I don’t guess I will ever
forget the first time I had to punish our daughter, Dani.  It absolutely broke my heart.  I never understood what it meant when my dad
would say, “It hurts me more than you” until that moment.  Yet, at the same time we knew we can’t allow
our toddler to go through her life thinking she was in charge.  Perhaps one day, she will be a great leader
but for now she must learn to be a follower. 
It was, nevertheless, a sad day for me.

 

That’s just a small (small,
small) sampling of how the Father feels when He must punish His people.  He doesn’t just know us, He formed us.  He was there with us in our mother’s
womb.  His heart must break when we try
to lead when we are called to follow. 
Yet, for our good we must be disciplined.  We must be trained into a life of submission
to our heavenly Father. 

 

We find the people of God
in the book of Micah on the edge of their great disciple.  Soon, they would be ravaged and taken
away.  The Lord already told them He was
going to deliver them—their punishment would not be forever.  But the lesson must be learned: our Lord uses
discipline as discipleship. 

 

Micah 4:9–13 (NIV)

Why
do you now cry aloud— have you no king ? Has your ruler perished, that
pain seizes you like that of a woman in labor? 10 Writhe in
agony, Daughter Zion, like a woman in labor, for now you must leave the city to
camp in the open field. You will go to Babylon; there you will be rescued.
There the Lord will redeem you out of the hand of your enemies.

11 But
now many nations are gathered against you. They say, “Let her be defiled, let
our eyes gloat over Zion!” 12 But they do not know the thoughts
of the Lord; they do not understand his plan, that he has gathered them like
sheaves to the threshing floor.

13 “Rise
and thresh, Daughter Zion, for I will give you horns of iron; I will give you
hooves of bronze, and you will break to pieces many nations.” You will devote
their ill-gotten gains to the Lord, their wealth to the Lord of all the earth.

 

In a shift from the future
(where Micah was in the previous section), Micah comes back to the present
reality: the enemy was at the doorstep and what they were about to do wasn’t
going to be pretty.  The people of Judah
shouldn’t develop too great a sense of security.  The Lord wasn’t riding in on a white horse
this time.  This time,
“pain
seizes”
them “like
that of a woman in labor”
.   The
day was soon to come when there would be no king on the throne.  This was a great strike to the core of their
beings.  The king stood between them and
God.  The king—at least in theory—was
supposed to mitigate God’s justice, mercy, and rule to His chosen people.  But the time was coming very soon when there
would be no king on the throne.  No one
to distribute God’s mercy.  No one to
distribute God’s justice.  No one to rule
from the throne of David.  This amounted
to a deathblow to them.

 

Indeed, they would “go
to Babylon”
.  They will be punished by the Lord at the
hands of the pagan Babylonians.  The
irony would be humorous if it wasn’t so sad: they would be punished by the very pagans
they had been emulating.

 

Then in the same verse
(verse 10), the Holy Spirit moves the prophet to make a dramatic turn.  It will be there in Babylon where they will
be delivered.  It was the Lord putting
them in Babylon and it will be the Lord pulling them out.  When they have been purified through the fire
of adversity, they would emerge stronger and holy.  The Lord was purging them of their
idols.  After the conquest by Babylon,
Judah never had an idolatry problem again.

 

Yes, it may seem like the
Lord had forgotten them and yes, they will be mocked for such.  Nevertheless, the Lord’s thoughts are
different and He will gather them again. 

 

Maybe there are times you
feel forgotten in the midst of your punishment. 
Maybe you cry out, “It’s too much!” 
But the Lord has a plan for your pain. 
The author of Hebrews encourages us:

 

Endure
hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children
are not disciplined by their father? If you are not
disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not
true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had
human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more
should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They
disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us
for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No
discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it
produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained
by it.

Hebrews 12:7–11

 

He is purging you.  He is purifying you.  There is “no condemnation for those
who are in Christ Jesus”
  (Romans 8:1) but our disobedience requires
punishment for we are His ambassadors and we represent Him.  I’ve heard it said 1,000 times: “God loves you just as you are but loves
you too much to leave you that way.”

 

Verse 1

Jesus I’ve forgotten

The words that You have spoken

Promises that burned within my heart

Have now grown dim

With a doubting heart I follow

The paths of earthly wisdom

Forgive me for my unbelief

Renew the fire again

 

Verse 2

I have built an altar

Where I’ve worshipped things of man

I have taken journeys

That have drawn me far from You

Now I am returning

To Your mercies ever flowing

Pardon my transgressions

Help me love You again

 

Verse 3

I have longed to know You

And all Your tender mercies

Like a river of forgiveness

Ever flowing without end

So I bow my heart before You

In the goodness of Your presence

Your grace forever shining

Like a beacon in the night

 

Chorus

Lord have mercy

Christ have mercy

Lord have mercy on me

Lord have mercy

Christ have mercy

Lord have mercy on me

“Lord, Have Mercy”

© 2000 Integrity’s Hosanna!
Music (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing)

Steve Merkel

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