Theme: Three More Sins of Rebellion
In this week’s lessons we see that even when we sin, the Lord remains the God who acts not only in judgment, but also in faithfulness and compassion.
Scripture: Psalm 106:1-48
In today’s study we continue our look at rebellion, the sin identified with the people’s exodus from Egypt, and the root sin that lies at the heart of the other sins of Israel. The psalmist catalogues six sins associated with Israel’s years of wandering in the wilderness, and then follows them with one more from the years in Canaan. We looked at the first three yesterday and continue with the rest today.
4. The sin of unbelief (vv. 24-27). The next of the eight serious sins highlighted by this psalm (six from the wilderness period) is the sin of unbelief connected with the refusal of the people to enter the Promised Land. The story is in Numbers 13 and 14.
Someone asked a Bible teacher, “What does the Lord want from me?” The teacher answered, “What God wants most of all is to be believed.” This is true. It is because unbelief is the root of all sins, and the opposite of unbelief is faith, which is the way of salvation. When the people of Israel disbelieved and refused to press forward into the Promised Land, they stand for us, who also miss the good God has for us, simply because we will not believe his promises and act upon them.
5. The sin of apostasy (vv. 28-31). Numbers 25 recounts the time when the men of Israel “began to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women, who invited them to the sacrifices to their gods” (vv. 1, 2). The Baal gods (in this case the Baal of Peor) were fertility gods who were served by cultic immorality. In this story Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron the priest, killed two of the most blatant offenders and was rewarded by God giving him “a lasting priesthood” for his family (v. 13).
6. The sin of insurrection (vv. 32, 33). The final representative sin of the wilderness period referred to in Psalm 106 is the insurrection at Kadesh where the people had no water. The story is in Numbers 20. This was the time when even Moses sinned through frustration, being overcome by the people’s angry unbelief. God told him to speak to the rock and it would bring forth water. But Moses struck it instead and also took some of God’s glory to himself and Aaron, saying, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock” (v. 10)? For this sin, though it seems minor to us, Moses was kept from entering the Promised Land.
Even in the Promised Land the unfaithfulness of the people continued. Here it was accommodation to the ways of Canaan (vv. 34-39). They had been warned against the sins of the Canaanites as far back as Exodus 34:11-14, where they were told utterly to destroy the inhabitants or “they will be a snare among you” (v. 12). They refused to do it. Instead, as Psalm 106 says, they “mingled with the nations and adopted their customs” (v. 35), even to the point of “worshiping their idols” (v. 36) and “sacrificing their sons and daughters to the demons” (v. 37).
The sacrifice of one’s children to demons is so terrible that we can hardly imagine it. It was a sin caused by accommodation to pagan religions of a most debased kind. But are we so sure that we never practice it ourselves? We do if we desire worldly success for our children to the point of thrusting them into a pagan environment today or by encouraging them to live like the world, accommodating Christian behavior to its morality, just to get ahead. If you worship any of the gods of this world—whether wealth, fame, sex or power—they will become a snare to you and your children.
Apostasy: a general falling away from religion or a denial of the faith by those who once held it.
Review the three sins discussed today. Why is unbelief considered a root sin?
What lesson do we learn from Moses’ sin of striking the rock?
What was the sin of accommodating that the people gave into when in Canaan?
Reflection: Explain what it means to accommodate to today’s worldly society. How have you ever accommodated?
Application: Are you struggling in some way to believe God because of something that has happened to you? Pray for a deeper faith and trust in him to reveal his good purposes for you.