In spite of all this, they still sinned; despite His wonders, they did not believe. Psalm 78:32
Imagine where everyone ignored the law of this land – motorists do not care about other road users, they even knock down pedestrians. One gets into the shop and takes away whatever he wants! Another can kill other people and no one is going to question or care… that is anarchy. Would you want to live in a society where there are no regulations? No. Imagine another scenario, the law is there but it is ignored, so that people kill, steal and destroy, nothing is done. This is what is called impunity, where the law is disregarded. What would you do if you lived in such a society? Your property is stolen but when you go to report to the police, nothing is done.
Imagine the same disobedience in your house, where you call your children and they disregard you. When you send them they openly rebel and refuse. What would you do when your children rebel against you, when you have done all you can to do them good – providing for their needs, protecting them from the dangers of this evil world and all you get in return is insults? Is this not the way many people treat God? Do you know why people sin against God? It is because they forget who He is and what He has done for them or think that He will not follow through the threats in His word. They think that God will understand – He won’t!
People really do not take God seriously do they? This began with our first parents – God told Adam not to eat from the tree of knowledge of God and evil. But a while later the serpent came and told them to disregard God’s prohibition but instead listen to him, and they did! And so through Adam, sin spread to all his posterity and with sin death (Rom. 5:12), just as God had warned. The world continued in wickedness and so God sent Noah to warn his contemporaries of the impeding judgment by a universal flood and also build the ark to save those who will take him seriously – no one did except his family, they all scoffed at him, didn’t they? Therefore, they died in the flood. The Israelites continued in obstinacy even after God had heard them in their distress. Throughout the Bible this is repeated again and again and again – this is the story in Psalm 78. Sadly, the Bible tells us that even now people scoff and count God’s patience as weakness (2Pet. 3:7)
There are two areas of life where I want to point out to you to beware that you may not fall into the same danger. It is for you here and now to examine and search yourselves and deal with the area of your life where you need to regard, consider, act and live as those who know that without doubt God has revealed Himself to us the way He has done for us to live accordingly.
First it is because of the sinfulness of man because the Bible says that they still sinned. The greatest problem that affect human race is that they do not take God seriously in His Word. Your problem is that you do not listen and obey God because you do not take God in His word seriously. Many think that the threats and promises that come with His word are empty. They will take their schoolteachers more seriously than God’s Word; they will listen and obey their bosses but not God; they will make every effort to make money but not to cultivate faith, godliness and values that have eternal implications. Many will do everything to live here on earth for as long as possible, regardless of the struggles of this life; but do nothing to spend all eternity in glory with God! Why is this the case? The reason is because; at best they do not take God seriously. At worse they try to argue that God does not exist; that God only exists in the minds of the religious people. Undoubtedly, they have no use for the Word of God except, to justify themselves! Why do people make excuses when the Word of God says something? Because they do not think that God will hold them accountable.
Secondly it has to do with the understanding of man of what God has been doing because we read that they sinned in spite of all God had done, and despite His wonders. This is why this Psalm opens with God telling us to give hear to His teaching and incline our ears to the words of His mouth! (vv. 1, 2) He then proceeds to emphasize that the fathers have to instill this word upon their children so that the next generation might know His commands. This way the next generation will set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments. We read in verse 32 that, “In spite of all this …” To spite is to desire to deliberately to hurt, annoy or offend someone, in this case God. But ‘in spite’ is that they live without regard for who is God and what He wants with His creation. They are not affected by what God has done or said in the past in creation and in redemption. They live without any regard for the providences of God.
There is no question that man’s understanding of God is flawed. God is not regarded as God, the sovereign God, the Creator and sustainer of everything in this world. He is the one who holds this world by the power of His might. Man’s understanding of His holiness, righteousness and justice is not based on the word of God – it is based on their own construed ideas. Therefore, many acknowledge His love, grace and mercy but refuse to acknowledge His wrath in punishing sinners. remember that He has already punished the angels who disobeyed. He executed His wrath on His Son in order to redeem sinners – how can you forget that dark Gethsemane? How can you forget the agony of Calvary that Christ bore?
