Summary: God condemns rebellion against Himself and against the created order. God calls His people to a life marked by peace.

“They tested and rebelled against the Most High God

and did not keep his testimonies,

but turned away and acted treacherously like their fathers;

they twisted like a deceitful bow.

For they provoked him to anger with their high places;

they moved him to jealousy with their idols.

When God heard, he was full of wrath,

and he utterly rejected Israel.

He forsook his dwelling at Shiloh,

the tent where he dwelt among mankind,

and delivered his power to captivity,

his glory to the hand of the foe.

He gave his people over to the sword

and vented his wrath on his heritage.

Fire devoured their young men,

and their young women had no marriage song.

Their priests fell by the sword,

and their widows made no lamentation.

Then the Lord awoke as from sleep,

like a strong man shouting because of wine.

And he put his adversaries to rout;

he put them to everlasting shame.” [1]

“When God heard, He was full of wrath” [PSALM 78:59a]. Earlier in this Psalm, Asaph wrote, “When the LORD heard, He was full of wrath” [PSALM 78:21a]. Therefore, twice in this Psalm the Psalmist informed us that some action of some statement incites God’s wrath. What did the LORD hear that incited His wrath? Or what moved God to wrath? The question is vital if we are to avoid displeasing God. No one who seeks peace with God would want to incite His wrath. So, it is obvious that we would want to know what displeases God, that we would want to understand what angers the Living God so that we do not fall under His wrath.

As you know, this current series is entitled, “Sins That Cry Out to Heaven.” Though the precise wording in this Psalm doesn’t say that whatever the sin is that is in view cries out to Heaven, it is apparent the Psalmist speaks of a sin that stirs God’s wrath. Apparently, even a cursory reading leads to the understanding that according to this SEVENTY-EIGHTH PSALM, there exists what many appear to consider an acceptable sin that ignites the LORD’s wrath. To be quite pointed, the text informs us that God’s wrath is revealed against a spirit of rebellion. I caution those who profess to know the Risen Saviour—rebellion leads to death. The reason this is so is because rebellion inevitably leads to a confrontation with the Living God.

REBELLION AS GOD SEES IT — We are told in Scripture, “God is not a God of disorder but of peace” [1 CORINTHIANS 14:33a CSB]. The context in which Paul makes this particular statement was while addressing spiritual anarchy. People were seeking to inflate their ego by insisting on speaking in what they called an ecstatic language. Their actions confused the church; and thus they dishonoured the Lord. It is no less accurate to say that unrestrained ecstatic speech in the service of a church in this day is confusing. Thus, such ecstatic speech exposes a rebellious spirit. Rather than humility before the Lord, the one speaking in an ecstatic language seeks to promote herself or himself.

So, that is a command to be observed for the assembly when it is gathered. However, the principle of orderly conduct is no less essential when we consider the family, or the state, or even the natural order of things. God is not a God of disorder, a God of confusion. Years ago, as part of a prize for winning the Sigma Xi research competition during graduate studies, I was given a gift certificate to be used at the medical school bookstore. One of the books I purchased was entitled, “Order in Nature.” I can’t say that the book was especially memorable except for emphasising the concept that all nature displays order. The evidence points to a master hand behind what is witnessed in nature. Though the author likely did not mean to imply a Designer for nature, his argument was precisely that—an argument for a Designer. If there was a Designer, and there is a Designer, then He is not honoured through promoting disorder.

Have you ever noticed the continued emphasis in the Word on seeking peace? For instance, after instructing wives to seek harmony through fostering a submissive attitude toward their husbands and instructing husbands to honour their wives by endeavouring to actually listen to them, Peter encourages all believers to seek unity. He writes, “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For

‘Whoever desires to love life

and see good days,

let him keep his tongue from evil

and his lips from speaking deceit;

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