Thursday, July 28, 2016

Teaching Future Generations

Psalm 78:1-72

Maschil of Asaph.

“Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth.  I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old:  Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us.  We will not hide them from their children, showing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done.  For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments: And might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not stedfast with God.

The children of Ephraim, being armed, and carrying bows, turned back in the day of battle.  They kept not the covenant of God, and refused to walk in his law; And forgat his works, and his wonders that he had showed them.” (Psalm 78:1-11)

The psalmist asks the people to listen as recounts the story of what God has done for them.  They need to make the story public so that future generations can know God’s power and love and understand what he expects of his people.  Without that awareness, they will be like past generations who rebelled and would not obey or follow his leading.  Joseph had been the one responsible for the establishment of Israel in Egypt, yet his Descendants, specifically the tribe of Ephraim was one of the first to turn away from God.  Years later, when the kingdom Split, they would again lead the others away from God.    It is important to understand that unless future generations are taught to serve God, it really doesn’t matter how much their parents served him.    They saw the same power the others did. 

“Marvellous things did he in the sight of their fathers, in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan.  He divided the sea, and caused them to pass through; and he made the waters to stand as an heap.  In the daytime also he led them with a cloud, and all the night with a light of fire.  He clave the rocks in the wilderness, and gave them drink as out of the great depths.  He brought streams also out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers.” (Psalm 78:12-16)

All of Israel, including Ephraim and Manasseh experienced the miracles God did in the wilderness, from the time they left Egypt until they entered the land of Canaan.  He is making the same point Paul did in I Corinthians 10:1-5.  “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.  But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.”  Despite all they had seen many did not believe his power.

“And they sinned yet more against him by provoking the most High in the wilderness.  And they tempted God in their heart by asking meat for their lust.   Yea, they spake against God; they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?  Behold, he smote the rock, that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed; can he give bread also? can he provide flesh for his people?” (Psalm 78:17-20)

Even though he had caused water to come out of the rock, the people doubted his ability to give them food to eat in the desert,

“Therefore the LORD heard this, and was wroth: so a fire was kindled against Jacob, and anger also came up against Israel; Because they believed not in God, and trusted not in his salvation:  Though he had commanded the clouds from above, and opened the doors of heaven,  And had rained down manna upon them to eat, and had given them of the corn of heaven.  Man did eat angels' food: he sent them meat to the full.  He caused an east wind to blow in the heaven: and by his power he brought in the south wind.  He rained flesh also upon them as dust, and feathered fowls like as the sand of the sea: And he let it fall in the midst of their camp, round about their habitations.

So they did eat, and were well filled: for he gave them their own desire; They were not estranged from their lust. But while their meat was yet in their mouths, The wrath of God came upon them, and slew the fattest of them, and smote down the chosen men of Israel.  For all this they sinned still, and believed not for his wondrous works.  Therefore their days did he consume in vanity, and their years in trouble. ” (Psalm 78:21-33)

God provided the Manna to feed them and when they complained about it, he supplied quail as they demanded.   There was so much quail, they couldn’t eat it all and after a few days it spoiled and they began to die from food poisoning. Killing the healthiest and biggest eaters.   They still didn’t believe his power, and wound up living out their lives without accomplishing their goals.    The story is a serious warning to those who demand that God give them what they want. 

“When he slew them, then they sought him: and they returned and inquired early after God.  And they remembered that God was their rock, and the high God their redeemer.  Nevertheless they did flatter him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues.  For their heart was not right with him, neither were they stedfast in his covenant.” (Psalm 78:34-37)

Like many people today, when they were in trouble, the Jews promised to obey God, and remembered all his promises and actions on their behalf.  Unfortunately their whole goal was to get what they wanted so they told God what they thought he wanted to hear, with no intention of keeping their promises.  They were not committed to obeying him. 

“But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath.  For he remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.” (Psalm 78:39-39)

Though he knew they were lying, God honored their prayers, giving them the opportunity to change because he recognized their human nature and that they had only a very short lifespan.    Unfortunately, people often assume they are getting by with their sin because God gives them this chance, as Romans 2:4-6 tells us.  “Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?  But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds.”  

“How oft did they provoke him in the wilderness, and grieve him in the desert!  Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.  They remembered not his hand, nor the day when he delivered them from the enemy.  How he had wrought his signs in Egypt, and his wonders in the field of Zoan: And had turned their rivers into blood; and their floods, that they could not drink.  He sent divers sorts of flies among them, which devoured them; and frogs, which destroyed them.  He gave also their increase unto the caterpillar, and their labour unto the locust.  He destroyed their vines with hail, and their sycamore trees with frost.  He gave up their cattle also to the hail, and their flocks to hot thunderbolts.  He cast upon them the fierceness of his anger, wrath, and indignation, and trouble, by sending evil angels among them.  He made a way to his anger; he spared not their soul from death, but gave their life over to the pestilence; And smote all the firstborn in Egypt; the chief of their strength in the tabernacles of Ham: But made his own people to go forth like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock.

And he led them on safely, so that they feared not: but the sea overwhelmed their enemies.  And he brought them to the border of his sanctuary, even to this mountain, which his right hand had purchased. He cast out the heathen also before them, and divided them an inheritance by line, and made the tribes of Israel to dwell in their tents.  Yet they tempted and provoked the most high God, and kept not his testimonies: But turned back, and dealt unfaithfully like their fathers: they were turned aside like a deceitful bow.  For they provoked him to anger with their high places, and moved him to jealousy with their graven images.” (Psalm 78:40-58)

All the miracles God had done in Egypt and his supplying their needs in the wilderness made little or no impression.  They turned away, worshipping other Gods and following their own ideas. 

“When God heard this, he was wroth, and greatly abhorred Israel: So that he forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent which he placed among men; And delivered his strength into captivity, and his glory into the enemy's hand.  He gave his people over also unto the sword; and was wroth with his inheritance.  The fire consumed their young men; and their maidens were not given to marriage.  Their priests fell by the sword; and their widows made no lamentation.” (Psalm 78:59-64)

God  rejected the old location of the Tabernacle at Shiloh and allowed Israel to go into captivity, allowing thousands to be killed.  Even his priests were killed and no one took time to mourn them, as described in I Samuel. 

“Then the Lord awaked as one out of sleep, and like a mighty man that shouteth by reason of wine.  And he smote his enemies in the hinder parts: he put them to a perpetual reproach.  Moreover he refused the tabernacle of Joseph, and chose not the tribe of Ephraim: But chose the tribe of Judah, the mount Zion which he loved.  And he built his sanctuary like high palaces, like the earth which he hath established for ever.  He chose David also his servant, and took him from the sheepfolds: From following the ewes great with young he brought him to feed Jacob his people, and Israel his inheritance.  So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands.” (Psalm 78:65-72)

Finally, God started over with complete new leadership giving them a man from the tribe of Judah, David, who would follow God.  The Temple was placed in Jerusalem, and God blessed them under David’s leadership.  Joseph’s family had given up any claim they might have had.   Teaching future generations to serve God is crucial.  

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