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Summary: Our personal choices have consequences, some of them long-term. The choices groups or nations make also have consequences. Provoking God’s long-term discipline is a miserable experience, and sometimes the righteous have to experience it/w the unrighteous.

The Lingering Gloom of Sleeping in the Bed We Made

(Psalm 74)

1. A blogger out west writes, “Today, I was hiking, and four miles away from my car and civilization, I tripped over a rock into a cactus. I used duct tape, which ripped all the hair off my arms and legs but ignored the spikes.”

2. Have you ever felt that kind of frustration: something bad happens, you attempt to fix it, but only make it worse?

3. That’s what happened to Judah. They were conquered by the Babylonians in 606 BC. Babylon set up a puppet state, but the people wanted to fix the problem and regain their independence. One act of rebellion after another.

4. The result: Babylon obliterated Jerusalem, burnt down the temple, and deported most of the population. But some remained in the land.

5. The reason for this destruction was their idolatry and disobedience of God’s Law. They ignored the Scriptures and the prophets God sent. They offered their children in fires to the god Molech. They committed immorality by adding the worship of pagan gods to the worship of the One true god.

6. But some people were faithful to the Lord and left behind, as I believe the author of this Psalm — of the house of Asaph, was.

7. Perhaps he writes 20 or 25 years after the Temple was destroyed and the people exiled, and the years dragged by in a seeming endless dessert of gloom.

Main Idea: Our personal choices have consequences, some of them long-term. The choices groups or nations make also have consequences, some of them long term. Provoking God’s long-term discipline is a miserable experience, and sometimes the righteous have to experience it along with the unrighteous.

I. God’s Discipline May Seem to Last FOREVER (1-11).

A. God’s smoking anger is the CONSEQUENCE of rebellion against God’s Law (1).

The consequences of our sins can linger long after we have repented…

Words used here include: cast off, anger against your sheep, perpetual ruins, destroyed, foes roared, set on fire, profaned, subdued, burned, scoffed at.

The Bible implies there are two types of discipline God brings or allows:

1. Punishment: corrective JUDICIAL discipline (this situation)

2. DEVELOPMENTAL discipline to hone our souls

B. The plea: remember Your past commitment to Your PEOPLE (2-3)

1. PURCHASED (2a)

2. REDEEMED (2b)

3. INDWELT (2c)

C. The lingering misery: Jerusalem in RUINS (3, 4-11)

1. No more PROPHETS, although their echo could almost be heard (9)

2. UNCERTAINTY as to how long it would take to recover (9)

3. The prayer to destroy the oppressive BABYLONIANS (11)

D. Application to NEW Covenant believer

1. Perseverance of the believer, though disciplined

2. Purchased, redeemed, indwelt — and can be in ruins

3. We need to take God seriously while there is time (don’t ignore)

4. God can use our failures to develop a repentant spirit within us.

5. The trials and miseries of believers down through the centuries should help us understand that God is on the throne even during downturns

II. We Hope for Relief and the Ability to Cope on the Basis of God’s CHARACTER (12-23)

If you want someone you know to detest you, intimate that you question their character. Assume dishonesty or deceit. First came to HPC, some people did not believe me… not that I was wrong, but lying.

Many of the great prayers of the Bible appeal to God’s character: “For the sake of Your great Name” is something we read repeatedly (e.g., 2 Chr. 6:32; Ps. 79:9).

The reason we are justified by grace through the medium of faith is that faith affirms the dependability/reliability/integrity of God’s promises. A character issue.

A. He is the powerful KING and Creator (12-17)

He rescued the people from Egypt and brought them to the Promised Land. He is capable of rescuing the people from Babylon and bringing them back to Israel.

B. He has special COMPASSION for His people (18-21)

When God turns over a person or a nation for judgment, He does not relish it.

Maybe someone in your family (or perhaps you in the past) was or is a prodigal, and there lives are absolutely miserable and empty… it is painful to witness, but a consequence of the choices they made…

C. He VINDICATES His Name and glory (22-23)

1. People blaspheme God’s Name and DERIDE Him

2. Modern society has no problem saying SACRELIGIOUS things about Jesus

3. God’s people are represented as non-thinking FOOLISH hypocrites.

D. The New Testament BUILDS on these concepts (2 Thessalonians 1:4-8)

Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring. This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering—since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

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