Do you ever feel as though life is a long tunnel with no sign of light at the other end? Does God ever seem so distant that we wonder if he will ever make his face to shine upon us again? Does life ever feel as though it has become so difficult that we will never laugh or smile again? Do we ever wonder if someone will deliver good news instead of the constant crushing weight of bad news and disappointment?
Life exiled in Babylon must surely have felt like this. Certainly, those who were left in Jeruslaem after all the slaughter, siege, starvation and poverty must have wondered if life would ever return to normal. We hear the despair, panic even in Ezekiel’s cry of 9:8 ‘
Alas, Sovereign Lord! Are you going to destroy the entire remnant of Israel in this outpouring of your wrath on Jerusalem?’
For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favour lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.Psalm 30:5
The purpose of God’s anger is not to simply that he would have satisfaction, it is not to inflict punishment. The purpose of God’s anger, his wrath is to turn us away from those things that cause us harm. To turn our hearts back to him. God’s anger, his wrath, his punishment; it is not vindictiveness; it is grace and love.
In chapter 39: 21-29 God makes clear his punishment was because of how Israel rebelled against him, it was to make clear his holiness, that everyone would know that he is God. Crucially though God also talks of how he will restore Israel, of how he will teach them a lesson and that they will learn that lesson.
In Romans 1:24 Paul echo’s this thought when he talks of God handing people over to their sinful desires. In 1 Corinthians 5:5 Paul instructs the immoral brother to be handed over to Satan, not for punishment but ‘that his spirit might be saved on the day of the Lord.’ God punishes us in order that we would learn our lesson, but he also holds out the promise of redemption and renewal.
How is life showing you what it would be like to live without God? Has God been speaking to us about the extent of our sin, the consequences of our sin? Have we begun to understand the severity of God’s hand upon us because of who we are and what we have said and done?
The good news is that in Jesus Christ there is redemption. In Jesus we can be sure that God’s anger will last only a moment because Jesus has borne all of it for us. Jesus wept through the night in order that we would rejoice in the morning. In the darkness there is light at the end of the tunnel and that light is Jesus Christ. Will we walk towards the light or remain in the darkness? Will we walk towards God’s favour or remain in his anger? Walk towards the dawn of hope and rejoicing or remain in the night of weeping?
Jesus came to give us the hope of a new heaven and a new earth. Are we prepared to leave this earth behind?
Prayer Father, I thank you for your loving kindness. I thank you that your discipline on my life is simply to correct me, to draw me back, to protect me from your anger. Lord help me to respond by clinging to Jesus. Lord, I trust in Jesus, help my lack of trust. Amen