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The parents of little Charlie warned him in vain against going down to the nearby river to swim, else he'll be punished; because - in spite of their warnings and even punishment - he went down repeatedly. His parents had good intentions. They just wanted to protect their son from the countless dangers he would be facing at the river. Thus, we may say that their loving zeal for their son's safety caused them to forbid him to go there. But it didn't work.
Similarly, God repeatedly warned his chosen people against worshipping pagan god's; else they will have to face serious discipline, including a hard captivity. Still - even though they already tasted some of his chastisement; they didn't listen. Although it was the loving "zeal of the Lord of Hosts" that caused him to forbid the worship of idols.
(2 Kings 19:31, Isaiah 37:32.)

Yet, before we would judge them - while putting ourselves into their shoes - let us examine our own past. Then, we will realize that we aren't much better either, for we too rebel against God's will, or even ignore it, at times. Therefore, instead of judging them, let us look at how God treats his beloved, but disobedient children; through their experience?
As we mentioned before; God repeatedly forewarned them. He sent several prophets to them. One of which was Jeremiah, who began to warn them already at the time Josiah - the last God fearing king - was on the throne and the people seemingly followed the Lord. But that was the problem! They only followed him outwardly. For, many of the leaders and the majority of the people didn't take his worship seriously to the point where some of them even worshipped a pagan idol in addition, to worshipping him. Yet, their loving, zealous God - before chastening them - continued to call them to repentance, telling them that if they turn away from paganism; they can avoid the before mentioned, terrible captivity. But, in case they don't want to listen, he also told them; why; through whom, and where they would be taken, and how long their captivity would last. Then - again as a result of his great love and zeal for his people - he even told them that in case he'll have to send them into captivity, he will bless them through that painful experience and will eventually deliver them. In other words, with his warnings about the discipline, he also gave them hope for the future.
In Jeremiah 25:1-7 (NIV) we can read about why he would send them into captivity, when it says: Jeremiah the prophet said to all the people of Judah and to all those living in Jerusalem: For twenty-three years - from the thirteenth year of Josiah...king of Judah, ... the Lord has come to me and I have spoken to you again and again, but you have not listened. And though the Lord has sent all his servants the prophets to you again and again, you have not listened or paid any attention. They said: "Turn now each of you, from your evil ways and your evil practices, and you can stay in the land the Lord gave to you and your fathers for ever and ever. Do not follow other gods to serve and worship them"... "Then I will not harm you. But you did not listen to me." In other words, Jeremiah told them that their loving God will discipline them because they didn't listen to the prophets' repeated call to repentance.
Then, through whom they will be taken into captivity, was revealed to them in Jeremiah 25:8-11 (NIV) through the following words: "I will summon all the peoples of the north and my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon... and I will bring them Against this land... Furthermore, how long their captivity would last was made known to them through the words of Jeremiah 25:11 (NIV), saying:
"This whole country will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years." Finally, the blessings originating from these hardships and the promise of deliverance was shared with them through Jeremiah 31:8,10,17, 20,31,33, and 34 (NIV) where it says:
I will bring them from the land of the north... He who scattered Israel will gather them and will watch over his flock like a shepherd. So there is hope for your future...Though I often speak against him, I still remember him... my heart yearns for him: I have great compassion for him, declares the Lord. The time is coming... when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and... of Judah. I will put my law in their minds I will be their God, and they will be my people... they will all know me...
In other words, their ever loving God - besides the discipline - promised them blessings and deliverance way ahead; so that when the time comes and they will suffer, they should not loose heart; rather trust in his deliverance.

Now let us examine some of the similarities between our life and the life of the chosen people!

In the Old Testament God chose a people for himself. They were his own, and he loved them, watched over them, and guided them throughout the years. In return, he only asked them to worship him exclusively, and - with their lifestyle and words - draw the neighboring pagans to him. But they often disobeyed and - at times - even began to worship idols, instead of drawing their pagan neighbors to their one and only, true God. Therefore he disciplined them repeatedly. They still didn't repent. Then, God got so tired of them that he threatened them with a horrible foreign captivity. Yet - at the same time - he promised to bless them through this trial, and deliver them after 70 years of suffering.
Similarly, in the New Testament God chose for himself a special people. This does not mean that he cancelled his original covenant with Israel; for, he still has plans with them. But - since Jesus came to this earth - people who believe in him and invite him into their heart; become his children. As John 1:12 (NIV) says:
" all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God..."
At the same time, he grants them a place in Heaven. In addition, he loves them, protects them and leads them continuously also. Furthermore, the only thing he asks of them in return is that they stay close to him, and introduce him through their actions and words to the lost people around them.
Yet sometimes even - we who already invited Jesus into our heart - rebel against, or disobey God. We may even adopt the godless customs of the people around us, instead of us influencing them. Therefore, he may warn us and - if necessary - discipline us too. (Although not every trial is meant to be a discipline.) So that we may give up those sins. Still, he will never disown us or take away our place in Heaven. He will even encourage us through his Word and bless us, during the hard days of discipline. Then, eventually deliver us. For, his fervent, zealous love is endless; his covenant is eternal; and his promises are everlasting. That is why he treats his dear ly beloved, but disobedient children in this manner.
"The Zeal of the Lord of hosts..." constrains him to be so gracious toward them! Praised be his name!

How wonderful the Lord is in all His acts!
Glory to His Holy Name!

Jesus lives! Halleluja! Maranatha!



"I will sing to the LORD all my life;
Iwill sing praise to my God as long as I love."
(Psalm 104:33)

Edit by Rozalia Makai

Istvan Varga & Rozalia Makai website

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