Summary: Present generations can choose to follow the Lord despite the ridiculous or ungodly example of their forefathers. The Psalmist gives us advice to help us do so.

Breaking the Cycle

(Psalm 78)

1. A couple decided to go to Cyprus for the weekend, but because they both worked it was hard to coordinate their diaries. So they decided the husband would go a day early, and his wife would join him the following day. On arriving, the husband thought he would email his wife from his laptop, but he accidentally mistyped her email address and sent it off without realizing.

A widow had just returned from her husband's funeral. He was a minister of many years who had been 'called home to glory' following a heart attack. The widow checked her e-mail, expecting messages from relatives and friends, but instead found this:

I've just arrived and have checked in. I see that everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing you then! Hope your journey is as uneventful as mine was. (P.S. Sure is hot down here!) []

2. We all make mistakes, and some of them are big ones. But it is especially sad when we don’t learn from our mistakes — or from the mistakes others make.

3. For example, daughters of an alcoholic father tend to marry alcoholic men. Rather than learning from mistakes, some people try to recreate their former unhealthy environment because it is FAMILIAR, and then they seek to fix it.

4. Although this draw is strong, it is a matter of choosing wisdom over foolishness, feelings over truth. Nonetheless, familiarity is a potent force.

Proverbs 27:12, “The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.

5. The Psalm is a teaching psalm, and was probably written shortly after the Northern Kingdom declared independence from Judah, led by their biggest tribe, Ephraim. The breakaway king (Jeroboam) had idolatrous altars made to keep the Israelites out of Jerusalem/Judah, where God had ordained the Temple.

• God had promised that the tribe of Judah would be the ruling tribe/Messiah

• Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, were made tribes; Joseph was given the rights of a firstborn by father Jacob, so Ephraim inherited it.

• Leading tribe during the 400 years of the Judges.

• Ephraim given the best land

• Tabernacle pitched in Shiloh, in Ephraim, until the ark was captured.

• Shiloh had been trashed by the Philistines (Palestinians).

• Most of the turning away from the Lord and the judges who delivered the people when they repented occurred in No. Israel (Ephraim).

Obvious Purpose — To teach the younger generations about the cycle of disobedience and misery that Israel’s previous generations were addicted to, and to encourage them not to keep repeating the same mistakes century after century.

Hidden Purpose — To encourage loyalty to the dynasty of David and Judah, and God’s choice of Zion — especially addressing the breakaway 10 Northern Tribes. Faithful followers of Yahweh would continue to travel to Jerusalem and not participate in Jeroboam’s false worship.

Main Idea: Present generations can choose to follow the Lord despite the ridiculous or ungodly example of their forefathers. The Psalmist gives us advice to help us do so.

I. Advice: Do Not Be Spiritually STUBBORN and Repeat the Unfaithful Attitudes of Previous Generations (1-11)

A. Give EAR (1-4)

1. Israel’s history can become an PARABLE (lesson)

2. All Scripture is both inspired and PROFITABLE

Rom. 15:4, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

Do you consider the historical portions of God’s revelation to be dry and difficult to digest? Do you know how to look for analogies between the experiences of the OT saints and the temptations and difficulties that face us today?

B. Make the Word known to your CHILDREN (5-8)

1. Children need to be civilized, boys esp. need a dad to do so.

An Assyrian table written about 4700 years ago lamented: "children no longer obey their parents."

In 425 B.C. Socrates was more elaborate: “Our youth today love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority, disrespect for older people. Children nowadays are tyrants. They contradict their parents, gobble their food, and tyrannize their teachers.”

Children who are stubborn, rebellious and untrustworthy are nothing new. In fact, God tells us “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child…” (Proverbs 22:15)

[Jeff Strite, Sermon Central]

2. Children need to be indoctrinated.

3. Children need to develop moral fiber.

C. Remember the sin of EPHRAIM (9-11)

1. Divide between north (Ephraim) and south was PERENNIAL

2. The SOUTH (Judah) was typically more godly

3. Even though EPHRAIM had rights of the firstborn, God chose JUDAH

Always at a crossroads: Present generations can choose to follow the Lord despite the ridiculous or ungodly example of their forefathers.

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