As parents it can be very difficult to discipline our children. You love them, but you know that if you don’t teach them a lesson or discipline them they can get hurt. That little baby that begins to crawl and start getting in to everything can get hurt very badly, if you don’t put up safety devices or follow them around or tell them “No”. Discipline is for our children’s own well-being. If we let them go in to harm’s way they can end up dead. No parent that truly loves their child wants to see that happen. Many parents will fear disciplining their children, because they don’t want to damage their self-esteem. If a parent would weigh out self-esteem vs. death, they would soon see which is more important in the long run.
God has acted as our loving parent on so many occasions. He says, “No”. He teaches the correct things to do. He pulls us out of harm’s way. He disciplines us when we are too stubborn to listen. He does it all for our own good. Many times we see him disciplining the people of Israel as a nation. He would use other kings and nations to discipline. Usually before He did, He would send in a prophet to warn them and teach them the correct things to do. Many times, like us, they did not listen. Isaiah was one such prophet. He had the difficult job of trying to get God’s people back on track and warn them of impending discipline if they did not. In Isaiah chapters 30 to 32 we see a pattern of Isaiah warning the people, of the discipline and affliction that was coming to them. Then he would share with them what would happen after the discipline. He did this back and forth comparison multiple times in those chapters. It is like he was saying, “I know you will not listen to my warnings and you will face punishment, but have hope it will end and good will come out of it. Some of you will survive.” In the beginning of Chapter 30 he warns them then in verses 19-22 he shares some wisdom and hope with them:
(New King James Version)
19 For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem; You shall weep no more. He will be very gracious to you at the sound of your cry; When He hears it, He will answer you. 20 And though the Lord gives you The bread of adversity and the water of affliction, Yet your teachers will not be moved into a corner anymore, But your eyes shall see your teachers. 21 Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “ This is the way, walk in it,” Whenever you turn to the right hand Or whenever you turn to the left. 22 You will also defile the covering of your images of silver, And the ornament of your molded images of gold. You will throw them away as an unclean thing; You will say to them, “Get away!”
(The Message Version)
19-22Oh yes, people of Zion, citizens of Jerusalem, your time of tears is over. Cry for help and you’ll find it’s grace and more grace. The moment he hears, he’ll answer. Just as the Master kept you alive during the hard times, he’ll keep your teacher alive and present among you. Your teacher will be right there, local and on the job, urging you on whenever you wander left or right: “This is the right road. Walk down this road.” You’ll scrap your expensive and fashionable god-images. You’ll throw them in the trash as so much garbage, saying, “Good riddance!”
We can take some wisdom and hope from this passage too. Number one, we need to know that affliction and discipline from God is meant to get us back on track. It is meant to focus us back on God. These Israelites would soon throw away their foreign gods and come back to God as a result of their affliction. The next piece of wisdom and hope that He gives them and us shows that affliction will help us to tune our ears in better to hearing the teachers God is giving us in our lives. What great hope there is in the fact that God will always provide us wise teachers that we can learn from. His discipline will never remove the opportunity to learn more about God and His ways. It will only enhance the opportunities. We also learn from this passage, that even though we may deserve the discipline, God will hear our prayers and will answer them from within the time of affliction and after. He will give us grace.
There is much wisdom we can learn from our times of affliction. The key is to respond and not turn a deaf ear to our teachers and to cry out to God for help.