“If you keep complaining, you’ll be going in ‘time out’ when we get home.”
Most of us would agree that, if we tell a child to do or not do something, we expect them to listen. If they continue to disobey, naturally, there will be consequences.
These consequences aren’t to make them feel bad or make us feel better about ourselves. Rather, they are to teach and help children understand why their choices matter and what happens when they choose to do wrong.
Before discipline, comes warning.
Just as parents warn their kids about the consequences of their choices, the Lord always warned His people in the Old Testament before doing anything. He never destroyed a city without giving them a fair warning first.
As I read through the book of Isaiah, I almost expected God to rebuke His people the minute they messed up. However, that’s not what I came across.
“Therefore, the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you; And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; Blessed are all those who wait for Him” (Isaiah 30:18).
Not only did God give His people free will, but He also extended more grace and love than they deserved.
Just a few verses before 18, it says, “…this is a rebellious people, Lying children, Children who will not hear the law of the Lord; who say to the seers, “Do not see,” and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us the right things; speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits. Get out of the way, Turn aside from the path, Cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.” (9-11)
All throughout the Old Testament, we learn about just how rebellious and wicked the people were.
God had shown them how to live. He gave them the opportunity to live lives of joy and freedom. His rules weren’t to keep them from living well, but to free them from the pain and destruction that sin brings.
Even when God proclaimed judgment on these sinful people, He still offered grace. He wanted to save His children, but they abused their free will and turned against Him.
It didn’t matter how many prophets God sent or how many warnings He gave.
Everything was laid out before their eyes, but they allowed the temporary satisfaction of sin to blind them. As I studied more of what the Old Testament had to say, it became clear to me that God wasn’t being evil.
He never forces Himself on anyone, so when His chosen people rejected Him, He had to step away and allow them to experience the consequences of their own choices. Even then, He still gave them another chance to come back.
Studying the Old Testament allowed me to erase a distorted picture of God and see, for myself, that He was, indeed, a good and loving God.
However, I was still left with one question.
“Why did God destroy the sinful cities in the Old Testament, but doesn’t destroy the sinful world we live in today?”
Part three of “Seeing the Goodness of God in the Old Testament” will cover this topic, along with how this message applies to you and me.
What do you think? Tell me in the comment section below!
Do you understand why God had to allow His people to experience the consequences to their actions?
How does this impact your view of God?