“… Yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the Lord, (4:5).
God’s Punishment. Definitely not a favorite topic of study, but certainly a necessary one. Typically His Punishment is associated with His wrath and anger against sin that defies His holy standards. And yes, this is absolutely deserving of His Punishment.
But it is easy to focus on His indignation against our wrongdoings and miss His Purpose in His Punishment. However today, five times the Lord forthrightly repeats Himself, and when He repeats Himself, we know that we best sit up and pay attention!
Consider His Purpose in His Punishment
The book of Amos began with the Lord emphasizing His Irrevocable Punishment as He repeated it eight times to both the surrounding nations and to His people of Judah and Israel, “I will not revoke its punishment;” communicating the reality that His patience had absolutely run out and He would not turn away from bringing judgment on their sin.
But before His patience had been exhausted, before His Punishment in fact would be handed down, He had repeatedly sent warning, Revealing His Secret Counsel through His prophets. But alas, as His people had repeatedly turned a deaf ear to His prophets, He undertook more drastic measures to persuade His people to turn back to Him.
Five times the Lord recounted the ways He had sent His people warnings through the discipline He enacted that they might return to Him.
He sent a famine; He withheld rain for their crops and drinking water; He sent scorching winds and crop-devouring pestilence; He sent plagues like those in Egypt and a sword against the military forces; and He sent overthrowing defeat, likened unto Sodom and Gomorrah.
And if we simply camp on His heavy hand of discipline against His people, we might come away thinking He is harsh in His dealings with man. But let us not miss His repeats in today’s chapter. For five times, the Lord tells us precisely what His Purpose in His Punishment is as He repeats the stiff-necked response of His people; asserting that behind every act of His Punishment was His unequivocal Purpose; that His people would return to Him.
“… Yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the Lord.
How do we respond to His Purpose in His Punishment?
We must never examine God’s ways through the faulty lens of human understanding. For His anger, His discipline, and His Punishment emanate entirely from all that He Is.
When He unveiled His glory through His Name to Moses, He revealed that He does not just simply bear certain commendable qualities, but the attributes He spoke of are Who He Is.
He Is Compassionate, He Is Gracious, He Is Patient, He Is Love, He Is Truth, He Is Merciful, He Is Forgiving, He Is Just. And because He Is steadfast and unwavering in all that He Is, He Is Holy.
Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; 7 who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations,” (Exodus 34:6-7).
Oh, that we would so trust Who He Is and wholly accept His Purpose in His Punishment, that we would learn to fear Him so as to walk His ways.
“Thus you are to know in your heart that the Lord your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son. 6 Therefore, you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him,” (Deuteronomy 8:5-6).
Let us pray that we will not lose heart when we are in the place of needing His correction, but that we would truly understand His Purpose in His Punishment so as to return to Him without regret. For it is in returning to Him that He enables us to live in the life, joy and peace of His salvation
I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. 10 For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death, (2 Corinthians 7:9-10).
And may we never forget that His Punishment emanates from His Perfect Love for us, perfectly effective to accomplish His Purpose that we would return to Him to live in intimate fellowship with Jesus all the days of our life.
“Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me,” (Revelation 3:19-20).
Lord, we so desire to walk in the wisdom of Your Truth. Please strengthen us to walk in the Love You have for us as we trust You to bring us to the happiness, blessings, knowledge, and security we have in Your Purpose in Your Punishment.
“Behold, how happy is the man whom God reproves,
So do not despise the discipline of the Almighty,” (Job 5:17).
Blessed is the man whom You chasten, O Lord,
And whom You teach out of Your law; (Psalm 94:12).
Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
But he who hates reproof is stupid, (Proverbs 12:1).
A wise son accepts his father’s discipline,
But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke, (Proverbs 13:1).