(2 Kings 19:31, Isaiah 37:32.)
Yet, before we would judge them - while putting ourselves into their shoes - let us
examine our own past. Then, we will realize that we aren't much better either, for we too
rebel against God's will, or even ignore it, at times. Therefore, instead of judging them, let
us look at how God treats his beloved, but disobedient children; through their
As we mentioned before; God repeatedly forewarned them. He sent several prophets
to them. One of which was Jeremiah, who began to warn them already at the time
Josiah - the last God fearing king - was on the throne and the people seemingly followed the
Lord. But that was the problem! They only followed him outwardly. For, many of the
leaders and the majority of the people didn't take his worship seriously to the point where
some of them even worshipped a pagan idol in addition, to worshipping him. Yet, their
loving, zealous God - before chastening them - continued to call them to repentance,
telling them that if they turn away from paganism; they can avoid the before mentioned,
terrible captivity. But, in case they don't want to listen, he also told them; why; through
whom, and where they would be taken, and how long their captivity would last.
Then - again as a result of his great love and zeal for his people - he even told them that in
case he'll have to send them into captivity, he will bless them through that painful
experience and will eventually deliver them. In other words, with his warnings about the
discipline, he also gave them hope for the future.
In Jeremiah 25:1-7 (NIV) we can read about why he would send them into captivity,
when it says: Jeremiah the prophet said to all the people of Judah and to all those living in
Jerusalem: For twenty-three years - from the thirteenth year of Josiah...king of Judah, ...
the Lord has come to me and I have spoken to you again and again, but you have not
listened. And though the Lord has sent all his servants the prophets to you again and again,
you have not listened or paid any attention. They said: "Turn now each of you, from your
evil ways and your evil practices, and you can stay in the land the Lord gave to you and
your fathers for ever and ever. Do not follow other gods to serve and worship them"...
"Then I will not harm you. But you did not listen to me."
In other words, Jeremiah told them that their loving God will discipline them because they
didn't listen to the prophets' repeated call to repentance.
Then, through whom they will be taken into captivity, was revealed to them in
Jeremiah 25:8-11 (NIV) through the following words: "I will summon all the peoples of
the north and my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon... and I will bring them
Against this land...
Furthermore, how long their captivity would last was made known to them through the
words of Jeremiah 25:11 (NIV), saying:
"This whole country will become a desolate
wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years."
Finally, the blessings originating from these hardships and the promise of
deliverance was shared with them through Jeremiah 31:8,10,17, 20,31,33, and 34 (NIV)
where it says:
I will bring them from the land of the north... He who scattered Israel will gather them
and will watch over his flock like a shepherd. So there is hope for your future...Though
I often speak against him, I still remember him... my heart yearns for him: I have great
compassion for him, declares the Lord. The time is coming... when I will make a new
covenant with the house of Israel and... of Judah. I will put my law in their minds I
will be their God, and they will be
my people... they will all know me...
In other words, their ever loving God - besides the discipline - promised them blessings
and deliverance way ahead; so that when the time comes and they will suffer, they
should not loose heart; rather trust in his deliverance.
Now let us examine some of the similarities between our life and the life of the chosen
In the Old Testament God chose a people for himself. They were his own, and he loved
them, watched over them, and guided them throughout the years. In return, he only asked
them to worship him exclusively, and - with their lifestyle and words - draw the
neighboring pagans to him. But they often disobeyed and - at times - even began to
worship idols, instead of drawing their pagan neighbors to their one and only, true God.
Therefore he disciplined them repeatedly. They still didn't repent. Then, God got so tired
of them that he threatened them with a horrible foreign captivity. Yet - at the same
time - he promised to bless them through this trial, and deliver them after 70 years of suffering.
Similarly, in the New Testament God chose for himself a special people. This does not
mean that he cancelled his original covenant with Israel; for, he still has plans with
them. But - since Jesus came to this earth - people who believe in him and invite him
into their heart; become his children. As John 1:12 (NIV) says:
"...to all who received
him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God..."
At the same time, he grants them a place in Heaven. In addition, he loves them, protects
them and leads them continuously also. Furthermore, the only thing he asks of them in
return is that they stay close to him, and introduce him through their actions and words to
the lost people around them.
Yet sometimes even - we who already invited Jesus into our heart - rebel against, or
disobey God. We may even adopt the godless customs of the people around us, instead of
us influencing them. Therefore, he may warn us and - if necessary - discipline us too.
(Although not every trial is meant to be a discipline.) So that we may give up those sins.
Still, he will never disown us or take away our place in Heaven. He will even encourage
us through his Word and bless us, during the hard days of discipline. Then, eventually
deliver us. For, his fervent, zealous love is endless; his covenant is eternal; and his
promises are everlasting. That is why he treats his dear ly beloved, but disobedient
children in this manner.
"The Zeal of the Lord of hosts..." constrains him to be so
gracious toward them! Praised be his name!
How wonderful the Lord is in all His acts!
Glory to His Holy Name!