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Them and Us

by George Carter
It is said the lesson of history is that men do not learn the lessons of history, which may be true, but God requires we learn. In fact, that is the point of human existence and the reason that the Bible was written. The apostle Paul tells us that ‘“These things happened to them as a warning, but they were written down for our instruction, upon whom the end of the ages have come” (1 Corinthians 10: 11).

It might be argued that Paul wrote almost 2,000 years ago and the end has not yet come. However, such thinking ignores two salient facts: first that the end for any individual is the moment they die (to sleep until their resurrection); and secondly the end of this age is not far from us today. 

Psalms 105 and 106 are the two closing psalms of Book Four and record how God rescued Israel from slavery in Egypt by means of many mighty miracles. Today there are those who are contemptuous of miracles, labeling them as superstitious and claiming God does not exist. But it is guaranteed the time will come when all must face reality. A time beyond the grave when science and technology will fail them and the theory of evolution goes down even as they stand up!

Psalm 105 records God’s wonderful care in redeeming Israel from slavery and supernaturally providing for their needs in the wilderness. The Psalm does not mention the ingratitude of the Israelites: their continual griping, rebellion and unbelievable desire to return to Egypt.

What were they thinking in wanting to return to Egypt? Did they imagine it was safe to go back because Pharaoh’s army was drowned in the sea? Did they forget that Egypt had been devastated by the plagues and there would have been little food? They had taken the wealth of Egypt with them when they left – belated payment for all the years of toil. Meanwhile, all the firstborn of Egypt had been killed in the last plague, both of men and beasts. The Egyptians would be intent on slaughtering Israelites in revenge and getting back their gold, silver and other precious things! Obviously, the Israelites were not thinking too clearly.

All they thought of were the pots of meat, fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic they desired (Exodus 16:3, Numbers 11:5). As for the nutritious manna, they didn’t want that! They lost the vision of a land flowing with milk and honey and just wanted to go back to Egypt.

Psalm 106 tells us how typical the Israelite thinking was. Here the gross ingratitude of that miserable congregation of malcontents is recorded for our admonition – and for the edification of mankind in ages yet to come. So ends Book Four of Psalms.
Book Five opens with Psalm 107 which urges us to be much wiser. The heartfelt plea is given in the first verse, and repeated time and again throughout the psalm:  “O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.”

This time the psalmist is no longer addressing Israel alone, but mankind throughout the ages, particularly those whom God has redeemed from the world and brought into His Church. The psalm applies to all people whom He has rescued from peril on land or sea, or saved from enemies, slavery or imprisonment. It applies to those who have been gathered from hostile lands and settled in a peaceful country. It might include the Jews returned to the land of Israel at last, the first of the tribes who are to be resettled in the years just ahead. It applies to those who have been taken out of the confusion of Satan’s dark world and shown the light of God’s Kingdom.

His mercy endures forever – it is the very nature of God, and will ultimately be seen in the resurrection of every human being who ever lived. It is then that mockers will cease their scoffing, for nothing short of a mighty miracle will be needed to bring them back to life. The original Hebrew word for mercy here includes loving kindness, gentleness, goodness and compassion.  
This is our God – the One who gave us life and breath and made this wonderful world filled with every kind of bird, beast, fish, insect and microbe, all designed to work in symbiotic unison with the vegetation to maintain things in proper working order on planet Earth. 

However, man has polluted land, sea and air and induced sickness in all living things. We’ve done it in wilful ignorance, blinded by so-called science, disregarding the Creator’s instructions. And so man has brought the world to the brink of extinction - again!  
Yet God will not allow mankind to kill off everything. Jesus Christ will come to the rescue as He did in the time of Noah. Terrifying times are prophesied when the Lord once more shakes the whole Earth (Isaiah 2:19-21). How few people believe God will do that and believe a new world is coming! Having been forewarned by His Word, we should give thanks indeed and place ourselves in His all-powerful care.

Ultimately this is all that we can give: our grateful thanks to God for His loving kindness and mercy. Although we deserve death, He offers eternal life. Everything belongs to God, but He plans to share it all with us. He gave His only begotten Son as a sacrifice to redeem us from the penalty of sin.

Like Israel coming out of Egypt, we are being taken out of this world and transported to a new and better one. The journey may be tough at times, but we are in it for the long haul and must continue to move forward. Let us then press on with trusting, grateful minds and hearts, reaching toward the Kingdom soon to come. 

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all” as the apostle John wrote in the closing words of the Bible.
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