Friday, December 29, 2017
Sing for joy, O heavens! Rejoice, O earth! Burst into song, O mountains! For the Lord has comforted his people and will have compassion on them in their suffering. Yet Jerusalem says, “The Lord has deserted us; the Lord has forgotten us.” “Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you!”
When our family gets together there are (by actual count) more than a dozen IPhones on the loose. And when we’re trying to coordinate four households showing up at a theme park at the same time, in the same sector of a huge parking lot…well, let’s say the texting wars sound like the bell-ringers have arrived! Someone will do a “fat-finger” goof, so OTW (On-the-way) becomes OTB, and the translation puns start to pile-on:
Ding…OTB – you On-The-Beach?
Ding…OTB – I didn’t know you were into Off-Track-Betting J
Ding…OTB – Where-r- you parked…Omaha-Transportation-Booth?
It happened again this week, although I’m happy to say there were no death-threats this time. But when I went to delete the whole thread there were 168 texts; I’m surprised there were no death threats, especially from me!
The whole point of sharing this is, with today’s abundance of communication tools, there’s no place to hide. And nobody gets left out. And that’s a good thing for a family, because there are so many ways to feel left out, left behind, or forgotten!
Israel felt that way, collectively-forgotten in a strange land. The Babylonian captivity was like being forgotten in back of the tool shed for decades. Every never-ending day drags-on like someone forgot to wind the clock and nobody cares whether you’re alive or dead. There is no slower time than time-out; just ask a six-year old who has sinned egregiously by kicking his Dad in the shin because he doesn’t like carrots, and he’d rather be outside playing, but has to stay at the table until he at least tastes the hated veggie.
The nation of Israel had sinned a lot worse than that. They collectively had forgotten their covenant with God and had fallen into idol worship. When God sent prophets to warn them to either turn back, or prepare to suffer the consequences, the prophets were ignored, or, even worse, the prophets were killed. The subsequent overwhelming judgment God sent was at the hand of Babylon’s King, Nebuchadnezzar, and lasted for 70 years. It was easy to feel they had been forgotten by God.
But punishment is never to be confused with being discarded. God had not forgotten His beloved Israel, the jewel of His covenant. They were being purified, cleansed, and straightened-out, not discarded.
It’s called discipline:
Think about it: Just as a parent disciplines a child, the Lord your God disciplines you for your own good. Deuteronomy 8:5(NLT)
If you’ve been through a time when you felt forgotten by God, know that discipline doesn’t last forever; the perfect loving embrace of God awaits those who repent and turn to their father…even if you’ve kicked Him in the shins!