Read: Psalm 106
I can’t help but read the history of Israel and wonder if this foretells our own story as we see our nation, our friends and family slip away from God. I don’t want to be one who reads the word and does nothing.
Do not merely listen to the word,
and so deceive yourselves.
Do what it says.
Speak to us, Lord, we want to hear your voice and know what to do. It sounds simple, but I know it’s not and it’s never easy–that’s what makes it so valuable!
This morning we read a psalm that summarizes Israel’s rollercoaster history of redemption and rebellion. For example, look at verses 12 and 13:
Then they believed his promises
and sang his praise.
But they soon forgot what he had done
and did not wait for his plan to unfold.
Back to back, the contrast captures the fingerprint of Israel, our ancestors, and perhaps our own hearts. At one moment we sing praises, then the next moment we completely forget how God saved us from disaster.
The history lesson extends back to the days of Moses, wandering in the wilderness, the refining test of God’s love. In particular, the psalmist remembers the golden calf created when Moses was on the mountain with God and Aaron was left to lead the people–mislead as it were. Moses returned to find the camp consumed by idol worship, lost beyond comprehension in such a short time.
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.
I don’t remember if we left this in the script for HGC’s #1000healthychurches video, but the sentiment of standing in the breach was in my mind as we pondered the impossible task of starting a movement to help thousands of churches turn around from dying to healthy, vibrant communities of faith. Tom Planck’s vivid vision of God grieving over the sea of churches that are dying in America is like that of Moses just stepping down from a glorious time with God. Imagine spending time talking with God one on one for days, then walking away from that moment to see your church worshiping idols because you were gone for a while. Seriously!
In some respects, I want our Sunday morning gatherings to be like this — we worship in song unashamed, full-on, not holding back. We hear a word from God preached, we pray, we see and hear the Spirit clearly. Then we leave that place and clearly see the idols of the world, the depravity of what is around us hits us like a cold splash in the face and we see the world as God must surely see it. The result is not self-righteous vindication; rather, it inspires us to do something about it, to seek the lost, the lonely, the least. Lord, give us eyes that see the world as you do, but only as much as we can handle. Holy Spirit, guide our thoughts as we seek to understand what we should do this day. Jesus, our redeemer, be our strength as we remember your perfect example and stand in the breach you have revealed to us this day. What if we gathered on Sunday mornings to rekindle the vision God has for our lives? What if we communed with God on a daily basis through reading his word, prayer and meditation, and started each day with a clear understanding of the breach we are to stand in each day? Pray about it, then do something.
We continue to see the ups and downs in history as well as our own lives, but God is steadfast, “his love endures forever.”
Many times he delivered them,
but they were bent on rebellion
and they wasted away in their sin.
Yet he took note of their distress
when he heard their cry;
for their sake he remembered his covenant
and out of his great love he relented.
He caused all who held them captive
to show them mercy.
For our sake he remembers, he relents, he rescues.
Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.
Let all the people say, “Amen!”