Wednesday, July 17. Isaiah 41 – 43

I have now lived six decades. I’m confident that as a child I received my just share of paddlings, but I only remember two. Both occurred before I was twelve – perhaps at age six and eight. I only remember the reason for one of the punishments, but I do remember my father’s anger at my behavior was extreme. In both cases however, rather than administer the punishment on the spot, he simply said: “expect a whippin’ when you get home.”

I’d like to say that the anticipation was worse than the punishment – but it wasn’t. The anticipation was agony to be sure, but the punishment was indeed worse.

As Isaiah speaks and writes chapter 43, his people remain in the land of their forefathers. They have yet to experience the promised punishment for their sins and even though most of this chapter is devoted to the blessing of God, the Lord is plain that the blessing will come only after the punishment – and the punishment will be extreme. The Lord calls it “destruction.”

Bad behavior should not be tolerated – not from children nor anyone else. Society has laws and, in some cases, prescribed punishments. No one should expect to get away with bad conduct, and everyone should learn that lesson from their youth. You do no one a favor by overlooking or excusing delinquency. Everyone must learn what justice means, especially because our God is a just God.

In chapter 34, God underscores His relationship with Israel. He created them, called them to be His people and was uniquely their God. He set them above all other people and would willingly sacrifice the people of other nations in her behalf. She belongs to Him, and when God tells other nations to give up His people – even though they may deserve to be in the clutches of foreigners – the foreigners have no choice but to do so.

Israel lives in view of great promises. Until then, however, there is punishment for sin. There will be no short cut around it. God’s people can expect no less in our own time.