discipline

God's protection isn't universal.

God's protection isn't universal.

Ezra 9

In this chapter of Ezra, we encounter an idea that weaves its way throughout the Old Testament: "Blessings" for those who obey the Lord, and "punishment" for those who do not. In this case, Ezra is lamenting the discovery of further disobedience by the exiles. "I am too ashamed and disgraced, my God, to lift up my face to you, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens. From the days of our ancestors until now, our guilt has been great. Because of our sins, we and our kings and our priests have been subjected to the sword and captivity, to pillage and humiliation at the hand of foreign kings, as it is today." (vs 6-7)

God humbles us.

God humbles us.

2 Chronicles 33

It’s kind of hard to believe that—after seeing such a wonderful example of a king in his father, Hezekiah—Manasseh could be so wicked. He virtually reversed every good thing his father had done during his reign. However, maybe that’s what happens when a twelve-year-old becomes a king! Can you imagine putting a teenager in charge of a country? Mercy!

God is truly just.

God is truly just.

2 Chronicles 19

I was recently having a conversation with friends about justice. Particularly about our "justice" system and whether it correlates to God’s definition of justice. I don’t believe so, and I’ll tell you why. In this world, we are typically limited to a style of "justice" that is more retributive than anything else. For instance, if one person murders another, the only option available to us is to inflict some sort of punishment on the perpetrator for their wrongdoing—whether that be prison time or even sentencing them to death.

Justice for the Unjust {ex22:1,4}

Photo © Unsplash/Niko Manuelides

Photo © Unsplash/Niko Manuelides

What does it matter
if the thief
kills your sheep
or it's found alive?

Why should
a sheep that has vanished
be worth
twice as much
as one that's been repoed?

Maybe it's all about
God getting justice—
not so much for the victim
as for the perp.

For to sneakily get rid
of the trace of your crime
suggests a hardness
not known to the
heart with red hands,
one so inexperienced
as to be caught with the goods.

The harder heart
requires the harsher penalty
in order to
once again
fracture the hull.

Justice for the offended
is a foregone conclusion,
but recasting the offender's heart
is much more difficult
than replacing a sheep.

 

God is the best choice.

God is the best choice.

1 Chronicles 21

Even after David repented of his sin involving Bathsheba and Uriah, he was still struggling with the issue of being in control as king. Thus, though he knew he shouldn’t do it, he asked Joab to take a census of the army. Joab was disgusted by the request, but did it anyway. For some reason, David apparently wasn’t ready to place his full trust back in the Lord, and he wanted to make sure he could "walk softly and carry a big army" ...just in case.

God never overlooks sin.

God never overlooks sin.

2 Kings 24

Since I’m writing this blog with the aim of finding out what every Bible chapter has to say about God, I’m always looking for any specific "God statements" that the Bible writers make. And boy, did I find a doozy of one in this chapter! Did you catch it? Here it is: "The Lord sent Babylonian, Aramean, Moabite and Ammonite raiders against [Jehoiakim] to destroy Judah, in accordance with the word of the Lord proclaimed by his servants the prophets. Surely these things happened to Judah according to the Lord’s command, in order to remove them from his presence because of the sins of Manasseh and all he had done, including the shedding of innocent blood. For he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the Lord was not willing to forgive." (vs 2-4)

God tells the whole truth.

God tells the whole truth.

2 Kings 15

Well, what can you say about a chapter like 2 Kings 15? It’s nothing but a discouraging report of a succession of evil kings—each one seemingly worse than the last! Plus, it seemed to be the same story over and over again: A king comes to the throne, is evil, and doesn’t reign very long until he is assassinated. Then, the person who assassinated the previous king comes to the throne, is evil, and doesn’t reign very long until he is assassinated. Over and over again.

God knows what is needed.

God knows what is needed.

1 Kings 21

This chapter appalled me. More than once! I know I’ve read this chapter before, but it obviously didn’t make a lasting impression then. Today, it was as if I had read it for the first time. At first, I was appalled by Jezebel. She seemed to have absolutely NO problem forging her husband’s name and enlisting the help of false witnesses in order to engineer the death of an innocent man. Just when you thought you’d seen the depths of evil in Israel, that was a nasty surprise.

