We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and His might, and the wonders that He has done. – Psalm 78:4
Millenials living in a time of division and crisis… Psalm 78 apparently was written after King Solomon’s construction of the Temple and the subsequent division of the Israelites into a Northern Kingdom (of “Israel”) and a Southern Kingdom (of “Judah”) – about a millennium before the resurrection of Jesus, the Messiah.
This second longest psalm of the psalter describes how the history of God’s interactions with the ancient Israelites points to His actions toward the “millennials” of ~ 970 BC… and His acts toward us today. The history of the ancient descendants of Jacob recounts how God rescued them out of slavery in Egypt, gave them good food and water in the desert despite their grumbling, drove away their enemies and gave them the Promised Land… and disciplined them every time they fell away from Him.
This history teaches us to see and to repent of our own lack of faith. And this history of God’s saving actions, especially His acts toward and through King David, points us to what Jesus, the Messiah and Descendant of David, has done for us so that we may have God’s ongoing forgiveness and salvation.
The psalm continues: He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments. – Psalm 78:5-7
The Hebrew word often translated as “law” (as in Ps. 78:5) is TORAH, which more fully means “instruction” or “teaching” in all of God’s ways. This includes not just God’s rules for us (His instructions which actually help us lead an enjoyable, contented, godly life, like the Ten Commandments) which Lutherans call “the Law,” but also God’s saving works and His promises about the Messiah, which Lutherans call “the Gospel.” So the TORAH means both God’s Law and His Gospel.
Why tell the coming generation? Psalm 78 shows the purpose for which God desires that His TORAH be taught to every generation, including our own generation and the next generation: so that we, and they, might become obedient to His commandments (for our own good), and so that we, and they, may be confident in His gracious mercy.
Where is God’s gracious mercy to be found? Saul, a man who intensely studied the TORAH for years under Gamaliel, the greatest rabbi of his day, finally found the full truth of God’s TORAH on the road to Damascus when he was confronted by the resurrected Jesus.Towards the end of his life (and now called Paul), he wrote to a pastor of the next generation: “God, our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and people, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.” – 1 Timothy 2:4-5
The truth is there is one God. Jesus’ act of self-giving testifies to the one God’s desire that all people be saved. Even though many reject His saving Word and resist the Holy Spirit, Jesus alone saves all who believe in Him as the one Messiah, both Jews and Gentiles alike, for our Savior from sin and death is both true God and true man.
This is true for the “millennials” of ~970 B.C., the “millennials” of ~65 A.D., and us “millennials” of 2017… and
“the children yet unborn.”