In so many ways, this reminds me of our nation today.
It’s Psalm 106 from ‘The Message’.
Hallelujah! Thank God! And why? Because he’s good, because his love lasts. But who on earth can do it — declaim God’s mighty acts, broadcast all his praises? You’re one happy man when you do what’s right, one happy woman when you form the habit of justice.
Remember me, God, when you enjoy your people; include me when you save them; I want to see your chosen succeed, celebrate with your celebrating nation, join the Hallelujahs of your pride and joy!
We’ve sinned a lot, both we and our parents; We’ve fallen short, hurt a lot of people. After our parents left Egypt, they took your wonders for granted, forgot your great and wonderful love. They were barely beyond the Red Sea when they defied the High God — the very place he saved them! — the place he revealed his amazing power! He rebuked the Red Sea so that it dried up on the spot— he paraded them right through! — no one so much as got wet feet! He saved them from a life of oppression, pried them loose from the grip of the enemy. Then the waters flowed back on their oppressors; there wasn’t a single survivor. Then they believed his words were true and broke out in songs of praise.
But it wasn’t long before they forgot the whole thing, wouldn’t wait to be told what to do. They only cared about pleasing themselves in that desert, provoked God with their insistent demands. He gave them exactly what they asked for — but along with it they got an empty heart. One day in camp some grew jealous of Moses, also of Aaron, holy priest of God. The ground opened and swallowed Dathan, then buried Abiram’s gang. Fire flared against that rebel crew and torched them to a cinder.
They cast in metal a bull calf at Horeband worshiped the statue they’d made. They traded the Glory for a cheap piece of sculpture — a grass-chewing bull! They forgot God, their very own Savior, who turned things around in Egypt, Who created a world of wonders in the Land of Ham, who gave that stunning performance at the Red Sea.
Fed up, God decided to get rid of them — and except for Moses, his chosen, he would have. But Moses stood in the gap and deflected God’s anger, prevented it from destroying them utterly. They went on to reject the Blessed Land, didn’t believe a word of what God promised. They found fault with the life they had and turned a deaf ear to God’s voice. Exasperated, God swore that he’d lay them low in the desert, Scattering their children hither and yon, strewing them all over the earth.
Then they linked up with Baal Peor, attending funeral banquets and eating idol food. That made God so angry that a plague spread through their ranks; Phinehas stood up and pled their case and the plague was stopped. This was counted to his credit; his descendants will never forget it.
They angered God again at Meribah Springs; this time Moses got mixed up in their evil; Because they defied God yet again, Moses exploded and lost his temper.
They didn’t wipe out those godless cultures as ordered by God; Instead they intermarried with the heathen, and in time became just like them. They worshiped their idols, were caught in the trap of idols. They sacrificed their sons and daughter sat the altars of demon gods. They slit the throats of their babies, murdered their infant girls and boys. They offered their babies to Canaan’s gods; the blood of their babies stained the land. Their way of life stank to high heaven; they lived like whores.
And God was furious — a wildfire anger; he couldn’t stand even to look at his people. He turned them over to the heathen so that the people who hated them ruled them. Their enemies made life hard for them; they were tyrannized under that rule. Over and over God rescued them, but they never learned — until finally their sins destroyed them.
Still, when God saw the trouble they were in and heard their cries for help, He remembered his Covenant with them, and, immense with love, took them by the hand. He poured out his mercy on them while their captors looked on, amazed.
Save us, God, our God! Gather us back out of exile So we can give thanks to your holy name and join in the glory when you are praised!
Blessed be God, Israel’s God! Bless now, bless always! Oh! Let everyone say Amen! Hallelujah!