It was totally my fault; I had been warned time and again, but I never heeded that warning. I knew that the bank was steep, dangerous, but it was the quickest way to the clothes line, and I am ALWAYS in hyper-mode. So one fateful morning as I sped about to complete my chores, my laundry basket, clothespins, and not-so-youthful-body would slip-slide down that dew-covered bank, resulting in one nasty fall. The rotator cuff surgery that would follow, along with months of pain and rehab, would serve as an effective schoolmaster. I would not make that mistake again; I would surrender a few extra seconds of time to take the better path at a much slower pace. The pain had been productive.
Just as my fall was painful way to learn a lesson, so is punishment in any form. But whether or not that punishment is profitable depends entirely on the response of the offender. A parent, teacher, or authority figure does not administer punishment simply to inflict pain, but to induce repentance, a change of direction, heart, and mind. During those dark days of Ezekiel’s ministry, God had a desire for His people to return to Him, so within a few short chapters, God would inspire Ezekiel to paint some vivid word pictures of the Almighty’s punishing hand using three illustrations: a sword, a smelting pot, and a cauldron.
“Behold, I am against thee, and will draw forth my sword out of his sheath…sigh therefore, thou son of man.” Israel as a nation was to be prodded by the sword of a righteous God, “a sword…sharpened and also refurbished.” Secondly, because the “house of Israel is…become dross,” they would experience the smelting pot of God’s refining process, the “fire of my wrath,” and be “melted in the midst thereof.” And if that pain were not enough, He would plunge His rebellious children into His cauldron; He would “Heap on wood, kindle the fire…that the filthiness…may be molten in it, that the scum of it may be consumed.” Ouch, sounds painful, right? A sword, a smelting pot, a hot cauldron, all prepared that “they shall know that I am the LORD.” Did God find pleasure in disciplining His beloved children so harshly? “I (the LORD) have NO pleasure in the death of him that dieth…wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.” NO pleasure. As they were prodded, refined, and simmered, God was yearning for their repentance and return to Him, just as we as parents, yearn for our children to learn the lessons rooted in our discipline.
What I find amazing in this study is that our God is so loving; He does not abandon His children in their rebellion, but goes to great pains to draw them lovingly back to Himself. Although I have experienced ultimate repentance when I knelt at the cross decades ago, I still need to examine my life daily in search of areas that may be displeasing to my Father, to confess them, and to seek His power to confront that sin in my life. I realize that not all pain and distress in my life is due to discipline; some tribulation is sent my way as a tool to grow me and to draw me closer. But when I knowingly disregard His Word or ignore His direction, I know that I’m in for a well-deserved time out! The warning also puts me in fear for our nation, which has drifted so far from our godly foundation. Could the sword, smelting pot, and cauldron be coming our way? May we learn to be sensitive and submissive BEFORE the pain has to be applied.
Psalm 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:
Lord, there are still times when I knowingly do my own thing rather than follow Your path. Help me in those times to recognize my rebellion and be submissive to Your will so that I don’t find myself under the hand of Your discipline.<div class='sharedaddy sd-block sd-like jetpack-likes-widget-wrapper jetpack-likes-widget-unloaded' id='like-post-wrapper-164683012-1763-632fac40efdad' data-src='https://widgets.wp.com/likes/#blog_id=164683012&post_id=1763&origin=grandmasgleanings.com&obj_id=164683012-1763-632fac40efdad' data-name='like-post-frame-164683012-1763-632fac40efdad' data-title='Like or Reblog'><h3 class="sd-title">Like this:</h3><div class='likes-widget-placeholder post-likes-widget-placeholder' style='height: 55px;'><span class='button'><span>Like</span></span> <span class="loading">Loading...</span></div><span class='sd-text-color'></span><a class='sd-link-color'></a></div>