Disciplining Is A Sure Thing
Read Isaiah Chapter 9
Isa 9:8 The Lord has sent a message against Jacob; it will fall on Israel. 9 All the people will know it— Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria—who say with pride and arrogance of heart, 10 “The bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with dressed stone; the fig trees have been felled, but we will replace them with cedars.” 11 But the LORD has strengthened Rezin’s foes against them and has spurred their enemies on. 12 Arameans from the east and Philistines from the west have devoured Israel with open mouth. Yet for all this, His anger is not turned away, His hand is still upraised. 13 But the people have not returned to Him who struck them, nor have they sought the LORD Almighty.
Our Lord, as we have studied many times, is a God of discipline. Over and over we see examples of His disciplines and words promising discipline. In this example, God’s disciplines fell upon His OT people because they had failed to follow Him and His instructions. The discipline came in the form of the destruction of their cities and their country. In verses 9-10, the people acknowledged that their country had been laid to ruins. But instead of repenting and turning themselves fully over to the Lord, in arrogance they began planning the rebuilding of their country in their own strength.
The Lord’s disciplines are equally handed out even in our modern-day world. Those who belong to Christ have an obligation (which they promised to fulfill when they came to know Him) to follow Him and obey His commands. They can expect some disciplining if they stray from His will and purpose for their lives. In the SSA Christian world, we can be sure that we will be disciplined. That is what a loving father does; even more surely, our loving Father will discipline us.
In this passage from Isaiah, God’s people failed to repent even though they had been severely disciplined. We can say that there were probably many among the Israelites who were not true worshipers of God. We can somewhat understand why those among the Israelites would fail to repent. But the true believers most certainly would have considered the cost of their waywardness, repented, and come back into the fold.
We might say that God’s disciplines fall upon any and all of mankind. In some ways that is true. We live in a fallen, evil world, and society as a whole is paying a huge penalty for the sins of our age. That should serve as a dire warning to all mankind, but that has not happened. We who are true believers should certainly be sitting up and taking notice of what is happening. The Lord’s disciplines are bearing down upon mankind at an alarmingly increasing rate.
The professed Christian will not and cannot ignore His disciplines for very long. Some of the men I have mentored over the years are HIV positive. They have believed that their affliction is a part of God’s disciplines on them. Some have repented and are living their lives for Christ. But there are some others who at first believed their afflictions were a sign from God, and for a while turned their lives over to Christ. After a time of serving Him, they regressed and went back into the gay lifestyle. I cannot say for sure, but it is possible that those who failed to repent for the long haul may not be His children. They continue to claim allegiance to Christ. It is difficult to understand how a man or woman who knows Christ can continue to live contrary to God’s commands.
This we know – the people in today’s passage who failed to repent suffered even more disciplines. Whether they were true worshipers of God, we do not know. But His heavy hand upon the entire congregation was meant to cause all of them to turn to the Lord and begin to serve His faithfully. Some did, for we see that there was a remnant which was left to carry on His work.
Our lesson is this: when we sense that God’s rod and staff are causing us some pain, we can be sure that we are being pointed in a different direction than the one we might wish to choose. We must be diligent to listen to Him and willingly follow Him wherever He is leading us, whether to turn from our sinful ways or to turn to a different path of service for Him. It’s all for our benefit. However, our pain and suffering are not always disciplining. We must learn to differentiate which are disciplines and which are not.
Prayer: Lord, give us discernment in our circumstances, to always know when we are being disciplined. Then give us a willing heart to listen and obey, doing whatever is necessary to get our lives in full step with Your plan.