Today we see the loving, slow, building chastisement of a loving heavenly Father against those who persistently and consistently refuse to listen to Him. It is all designed to turn hearts and minds back to the Lord, and five times in this passage we see God’s heart, God’s intention for discipline; “yet you did not return to me,”
6 “I gave you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and lack of bread in all your places, yet you did not return to me,” declares the LORD.
7 “I also withheld the rain from you when there were yet three months to the harvest; I would send rain on one city, and send no rain on another city; one field would have rain, and the field on which it did not rain would wither; 8 so two or three cities would wander to another city to drink water, and would not be satisfied; yet you did not return to me,” declares the LORD.
9 “I struck you with blight and mildew; your many gardens and your vineyards, your fig trees and your olive trees the locust devoured; yet you did not return to me,” declares the LORD.
10 “I sent among you a pestilence after the manner of Egypt; I killed your young men with the sword, and carried away your horses, and I made the stench of your camp go up into your nostrils; yet you did not return to me,” declares the LORD.
11 “I overthrew some of you, as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and you were as a brand plucked out of the burning; yet you did not return to me,” declares the LORD.
12 “Therefore thus I will do to you, O Israel; because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel!”
13 For behold, he who forms the mountains and creates the wind, and declares to man what is his thought, who makes the morning darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth– the LORD, the God of hosts, is his name!
If, then, we model our lives on how He says we are to live, our loving heavenly Father, and if we look to God’s Word to guide us for moral, spiritual, and practical decision making, shouldn’t we look to it also to guide us when we are giving, or, for that matter, receiving discipline?
God, God who spoke the universe and everything in it into existence, who maintains and upholds it all by the power of His Word, who loves us so much that He came to live among us as a human, forever wedding Himself to humanity – not giving up one iota of His deity, but simply adding humanity to it – God who makes mountains, knows our every thought, God who has power over everything He made, God who rules over all…this God cares so much about each and every one of us that He takes a personal interest in when we’re not living right, He doesn’t want to abandon us to our sin, because, really, what’s worse, being hit with a big stick, or God leaving us alone and letting us destroy ourselves by our sin? Simply, God disciplines and reproves the one He loves, right? (Hebrews 12.4-11).
Really, then, when this God, our God, the God, gives us some loving, corrective, clear, training, discipline, what should we do…
We’ve got a choice…
What do we do when God disciplines us?
Ask Him to show us why
Repent and run…run from sin, run to Him…
Maybe this is you right now, maybe you’re in the middle of God’s loving, re-aligning, teaching discipline…Do we want to listen and see the small, (but building if we don’t pay attention) guiding, loving corrections He offers us?
Or, do we want to see them, ignore them, choose to look the other way, write them off as strange coincidence and carry on in our own feeble and futile ways…all the while, deep down, knowing that there is a better way to live…a better path…not always an easier path, but at the end of the day, when all is said and done, a better path that leads to a better place…remember, we can become bitter, or better…
I read a story about today this, about loving discipline…One Father wrote,
‘Out of parental concern and a desire to teach our young son responsibility, we require him to phone home when he arrives at his friend’s house a few blocks away. He began to forget, however, as he grew more confident in his ability to get there without disaster befalling him. The first time he forgot, I called to be sure he had arrived. We told him the next time it happened, he would have to come home.
A few days later, however, the telephone again lay silent, and I knew if he was going to learn, he would have to be punished. But I did not want to punish him!! I went to the telephone, regretting that his great time would be spoiled by his lack of contact with his father. As I dialed, I prayed for wisdom. “Treat him like I treat you,” the Lord seemed to say. With that, as the telephone rang one time, I hung up. A few seconds later the phone rang, and it was my son. “I’m here, Dad!” “What took you so long to call?” I asked. “We started playing and I forgot.
But Dad, I heard the phone ring once and I remembered.”
How often He rings just once, hoping we will phone home.
Part of today’s devotional came from a message Pastor James gave in 2018 titled ‘A Father’s Discipline’.
You can listen to it here.