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Saturday, February 7 2015

Psalm 78: The Parable Of The Rebel Sheep

"He that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherd of His flock ... But they rebelled, and vexed His Holy Spirit"

The first-ever human rebellion happened when a man "rose up" against a shepherd. "Abel was a keeper of sheep" until "Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him" (see Cain and Abel).

After the murder, when the LORD asked Cain where his brother was, Cain replied with his infamous "Am I my brother's keeper?" - which was actually, according to the meaning of the original words, an accusatory-tone "Am I my brother's shepherd" - keeping in mind that Abel was the shepherd. Cain's hate was for the shepherd, who could have been anyone, who obeyed the LORD.

Cain and Abel

"4:1 And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. 4:2 And she again bare his brother Abel.

And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.

4:3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. 4:4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: 4:5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. 4:6 And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? 4:7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.

4:8 And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him." (Genesis 4:1-8 KJV)

Moses learned to be a political leader during his upbringing years in the Pharaoh's palace (see The Israelites Of The Pharaoh's Palace) - as well as understanding the psychology of his future opponent.

Moses then experienced many years in the Sinai as a shepherd (see Moses Of Midian) to learn all that he needed to know for the journey after the Exodus. Moses' time as a shepherd is also how he met his Arab wife who became the mother of his children (see Moses And Zipporah) and how he found the "burning bush" (see The Sign Of The Flaming Bush) on Mount Sinai (Moses was well-familiar with Mount Sinai long before the Exodus).

"3:1 Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb. 3:2 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. 3:3 And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.

3:4 And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses.

And he said, Here am I.

3:5 And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. 3:6 Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.

3:7 And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; 3:8 And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 3:9 Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them. 3:10 Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt." (Exodus 3:1-10 KJV)

The true prophets of the LORD recognized the ancient from-the-beginning principle of the good shepherd - which was ultimately fulfilled by the Messiah (it's also no mere coincidence that shepherds were given to be the first witnesses of the birth of the Messiah; see The Bethlehem Shepherds Prophecy). During human history however, those who were given to be shepherds of the LORD's flock experienced, without exception, a rebellion from some of the "sheep." Just like Cain, the Satan-minded insurrections weren't against any mere human shepherd; they were always against the Word of God. Moses lived with such rebel fools for forty years after the Exodus (see Why A Book Of Deuteronomy In The Bible?).

"63:9 In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old. 63:10 But they rebelled, and vexed his holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them. 63:11 Then he remembered the days of old, Moses, and his people, saying, Where is he that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherd of his flock? where is he that put his holy Spirit within him? 63:12 That led them by the right hand of Moses with his glorious arm, dividing the water before them, to make himself an everlasting name?" (Isaiah 63:9-12 KJV)

Asaph was a Levite in the time of King David (see The Songs Of Asaph). David had been a shepherd of his father's flock until he was anointed to be a shepherd of the LORD's flock - just like Moses. In the time of Asaph, the Exodus and Moses were history. Asaph's Psalm was a warning for the "sheep" to not repeat history - the loss of the Promised Land because of rebellion (see Why 40 Years In The Sinai?).

Sinai Shepherds

"78:1 Maschil of Asaph.

Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth. 78:2 I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old: 78:3 Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us.

78:4 We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done. 78:5 For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: 78:6 That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: 78:7 That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments: 78:8 And might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not stedfast with God." (Psalm 78:1-8 KJV)

The irony of the history lesson was that it turned out to be prophetic. The Kingdom of Israel repeated the same rebellion against the Way of the LORD. David and Asaph never saw it in their lifetimes, but it was obviously (i.e. from Asaph's stark warning) apparent to them that it could easily happen again (see Why Did Judah Fall To Babylon?).

"78:9 The children of Ephraim, being armed, and carrying bows, turned back in the day of battle. 78:10 They kept not the covenant of God, and refused to walk in his law; 78:11 And forgat his works, and his wonders that he had shewed them. 78:12 Marvellous things did he in the sight of their fathers, in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan. 78:13 He divided the sea, and caused them to pass through; and he made the waters to stand as an heap. 78:14 In the daytime also he led them with a cloud, and all the night with a light of fire. 78:15 He clave the rocks in the wilderness, and gave them drink as out of the great depths. 78:16 He brought streams also out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers.

