Isaiah 11-15 is our text for the week. I want to first go to Hebrews 12:4-11 and the discipline of God. Often we find ourselves in times of crisis and trials, when this occurs we ask ourselves many time “what did I do Wrong?” This is healthy as long as it doesn’t get out of control, for we do need to have spiritual obedience check-ups. Usually we go down our list of “normal disciplines” that we know we are supposed to be doing – much like a Sunday School envelope – in hopes of 100% for the week. As the writer in Hebrews indicates, our earthly fathers punished/disciplined us for our own good. Our heavenly Father does this even more. Actually this is a good test to determine if you are a child of God – Heb. 12:8. The focus of punishment is to get the violator to repent and return to an appropriate behavior pattern. Again the discipline/punishment must be different depending on the level of disobedience and the length of disobedience. If there is a pattern of continual rebellion, even after other “nudges” of discipline, than radical or more severe punishment must be enacted. Before a punishment is put into action, I know with my children I had to first determine did they know what they did was wrong. If it is an ignorance issue that means I have a teaching moment, but if they willfully disobeyed, then I must discipline.
Now looking at Israel, theirs is a willful, knowing disobedience. They were well acquainted with he Father and His desire for Holiness. He had proven His love for them. Everything about Israel was a direct result of the providential care of Yahweh. So in our passage we find that God has reached a point where there must be a severe discipline put in place. Now at the onset of entering the land of Canaan, Israel was told do not take on the culture, gods, women or men of the Canaanite people for they would lead them astray. If the truth be known, Israel had always had a problem with “other gods.” Joshua 24: 12-15, show that even after being in the Promised land for years, Joshua still was fighting with people on who their God was going to be. Gods of the Mesopotamia region, Egypt, Canaanite tribes or Jehovah. While at times there was great allegiance to God, Israel as well as us, drift into culturalized worship. In our passages, we read that God is going to raise up some powerful enemies that will be under the power of God to inflict His judgment on the nation Israel/Judah. What a paradox, the very tribes and people who God displaced to put Israel in the Promise Land was now going to be the instrument of God to discipline His people in an attempt to restore them back to fellowship. Early on [Chapter 11] there is the Messianic hope of a deliverer. One cannot read this without getting both a then and future element of prophecy. Throughout Isaiah thus far we have learned of both the punishment of God and the hope of restoration of God. While there is severe punishment, He [God] does not give up on them. In Isaiah 14:1-14, the Fall of Lucifer is described; the basis of his fall was pride. It is the lie that was used to beguile Eve in the Garden of Eden, and the same lies that are perpetuated today for mankind to fall into sin and rebellion.
It is interesting to read of the prophecies about Babylon, the Medes and Persians, for we read that earlier in Daniel and the Image of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. Historical accurate, and prophetically descriptive of how the kingdoms of the ancient worlds rose and fell. The lesson to learn from our reading this week is summed up – God will use gentile kings and armies to discipline His people, but the kings and armies should not think they were the power behind the victories. Such was the prideful case of the Assyrians and Babylonians. God will inflict His discipline, but when the instrument goes further than God intended, the roles are reversed and the kingdom/armies falls via defeat of another kingdom. It has to be asked; when we look at our nations, why are we experiencing such crisis and trials? Has/is God using our enemies to discipline us to bring us back to a holy people? This is an election year in America; the Presidential election looms large – but will we get a leader that will lead us, or will we be subjected to the leader God the Father gives us, because we have not turned/returned to Him?
King Nebuchadnezzar was God’s instrument to bring punishment for the prideful idolatry and rebellion of Judah. Though they may have complained and such, they were unresponsive to the “nudges” of God to return, so a more drastic measure had to be implemented. Even so, God will have mercy on His people, for while they were taken captive, they were spared the atrocities of the Assyrians and the Northern Kingdom, which is called the “Lost Tribes” of Israel. O, that we would be responsive in our churches and nations to come back under the gentle persuasion of Jehovah and not have to experience the harsh, severe punishment of God!