Day 121: The punishment fits the crime (2 Kings 23-25)

Posted: July 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

On the seventh day of the fifth month, in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard, an official of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. He set fire to the temple of the LORD, the royal palace and all the houses of Jerusalem. Every important building he burned down. The whole Babylonian army, under the commander of the imperial guard, broke down the walls around Jerusalem. Nebuzaradan the commander of the guard carried into exile the people who remained in the city, along with the rest of the populace and those who had gone over to the king of Babylon. But the commander left behind some of the poorest people of the land to work the vineyards and fields. 2 Kings 25:8-12

As I finished 2 Kings tonight, I had to stop and think about the great contrast between the beginning of the book and the end. In the beginning, the prophet Elijah is carried off into heaven in a blaze of glory, on chariots of fire, to heaven, the destination that awaits those who follow God. The end is a complete 180, a picture of the people of Judah being carried off into slavery to Babylon, all because they failed to obey God. As a whole, 2 Kings is like an illustration of what happens when we put anything in our lives before God – we become slaves to the world!

God’s discipline is a funny thing. His promise to the kings of Israel and Judah, to the judges before them, was that if the people turned their backs on God, He would turn their backs on them, and that’s exactly what he did when the people turned to their idols. The people didn’t listen, and God had to become the Enforcer. Like a father punishing his children, God had to make good on His promise to His children, and His people became slaves in a foreign land.

When I finished the last chapter tonight, the words “THIS COULD HAPPEN TO YOU” flashed through my mind. Obviously, I’m not going to be led away to Babylon to be slave, but there are consequences to my sin. God takes how I live my life very seriously. He commands that I put Him first in everything I do, and when I don’t, I might as well be worshiping idols. God will not hesitate to punish me for my actions, because to God, the punishment no matter how severe, fits the crime of sin.

Somewhere in the story of the kings, I was hoping that the kings would just learn their lesson already! Obviously, I knew they weren’t going to, but still you have to admit, you would think that somewhere along the line (and there were exceptions, Hezekiah and Josiah to be specific) someone would learn the lesson and turn the country around. But too much sin was let in, too much darkness was allowed to slip into the hearts of the people, and the nation imploded on itself, awash in idol worship and sorcery. So sad, but doesn’t it sound familiar?

God’s discipline may take many forms, but when it comes upon you, don’t be discouraged – God disciplines those He loves, so take comfort in the fact that He is showing how much He loves you, that He cares enough about you, He loves you enough to pay attention to the little things in your life. Remember this, and something tells me that not only will we recognize God’s punishment when we see it, but we will also be more responsive to it. Who knows, every now and then, we might even learn a  lesson or two!

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