….Psalm 78: Did We Learn Anything Back in the Wilderness?

desertThe time is just before the crossing over into the promised land of Canaan.  The psalmist is instructing this generation… and future generations through lessons drawn from their past.  Many were unfaithful and disobedient–but experienced God’s mercy and grace just the same.  The more the people received by God’s faithfulness, the more they wanted.  By His compassion and grace for his people he still gave.  But getting what we want sometimes also brings unwanted consequences.

We can learn many things from our past, both good and bad.  This Psalm identifies Israel as having a history of rebellion against God.   In those days when God’s law and His provisions were all they had to live by, defiance and ingratitude were serious offenses against God’s wonderful acts to save His people.  Continued rebellion brought even more judgment.

What are the principles to be lived by in the life of a man?  We can begin with understanding the work of the Holy Spirit.  The power to bring forth comes from the Father…  the power to arrange comes through the Son… the power to perfect come through the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 8:6,  Yet for us there is but one God, the Father,  from whom all things came and for whom we live— and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.

To put all into perspective,

    • all things originated from the Father,
    • that by which all things exist, the Son,
    • and that by which all things attain their final destiny, through the Holy Ghost.

We are not made just merely to exist, but everything created has a purpose and a destiny.  To be led by God is the cause of developmentaccording to our nature, and we mature [made perfect] by the work of the Holy Spirit.  In the case of Israel, their identity was known as a ‘multitude of people’ all with one mind—to be carried out of the bondage of Egypt into a land of their own.  Through it they would learn to recognize God as their deliverer and their only source of continued “life.’  And some still did not believe when it came to the end of their journey.

The question still was, ‘‘How was the multitude of the elect to attain their final perfection?”  The answer can only be “by the Holy Ghost’s action upon the people.”  They could never accomplish their end unless they dwelled in God’s temple… and He in them. It is the natural love of God that keeps Him in the heart of His children—by which we in return love Him.  It is like seeing ourselves in a mirror and be conscious of His handiwork, and reflecting it back to His glory.  His glorious purpose is to be known as He is known, and enjoy the closeness of communion with God.   This can only become a part of us by the indwelling of  Christ in our hearts—this is evidence of God’s higher purposes realized when the Holy Spirit makes man’s heart His dwelling place.

It was important to continue to carry on the traditions from that first generation who experienced the Exodus, passing it to the children of future generations.  Tradition was kept alive by the sharing of meals and observing the  holy days while families would sing psalms and pray together.   Religious  instruction was never to be set aside or neglected. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  His ways are perfect. Each oncoming generation must be taught to recognize God’s hand in this present time as well as the past and future.  Today our children should be taught to distinguish between a changing society and moral values that do not change.  Continual resistance to God destroys opportunity, and cuts off our  future.

Psalm 78

1     Give ear, O my people, to my law; incline your ears to the words of my mouth.

2     I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old—
3     Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us.
4   We will not hide them from their children, telling to the generation to come
     the praises of the Lord, and His strength and His wonderful works that He has done.
5     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—
6    That the generation to come might know them, the children who would be born,
      That they may arise and declare them to their children—
7     That they may set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments.
.8     And may not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation—
       A generation that did not set its heart aright, and whose spirit was not faithful to God.
12     Marvelous things He did in the sight of their fathers, in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan–
13    He divided the sea and caused them to pass through, and He made the waters stand up like a heap.
14     In the daytime also He led them with the cloud, and all the night with a light of fire.
15     He split the rocks in the wilderness, and gave them drink in abundance like the depths.
16     He also brought streams out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers.
17     But they sinned even more against Him by rebelling against the Most High in the wilderness.
18     And they tested God in their heart by asking for the food of their fancy.
19     Yes, they spoke against God:  They said, “Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?  
       Behold, He struck the rock, so that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed.  
      Can He give bread also?  Can He provide meat for His people?”
21     Therefore the Lord heard this and was furious…
         Yet He had commanded the clouds above, and opened the doors of heaven,
24   He rained down manna on them to eat, and given them of the bread of heaven.

25    Men ate angels’ food,  He sent them food to the full….

40     How often they  provoked Him in the wilderness, and grieved Him in the desert!

        Yes, again and again they tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel….
  72     So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them by the skillfulness of his hands.