Therefore man does not quiet understand what is salvation – Jesus appeared to take away the sins and in Him there is no sin (1John 3:5). He is the one and only able to redeem and save sinners from their sins. He illustrated His power to save in delivering Israelites from the Egyptian bondage. Salvation now is not by His outstretched arm but through Christ who is the one and only hope for sinners. Christ is the only one able and willing to save sinners from their sins – He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Do you hope to be saved? You have to trust Him and plead with Him to forgive your sins.
Man’s understanding of the future judgment is faulty. Jesus will soon appear to judge the world by His justice and holiness. He will judge everyone on His terms not on the terms of men. He will judge according to His standard of holiness, not according to your imagination! Think about it He has given you time to think about it and you better do it or you will bear His wrath on that Day.
Finally, it is because of the unbelief of man because they did not believe. The words used to emphasize what took place tell us exactly what happened – imagine God dividing the sea for them to pass, causing waters to stand like a heap! God split rocks in the deserts and gave them water, described as an abundant drink as from the deep! He struck the rock so that water gushed out and streams overflowed (20). You notice that although they sinned and rebelled and so tested God, even worse they spoke against Him. Yet He rained down on them manna to eat… meat like dust… winged birds like the sand of the sea so that man ate the bread of angels! (v.24, 25, 27, 28). But what note of thanks did they send God?
“We do NOT believe you. Yes we do NOT trust you!”
They did neither believe God not trust Him! It is unbelievable that people do not take God seriously even when He has done more than it is necessary for them. You may be enraged and say that you could not have done that. you need to identify with them and be persuaded that you could have done the same! Unless, you are saying that you do not sin, and so deceive yourself and even worse despise God by calling Him a liar (1John 1:8,9), otherwise by any sin you commit, you spite and grieve God. People continue to persist in sin despite the wonders of God, despite the faithfulness and grace of God. They ignore and trash what God has done and live as if He had not done anything for them. They live as if God has been ungracious to them.
The vast majority of people live as if God does not exist - this is why they sin. Many others live as if God is not alive – they imagine God who does not care what happens to His creation and so they conduct themselves as if He does not see, hear or act – this is why there are so many hypocrites. Many others have a God of their own imagination who is so ‘loving’ that He will only do what they want and He never has His own will! Where do you fall yourself? This explains the conduct and behavioral patterns of all people of this earth. This is the reason why our cultural practices and worldviews are patterned on here and now.
God’s word is treated as a joke from a toddler! Why else do men have no regard for what God has said! Many of you live in contradiction of the truth of the Scripture. Many of you ignore the revealed of God in blatant defiance, why because you think that you will get away with it. You imagine that the Lord will lower the standard of His word for you when you will die – I assure you that He will not. You think that you will be able to persuade him on the last day to treat you with a different standard from the others – may I repeat it, He won’t. You may disregard the word of God now, and live the way you want but I want to assure you now and here that when you will stand before God in judgment you will be without excuse, whoever you are (Rom. 1:20). God will deal with all who have ignored Him and His word. Such will be judged. His word says that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things and none will escape (Rom. 2:2,3).
Firstly, people deny that they are sinners and so live a lie (1John 1:8). If you were requested to describe who is man, I know that many will write volumes without mentioning the fact that man is a sinner. This is a unique predicament that we have to contend with every day as we wake up and sleep. Sadly, many are offended when the word sin is mentioned and instead, it is lowed to the degree of either wrong or bad, but never sin. The point is that man resents that he is a sinner and has been trying throughout the history to deny it, and so he lives the way He does. He thinks that God, the Bible and preachers are wrong to talk about sin. Clearly, many do not take God seriously in His word that sin is a reality for every man. It is not God who is mistaken about sin it is you.
They don’t acknowledge their total inability to bring themselves out of sin. The word of God is very clear that man is a sinner and completely unable to get himself out of the mess of sin. Only God is able to rescue a sinner from sin. Sadly many think that this is not the truth. Many deceive themselves that they are not sinners. Sin is the particular disease that has affected ALL people without exception. And this one has to acknowledge without question and then seek to deal with the state of sin in which you are born. The sad thing from this passage is that the bible says, “In spite of all this, they still sinned…” This is particularly gross and terrible because God has done everything for man and yet what has man done except to sin! Sinning for all people is as natural as the inhaling air or the circulation of blood.
