Baal, idolatry, MacNutt SK, merciful, Moses, Phinehas, prodigal, rebellion, the LORD, transgressions, Unbelief
Reading: Psalm 106
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 (NIV).
Psalm 106 began with with praise, but in verse three it transitioned to this opening thought, “Blessed are those who act justly, who always do what is right.”
Now there’s a mind-blowing concept. Talk about setting the bar completely out of reach! Nobody—I repeat—nobody always does right and acts justly in every situation. Human fallibility and self-interest dictate to the contrary.
The psalmist then goes on to recount a litany of Israel’s sins. By my estimation there are nine major transgressions outlined in Israel’s history through this psalm. There’s a failure to remember God’s kindness. There’s rebellion, wickedness, idolatry, envy, sensual craving, impatience, ingratitude, unbelief, outright disobedience, bloodshed, human sacrifice and further rebellion.
What is truly remarkable about this psalm is not Israel’s sinful ways; sinful ways are common to all humanity. What is truly mind-boggling is God’s faithfulness and readiness to forgive. He hears us in our distress. He seeks out the lost and wayward. He welcomes back the sin infested prodigals knowing full well where they have been. That’s the wonder of our God. He is always, always, always ready to forgive, when we are ready to admit the error of our ways. Now that’s a reason for praise!
Response: Father God, I acknowledge that my people and my nation have been caught up in sinful ways. Please be merciful to us. We are deserving of your judgment. Forgive us through your son Jesus. Amen.
Your Turn: Like Phinehas are you ready to take a stand against sin in your life and your community?