Friday, May 21, 2021

What We Can Learn from the Israelites


BySarah Geringer 

What can we learn from the Israelites? Though they lived thousands of years ago, their lives have much to teach us today.

Let's look at Psalm 106 NLT together today. Specifically, verses 13 through 31.

It walks us through the Israelites' sins in the desert wilderness after leaving Egypt, as told in the book of Exodus. We can learn valuable lessons from looking closely at this account.

Yet how quickly they forgot what he had done!
    They wouldn’t wait for his counsel!
In the wilderness their desires ran wild,
    testing God’s patience in that dry wasteland.
So he gave them what they asked for,
    but he sent a plague along with it.
The people in the camp were jealous of Moses
    and envious of Aaron, the Lord’s holy priest.
Because of this, the earth opened up;
    it swallowed Dathan
    and buried Abiram and the other rebels.
Fire fell upon their followers;
    a flame consumed the wicked.
The people made a calf at Mount Sinai;
    they bowed before an image made of gold.
They traded their glorious God
    for a statue of a grass-eating bull.
They forgot God, their savior,
    who had done such great things in Egypt—
such wonderful things in the land of Ham,
    such awesome deeds at the Red Sea.
So he declared he would destroy them.
    But Moses, his chosen one, stepped between the Lord and the people.
    He begged him to turn from his anger and not destroy them.
The people refused to enter the pleasant land,
    for they wouldn’t believe his promise to care for them.
Instead, they grumbled in their tents
    and refused to obey the Lord.
Therefore, he solemnly swore
    that he would kill them in the wilderness,
that he would scatter their descendants among the nations,
    exiling them to distant lands.
Then our ancestors joined in the worship of Baal at Peor;
    they even ate sacrifices offered to the dead!
They angered the Lord with all these things,
    so a plague broke out among them.
But Phinehas had the courage to intervene,
    and the plague was stopped.
So he has been regarded as a righteous man
    ever since that time.

I pulled out the sins listed in this passage:

  • They forgot God's awesome deeds
  • Their desires ran wild
  • They tested God's patience
  • They were jealous and envious
  • They made an idol and bowed before it
  • They refused to enter the promised land
  • They did not believe God's promises
  • They grumbled
  • They were disobedient
  • They worshiped the false god Baal
  • They ate sacrifices that were prohibited

This is a sobering list. I see my own sins listed in here too. Do you see yours reflected in this list?

But this passage also offers hope. Moses interceded for them, and a man named Phinehas also intervened with courage. God regarded these men as being righteous followers and used them to temporarily stop his judgment against the Israelites.

What can we learn from this passage? I see three main points:

1. Our sins cause barriers in our relationship to God
2. Our sins deserve punishment
3. God offers protection for those who are righteous--not without sin, but consistently choosing to obey and honor God instead of living a life of sin

If you see yourself in any of those sins, confess them to God and ask him to help you repent. If you know a person trapped in these sins, ask God if he wants you to intervene. 

Above all, walk in a righteous path so you can enjoy close fellowship with God.

I pray this psalm both challenges and encourages you today, as it is doing for me.

Check out more guided meditations on the psalms HERE.

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Have a blessed weekend!

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