Psalms 78:1-8 NLTse O my people, listen to my instructions. Open your ears to what I am saying, (2) for I will speak to you in a parable. I will teach you hidden lessons from our past– (3) stories we have heard and known, stories our ancestors handed down to us. (4) We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the LORD, about his power and his mighty wonders. (5) For he issued his laws to Jacob; he gave his instructions to Israel. He commanded our ancestors to teach them to their children, (6) so the next generation might know them– even the children not yet born– and they in turn will teach their own children. (7) So each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying his commands. (8) Then they will not be like their ancestors— stubborn, rebellious, and unfaithful, refusing to give their hearts to God.
Who doesn’t want to learn the hidden treasures and stories in God’s Word? Who doesn’t want to learn how to teach them? Unfortunately most Christians would rather ignore lessons about God’s Word. Many Christians have been deceived into thinking all the truth has been revealed. I was watching a preacher on TV. He preached on a verse for ten minutes. Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: (2 Peter 1:2-3 KJV). The preacher talked about the peace and grace knowledge will give you and insisted people are lost because of a lack of knowledge. Of course he led people to believe God gave this knowledge to him and he was the only one who had the knowledge to save. I guess its too bad for all those people born before this preacher got the knowledge required to be saved. If you weren’t tuned into that preacher’s show, you better pray there’s a rerun. Sorry I can’t share the information with you. All he talked about was the fact he had the knowledge and everyone else was deceived by this, that, or the other thing. The preacher never got to the point – so he never shared the knowledge – but he did ask for money. I guess you had to pay to get saved. Maybe that’s the secret he didn’t share on the air.
That’s one example of how people distort God’s Word. They make a comfortable living claiming they have some sort of greater knowledge, but in reality never share a thing. Why do people fall for such scams? Because no one ever taught them how to study the Bible. People are always searching for truth, but let’s face it – it’s not easy to find. I challenge you to ask your preacher to show you how to study your Bible. What do you think the answer will be? The two most popular are – the preacher will hand you a set or pamphlets he calls Bible Studies. Those were never designed to teach people how to study their Bible and they never will. In essence Bible Study pamphlets are designed to play the odds based on the fact most people will be satisfied with that answer. It’s nothing more than a modern style of counting or numbering like David and Solomon did. Remember the reason David and Solomon numbered Israel. David did it to measure his power. Solomon did it to enslave people. Pay attention to the sequence.
The second most popular answer when you ask a preacher how to study the Bible is, “only qualified, educated people should study the Bible.” This is the answer the TV preacher relied on. He talked a bit about his qualifications, hoping people wouldn’t question him. Well who could? He was talking to a hand chosen TV audience. No one was going to question him. He was displaying his power over the body and mind.
You’ll be lucky to find a preacher who can explain how to do a simple word study which is hardly more than looking key words up in a Concordance and looking at other texts the word is used in. This method can be used to find the spiritual meaning of key words, but some key words have a number of spiritual meanings. Which one do you use? You have to look at the context. Many times the spiritual meaning of a word is taken out of context. The most popular is the symbol of a woman. Preachers love to use the symbol of a virtuous woman as a symbol of their church. The Bible never says a church represents a woman. In over 20 years of asking for a verse, no one has been able to produce a single verse out of the Bible that shows a woman represents a church. There is no end to outside sources people have been able to produce, which shows how long this symbol has been distorted. Take a look and remember, the fulfillment is much greater than the symbol. That hint just gave away the answer.
If you find a preacher who is able to explain how the introduction and summation explain the context of a chapter and know how to point out the rule of repeated words, key words that are the same, similar, and related, you found a preacher who knows how to read, understand, and is qualified to teach God’s Word. If the preacher can’t share those simple Bible study rules, you have a lot of praying in front of you. A good preacher listening to God’s Spirit will open his Bible to show you examples. He’ll know how easy it is to understand lessons are in the gospels. He may show you how the parables Jesus taught in the court have a common theme, they all deal with the harvest of the world. After I discovered this simple method God uses to teach deeper lessons, a friend pointed me to a book written over 150 years ago – so this information has been around for quite some time. It’s nothing new. God wrote it thousands of years ago and people have been using these forms of study since the first printed copy of the Bible was published. Satan knew if God’s people caught onto these Study methods his cause would be lost. Satan would loose again. That’s why He tried to stop printing and distribution of the Bible. Most people think that battle was won – but that’s far from the truth. Satan attacked from different angles. Satan convinced the world the Bible was difficult to understand and locked these lessons in schools of higher education where he could easily manipulate God’s rules of Bible Study until it was all but lost. Who reads books written 100, 200, 300, or more years ago explaining and using these study rules? Sad to say, no one does anymore. The world has fallen for deceptions like the TV preacher insisting people need to go through him for knowledge. But we know that’s not true – for one – David tells us, Jesus tells us, all God’s prophets tells us, God’s Word is open to all of us.
