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt” (Dt 8:12–14).

God’s people, in a future state of material prosperity, will face three temptations.

(1) They will replace God with the world’s false gods of security (Dt 8:19).

(2) They will forget God’s redemptive grace (Dt 8:14).

(3) They will forget the Creator’s preemptive material generosity by simply celebrating human inventiveness (Dt 8:18).

This Creator who pre-patterned into the material world every single technological advance we use today, that generous Giver gets ignored. We fall for the lie of self-confidence. It seems to me the church in the prosperous tech age must heed God’s warning to his people entering the Promised Land: “Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth’” (Dt 8:18). That’s the great spiritual battle in the tech age.

Our takeaways:

(1) Refuse to put your security and idolatrous self-confidence in man’s technological powers.

(2) Celebrate Christ’s redemptive work.

(3) Celebrate the Creator’s generosity on display in the tens of thousands of innovations we use daily, knowing none of them would exist if not for God’s kindness to us.

Taking those material gifts for granted, using them, but never seeing God in them, is spiritually perilous.

God never pitted the spiritual against the material. We are not called to choose a spiritual OR material existence. We are not called to choose worship OR iron. We are not called to choose to be a faithful Christian OR technologically adapted. But we are called to ensure the prosperous, material, tech age does not erode our worship. Life in the Promised Land, or in Silicon Valley, is ultimately all about worship. It’s about heeding the call: “You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth” (Dt 8:18). In such a land, to forget God is as easy as starting up your car and driving off blind to the divine generosity that causes it all move.

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