Discipline of the Stubborn and Rebellious

I never claimed to be a prophet, nor have I claimed to be a messenger of God….But if the words I speak are recognized to be from God, then why aren’t you listening and changing your ways?

Why do you harden your hearts as the people did back in the days when God sent His prophets to warn His people?

Why do you resist obeying Him and continue listening to your rebellious heart?

I’ve been asked, “How can you preach that a loving God could bring pain on His righteous people, on those He has saved by the blood of Jesus?!”

Good question…

To which I reply… have you not read in the record of Habakkuk where the prophet inquires of the Lord God why the wicked were allowed to enact violence and wickedness on the nation of Israel?  

If you’re not familiar with the passage in Habakkuk 1:2-4, read on…

“How long, O Lord, will I call for help, and You will not hear?
I cry out to You, “Violence!”  Yet, You do not save.
Why do You make me see iniquity, and cause me to look on wickedness?
Yes, destruction and violence are before me; strife exists and contention arises.
Therefore the law is ignored and justice is never upheld. 
For the wicked surround the righteous; therefore justice comes out perverted.”

Have you ever asked God those questions?  Or are you not willing to bare your soul to the LORD of all created things?

See how the Holy One of Israel responds to His prophet:

“Look among the nations!  Observe!  Be astonished!  Wonder!
Because I am doing something in your days — You would not believe if you were told.

“For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans, that fierce and impetuous people
Who march throughout the earth to seize dwelling places which are not theirs.

“They are dreaded and feared; their justice and authority originate with themselves.
“Their horses are swifter than leopards and keener than wolves in the evening.

Their horsemen come galloping, their horsemen come from afar; they fly like an eagle swooping to devour.

“All of them come for violence.  Their horde of faces moves forward.

They collect captives like sand. “They mock at kings, and rulers are a laughing matter to them.  They laugh at every fortress and heap up rubble to capture it.”

“Then they will sweep through like the wind and pass on, but they will be held guilty, they whose strength is their god.” – Hab 1:5-11

Interesting.

God raises up a people who He knows are not of His own likeness or nature.  A people whose very name fills the minds and hearts of other nations with dread and fear.  He raises them up for one purpose and Habakkuk knows the reason….

Are You not from everlasting, O Lord, my God, my Holy One?
We will not die.
You, O Lord, have appointed them to judge; and You, O Rock, have established them to correct. – Hab 1:12

Ah!

God has appointed them to judge and to bring correction. 

Is not a righteous God who chooses His own people allowed to correct them as He sees fit?  Is not a loving God capable of delivering His discipline as He sees necessary?

You would ask… How can a God so loving bring about such destruction?

Oh you foolish and unwise people.  You ask the wrong question.  You should be asking…. How could a loving God NOT deliver discipline to those He loves?

Does true love mean zero consequences for disobedience? 

If you tell your child not to steal, and they steal…should you reward them with good things for their wrongful behavior?  Do you not discipline your children for their wrong doings to teach them consequences for their actions?

Then should a God of love not discipline a nation for their disobedience?  Even if that nation contains even one person whom He set apart to be His own?

Or should the One who made the Law and set the Standard reject the commandments He ordained?  Would His turning a blind eye to the sinfulness of a nation make Him a God of justice?

The Word of the Lord cries out:

“For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, The fountain of living waters, To hew for themselves cisterns, Broken cisterns That can hold no water!” -Jeremiah 2:13

And again the Spirit of the LORD says: 

“Why do you transgress the commandments of the Lord and do not prosper?

Because you have forsaken the Lord, He has also forsaken you.” –  2 Chronicles 24:20

Heed the words of the wise: 

“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, But he who hates reproof is stupid.” – Proverbs 12:1 

Furthermore,

“A wise son accepts his father’s discipline, But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.”  — Proverbs 13:1.

For everyone whom the Lord loves, He disciplines.  If it were not so, God would not have recorded it in the book of Hebrews (12:6). 

Discipline of the Lord is just and necessary to make everyone who comes to Him wise and filled with awe and reverence of the God who created them.  That same discipline is for endurance and because God loves us, He disciplines us as sons; for what son is there whom his father has not disciplined?  (Heb 12:7).

Therefore now, do not be dismayed at the testing and trials that have and will befall the nation…they are for a short time, and they are necessary. 

Do not forget the scriptures that remind us all that our God, the Holy One of Israel, is a God of sorrows and that He too bore the pains and sufferings while His Son was being crucified by the hands of evil men.  For the Father of all creation is Spirit and His Holy Spirit conceived Jesus, therefore, GOD was in Christ reconciling the world back unto Himself while Jesus suffered on that cross.  

All discipline for the moment seems to bring sorrow, yet those who have been trained by it yield the peaceful fruit of God’s righteousness.  (Heb 12:11).

At the time of discipline all hope seems lost and discouraging thoughts permeate our minds, but during that time we would be well advised to repeat the words of Habakkuk who trusted in God:  

“I heard and my inward parts trembled, at the sound my lips quivered.  Decay enters my bones, and in my place I tremble.  Because I must wait quietly for the day of distress, for the people to arise who will invade us.

Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food,
though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls,

Yet!

I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places.” – Hab 3:16-19

Take heart in the God of salvation.  Lean on His everlasting strength.  He knows what He’s doing.  God’s got this.  