We already know David’s prophecy tells about, “parables and hidden lessons from the past, stories we have heard and known, stories our ancestors handed down to us. David also tells us, “We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the LORD, about his power and his mighty wonders.” These are the mysteries of the Bible people are looking for. How are we supposed to tell our children if we don’t know how to ask and listen to God’s Spirit when He’s ready, willing, and able to teach us these secrets? Too bad there aren’t enough people able to explain those hidden lessons from our past. We’ve covered a number of details in this book and previous books in this series. As we progress in God’s Word from prophecy to prophecy, God’s Spirit reveals valuable lessons showing how to find and understand those hidden lessons. Once again we have to rely on those simple rules to locate a parallel chapter in the New Testament.
David began with the related key words listen, open, speak, and teach. The key word teach is repeated three times. The prophecy is also the introduction of the chapter which of course establishes the context telling us this prophecy will teach us how to understand parables. Once we find a parallel chapter we’ll see how God teaches us so we’re able to teach others.
Searching gospels for the word teach and related words we find dozens to choose from. Once again we have to follow the rule of context by comparing introductions and summations of the prophecy to find the fulfillment. Also remember the key word teach, used as a sort of symbol points to a greater fulfillment. There are a number of chapters to choose from. While praying my mind centered on one chapter in particular where Jesus taught two travelers on the road to Emmaus. Once the key words were highlighted, it showed a spiritual connection to Psalm 78.
Luke 24:13-36 NLTse That same day two of Jesus‘ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem. (14) As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. (15) As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them. (16) But God kept them from recognizing him. (17) He asked them, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?” They stopped short, sadness written across their faces. (18) Then one of them, Cleopas, replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.” (19) “What things?” Jesus asked. “The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” they said. “He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people. (20) But our leading priests and other religious leaders handed him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified him. (21) We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel. This all happened three days ago. (22) “Then some women from our group of his followers were at his tomb early this morning, and they came back with an amazing report. (23) They said his body was missing, and they had seen angels who told them Jesus is alive! (24) Some of our men ran out to see, and sure enough, his body was gone, just as the women had said.” (25) Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. (26) Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?” (27) Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (28) By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus acted as if he were going on, (29) but they begged him, “Stay the night with us, since it is getting late.” So he went home with them. (30) As they sat down to eat, he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them. (31) Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared! (32) They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” (33) And within the hour they were on their way back to Jerusalem. There they found the eleven disciples and the others who had gathered with them, (34) who said, “The Lord has really risen! He appeared to Peter.” (35) Then the two from Emmaus told their story of how Jesus had appeared to them as they were walking along the road, and how they had recognized him as he was breaking the bread. (36) And just as they were telling about it, Jesus himself was suddenly standing there among them. “Peace be with you,” he said.
At first this chapter seems to be linked by the single similar word, teacher. When we consider who this points to all the details begin to fall into place. First we can look at how the author led into this story. After Jesus rose from the grave where He met Mary and the other women, He seemed to disappear. Later on the same day, Jesus turned up on the road walking next to two of His followers. Notice how the author calls attention to the word, walk, by repeating it. Luke is calling attention to a spiritual walk with Jesus. The repeated words, talked, talking, discussed, and discussing also relate to the word walk by pointing out a walk with Jesus refers to a relationship with verbal communication. Jesus’ followers didn’t yet understand the plan of salvation, but they saw Jesus, “was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people.” This relates to David’s prophecy where he points out, “we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the LORD, about his power and his mighty wonders.” It’s obvious those stories will be about Jesus, His ministry on earth, and the prophecies He fulfilled. Luke also repeats the word recognized to point out how Jesus’ follower did not really know who He was. We have to look at more than the physical aspects of Jesus they didn’t recognize. When you look at this on a spiritual level you can see how they thought they knew Jesus, but missed so much. Look at the detail they misunderstood about Jesus, His victory at the cross and over death. This also points to future generations who take Jesus’ victory for granted. So little is studied and known about the cross on the spiritual level. Too much attention has been paid to the physical aspects of the cross while people lost sight of the person on the cross and what He came to accomplish. People also overlook Jesus’ personality. Listen to this message that the LORD has spoken against you, O people of Israel and Judah–against the entire family I rescued from Egypt: “From among all the families on the earth, I have been intimate with you alone. That is why I must punish you for all your sins.” Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction? (Amos 3:1-3 NLTse). A walk with Jesus has to be an intimate relationship. It’s not by mistake Amos mentions the family rescued from Egypt and David covers the same subject in detail. To know Jesus you have to look back, way back, thousands of years to see the relationship He has been trying to establish with His followers. On the road to Emmaus, one of Jesus’ followers looked back over a small portion of Jesus’ life, the same small portion a lot of people know. This shows how knowing a small part of His life is not really knowing Jesus. What does Jesus do? He keeps reaching out like He always has. This time Jesus reaches out the way He has been trying do so long. “Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” This is knowing Jesus. We begin in the books Moses wrote and followed through all the prophets. Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared! They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?”
