Our tendency when thinking of God, his wrath, judgment, discipline is to be selfish – usually I am like “Whoah…where did that come from?! Couldn’t you have given me a little head’s up here?!” I would imagine that many have a view of the God of the Old Testament (just for the record who is the same God as the New Testament…) that is impatient, quick to anger, violent, and unloving.
This is not how it reads in the Bible though.
We are up to Jeremiah in our Chrono read and it has been sweet. Jeremiah continues to say over and over again “Repent! Stop what you are doing! Yo DUDES! You have been going down the wrong track, God is getting angry, turn back now or else “XYZ” will happen!” Jeremiah even spells out exactly what will happen, and still…the people don’t listen.
In fact, Jeremiah 25:3 says that he told them persistently for 23 years straight and they did not listen! I was blown away. But…then I turned to Deuteronomy 29…
15 “See, v I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. 16 If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God  that I command you today, w by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules,  then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 17 But if x your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, 18 y I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess.
Quick math time. Jeremiah, according to my trusty ESV Study Bible was written about 550BC. Deuteronomy was written about 1200 BC. That is 650 YEARS that God has been warning his people. Telling them what will happen in if they turn away. That’s a WARNING.
In my own life in years past – when I was a slave to sin, I can vividly recall hearing God calling me back…yet I refused. I felt the tugging on my heart, but said no. Did God bring discipline into my life as a result? You betcha. Did he bring hard times? Totally. Did he warn me? Yes sir.
Now, don’t get me wrong…I am grateful and now even thankful for where he has brought me, it is all part of his loving sovereignty that is working all things to his pleasure and for his glory, which is ultimately for my good – but those times are hard. Good. Amazing growth. But H-A-R-D.
It is important when we do enter times of difficulty, we hold fast to faith in Jesus. It is a fight to see the Cross thru the fiercest drought and storm. Kinda like rain that is coming down so hard you can barely see to drive – we need to focus on the cross in the middle of everything, cling to the truth of who God is, what he is doing in our lives by making us more like His Son Jesus. A verse keeps coming to mind, thank you brother Tim for reminding me again – “If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.” (Is 7:9b) I read a sentence from Randy Alcorn this morning that said “The faith that cannot be shaken, is the the faith that has been shaken.”
Let’s thank God for his mercy, his patience, his warnings…and when difficulty does come, as all things come from his hand – both discipline and trials – that we hold fast to faith in God thru Jesus.