Discover His heart: His faithful disciplines lead us to eternal life with Him
A few years ago I watched my daughter follow through on a warning of punishment when her three-year-old, my sweet angelic granddaughter, did not obey her. This was hard for me. As Giana’s defense attorney, I mumbled something outside of her earshot about her being very tired, stretched to the limit, blah, blah, blah, but her mom would have none of it. No empty threats in this household, mom followed through with what she had promised. Of course, I respected her for this because she had been raised in this way, but I just want it known that because I’m not the one raising my grandbabies, they will only get kisses, hugs, and cookies from Nonna! I’m good with that.
Serving in youth ministry for so many years, I saw the end result of children raised with empty threats – “If you don’t stop that, I’m going to…When we get home…Wait until your father gets home…” but no follow-through. I also observed that some children received the discipline they needed, but still lived out their lives in rebellion. Raising children is difficult at times even for the best of parents. God understands our challenge. Because the children of Israel would not respond to His disciplines, judgment was at hand. In our reading today, God makes good on His promise to punish Israel for their disobedience to Him. Father was in the house.
@ Isaiah 65
The ending chapters of Isaiah give us a good summary of God’s dealings with Israel. Here He pronounced His judgment, “All of you will bow down before the executioner. For when I called, you did not answer. When I spoke, you did not listen. You deliberately sinned—before my very eyes—and chose to do what you know I despise.” (12) Some have questioned how a loving God would discipline His children in such a harsh manner, but through our reading of the Old Testament to this point, we understand that God was patient beyond measure, more so than any child should expect. As any good parent would do, God explained throughout the chapter why they were being punished and only through discipline could any good come out of it all.
Out of the punishment came a remnant of Israelites that understood that He was not a God of empty threats, and they responded to Him and listened to His voice. (8-10) And with them were others, other nations, who responded to the voice of God, “I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help. I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am!’ to a nation that did not call on my name.’” (1) The Lord was referring to Gentiles who knew nothing of God and His love, but responded to His call as quoted by Paul in Romans 10:20.
Isaiah prophetically offered to this combined remnant a glimpse into their future, our future. We look forward to a millennial reign with long and joyful lives, fruitful labors, protection and the blessing of God on all that we do, “I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!” (24) Sounds a lot like heaven on earth.
What better incentive to live for God than this glorious reminder of our future with God. Should we falter on our way, I say, “Bring on the discipline, make good on your warnings, Lord!” Because yielding to His disciplines with repentance and obedience will deliver us from judgment and secure our place in this amazing future that He has planned for us.
Moving Forward: I’m thankful that He hasn’t raised us to be unruly children, but loves us enough to discipline us. He had me at, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” but I’m so thankful that I get Heaven too!
Tomorrow @ Mark 3-4