July 31 2023
Today, Monday July 31
The Long-term Consequences of Our Sins
Psalm 79:5-8 A Psalm of Asaph.
“How long, O LORD? Will You be angry forever? Will Your jealousy burn like fire?
Pour out Your wrath on the nations that do not know You, And on the kingdoms that do not call on Your name. For they have devoured Jacob, And laid waste his dwelling place.
Oh, do not remember former iniquities against us! Let Your tender mercies come speedily to meet us, For we have been brought very low.
From the title we know that a man named Asaph wrote Psalm 79. He most likely lived in the time of Jeremiah the prophet when the Babylonians captured the city of Jerusalem and destroyed it. In the first four verses we read how Asaph suffered mental, emotional, and spiritual agony as he views this terrible scene of God’s judgment upon his nation.
Each division of Psalm 79 opens with an address to Jehovah: "O God" (v. 1); O LORD" (v. 5); "O God of our salvation" (v. 9); and "O LORD" (v. 12). I love the “O God” and “O LORD” statements in that are often used in the Psalms. If you are interested, “O God” is used 98 times, and “O LORD” is used 229 times. “O my God” is used 13 times. This sounds so much like us when we are discouraged or frustrated about how things are going around us. I think this is why we love reading the Psalms as they relate so much to our daily lives.
In verses 5-8, we feel Asaph’s suffering as he experiences God’s angry wrath being poured out to punish Israel for their disobedience and sins of idolatry. The question "How long?" is found often throughout the Psalms and in other prayers in Scripture. During the seven-year tribulation hear this prayer, “When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" (Revelation 6:9-10). I’m sure many of feel the same way as we go through a period of prolonged suffering or problems.
In verse 5 we read about God’s “jealousy”, but we need to remember this is a different kind of jealousy than most of ours where we sinfully and selfishly want something for ourselves. God is not jealous of anyone or anything, for He is wholly self-sufficient and needs nothing, but He is jealous over His land and His people. (See 78:58; Ex. 20:5; Deut. 4:24; 6:15-16; 29:20.) He is jealous for His name (Ezek. 39:25), His land (Joel 2:18), and His inheritance (Zech. 1:14).
Asaph also doesn't deny that he and the people deserve chastening (v. 9), but if the Jews are guilty, then how much guiltier the heathen nations are that have attacked the Jews! He asked God to pour out His anger on the invaders because of what they have done to the land, the city, and the temple (vv. 6-7). As the kingdom of Judah declined, their kings and leaders became less and less devoted to the Lord. There were a few godly kings, such as Asa, Josiah, Joash, and Hezekiah, but foreign alliances, idolatry, and unbelief combined to weaken the kingdom and ripen it for judgment. The sins of the fathers accumulated until God could hold back His wrath no longer (Gen. 15:16; Matt. 23:32-33; 1 Thess. 2:13-16).
In verse 8, Asaph knows they are suffering because of the “former iniquities” of their forefathers. We are guilty before God for only our own sins (Deut. 24:16; Jer. 31:29-30; Ezek. 18), but we may suffer because of the sins of our ancestors (Ex. 20:5; 34:7; 2 Kings 17:7ff; 23:26-27; 24:3-4; Lam. 5:7; Dan. 9:4-14). Moses warned the people not to worship idols in Exodus 20:5 because God would “…visit the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations…”. How tragic that our sins today will have consequences for generations to come.
My selfish sins have long-term costs and effects on my children, my grandchildren, my great grandchildren and even my great great grandchildren. This alone should stop us in our tracks before we decide to enjoy a moment of pleasure in infidelity or adultery, or look at that pornography, or get drunk, or take that illegal drug, or steal and cheat, or lose our temper and destroy something or someone. Asaph asks for the tender mercies of the LORD to intervene in this time of judgment (v. 8b). Exodus 20:5-6 ends with a wonderful promise and encouragement. “God will shew His mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.”
My friend, thank God, we can break the chain and curse of sin, and bring great blessings on our children and families for generations to come if we put the Lord first in our lives today!