Scripture explains itself because Jesus spent not only His life on this world, but generations trying to teach this world about Himself. As we get into this study we’ll take a look at how some of the details David recorded explain a little part of Jesus He always wanted us to know. Then they will not be like their ancestors— stubborn, rebellious, and unfaithful, refusing to give their hearts to God. Because the main theme of David’s prophecy in Psalm 78 is contained in the introduction, our first step is to compare the introduction to Luke 24.
Luke 24:1-11 NLTse But very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. (2) They found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. (3) So they went in, but they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. (4) As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes. (5) The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? (6) He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, (7) that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.” (8) Then they remembered that he had said this. (9) So they rushed back from the tomb to tell his eleven disciples–and everyone else–what had happened. (10) It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and several other women who told the apostles what had happened. (11) But the story sounded like nonsense to the men, so they didn’t believe it.
There seems to be very little the introduction to Luke 24 has in common with Psalm 78. On the surface we don’t see much in common with parables and hidden lessons. We won’t see much if we don’t compare the two chapters on a spiritual level. Once we look at, “stories we have heard and known, stories our ancestors handed down to us,” on a spiritual level, we can see the relationship. The angels told the women, “He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.” The word remember ties everything together. Jesus taught a number of prophecies to His disciples and women. They didn’t know what they meant either. Like the men on the road to Emmaus, the women didn’t really know or understand Jesus. But they were about to get to know Him. Jesus didn’t give up on any of them. The women didn’t waste any time as the sprung into action. Their new ministry was plain as, “they rushed back from the tomb to tell his eleven disciples–and everyone else–what had happened.” This was the beginning of a new phase in God’s plan of salvation. Look at all the characters involved. Angels were given the honor of playing a part in Jesus’ resurrection from the tomb. Then another role for God’s angels was revealed when they told the women what happened and REMINDED them what Jesus told them. Angels are our reminders of what Jesus taught us. Let’s face it, after we read a book we may remember maybe ten percent. Remember school? How hard did you work to prepare for a test? How many times did you have to review details to memorize answers for an exam? How does the effort you put into eternal life compare? The entire introduction of Luke 24 deals with finally seeing the plan of salvation and how the women couldn’t wait to share the story they learned. I will teach you hidden lessons from our past– stories we have heard and known, stories our ancestors handed down to us. We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the LORD, about his power and his mighty wonders. The spiritual link is obvious. Luke also shows us the role God’s angels will play in the plan of salvation. We are all working together. The angles also serve another purpose, another illustration of the relationship we’re supposed to have with Jesus – as close as the women who found Him risen and the angels given the honor of rolling the stone back and offering praise and congratulations to the Son of God. There is so much more to Jesus than what we see and hear taught today – “He died for our sins.” There is a lot more to learn about Jesus from these two chapters, which leads to other chapters. One of those details is to follow the rules of Bible Study Jesus recorded in His book, His message to this fallen world. The next step is to compare summations.
Psalms 78:65-72 NLTse Then the Lord rose up as though waking from sleep, like a warrior aroused from a drunken stupor. (66) He routed his enemies and sent them to eternal shame. (67) But he rejected Joseph’s descendants; he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim. (68) He chose instead the tribe of Judah, and Mount Zion, which he loved. (69) There he built his sanctuary as high as the heavens, as solid and enduring as the earth. (70) He chose his servant David, calling him from the sheep pens. (71) He took David from tending the ewes and lambs and made him the shepherd of Jacob’s descendants— God’s own people, Israel. (72) He cared for them with a true heart and led them with skillful hands.
Luke 24:45-53 NLTse Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. (46) And he said, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. (47) It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’ (48) You are witnesses of all these things. (49) “And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.” (50) Then Jesus led them to Bethany, and lifting his hands to heaven, he blessed them. (51) While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up to heaven. (52) So they worshiped him and then returned to Jerusalem filled with great joy. (53) And they spent all of their time in the Temple, praising God.
One of the first details we see in the summation for Psalm 78 is how its spiritual meaning is clear when we follow the proper sequence of study. Without studying the introduction of Luke 24, Jesus’ resurrection from the tomb, we would not understand the summation of Psalm 78. Now we can see the spiritual meaning of, “Then the Lord rose up as though waking from sleep, like a warrior aroused from a drunken stupor.” This describes Jesus’ transition from human, to death, to risen Savior.
