“How oft did they provoke him in the wilderness, and grieve him in the desert! Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited (vexed or pained) the Holy One of Israel. They remembered not his hand, nor the day when he delivered them from the enemy.” (Psalm 78:40-42)
How often we’re tempted to sin. For most Christians we are satisfied with not doing things like fornicating, lying, or cheating…you know…the BIG sins. How does God feel about the total picture of our lives? What of the not so obvious stuff?
Usually we look at sin in terms of things we shouldn’t do. However, sin is sometimes what we have the power to do but choose otherwise. When things are going well in our lives it’s not hard to want to please God. Walking in obedience to God is significantly harder though when we are in dry seasons. So how do we stay close to God when the wilderness comes? More importantly, how do we view life and God in such times?
In Psalm 78, we see an answer to these questions as see God freeing Israel from Egypt, his miraculous provision, and the giving of the law. Obedience was the expected result as Israel took time to remember all of Yahweh’s blessings. When God asks for obedience, sin usually finds a way to creep in. We see in verse 38-40 that God acts on behalf of his people but also feels deeply for them.
When God Feels
How did God feel? Well…to paraphrase…”he was heated and wanted to kill them but he fell back.” (Hood Version 7.0). He had compassion on his people and forgave them for their disobedient ways. Then we’re told that God was pained at the Israelites deliberate action of not remembering his many blessings. Did you get that? The sin Israel committed was not simply breaking commandments, but not remembering what God did…and it pained him. The action of not remembering is a temptation that we face everyday.
A Subtle Temptation
In wilderness seasons we often are tempted not to remember the many things God does on our behalf. We fall pray to the subtle enticement of being forgiven and then forgetting. Often we get so overwhelmed that we don’t tell future generations of his goodness. Most importantly, although the price of forgiveness was an act etched in eternity at Calvary, we add tax each time we forget the person behind that act, and fail to take into account the fact that he can be pained. A subtle temptation indeed is the one that keeps us in the service of our Savior, but does not acknowledge his feelings. Each day, I pray that we would take time to remember when…