First, I just want to mention quickly that I did get my workout in early this morning. 5:30am came early at 3:45 when my son John decided that he wanted to be the first to rise. There was no going back to sleep and I felt like a Mack Truck had rolled over me. But nevertheless, I went to the gym and burned almost 600 calories today. That with old fashioned Cheerios and the morning Joe seemed to perk me up.
While I am journaling about my 100 day challenge, I do not want to get out of the habit of sharing what I am learning in Scripture. Last night my wife and I read through Psalm 80. In short, this is a petition for God to intervene on behalf of Israel whose land and people were getting pillaged and raped by the Assyrians. They were experiencing God’s judgment because of their disobedience. God was simply being faithful to His promise in Torah. If Israel disobeyed and were unfaithful to Yahweh, they would be driven from the land. It was that simple.
A couple things stuck out to me in this passage. First, Israel was begging for God’s intervention. They were in trouble. They were suffering the consequences for their unfaithfulness. It was too late at that point to undo what had been done. Israel was completely at the mercy of God.
Second, Israel’s ability to survive and thrive is solely dependant on God’s mighty hand of protection and provision. The psalmist pleads, “O God, restore us And cause Your face to shine upon us, and we will be saved.” Any hope for health and prosperity is completely at the mercy of God.
Third, just because the Psalmist pleads on behalf of the people does not guarantee God’s intervention. However, this passage reminds us of something incredibly significant. The Psalmist openly reminds God that this land and people that are being pillaged and raped are God’s. In essence, it is like saying, “Do something! This is your property you created for your pleasure. Don’t you care?”
I believe the answer is “Yes”, God does care. He is always doing what is best for His people. There is nothing in life that is not intended to direct his people’s hearts toward God, including every evil and injustice. God, at times, can use the wicked and ungodly to discipline His people- like what we see in this passage. God is always in a process of redeeming a people unto himself. He is saving a remnant from those whose hearts reject Him. Because of His justice and for the sake of His name and His love working together with the free will of man, God cultivates people’s hearts to turn toward Him. He created them for His pleasure, and His grace and loving kindness allow for our salvation so that we can be place back to our original purpose. And God is still just because of the work of Christ on the cross. His wrath was completely poured out on Christ for the sins of mankind and we are allowed to return our hearts to God.
So, when it is too late and God’s people have crossed the line, it is OK to suffer the consequences. God disciplines those He loves (Hebrews 12). When this happens, we are experiencing the tender mercy of God doing what it takes to bring us back to Him, the giver of life. When we cross the line, our responsibility is to endure the discipline of God. There is hope because of the truth that we are reminded of by the Psalmist: we are God’s people. He knows when we are being “raped and pillaged” by the injustices of this world. When we experience God’s discipline, it should be responded to by humility. God is simply returning our hearts toward Him.