Accepting God's Gracious Discipline
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"Thus says the LORD: He who stays in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence, but he who goes out to the Chaldeans shall live. He shall have his life as a prize of war, and live. Thus says the LORD: This city shall surely be given into the hand of the army of the king of Babylon and be taken."(ESV)
Wait, God, you want them to surrender? Surely there must be a mistake. This is the nation that bears Your name. These are the people renowned among the nations for their miraculous exodus from the mightiest nation at the time (Egypt), those who host the very presence of God Almighty in their temple, having been entrusted with the law and priestly ordinances—a shadow of the heavenly things on earth. Surely such a lowly act would reflect badly on Your covenant people and upon Your name.
Yet it is precisely because Israel (and you and I today) was in a covenant relationship with God that He caringly reached out to discipline and restore. The Bible passage above takes place at a time where God's covenant community has openly committed grievous acts against Him, despite His love and patience. Rather than wiping them all out and starting over, God takes stern and intense action as one would take with a dear patient who is systematically being destroyed by cancer.
God will give Israel over to Babylon so they can learn to trust Him again; this is already predetermined (). Yet even in this, God is being merciful. Those who trust God enough to surrender willingly to His discipline will be saved. Sometimes we run from the discipline of our heavenly Father because:
"For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed."(ESV)(Bold mine)
God was concerned more with Israel's hearts than the city, its walls, and even the temple (all which were destroyed). At the end of the day, He will be glorified with or without any great structures (insert churches, T.V. ministries, countries, or any other thing we may be tempted to boast in) or even any of us. In the meantime, the husbandman desires to shape and prepare a lovely and holy bride for the final wedding.
We will stumble and fall sometimes, but let us fall into the hands of a loving and restoring God. Even when traveling through our personal Babylon, submitting to God's directive will always yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
Here are a few helpful things to remember when going through discipline, as every Christian will:
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?(ESV)
1) God is a perfect father ().
2) God is concerned for you ( ).
3) God desires to conform you to the image of Christ ( ).
4) Those who follow Christ desire to be conformed to His image ( ).
Copyright © 2015, Jonathan Santiago, used by permission.
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