The Gospel Project has brought us to Judah being taken into captivity. For weeks now we have been learning about different prophets that God raised up to send his message to his people: repent and stop following false gods! Finally, God is ready to bring justice, judgement, and consequences to his people who do not seem to be listening to his warnings. He allows them to be captured. Judah is taken captive and becomes enslaved to the Babylonians.
I am sure that there were times when God wished he did not have to cause this type of punishment. I am sure he wished that he could just overlook the offenses of his people and move on, hoping that they would turn back to him. He definitely gave them multiple chances! Over and over again he warned them of the destruction that was coming if they did not repent, and over and over again they chose to do their own thing and follow their hearts instead of their God.
It makes me think of parenting. As a parent, it is easy for me to remind and verbally correct my children. They often need redirecting and reminders about behaviors that are appropriate or not. However, when they continually misbehave or blatantly disobey, verbal correction and reminders are not sufficient. There are times when physical consequences are necessary. As a loving parent, it is my responsibility to enforce this in their lives — as difficult as it may be. My desire would be for them to get it the first time they are corrected and to not make similar mistakes again, however, the reality usually doesn’t play out that way. When I (as their authority figure) choose to allow them to “get away with” the sinful, disrespectful, or disobedient behavior, I am showing that I do not desire what is ultimately best for them: their sanctification.
This is what God did for his people (and does for us) when he allowed them to be taken into Babylonian captivity. God sent judgement on his people, to show them how much he loved them and wasn’t going to give up on them, and how important their sanctification was to Him. However, along with this judgement came a promise. Jeremiah was a prophet sent shortly after the Babylonian capture to let the people know that they would not always live this way. A Redeemer was coming to rescue and restore the people of God. He would save them from captivity and raise up a forever King, however, their punishment had to come first.
Aren’t we so grateful that God loves us enough to discipline us and not give up on us? Sometimes we overlook the fact that God’s discipline is because of his love. Hebrews 12 tells us all about this.
12:3-11 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.
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? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 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.”
I am so thankful that God he does not give up on us, who are so deserving of his wrath over his grace! May we listen to the voice of warning and correction before we need to endure the discipline. However, when we do fail and the consequences come, may we realize the love God is graciously lavishing on us to bring us closer to sharing in his holiness.