In this case the NLT seems to have missed the point in translating this verse. Looking at a different translation will help. Then the Lord awaked as one out of sleep, and like a mighty man that shouteth by reason of wine. (Psalms 78:65 KJV). I’m sure there will be some people who will take a look at this and argue the point based only on the physical view. Following another simple Bible Study rule will answer the question. Looking back from Jesus’ resurrection, when was the last time we saw anything about wine? It was the last thing Jesus tasted from this world. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? And some of them that stood by, when they heard it, said, Behold, he calleth Elias. And one ran and filled a sponge full of vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink, saying, Let alone; let us see whether Elias will come to take him down. And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. (Mark 15:34-37 KJV).
Once again we’re reminded of one of the most important Bible Study rules. NEVER try guessing at an answer on your own. When an author refers to scripture, always look it up. Notice how God put in another example showing how people misunderstood Jesus. You have to be blind not to see this theme repeated time and again in the gospels and throughout the Bible.
David also repeated the word, “choose,” and words associated with God’s followers. The theme is clear to see. “He cared for them with a true heart and led them with skillful hands.” This refers to God training with skillful hands so His people are able to pass the information He gives them to others. This is the theme in the summation in Luke 24 and the entire chapter. “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’ You are witnesses of all these things. “And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.”
Now that we know the information about all these stories and secrets is found in scripture, what do we do about it? Lucky for us David recorded a list of texts for us to examine. It’s not by accident God gave us a sequence to follow when we study. Each part builds upon another, but those stones always have a particular order to follow. When we don’t follow the rules and proper sequence we’ll do nothing but build faulty walls. When we follow the rules we help build up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:5 KJV).
Psalms 78:13-20 NLTse For he divided the sea and led them through, making the water stand up like walls! (14) In the daytime he led them by a cloud, and all night by a pillar of fire. (15) He split open the rocks in the wilderness to give them water, as from a gushing spring. (16) He made streams pour from the rock, making the waters flow down like a river! (17) Yet they kept on sinning against him, rebelling against the Most High in the desert. (18) They stubbornly tested God in their hearts, demanding the foods they craved. (19) They even spoke against God himself, saying, “God can’t give us food in the wilderness. (20) Yes, he can strike a rock so water gushes out, but he can’t give his people bread and meat.”
David looks back to the crossing of the Red Sea. We can study some of the events David lists while asking what all these events have in common. One way of finding the answer is to look at each event then look for the common thread that connects them. Another method is to look at the introduction to Psalm 78 which tells us we are searching for hidden treasure. Since we’ve already studied the parallel chapter, Luke 24, we know Jesus is the hidden treasure David referred to. Before we look at the events David listed, we can look a little further back to review some of the events pointing to Jesus.
A lot of people refer to Genesis 3:14-15 as the first prophecy about Jesus in the Bible. Then the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all animals, domestic and wild. You will crawl on your belly, groveling in the dust as long as you live. (15) And I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.” Later we see Jesus represented as the ram Abraham found caught in the bush. The ram took the place of Abraham’s son as the sacrifice sin required. Some people miss a symbol God gave before testing him with the sacrifice of his son. After the sun went down and darkness fell, Abram saw a smoking firepot and a flaming torch pass between the halves of the carcasses. (Genesis 15:17 NLTse).
God told Abraham to, “Bring me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” So Abram presented all these to him and killed them. Then he cut each animal down the middle and laid the halves side by side; he did not, however, cut the birds in half. (Genesis 15:9-10 NLTse). Why did God tell Abraham to divide each animal? You have to look at what Abraham had to go through to cut each animal in half. It wasn’t an easy job even with the best knives and tools available. There were no specific instructions to separate any part of the animal, every part of the animal was divided evenly. It was a messy, bloody job that left stains on his clothing and an impression on his mind. In the middle of the night Abraham saw a burning furnace pass between the two halves. Furnace can also be translated lamp, light, or candle. How do we interpret the spiritual meaning of those symbols? The first step is to look back at previous texts where we see references to the promised land repeated.
Genesis 15:16 NLTse After four generations your descendants will return here to this land, for the sins of the Amorites do not yet warrant their destruction.”
Genesis 15:7-8 NLTse Then the LORD told him, “I am the LORD who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land as your possession.” (8) But Abram replied, “O Sovereign LORD, how can I be sure that I will actually possess it?”
Genesis 15:1 NLTse Some time later, the LORD spoke to Abram in a vision and said to him, “Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great.”
Now that we know the prophecy refers to the promised land, we only need to look at it and determine the timing. Then the LORD said to Abram, “You can be sure that your descendants will be strangers in a foreign land, where they will be oppressed as slaves for 400 years. But I will punish the nation that enslaves them, and in the end they will come away with great wealth. (Genesis 15:13-14 NLTse). Once we determine the time frame, we can look at the greater fulfillment of the prophecy which is always greater than the symbol.
