August 4 – Today’s Readings – Jeremiah 22-24 and Psalms 34
We see a shift happening in the book of Jeremiah right around Chapter 24. Just as soon as the people of God have gone into captivity as a result of their sin, God is already revealing His plan to get them out of there and back to where they belong. “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘Like these good figs, I regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I sent away from this place to the land of the Babylonians. My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them. I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.” (Jeremiah 24:5-7)
70 years was the appointed time set for the nation to be in Babylon and as we continue to read we will see that God looked after His people there and revealed Himself to them there. The people who listened to God while in captivity prospered. God placed some of them (Daniel and friends – Esther and Mordecai – Ezekiel the prophet – Ezra – Nehemiah and all the other Governors and Prophets) in great positions of honor and authority in the nation of Babylon where they had been taken. God visited several ruthless Babylonian rulers like Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, and Darius who were reigning over Israel during those years. These men were all transformed by the power of the Lord and the people of God often prospered under them.
What brings great comfort to me is not so much that the sin was judged but that even in this sentencing to captivity, God’s purposes and plans were redemptive. The reason for the captivity and judgment was to save the people from the sinful lifestyles they had chosen. Sounds like the world today – held captive by sin and brought to our knees in “Babylon” so that we can come home to God. This corrective, redemptive heart of God is also seen in the Church – “And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:5-11)
When God corrects, it is as a parent corrects – when God passed judgment on Israel and Judah it was in the hope that they would repent. Even Nineveh’s judgment (Jonah 4:11) was cancelled when they turned back to the Lord. No, even the judgments of God are loving and for our good!
1. Give another example from Scripture where God showed His “love” by passing judgment on a given situation.
2. Give an example from your own life where the “discipline” of God saved you from yourself.