Like I said in the beginning…I have never claimed to be a prophet.  But if the words I speak are recognized by you to be from God…then why don’t you take them seriously? 

With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view,
be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,
and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth,
to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains;
that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

– Ephesians 6:18-20 –

The Potter Molds the Clay – Nations are formed and molded by God

The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord saying, “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will announce My words to you.” 

Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something on the wheel.  But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make.

Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter?” declares the LordBehold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.  

“At one moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to uproot, to pull down, or to destroy; if that nation against which I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the calamity I planned to bring on it.  

“Or at another moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to build up or to plant; if it does evil in My sight by not obeying My voice, then I will think better of the good with which I had promised to bless it.  

“So now then, speak to the men of Judah and against the inhabitants of Jerusalem saying, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Behold, I am fashioning calamity against you and devising a plan against you.

“Oh turn back, each of you from his evil way, and reform your ways and your deeds!”  

“But Israel will say, ‘It’s hopeless! For we are going to follow our own plans, and each of us will act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.’ “

–  Jeremiah 18:1-12 (NASB)

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The lesson…

Not one nation in this world is any different than the nation of Israel back in the days when God spoke these words to His chosen prophet, Jeremiah. 

If God chooses to raise up a nation and bless that nation, He will.  If God chooses to bring calamity on a nation for their disobedience to His laws and statutes, He will.  It’s His prerogative.  If God acts, who can reverse it?

Whether it be a nation of power and influence like The United States of America, Great Britain, France, Russia, Italy, China, Germany, Japan…or it be a nation small and insignificant; none of them are out of God’s view.  None of them are out of God’s range.  None of them are out of God’s judgement.  

A nation can climb the ladder of prosperity and fall to ruin just as quickly as it rose to power.  The final decision of whether or not a nation will exist or how powerful that nation will become is completely up to God.

“…for there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” — Romans 13:1

Take, for example, the Roman Empire.  It started as a small town around 27 BC. — That’s correct, a small town.  However, God had other plans for this little town. 

Over the course of time God allowed the small town to become a great and mighty Empire, conquering nations and striking fear into the hearts of millions.  At it’s peak the rule of the Roman Empire stretched from Great Britain to South of Spain.  From the Atlantic Ocean to the Caspian Sea.  The whole Empire ruled over every nation that surrounded the Mediterranean Sea.

What’s more, God allowed the Roman Empire to create a barbaric method of execution known as: crucifixion.  The very method God used to bring about salvation to a sinful world through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus.  

Consequently, when God was finished with the Roman Empire, He brought an end to their rule.  The once mighty Empire that was feared by every nation was made low once again.  

How is the United States of America any different?   

The USA began as small settlements created by various nations and spread over a vast area.  Over time France, Spain and Great Britain made claim to the land and resources across the North American continent that was known as “The New World”.  Each nation believing they had imperialistic rights to the claims they had made.  And yet….God had other plans.  The USA went from a land segregated from coast to coast to become a very large and powerful nation.  All happening in the short span of a couple hundred years.    

God’s ultimate purposes for the USA are yet to be determined, but I know for certain that His #1 reason for creating the USA was to spread the gospel message of salvation through Jesus Christ to every people, tribe, nation and tongue.  

However, as God spoke to Jeremiah in the passage quoted above . . . It’s up to God whether a nation rises or falls.  And that all depends on the obedience of the people that make up that nation. 

“At one moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to uproot, to pull down, or to destroy; if that nation against which I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the calamity I planned to bring on it.  

“Or at another moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to build up or to plant; if it does evil in My sight by not obeying My voice, then I will think better of the good with which I had promised to bless it.  

Therefore, if a nation of people turns from their disobedience to God’s commands and heeds God’s warnings…is God not justified by relenting the discipline that is promised?  Consequently, if a nation continually rejects God’s commandments and relishes disobedient rejection to God’s warnings, then is God not justified by exacting His discipline on the entire nation? 

God is and will always be the ultimate authority on the rise and fall of a nation.  Accordingly, the USA has not been obedient to God’s commands, nor have the members of His church.  Churches have refused to condemn sin.  Instead, they embrace it.  Lawless deeds of the heart have become all too common in the USA.  

Acceptance of homosexual behavior, adultery, fornication (for those of you who aren’t aware, fornication means:  having sex with people outside of marriage), acceptance of rampant abortion, stealing, looting, worshiping  idols, worshiping the human body, turning God’s house into a robber’s den, and the list goes on.  Because of these things God is justified in bringing discipline to the nation of the USA.  He’s justified in this because the people of the nation refuse to listen to or heed His repeated warnings that we should condemn these things, stop living this way and start living God’s way.

The warnings are there.  We as a nation need to stop our disobedience.  We need to stop sinning.

Sadly, the USA will not turn from the evil they continue to commit.  Instead, the nation will speak the words that Israel spoke reacting to God’s message through Jeremiah…

“It’s hopeless! For we are going to follow our own plans, and each of us will act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.”

Thus, God is justified in bringing calamity on the USA because they reject His voice.  They reject His commandments.  They continue to do evil in His sight.

Whether you believe it or not… GOD is and will ALWAYS be the final authority.

Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns; Indeed, the world is firmly established,

it will not be moved;

He will judge the peoples with equity.” – Psalm 96:10 

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