Jeremiah - God's discipline

Background

Jeremiah was called by God to be a prophet to Judah. From chapters 1 - 45, he confronted the leaders and the people of their sin and prophesied both their 70-year captivity in Babylon and their eventual return from exile. Chapters 46 onwards concerns Jeremiah's prophecies against the other foreign nations.

Theme

(Jer 1:16 NIV) I will pronounce my judgments on my people because of their wickedness in forsaking me, in burning incense to other gods and in worshiping what their hands have made.


Discussion : There is now a debate as to whether one should spank a child when disciplining him. What do you think?

Pros : The child will not forget pain and will therefore not commit the wrongdoing again.

Cons : The physical pain may be too traumatic that the child never recovers.

How do we have the good without the bad?

Punish a child severely enough so that he will not forget his wrongdoing but do not punish him so severely that he will not recover from it. In other words, make sure we show love even as we punish.

This is exactly how God punishes us.

(Jer 24:4-7 NIV) Then the word of the LORD came to me: {5} "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'Like these good figs, I regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I sent away from this place to the land of the Babylonians. {6} My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them. {7} I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.

Today's lesson : God's discipline

Keyword : PAIN

Punishment by God is for our own good.

A man came up to two boys fighting in the park. He took one aside and began to spank him for his inappropriate behavior. An observing bystander came up to the man and asked indignantly why he didn't do anything to the other boy. The man responded that the other boy was his son.

Our heavenly Father is not like that. He does not withhold punishment just because we are His children. On the contrary, He punishes just because we are His children.

In the well quoted verse, the Lord declares that all the plans He has for us are for good. He never intends to harm us. This applies to His punishment. Even when He punishes us, He never intends to do us any harm.

(Jer 29:11 NIV) For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

If we know that God punishes us for our own good, how should we react when we are being punished by God?

We must not resent God for His discipline.

(Prov 3:11-12 NIV) My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline and do not resent his rebuke, {12} because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.

We can rejoice in the mist of His discipline because we know that He only does it for our own good.

(Job 5:17 NKJV) "Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects; Therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty.


Acknowledge our sin when we are disciplined by God.

If God punishes us for our good, it would be a total waste of time on God's part, and suffering on our own part, if we do not examine ourselves to see if there be any sin that needs repenting.

(Jer 17:23 NIV) Yet they did not listen or pay attention; they were stiff-necked and would not listen or respond to discipline.

The people in Jeremiah's days would not respond to the Lord correctly even in the midst of persecution.

Are we experiencing some kind of suffering in our life right now? Is it possible that our suffering may be the result of God's discipline for our sins? Determine to confess our sins and ask God to remove His discipline and bless us.


Is God trying to warn you of His impending punishment?

God hurts to punish us because He himself is hurt when He punishes us (Jer 4:18-21). He always tries to warn us before He punishes us. If we repent from our sins, He will withhold His punishment.

(Jer 3:12-13 NIV) Go, proclaim this message toward the north: "'Return, faithless Israel,' declares the LORD, 'I will frown on you no longer, for I am merciful,' declares the LORD, 'I will not be angry forever. {13} Only acknowledge your guilt-- you have rebelled against the LORD your God, you have scattered your favors to foreign gods under every spreading tree, and have not obeyed me,'" declares the LORD.

(Jer 18:7-8 NIV) If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, {8} and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned.

(Jer 6:10 NIV) To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed so they cannot hear. The word of the LORD is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it.

Personal evaluation : Has God confronted you with any sin recently? Has He used you Bible reading to point out some sins in your life? Did God use someone else to point out your sins? Think carefully and do not take these "announcements" lightly. How can we heed to God announcements?

No way to avoid God's punishment if we continue in sin.

(Jer 1:16 NIV) I will pronounce my judgments on my people because of their wickedness in forsaking me, in burning incense to other gods and in worshiping what their hands have made.

God is clear that when we sin, punishment will surely come.

(Gal 6:7-8 NIV) Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. {8} The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

Even Christians are not exempt from this punishment that the Lord warns us about.

(Heb 12:8 NIV) If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.

In Jeremiah's day, the people continued in their sins, assuming that God will never punish them. But when God withholds His punishment, it is only because He want to give us time to repent. If we still do not repent, as surely as night follows day, punishment will follow our sins.

(Jer 5:12 NIV) They have lied about the LORD; they said, "He will do nothing! No harm will come to us; we will never see sword or famine.

(2 Pet 3:9 NIV) The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

God's justice forbids that He overlooks sin without just recompense

(Jer 30:11 NIV) I am with you and will save you,' declares the LORD. 'Though I completely destroy all the nations among which I scatter you, I will not completely destroy you. I will discipline you but only with justice; I will not let you go entirely unpunished.'

Personal evaluation : Think of some sin in your life which you know deep down that the Lord is not pleased with. If God has not punished you for that sin yet, its time to thank Him for His patience towards you. Do not take this patience for granted. Take this opportunity to confront the sin and repent it towards God.


Punishment by God is for our own good.

Acknowledge our sin when we are disciplined by God.

Is God trying to warn you of His impending punishment?

No way to avoid God's punishment if we continue in sin.