“In the camp they grew envious of Moses and of Aaron, who was consecrated to the Lord. The earth opened up and swallowed Dathan; it buried the company of Abiram. Fire blazed among their followers; a flame consumed the wicked. At Horeb they made a calf and worshiped an idol cast from metal. They exchanged their glorious God for an image of a bull, which eats grass. They forgot the God who saved them, who had done great things in Egypt, miracles in the land of Ham and awesome deeds by the Red Sea. So he said he would destroy them—had not Moses, his chosen one, stood in the breach before him to keep his wrath from destroying them. Then they despised the pleasant land; they did not believe his promise. They grumbled in their tents and did not obey the Lord. So he swore to them with uplifted hand that he would make them fall in the wilderness, make their descendants fall among the nations and scatter them throughout the lands. They yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor and ate sacrifices offered to lifeless gods; they aroused the Lord’s anger by their wicked deeds, and a plague broke out among them. But Phinehas stood up and intervened, and the plague was checked. This was credited to him as righteousness for endless generations to come. By the waters of Meribah they angered the Lord, and trouble came to Moses because of them; for they rebelled against the Spirit of God, and rash words came from Moses’ lips. They did not destroy the peoples as the Lord had commanded them, but they mingled with the nations and adopted their customs. They worshiped their idols, which became a snare to them. They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to false gods. They shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was desecrated by their blood. They defiled themselves by what they did; by their deeds they prostituted themselves. Therefore the Lord was angry with his people and abhorred his inheritance. He gave them into the hands of the nations, and their foes ruled over them. Their enemies oppressed them and subjected them to their power. Many times he delivered them, but they were bent on rebellion and they wasted away in their sin.” Psalm 106:16-43
This is some of the history of God’s chosen people. God hand-picked them to be the living proof of His existence and a powerful picture of God’s love, mercy, grace, and redemption. But as we read this brief synopsis here in the Psalms and then sum up these thirty plus verses, we might put it this way.
The Israelites forgot all the miracles that God had done.
They despised the land the Lord had given them.
They rebelled against the Lord.
They worshiped a calf that ate grass.
They began to bow down to foreign gods.
They sacrificed their children.
They defiled themselves.
Their foes ruled over them.
They wasted away.
It’s very sad when we read this. God had done mighty miracles and great works to free them from the hand of Pharaoh and the bondage of Egypt. God opened the Red Sea; they walked right through. God fed them. God gave light and warmth in the darkness and a cool cloud in the day. How could they not believe?
But how much of this are we guilty of? God has done mighty miracles in our day and age. He has set us free from the hand of satan and the bondage of sin. He feeds us with His word. He protects us and refreshes us. When we know the Lord, we become the picture for those around us of who God is and living proof of His loving faithfulness.
Are we doing our job, or have we forgotten, despised, rebelled, worshiped something else, sacrificed our children, defiled ourselves, does the enemy have any rule in our lives?
We can shake our heads and wonder with all that the children of Israel had, how could they?
But we also must shake our heads at ourselves and ask the same question. How can we?
Lord, please make us a faithful, faith-filled people, who remember all that You have done and walk in the light of Your Word.