July 08

Read Psalms 78 -- 80

In Today's Reading:

The long-suffering of God toward Israel;His judgment against disobedience; a prayer for the destruction of heathen enemies; a prayer for mercy and restoration.

Verses for Today:

The heathen . . . have laid Jerusalem on heaps. . . . We are become a reproach to our neighbors, a scorn and derision to them that are round about us. . . . O remember not against us (our) former iniquities (sins); let Thy tender mercies speedily prevent us (quickly intervene); for we are brought very low. Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of Thy Name: and deliver us and purge away our sins, for Thy Name's sake (79:1-4,8-9).

We are reminded of the horror felt by the Israelites following the destruction of the Temple and their nation because they kept not the covenant of God, and refused to walk in His Law (Psalms 78:10). The inevitable result of sin is suffering.

When godly kings ruled the Israelites, they could proudly let the world know that God was their Rock and Redeemer. But evil kings encouraged the people to sin. They (the Israelites) did flatter Him (God) with their mouth, and they lied [to] Him with their tongues. For their [hearts were] not right with Him, neither were they steadfast in His covenant (78:36-37). Although they continued their traditional form of worshiping the God of their fathers, they gradually became friends with their Canaanite neighbors, and even participated in the worship of their heathen gods.

Israel's history illustrates how vital it is for God's people to read His Word in order to worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). God had chosen Israel to be a witness to the world by showing how He would bless all who honor Him and His Word; but they failed miserably as a nation. The few who remained faithful prayed: Purge away our sins (Psalms 79:9). This means to make an atonement for [our] souls (Exodus 30:15). The Old Testament word atonement means to cover (not to remove). Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered (Psalms 32:1; 85:2).

The blood sacrifices of sheep and other innocent animals could only temporarily "cover" sins until Jesus, the sinless, perfect Lamb of God, sacrificed His own life's blood on the cross for the sins of the world. John the Baptist pointed to Jesus and said: Behold the Lamb of God, [Who takes] away the sin of the world (John 1:29). All of the Old Testament sacrifices for sins could only temporarily "cover" sin, but all our sins were removed by Jesus' sinless blood, which cleanses us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). The all-sufficient sacrifice of Christ on the cross made it possible for both Jews and Gentiles who truly repent and turn to Jesus as their Savior to be forgiven of their sins (Galatians 3:27-28). Israel's sacrifices and feasts were symbols which foreshadowed all that was accomplished by Jesus the Messiah. Thus, God fulfilled and forever destroyed the old sacrificial system under the Law and now proclaims: How much more shall the blood of Christ, Who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:14).

Christ Revealed:

As the true Shepherd (Psalms 80:1). Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd, as well as the Door of the sheepfold. He alone is the Way to Heaven. I am the Door . . . if any man enter in, he shall be saved. . . . I am the Good Shepherd (John 10:9).

Word Studies:

78:15 clave = split; 78:34 enquired early = sought diligently; 79:1 on heaps = in ruins; 79:4 derision = ridicule; 80:3 turn us again = restore us; 80:8 a vine = Israel; 80:12 hedges = walls or fences; 80:18 quicken us = revive us.

Prayer Needs:

Government Officials: Rep. Julia Carson (IN), Rep. John Dingell (MI), and Sen. Phil Gramm (TX) · Pray for one more person to read through the Bible · Country:Malaysia (21 million) in Southeast Asia · Major languages: Malay and English · All Christian witness to Muslims is illegal · 49% Muslim; 39% Hindu, Buddhist, and Chinese religions; 4% Roman Catholic; 4% animism, magic, and some headhunting; 3% Protestant · Prayer Suggestion: Realize that your life is in God's hands, and ask Him to deliver you from all evil (Luke 11:4).

Optional Reading: 2 Thessalonians 2

Memory Verse for the Week: Romans 1:18