Some people think the furnace represents Egypt as the furnace of affliction. Since Egypt is not greater than the symbol, it cannot be the fulfillment. The symbol points to an intersecting event in God’s time line. From there we look at previous and following details and events which point to the greater spiritual fulfillment. Abraham’s experience points to Israel’s release from Egypt and the crossing of the Red Sea which is a symbol pointing to Jesus’ victory over death and the tomb which is the spiritual crossing to the promised land. Paul explains how these symbols point to Jesus. I don’t want you to forget, dear brothers and sisters, about our ancestors in the wilderness long ago. All of them were guided by a cloud that moved ahead of them, and all of them walked through the sea on dry ground. In the cloud and in the sea, all of them were baptized as followers of Moses. All of them ate the same spiritual food, and all of them drank the same spiritual water. For they drank from the spiritual rock that traveled with them, and that rock was Christ. Yet God was not pleased with most of them, and their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. These things happened as a warning to us, so that we would not crave evil things as they did, or worship idols as some of them did. As the Scriptures say, “The people celebrated with feasting and drinking, and they indulged in pagan revelry.” (1 Corinthians 10:1-7 NLTse).
Once we see the time line, we can understand why the animals were equally divided with a light passing between them. Jesus opened the path to the spiritual promised land at the cross which is the greatest source of new light. At the cross we see another separation. At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Matthew 27:46 NLTse). For a few moments in eternity, Jesus was separated from His Father.
When we look back to compare the lesson taught on the road to Emmaus with Israel’s crossing of the Red Sea, we see another spiritual lesson. Jesus’ followers didn’t recognize Jesus as they walked along the road and the people who crossed the Red Sea complained before and after the crossing. They didn’t recognize Jesus in the pillar of fire. The question is, do you and other Christians recognize Jesus on the walk to the promised land? Do you see Jesus in all the events, symbols, and prophecies pointing to Jesus? A better question is, do you know how to share and explain those events, parables, stories, symbols, and prophecies?
So far this series of books has been rejected and ignored. Publishers have indicated there is no interest or audience in stories or studies about Jesus? What is Christianity without Jesus? In the past churches proclaiming to follow Christ have ignored and shunned new light. God reveals new light for three reasons. First to call His people back. Second to teach a lesson. Third is to reveal fulfillment of prophecy. One of the most important prophetic events most Christians are waiting for is Jesus’ return. God and His angles will perform a great work to call His people, teach lessons, prepare them for service, and reveal prophecy in great detail. Since people have not learned lessons in the past, God will do what He always does when people fail, He repeats the lesson. We can see that happening today in events all over the world. The question is, are you willing to listen this time?
David didn’t stop with the Red Sea. He included details to point us back to their complaints after crossing the Red Sea and seeing Egypt’s army destroyed behind them. All the miracles they saw in Egypt weren’t enough. Neither was the pillar of fire that guided them and stood between them and Egypt’s army. Israel wanted more, so they tested God again.
Psalms 78:27-31 NLTse He rained down meat as thick as dust– birds as plentiful as the sand on the seashore! (28) He caused the birds to fall within their camp and all around their tents. (29) The people ate their fill. He gave them what they craved. (30) But before they satisfied their craving, while the meat was yet in their mouths, (31) the anger of God rose against them, and he killed their strongest men. He struck down the finest of Israel’s young men.
There are a number of spiritual lessons in the symbols as well as revealing an illustration of another important Bible Study rule in this story. David’s Psalm leads us to one story which would not be complete if we didn’t look at the beginning of the story, the details that led to Israel’s complaint when they wanted more than what God already gave them. Before giving them more, God added a condition. “And say to the people, ‘Purify yourselves, for tomorrow you will have meat to eat. You were whining, and the LORD heard you when you cried, “Oh, for some meat! We were better off in Egypt!” Now the LORD will give you meat, and you will have to eat it. And it won’t be for just a day or two, or for five or ten or even twenty. You will eat it for a whole month until you gag and are sick of it. For you have rejected the LORD, who is here among you, and you have whined to him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”‘” (Numbers 11:18-20 NLTse).
Following basic Bible Study rules we’ve already learned and followed, we have to look back in scripture to see the spiritual lesson taught in this story. Before God agreed to give them what they asked form, He offered them what they really needed. “I will come down and talk to you there. I will take some of the Spirit that is upon you, and I will put the Spirit upon them also. They will bear the burden of the people along with you, so you will not have to carry it alone.” (Numbers 11:17 NLTse).
God was willing to give them a measure of His Spirit they couldn’t imagine. Got is repeating His original offer of making them a nation of priests. God is offering another detail of His offer. Think of the details in these stories. Who has the right to question an offer from God especially when He freed them from bondage? This is a lesson in human nature, aspects we still see today. Following God’s rules of Bible Study we have to look at the introduction of this chapter to understand the context.”Soon the people began to complain about their hardship, and the LORD heard everything they said. Then the LORD’s anger blazed against them, and he sent a fire to rage among them, and he destroyed some of the people in the outskirts of the camp.” (Numbers 11:1 NLTse).
