God is Good; He Must Discipline Disobedience

The Prophets were men whom God called upon at various times in Israel’s history to deliver a message from the Lord to the people.  One of my mentors, Dr. Matt Friedeman, summarizes the message of The Prophets in this way: “Return to the law and love of God.”

In the previous post, I shared about the unmatched love of my grandfather for his family, and how he disciplined us when we disobeyed, because he loved us so much, and he wanted the very best for us in life.  In today’s post, we will see these two primary characteristics of God – holiness and love – working together in His relationship with His people.  God disciplines those He loves.

As a nation, God’s people were an obstinate and disobedient people who were very unfaithful to God.

  • They broke His rules,
  • they disobeyed His instructions,
  • and they took advantage of and exploited the weak among and around them.
  • They worshipped gods of their own making,
  • they attributed the works of the Lord to their fake gods,
  • and they did shameful things that they thought would please their fake, man-made gods.

Book of AmosIn the Prophesy of Amos, we find the entire land of Palestine filled with wicked nations, all doing a variety of despicable things.  The Lord speaks to Amos and sends Amos to go and prophesy against all these evil nations.

Read Amos 1:1a,2-5.

1 The words of Amos, one of the shepherds of Tekoa—the vision he saw concerning Israel… 2 He said: “The Lord roars from Zion and thunders from Jerusalem; the pastures of the shepherds dry up, and the top of Carmel withers.”  3 This is what the Lord says: “For three sins of Damascus, even for four, I will not relent.  Because she threshed Gilead with sledges having iron teeth,  4 I will send fire on the house of Hazael that will consume the fortresses of Ben-Hadad.  5 I will break down the gate of Damascus; I will destroy the king who is in the Valley of Aven and the one who holds the scepter in Beth Eden.  The people of Aram will go into exile to Kir,” says the Lord.

Here we see the 4-fold message that God gave Amos for the people of Damascus:

  1. The people of Damascus have sinned again and again.
  2. I, the Lord, will not let them go unpunished.
  3. He then describes the atrocities the people of Damascus have committed.
  4. He then explains exactly the kind of discipline He will carry out against them.

In Amos 1:6-8 – The Lord gives Amos a similar 4-fold message for the people of Gaza:

  1. The people of Gaza have sinned again and again.
  2. I, the Lord, will not let them go unpunished.
  3. God lists the evil things the people of Gaza have done.
  4. He then explains the discipline He will carry out against them.

Amos 1:9-10 – another 4-fold message for a 3rd nation:

  1. The people of Tyre have sinned again and again.
  2. I, the Lord, will not let them go unpunished.
  3. Here are the wicked things the people of Tyre have done…
  4. Here is how I will discipline them…

Amos 1:11-12 – another:

  1. The people of Edom have sinned again and again.
  2. I, the Lord, will not let them go unpunished.
  3. Here are the wicked things the people of Edom have done…
  4. Here is how I will discipline them…

Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom – these are all nations that immediately surround God’s people, who at this point have divided themselves into two kingdoms: Judah and Israel.  God continues His 4-fold messages to Amos for the nations:

Amos 1:13-15 –

  1. The people of Ammon have sinned again and again.
  2. I, the Lord, will not let them go unpunished.
  3. Here are the wicked things the people of Ammon have done…
  4. Here is how I will discipline them…

God’s 4-fold messages for the evil nations continue on into Amos, chapter 2.  Amos 2:1-3 –

  1. The people of Moab have sinned again and again.
  2. I, the Lord, will not let them go unpunished.
  3. Here are the wicked things the people of Moab have done…
  4. Here is how I will discipline them…

It keeps going!  Let’s see the next wicked nation that the Lord tells Amos He must discipline…  In Amos 2:4-5, God tells Amos –

4 This is what the Lord says: “The people of Judah have sinned again and again, and I will not let them go unpunished!  They have rejected the instruction of the Lord, refusing to obey his decrees.  They have been led astray by the same lies that deceived their ancestors.  5 So I will send down fire on Judah, and all the fortresses of Jerusalem will be destroyed.”

Oh.  boy.  Judah has just been lumped in with the likes of Damascus, Gaza, Edom, Ammon, and Moab by the Lord.  These were nations that had practices that we only see in books and movies that try to portray villains in the most despicable light possible.  These nations did unimaginable things – shameful, evil, wicked things that I don’t even want to say here.  And the disobedience and evil of Judah has gotten so bad that the Lord feels they are as deserving of divine discipline as Edom and Moab…  Whoa.

But hold on – it gets worse.  In Amos 2:6-16, God tells Amos –

6 The people of Israel have sinned again and again, and I will not let them go unpunished!  They sell honorable people for silver and poor people for a pair of sandals.  7 They trample helpless people in the dust and shove the oppressed out of the way.  Both father and son sleep with the same woman, corrupting my holy name.  8 At their religious festivals, they lounge in clothing their debtors put up as security.  In the house of their gods, they drink wine bought with unjust fines.

God goes on like this about Israel for 10 solid verses.

  • Damascus got 3 verses.
  • Gaza got 3 verses.
  • Tyre and Edom each only got 2 verses’ worth of reasons why God was going to discipline them.
  • Ammon and Moab each got 3 verses.
  • Judah only got 2 verses.

Here, Israel gets 10 verses’ worth of reasons why she has earned the Lord’s discipline.  And it is not a good list.

Y’all, God is angry.  And rightfully so.

  • The nations around His people have done awful things over and over and over,
  • and God says, “I can’t allow this to go on any longer.”
  • He’s even more angry because His own people – His own children – have been the worst of all!
  • They have engaged in all kinds of wickedness and evil time and time again,
  • flagrantly trampling God’s covenant with them and completely disregarding all the good things the Lord has done for them…

He’s mad!  And rightfully so!  But read on, and see God’s heart.  In Amos 3:1-2, God tells Amos:

1 Listen to this message that the Lord has spoken against you, O people of Israel and Judah—against the entire family I rescued from Egypt:  2 “From among all the families on the earth, I have been intimate with you alone.  That is why I must punish you for all your sins.”

God’s not just angry; He’s heartbroken.

  • His chosen people – His adopted children – have completely turned their back on Him.
  • Look at the Father-heart of God.
  • Listen to the pain in His words as He confronts His children on their wicked disobedience:
  • He calls Israel and Judah “family”.
  • He talks about how He rescued them from Egypt.
  • He talks about the unique intimacy of their relationship together.

And that is why He says He must punish them for all their sins.

In the next post, we will survey just a few other short Scriptures where God shows us that His discipline is an affirmation of our adoption into His family – that we are His true children, and that His holy-love is for us and for our good.  God disciplines those He loves.

2 responses to “God is Good; He Must Discipline Disobedience

  1. Pingback: God Disciplines Those He Loves | LikeTreesPlanted·

  2. Pingback: God’s Discipline Shows God’s Love | LikeTreesPlanted·

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