Psalm 78:40-72: Remember
April 8, 2022
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
The psalm continues with a description of the capitulation of God’s people to sin and rebellion against God. It is a sad lament. Why does the psalmist spend so much time telling us of these things? The answer is that he writes these things to warn us. Immersed in this description of capitulation to rebellion and testing, there are elements where the psalmist describes the roots of the rebellion—things that we should be careful to avoid cultivating in our own lives, and in the lives of our communities.
First of all, we should take note that high spiritual privileges do not necessitate long faithfulness. The Old Testament people of God had experienced God rescuing them from Egypt—which this psalm dramatically recounts. They had experienced God defeating their enemies in the conquest of Israel. And yet, they turned their backs on God and worshiped idols.
Take note then, Christian, and churchgoer. Being surrounded by spiritual privileges does not necessitate long faithfulness. When someone is hungry, they will be glad of almost any food at all. But when you have dined out on prime steak Sunday after Sunday, you can become blasé to the truth of God—and begin to wander in your mind and in your heart.
Similarly, simply by having made a profession of faith in God, you are not thereby immune to the attacks of the devil or capitulating to rebellion against God. The spiritual life is a fight. It is a spiritual battle. Our adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Be on your guard. Do not rest on your laurels, do not assume that your spiritual privileges have guaranteed you immunity against spiritual attack, or even spiritual betrayal of God. Remember Ephraim! Remember God’s Old Testament people! Fight the good of faith today, and do not assume that spiritual manna yesterday will protect you or feed you today.
Second, we should take note that the prime reason for their capitulation is that they forgot. “They did not remember his power, or the day when he redeemed them from the foe, when he performed his signs in Egypt and his marvels in the fields of Zoan” (78:42-43). This is one of the main reasons why Jesus commanded that his church should celebrate communion regularly. It is in order to “remember.” We so easily forget. We mentally can recall what Jesus did on the cross for us. We mentally can recall the day when we were saved, or the day when we made a fresh new commitment to God. We can recall the time when we cried out to God in prayer—and he answered us! But we do not remember, in this sense, in the sense of this psalm. It is no longer present to us; it is no longer real to us. It does not affect our life; it seems distant, gone, unimportant.
How easy it is to forget! God’s miracles are assigned to history. They are not remembered in the present. This is why worship is so important. We need to sing to God, praise God, articulate verbally our love of God for what he has done. Lest we forget.
Third, we should take note that God is a holy God and rebellion against him has consequences. He is patient, but unrepentant sin will in the end meet its just discipline and, yes, wrath. Remember this. “When God heard, he was full of wrath, and he utterly rejected Israel” (78:59). Do not play with sin; you are playing with fire. Do not mistake God’s patience for his ignorance. Do not think that God does not care about our rebellions. Yes, there is grace for the penitent. Praise be! Yes, there is! You sinner who repent this morning will find grace to pardon every sin, mercy for every broken covenant, and justification that establishes you as righteous before the holy God!
Praise be, indeed! But such grace is not extended to the impenitent, the hardened, the unrepentant, the idol worshipper who ignores God. Therefore, repent today, and do not delay!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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