Once again we see what seems to be an endless list of complaints. Once we understand the context we begin to see how it reveals the spiritual lesson. Before we begin commenting on the spiritual lesson, we have to continue to follow general Bible Study rules by comparing the summation to this chapter. “But while they were gorging themselves on the meat–while it was still in their mouths–the anger of the LORD blazed against the people, and he struck them with a severe plague. So that place was called Kibroth-hattaavah (which means “graves of gluttony”) because there they buried the people who had craved meat from Egypt. From Kibroth-hattaavah the Israelites traveled to Hazeroth, where they stayed for some time.” (Numbers 11:33-35 NLTse).
We see God’s anger repeated in the chapter. This brings up the obvious question of why God was so angry? Once we understand God’s personality, we’re reminded of another important Bible Study rule, God provided the answer before asking the question. What was Israel turning down when they demanded meat and WHY? Looking back at the food God offered them we find the answer. That evening vast numbers of quail flew in and covered the camp. And the next morning the area around the camp was wet with dew. When the dew evaporated, a flaky substance as fine as frost blanketed the ground. The Israelites were puzzled when they saw it. “What is it?” they asked each other. They had no idea what it was. And Moses told them, “It is the food the LORD has given you to eat. (Exodus 16:13-15 NLTse).
God gave them manna from Heaven to eat. You’ll notice God first sent quail, but there is no indication Israel ate any of the quail that day. They gathered the manna. God knew they wouldn’t be satisfied with food He gave them, so He recorded the vast number of quail just before the description of His bread from Heaven which is a symbol pointing to Jesus, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35 NLTse).
Now that we’ve gathered a number of related texts scripture led us to, we can understand the spiritual lessons. If Israel had seen Jesus, they never would have asked for any other type of food. They would have never been hungry again. Their lack of insight spiritually starved them. We see a pattern in the food God gave Israel in the wilderness. Manna was on the ground as well as the quail. This seems like a small detail until we consider another symbol Jesus used in a number of parables. When Jesus used the symbol of a sheep, we see an animal who gets its food from the ground. When Jesus leads His sheep, He leads them to pasture, the food He knows they need. Sheep don’t ask for different food, they graze where the shepherd leads them and eat what the shepherd leads them to. Of course there is the parable of the lost sheep. I’ve heard the sermon a hundred times how the shepherd breaks the leg of the sheep and carried it back. Do you really think Jesus searched for people missing from His flock so He can break their legs? Is that story about the broken leg Biblical or a man made story aimed at keeping people in the worldly church? They missed a main feature of the story. Manna, quail, and grass on the ground all appear to be the same source of food, but one of them, quail, is given because people were selfish. When we look at the story we can’t help but see how selfishness destroyed a number of people.
When sheep separate from the flock they wander the wilderness alone, easy prey for the wolf. It’s only a matter of time before a single wolf or pack find the stray animal. This parable seems to contradict other texts relating to a small remnant that follows God and understands. If you study the word remnant, you’ll find they come out of the general population of so – so believers. It’s only a small group that will listen to God’s Words and understand His commands. How many people made it in Noah’s ark or completed the journey to the promised land? Most of the flock is lost. They just don’t know it. The very things that make them think they are safe are putting their salvation in jeopardy.
When we look at quail people craved, it was not what God wanted to give them, but what their selfish desires wanted. When we compare quail to the food from Heaven, Jesus’ bread of life, we see how people use selfish desires to alter God’s Words. Grass for sheep and manna come from Heaven and is gathered from the ground. Quail are also gathered from the ground but come from a different source, the world. People think they’re gathering the right thing but they desire more than what Jesus offers, so they look for something from the world then insist it’s gathered from the same place – they push it on other people claiming it’s much better than what others have to offer. We see an example in the introduction to Exodus 16.
Exodus 16:4-5 NLTse Then the LORD said to Moses, “Look, I’m going to rain down food from heaven for you. Each day the people can go out and pick up as much food as they need for that day. I will test them in this to see whether or not they will follow my instructions. (5) On the sixth day they will gather food, and when they prepare it, there will be twice as much as usual.”
Once we understand manna represents spiritual food from Jesus, we can see the spiritual meaning associated with the conditions God provided with the food. They’re told to gather food for six days and twice as much on the sixth day which means there is no food collected on the seventh day, but it is still eaten and shared. I’ve heard this preached a hundred times and most preachers look at only the physical aspects of this chapter. I wonder why they’re afraid of the spiritual message.
People are to collect spiritual food during the week and share it on the seventh day Sabbath. Let me ask a question here. Is there anything wrong with meeting to gather God’s Word on the first day of the week? According to scripture there’s nothing wrong with it. The first day of the week is the beginning of a new cycle to collect spiritual bread. Let me ask another question. Is it okay to ask God to work on the first day of the week?