Secondly, they forget that sin grieves God. “In spite of all this, they still sinned…” how do people hurt God? It is by sinning in spite of all He has done to bring them from their misery. When you see the wickedness in the world, know for sure that it is to spite God; it is meant to offend God because He is too holy as to behold evil. In this Psalm, Asaph narrates what God did for the Israelites in history – choosing them of all the peoples of the earth, redeeming them by His mighty arm from the Egyptian slavery through wonderful works, - bringing plagues, dividing the sea for them; leading them by the day by His cloud and by the night by a pillar of fire, providing for water, bread, and meat and protecting them from being attacked by wild animals or enemies and causing their clothes and shoes not to wear out.
The craving of men for self-gratification is blinds people. Many people live for today and not for tomorrow. The Israelites grumbled and complained about God, (to God!) because they wanted what will fill their stomachs, what will excite them … so walk by sight and not by faith. God graciously satisfied them and gave them manna and quills and water and the list went on and on, all to underscore the greed of man, the insatiable demands of man, the covetousness of man and the unreasonableness of a depraved sinner.
They forgot what the Lord had done to redeem them too quickly, didn’t they? They forgot God’s mercy and graciousness in dealing with them. The Bible says, “They did not remember His power…” (v.42). The forgetfulness of man is because of sin, so that he is blinded by the present, to his own detriment. Men forget so fast what God has done and then go on to complain, rebel and test God’s anger to their own condemnation. They forgot both the power of God to redeem them and the power He used to deal with the sinfulness of Egyptians (vv. 42-51). At the same time they forgot that the same power of God could be used on them for their rebellion! They resented the will of God but instead regarded their own desires. They refused to submit to the will of the Lord, but instead walked according to their own desires to their detriment.
Finally, everyone hopes that he is immortal! Many people do not take it seriously that they will die soon. They have seen people die but they are themselves left thinking that it is only others who die. They think that they deserve to live more than anyone else. The vast majority of people do not take it seriously that they will appear before God in judgment and give an account for their lives. They do not take it seriously that there will come a day of judgment, when they will be held accountable for their deeds. They think that it is a joke. You notice that because of the blatant sinning of this Israelites God made their days vanish like a breath and their years in terror… when He killed them (v.33).
These things happened to the Israelites as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. The effect that this ought to produce in us is for us to examine ourselves lest we fall under the same situation of grumbling, rebelling and testing God. You realize that ignoring God and what He has said for something else such as reasoning is idolatry. This is because you place His authority on something else or on someone else. This is what the we are told – to flee from idolatry (1Cor. 10:14). We are to be very careful with to listen to God and His word as the only authority for our correction in all matters of faith and practice.
Man does not believe because he is naturally inclined to reject and disbelieve God because of sin. He doubts even the ability and power of God. This is why the Lord when healing those two blind people asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.” Then He touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.” And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, “See that no one knows about it.” But they went away and spread His fame through all that district. Matthew 9:28-31. Lack of faith in God is therefore a big problem to your progress. Here we see two blind men who followed Christ wherever He went because they were persuaded that He was their only hope if they were to see.
May the Lord help you all to take God seriously and not ignore what He has instructed in His word? We should never take it for granted that God takes us very seriously, so seriously, that He did not delegate the salvation of men to angels, but came by Himself, through His Son so that we now have salvation and life everlasting on the basis of what Christ has done on the cross for us. Do not leave this place as if you never heard anything… remember this that In spite of all this, they still sinned; despite His wonders, they did not believe. Will you remain like that or will you come to the love of Christ? Will you believe?
It is my prayer that you will pray that the Lord may give you a faith that will not shrink, a faith that will not tremble or murmur. A faith that shines more bright and clear, a faith that keeps the narrow way. O Lord, give me such a faith as this, and then, whatever may come, I taste even now the hallowed bliss of an eternal home.