The goal of God’s discipline in our lives is never destruction. It is always aimed toward reconciliation.
For most of us, when God brings chastisement, we see it as the end of the world. In a sense it is. Because there are some sins that carry heavy and life-changing consequences. Some of our actions can mean lost opportunities, but that never means we are lost to God. Isaiah prophesied of the Babylonian captivity and made it clear that this was happening because of Israel’s spiritual adultery. To purge the land of its sin, God would use the pagan nations around the Promised Land to chastise His people. They would see that the idols and the nations that they trusted in for salvation were no salvation at all. The entire nation of Israel would suffer, believers along with unbelievers. That is the consequence when a nation turns its back upon God. People were going to lose everything. Many would lose their lives and at least a generation of Jews would be born and die in captivity never having once stepped foot in the Promised Land. The world as the Jews understood it would end.
Then, under the inspiration of God, Isaiah wrote these words of comfort to the people of the generation that would know God’s reconciliation, people the prophet would never know:
Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy.Isaiah 61:7 , ESV
The Jews of this time were living under a “new normal.” Their sins had denied them many of their God-given opportunities, but the Lord wanted them to know that a day of reconciliation and restoration was coming. Instead of shame and loss, God’s people would receive a double portion. Instead of dishonor, God’s chosen people would know rejoicing in the God of their salvation. In their land, not a stranger’s they would have a double portion and their joy would be everlasting.
These words are not unlike the words of Jeremiah:
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”(Jeremiah 29:11)
Perhaps you are going through a time of chastisement and right now you are experience confusion, heartache and shame. Know that God’s discipline is never meant to destroy you. It is always meant to reconcile you to Himself. The chastisement, though unpleasant, is meant to prepare your heart for greater blessing.
“Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”(Hebrews 12:11)
The promise that Isaiah wrote to his people would come after many years of exile from the Promised Land. Why? Because by then the people of Israel would have a heart that could appreciate not just God’s blessing, but also the God of that blessing. Remember that when God chastens us, it is to prepare our heart for greater joy. We need simply to trust and obey.
Photo by: unsplash-logoErik-Jan Leusink