God disciplines because He loves.

God disciplines because He loves.

1 Kings 9

This is, I’m sure, a recurring theme we will encounter as we continue our journey through the Old Testament: God disciplines the ones He loves. And His discipline always carries a redemptive component (otherwise there’s no point to it). But often, I find that it’s God’s discipline that garners Him the most criticism. People tend to look at His "threats" of discipline in the Old Testament as something punitive, harsh, and retributive. And that’s how God gets a bad rap.

God doesn't coddle His difficult children.

God doesn't coddle His difficult children.

1 Kings 1

Several years ago, I did some substitute teaching at a local school. Boy, had it been a long time since I was in elementary! It seemed that some things have certainly changed. The first day I subbed, I noticed that two children in the classroom were carrying what I can only describe as little, wireless keyboards. At the top was a small digital row where they could see what they were typing. When they were finished, they would print out what they had typed on a printer in the hallway. They would go to the printer, retrieve their assignment, and return to the classroom to hand it in.

God deals with us according to our righteousness.

God deals with us according to our righteousness.

2 SAMUEL 22

In this song of praise from David, there was an interesting little line that jumped out at me: "The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me." (vs 21) Doesn’t this seem totally contrary to what we always profess? We normally say that God doesn’t treat us according to our unrighteousness. That’s what we understand grace to be.

Sometimes God says no.

Sometimes God says no.

JUDGES 10

So, the Israelites are at it again... idolatry, that is. After the Abimelek fiasco, Israel enjoyed 45 years of peace—during which time, apparently, the Israelites began to feast at the buffet of Canaan’s gods. Finally, God gave up the Israelites once again to their idols, and they found themselves oppressed by the Philistines and the Ammonites.

God means what He says.

God means what He says.

NUMBERS 26

Just before entering the Promised Land, God had Moses take another census of the Israelites — men over the age of one month. And the census ends with this declaration: "These are the ones counted by Moses and Eleazar the priest when they counted the Israelites on the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho. Not one of them was among those counted by Moses and Aaron the priest when they counted the Israelites in the Desert of Sinai. For the Lord had told those Israelites they would surely die in the wilderness, and not one of them was left except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun." (vs 63-65)

God is fair.

God is fair.

NUMBERS 25

If you’ve already read the chapter for today, you might be wondering how you can find the "fairness" element in it. It’s a pretty gruesome chapter. The men of Israel went off whoring with some Moabite women — who subsequently took them to church in order to offer sacrifices to their god, Baal. What happened next wasn’t pretty: the ringleaders of this little jaunt were killed and publicly exposed, an Israelite man and Moabite woman were both run through with a sword and killed after acting in open defiance against the Lord’s command, and then a subsequent plague killed thousands of people.

God has a battle plan.

God has a battle plan.

LEVITICUS 26

I don’t know that I’ve ever had more utter respect for God than I have at this moment, after going through 26 chapters of Leviticus. There’s this image I have of Him in my mind as a strong, hulking man with bulging muscles who has encountered a rip-roaring, flooded river, and on a tiny piece of land in the middle of this rushing river is a huddled group of soaking-wet, desperate people who have no way to get out of their predicament. And with no thought for Himself, this strong God, with sleeves rolled up, strides mightily into the midst of that roaring river, dodging the debris and deflecting the uprooted trees, with every fiber of every muscle straining against the current to reach and save those people.

God practices commando-style parenting.

God practices commando-style parenting.

LEVITICUS 6

What is the big deal with yeast? I wondered that again as I read Leviticus 6. During the Passover in Egypt, the Israelites were strictly warned to eat bread prepared without yeast (Ex 12:20). And now, in the instructions for the sanctuary system, the priests are warned that none of the bread brought to the sanctuary as an offering is to be baked with yeast. In the New Testament, Jesus continues to bang that particular drum, warning people to be on guard against the "yeast of the Pharisees" (Mk 8:15).