I’ve been in dozens of churches claiming to keep the seventh day Sabbath. I often wandered why they all have long prayers asking God to do this or that for them. Is asking for favors keeping the Sabbath? Is asking God to work on the Sabbath correct? Another thing a lot of Sabbath keepers do is gather spiritual food on the Sabbath even though Exodus 16 says we’re not supposed to. For most Sabbath keepers the seventh day is the only day they gather manna. When did God change the rules? Now I can see why God called it a test. If people gathered His Word for six days a week, maybe they would learn how to understand it.
What food are they gathering on the seventh day? Moses said, “Eat this food today, for today is a Sabbath day dedicated to the LORD. There will be no food on the ground today. You may gather the food for six days, but the seventh day is the Sabbath. There will be no food on the ground that day.” (Exodus 16:25-26 NLTse). According to the Bible there is no manna available on the seventh day. What food are they trying to feast on? It must be the quail. Food from the world for selfish people complaining they are tired of manna from Heaven.
No one can argue, worship on the seventh day has been changed to reflect the desires of the world. Sabbath worship has been changed to adopt the preferred methods of the world. Why? I can’t be sure, but when we look at the texts, it’s something they craved – the same form of worship the world craves after.
The New Testament describes people gathering in homes on the Sabbath to share the prophecies Jesus fulfilled. The church established by Jesus’ disciples didn’t have buildings or predetermined worship services like we see today. People studied scripture and talked to one another about the things they saw Jesus accomplish in His ministry. On Sabbath they met to share the blessings they learned during the week. Some where along the way many Sabbath keepers decided to ignore Exodus and the New Testament to feast on quail they craved.
None of us can be sure how or when Sabbath worship was changed. We can search the Bible to look for a change, but I don’t think we’ll find any scripture to support the type of worship copied from the world. Sabbath worship may be one of the best illustrations of rejecting manna from Heaven and craving food from the world. We do know God let them have more than they were able to handle. You will eat it for a whole month until you gag and are sick of it. For you have rejected the LORD, who is here among you, and you have whined to him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”‘” (Numbers 11:20 NLTse). Which gives us two additional points to consider. While it was in their mouths, they gagged on quail. When someone is gagging, it’s very difficult to understand anything they say. It’ll be the same with preachers adding their personal thoughts to God’s Word and adding all kinds of stuff from the world to it.
How many sermons have you heard with little scripture but filled with opinions or stories about people you never heard of with little or no relationship to verses quoted. Rejecting the LORD is rejecting His Word as well as the blessings He gives. When worship is centered around one person sharing their opinion, where is the worship, where is God’s praise? Worship is sharing what God has done for you. It disappoints God when He provides a blessing designed to grow by the effects it has on others. Organized worship eliminates time to share blessings God gave during the week as well as any chance to praise Him.
Not much is found in scripture about praise. It’s not something God wanted to designate. God never wanted to make a list of how to praise Him in the form or a list with designated time frames. God wanted to leave praise to us. One of the most important parts of a relationship with God is searching for and perfecting praise. Like any other relationship this requires time, attention to detail, constant improvement, and of course, a constant growth. None of those features are found in this world’s rules, regulations, and traditions on worship. Israel had a difficult time praising God because of their selfish attitude. We now have the examples Jesus set in the New Testament to follow. Jesus went around helping and healing people on the Sabbath. We don’t see a specific set of rules on the Sabbath in the New Testament compared to the Old Testament. Jesus showed how the Jews misinterpreted the Sabbath and did not honor it the way God intended. When you think of it, the best way to find out about the Sabbath is to honor the day in the simple way God first intended, which was to spend time with Him, the best way to get the answers, directly from the God who set the date. Have a personal talk with God and let Him tell you what He wants to do on the Sabbath. The Jews let religious leaders make all the decisions for them and we saw how that failed. David doesn’t elaborate on the Sabbath, but he wrote about some of the details he saw on Israel’s relationship with God when they crossed the wilderness.
Psalms 78:32-43 NLTse But in spite of this, the people kept sinning. Despite his wonders, they refused to trust him. (33) So he ended their lives in failure, their years in terror. (34) When God began killing them, they finally sought him. They repented and took God seriously. (35) Then they remembered that God was their rock, that God Most High was their redeemer. (36) But all they gave him was lip service; they lied to him with their tongues. (37) Their hearts were not loyal to him. They did not keep his covenant. (38) Yet he was merciful and forgave their sins and did not destroy them all. Many times he held back his anger and did not unleash his fury! (39) For he remembered that they were merely mortal, gone like a breath of wind that never returns. (40) Oh, how often they rebelled against him in the wilderness and grieved his heart in that dry wasteland. (41) Again and again they tested God’s patience and provoked the Holy One of Israel. (42) They did not remember his power and how he rescued them from their enemies. (43) They did not remember his miraculous signs in Egypt, his wonders on the plain of Zoan.