78:17 And they sinned yet more against him by provoking the most High in the wilderness. 78:18 And they tempted God in their heart by asking meat for their lust. 78:19 Yea, they spake against God; they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness? 78:20 Behold, he smote the rock, that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed; can he give bread also? can he provide flesh for his people? 78:21 Therefore the LORD heard this, and was wroth: so a fire was kindled against Jacob, and anger also came up against Israel; 78:22 Because they believed not in God, and trusted not in his salvation: 78:23 Though he had commanded the clouds from above, and opened the doors of heaven, 78:24 And had rained down manna upon them to eat, and had given them of the corn of heaven. 78:25 Man did eat angels' food: he sent them meat to the full. 78:26 He caused an east wind to blow in the heaven: and by his power he brought in the south wind. 78:27 He rained flesh also upon them as dust, and feathered fowls like as the sand of the sea: 78:28 And he let it fall in the midst of their camp, round about their habitations. 78:29 So they did eat, and were well filled: for he gave them their own desire; 78:30 They were not estranged from their lust. But while their meat was yet in their mouths, 78:31 The wrath of God came upon them, and slew the fattest of them, and smote down the chosen men of Israel.

78:32 For all this they sinned still, and believed not for his wondrous works. 78:33 Therefore their days did he consume in vanity, and their years in trouble. 78:34 When he slew them, then they sought him: and they returned and enquired early after God. 78:35 And they remembered that God was their rock, and the high God their redeemer. 78:36 Nevertheless they did flatter him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues. 78:37 For their heart was not right with him, neither were they stedfast in his covenant. 78:38 But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath. 78:39 For he remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again." (Psalm 78:9-39 KJV)

The Sinai
The wrath that came upon the arrogant Pharaoh (see What Causes Humility?) came upon Israel when they rebelled against the LORD. What happened to the Pharaoh can, and will, happen to anyone, anywhere.

"78:40 How oft did they provoke him in the wilderness, and grieve him in the desert! 78:41 Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel. 78:42 They remembered not his hand, nor the day when he delivered them from the enemy. 78:43 How he had wrought his signs in Egypt, and his wonders in the field of Zoan: 78:44 And had turned their rivers into blood; and their floods, that they could not drink. 78:45 He sent divers sorts of flies among them, which devoured them; and frogs, which destroyed them. 78:46 He gave also their increase unto the caterpiller, and their labour unto the locust. 78:47 He destroyed their vines with hail, and their sycomore trees with frost. 78:48 He gave up their cattle also to the hail, and their flocks to hot thunderbolts. 78:49 He cast upon them the fierceness of his anger, wrath, and indignation, and trouble, by sending evil angels among them. 78:50 He made a way to his anger; he spared not their soul from death, but gave their life over to the pestilence; 78:51 And smote all the firstborn in Egypt; the chief of their strength in the tabernacles of Ham:

78:52 But made his own people to go forth like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock. 78:53 And he led them on safely, so that they feared not: but the sea overwhelmed their enemies. 78:54 And he brought them to the border of his sanctuary, even to this mountain, which his right hand had purchased. 78:55 He cast out the heathen also before them, and divided them an inheritance by line, and made the tribes of Israel to dwell in their tents." (Psalm 78:40-55 KJV)

The meaning of Asaph's parable was clear to everyone: "He chose David also his servant, and took him from the sheepfolds." It was a warning for the sheep to not feed themselves to the wolves - again.

"78:56 Yet they tempted and provoked the most high God, and kept not his testimonies: 78:57 But turned back, and dealt unfaithfully like their fathers: they were turned aside like a deceitful bow. 78:58 For they provoked him to anger with their high places, and moved him to jealousy with their graven images. 78:59 When God heard this, he was wroth, and greatly abhorred Israel: 78:60 So that he forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent which he placed among men; 78:61 And delivered his strength into captivity, and his glory into the enemy's hand. 78:62 He gave his people over also unto the sword; and was wroth with his inheritance. 78:63 The fire consumed their young men; and their maidens were not given to marriage. 78:64 Their priests fell by the sword; and their widows made no lamentation.

