In spite of this they still sinned and did not believe in His wondrous works. Therefore their days He consumed in futility, and their years in fear. (Psalm 78:32-33)
They Just Kept On Sinning
The children of Israel are immortalized on the pages of holy writ as the example of how a man struggles with sin and how Israel struggled with their faithfulness. Of all people on earth, the Hebrews saw more of God’s wonders and powers than any other nation. They witnessed the terrible plagues brought upon Egypt noting especially how the Lord segregated the impact away from His people. When the people walked across the Red Sea on dry land, they saw with their own eyes the waters piled up on either side held back by the will of the Creator. When the Egyptian army tried to follow they were wiped out when the waters of the Red Sea returned and drowned all of the soldiers. Walking through the deserts of Sinai and the wilderness of Sin, the Hebrews saw the power of God in providing water, manna every day, quail in the thousands, clothes that did not wear out, victory over enemies and the presence of God on Sinai would have shaken anyone to their souls with fear. Israel did not keep the covenant of God and refused to walk in His law. They forgot His works and His wonders that He had shown them. He led them with a cloud during the day and light of fire at night but they refused to follow in His commands. In spite of all of this and more, they still sinned and did not believe His wondrous works. In a vicious cycle of obedience and rebellion, Israel became the hallmark of the plague of sin and the inability of men to remain faithful to the Lord. Only through the grace of God and His compassion for the people of Abraham did the Lord spare the nation. He forgave their iniquity and did not destroy them. Often He would turn His anger away from Israel not allowing His wrath to stir up to utter destruction. The Lord remembered they were but flesh and breath that passes away and does not come again. And in spite of this, they still sinned and did not believe in His wondrous works.
There are many reasons why Israel is preserved in the Bible but one significant lesson is how they struggled with obedience as a lesson for the people of God to understand the nature of sin and the grace of God. Reading the history of Israel helps the Christian see that Satan is never silent in attacking God’s elect with temptation. The devil continues to march against the faithful with the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh and pride of life. There will be great victories over sin and then crushing defeats. Miracles have ceased and the manifest power of God will not be visualized as it was with the children of Israel marching through the Red Sea but the Bible is the greatest manifestation of God’s power known to man. It is hard to believe how a man walking through the Red Sea and seeing the power of God would not devote the rest of his life to serving the Lord but they soon forgot what they saw. The Bible is readily available for all men to read and understand the mysteries of God revealing all of the power of the Divine but so often the word is overshadowed with the sinful nature of man. Like Israel, in spite of all the power of God spoken through the word, men sin and do not believe in His wondrous works and words.
Asaph’s psalm of the kindness of God to a rebellious people resounds with the dirge of sin and its impact on the chosen nation of the Lord but there is hope in the message of God’s grace. As disobedient as the Hebrew was the Lord continued to forgive those who repented. Sin is a plague that brings misery, pain, and sorrow yet through the love of God it can be removed and forgotten. God loved His people. He blessed them and continued to care for them even after forty years of wilderness wandering. His power brought the remnant to the land promised to Abraham and by His might, the nation of Israel became the greatest nation on earth. Sadly, sin once again overwhelmed the hearts of the people and after a few hundred years the Assyrians and Babylonians would take God’s people away. In the darkest hour of sins victory the light of hope rose in the resurrection of God’s Son who would redeem His own special people to be a holy nation guided by the word of the Lord. The church was born and fills the earth with the wonderful news of God’s love, His grace and mercy and the undying hope of eternal life through the blood of Jesus Christ. In spite of this, we still sin and do not believe in the wondrous works of God found in the word of God. But He, being full of compassion, forgives our iniquity and does not destroy us when we repent and seek forgiveness. Many a time He has turned His anger away and does not stir up His wrath and we are eternally thankful for that measure of grace. The Lord remembers that we are but flesh and like a breath that passes away and does not come again. How often we provoke Him to wrath and grieve Him but He continues to remove our sins as far as the east is from the west because of the blood of His only begotten Son. Through faith we continue to march on and living under the grace of God find comfort in knowing our frail frame is but a wisp of life measured by an eternal love of the Father for His children. Thank you, Father, for your kind compassion and loving care. Forgive we pray our unworthiness, cleanse and purify our hearts to greater service.