What do you see when you look at what these texts teach about Jesus? We see the connection between the symbol rock and it’s fulfillment in our Redeemer, Jesus. We also see the word remember repeated a number of times. We also find remember in the forth commandment which is the last of the commandments describing a relationship with God. The first commandment tells us, “You must not have any other god but me.” (Deuteronomy 5:7 NLTse). Jesus showed the spiritual interpretation. ‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.”
(Matthew 22:37 NLTse). The second commandment tells us not to worship idols or images. The third tells us not to take God’s name in vain. Now look at the second and third commandments from Jesus’ point of view. Don’t you see a deeper meaning? Maybe that was part of Israel’s problem, they looked at the ten commandments on the surface and didn’t spend time on the Sabbath to discuss them with God like Jesus did.
David shows us how Israel had an up and down relationship with God. They ran to Him when they needed help and put Him on a shelf when things seemed to be going their way. They fell out of the time sequence God set for man. Yet he was merciful and forgave their sins and did not destroy them all. Many times he held back his anger and did not unleash his fury! Why would David say God held back His anger?
Think of a marriage relationship. If there are marriage problems people go to counseling where they learn how to communicate. If one party doesn’t want to put in effort to communicate, it doesn’t matter what the other half does. This is where many people are in their relationship with Jesus. He never stops trying to communicate, but many people continue to ignore Him. Their in a relationship with no desire to listen. That’s where Israel was. They tried setting up Moses between them and God. We’ve seen how that worked out. Only a few of them made it to the promised land because they refused to put their hearts into the first four commandments. They couldn’t see the love God placed in them. Oh, how often they rebelled against him in the wilderness and grieved his heart in that dry wasteland.
It wasn’t hard for them to ignore the commandments. David tells us they forgot how He rescued them from their enemies. They did not remember his miraculous signs in Egypt, his wonders on the plain of Zoan. Come on now get serious. I know what your thinking. If you had been there you would have remembered all the details and followed God. Ya sure. How is that working for you so far? Do you remember everything God has done for you in the past year, month, or week? Are you scoring any higher than the people crossing the wilderness when it comes to seeing and understanding the lessons taught along the way? Have you spent time looking at the details, signs, and symbols and praying to see how they relate to Jesus? Have you spent any time at all explaining those hidden lessons and stories to anyone? How do you measure up to the people who fell along the road in the wilderness? Are you following Jesus or are you putting someone in his place like they did with Moses? Although David made a lot of mistakes and often forgot to consult with God on a lot of details, he did spend time with God. We can see it in the details he wrote about.
Psalms 78:44-53 NLTse For he turned their rivers into blood, so no one could drink from the streams. (45) He sent vast swarms of flies to consume them and hordes of frogs to ruin them. (46) He gave their crops to caterpillars; their harvest was consumed by locusts. (47) He destroyed their grapevines with hail and shattered their sycamore-figs with sleet. (48) He abandoned their cattle to the hail, their livestock to bolts of lightning. (49) He loosed on them his fierce anger— all his fury, rage, and hostility. He dispatched against them a band of destroying angels. (50) He turned his anger against them; he did not spare the Egyptians‘ lives but ravaged them with the plague. (51) He killed the oldest son in each Egyptian family, the flower of youth throughout the land of Egypt. (52) But he led his own people like a flock of sheep, guiding them safely through the wilderness. (53) He kept them safe so they were not afraid; but the sea covered their enemies.
Based on the order David listed the plagues in Egypt it shows he missed the spiritual meaning of the story. David listed, water to blood, flies, then frogs. The actual order in Exodus 7 and 8 is water, frogs, lice, then flies. David didn’t change the order by accident. The order David recorded in Psalm 78 is a clue to investigate. When water was turned to blood, everything in it died. The next plague was frogs God called up from the waters He healed. See the spiritual impact. What is God proving in this sequence? After the frogs died, swarms of lice were raised from dust. Look up the spiritual meaning of dust. After lice came flies. How could there be so many lice and flies days after the land was covered with frogs? God is showing us how He teaches spiritual lessons by looking back and comparing the sequence. Open your ears to what I am saying, for I will speak to you in a parable. I will teach you hidden lessons from our past– stories we have heard and known, stories our ancestors handed down to us.
In this study we’ve reviewed a number of Bible Study rules and seen how God builds upon them. We’ve looked at how these stories relate to Jesus and His ministry. At this moment Jesus is in the Heavenly Sanctuary where all the items of gold are reflecting His image and character. His Word is more valuable than gold, and also reflects Jesus’ image, character, ministry, and personality. How can we claim to be Christians if we spend so little time and put in no effort to make our relationship with Him stronger and more secure everyday? Do you really think you can spend eternity with someone you don’t know? “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’ “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. (Matthew 7:21-24 NLTse).