78:65 Then the Lord awaked as one out of sleep, and like a mighty man that shouteth by reason of wine. 78:66 And he smote his enemies in the hinder parts: he put them to a perpetual reproach. 78:67 Moreover he refused the tabernacle of Joseph, and chose not the tribe of Ephraim: 78:68 But chose the tribe of Judah, the mount Zion which he loved. 78:69 And he built his sanctuary like high palaces, like the earth which he hath established for ever.

78:70 He chose David also his servant, and took him from the sheepfolds: 78:71 From following the ewes great with young he brought him to feed Jacob his people, and Israel his inheritance. 78:72 So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands." (Psalm 78:56-72 KJV)

Fact Finder: The Messiah is the "Good Shepherd." What did He say to the rebel sheep who use His name for their man-made religions?
See Why Call Me, Lord, Lord, and Do Not The Things Which I Say?

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This Day In History, February 7

457: Leo I became the emperor of the Byzantine Empire. The Byzantine Empire was the Greek-speaking extension of the Roman Empire during the eras of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. It faded away as the power of the German Empire grew (see The Holy Roman Empire Of The German Nation).

Canada 1301: King Edward I of England revived the title of Prince of Wales and bestowed it on Edward of Caernarvon, who later became Edward II.

1550: Giovanni Maria del Monte was elected Pope Julius III (see also The Struggle For The Papacy).

1668: The Netherlands, England and Sweden signed a pact against Louis XIV of France.

1783: The Spanish and French Siege of Gibraltar was lifted after 4 years.

1792: Austria and Prussia (an area of Germany, not to be confused with Russia) formed an alliance against France.

1807: The Battle of Eylau. Napoleon fought a fierce but indecisive battle against Russian and Prussian forces.

1867: The British North America Act, to create the Dominion of Canada, was introduced in the House of Lords by the Earl of Carnarvon.

1878: Pope Pius IX died. His nearly 32 year pontificate was the longest in the history of the Roman Catholic church. He was the inventor of the anti-Biblical dogma of the "Immaculate Conception" in 1854 (see What Does The Bible Really Say About Mary? and Why Call Me, Lord, Lord, and Do Not The Things Which I Say?).

1904: The biggest fire in the U.S. since the great Chicago Fire of 1871 broke out in Baltimore. It destroyed over 2,500 buildings.

1913: The Ottomans (a centuries-long ruling dynasty in Turkey; listen to our Sermon The Ottoman Empire and see the study Israel In History and Prophecy: Balfour Declaration) lost 5,000 men in a battle with the Bulgarian army in Gallipoli.

1926: Average wage for common labour in U.S.: 54 cents per hour.

1935: The game Monopoly was invented.

1944: During the Second World War (1939-1945), German forces in Anzio, Italy launched a counteroffensive during the allied forces "Operation Shingle" (see also Anzio).

1962: As a face-saving gesture after the failed CIA-backed "Bay of Pigs" invasion (April 17 1961), the U.S. banned all Cuban imports and exports.

1976: Darryl Sittler of the Toronto Maple Leafs set a National Hockey League record by scoring 10 points in a single game.

1986: It rained sardines in Ipswich, Australia. Scientists speculated that a violent storm caused updrafts that lifted the fish out of shallow waters and took them into the atmosphere.

1986: President Jean-Claude Duvalier fled the Caribbean nation of Haiti, thereby ending 28 years of his family rule.

1990: The Soviet communist party under Mikhail Gorbachev agreed to surrender monopoly on political power after 70 years.

1992: European Community ministers formally signed the Maastricht Treaty of European Union (see The Holy Roman Empire Of The German Nation).

1999: Crown Prince Abdullah became the King of Jordan following the death of his father, King Hussein (see also Numbers 32: The Israel Of East Jordan).

2009: Bushfires in Victoria left 173 people dead in the worst natural disaster in Australia's history.


Copyright © Wayne Blank