July 1, Sunday

The AMI Devotional Blogs from June 25-July 1 are written by Phillip Chen, college pastor at Church of Southland. Philip, a graduate of University of California, San Diego, is currently studying at Talbot School of Theology.  He is married to Esther.

Devotional Thoughts for This Morning

“Scars of Remembrance”

Jeremiah 16:14-15 (ESV)

“Therefore, behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when it shall no longer be said, ‘As the Lord lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ 15 but ‘As the Lord lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he had driven them.’ For I will bring them back to their own land that I gave to their fathers.”

I am dreading the day that I will have to discipline my daughter. When my parents used to say, “This hurts me more than it hurts you” before spanking me, I would mouth back, “Yeah, right.” I didn’t understand how it could hurt them more than me when they were the ones who were punishing me; but I suppose I can say that I understand them now. In the end, the discipline of a loving parent always hurts the parent more than the child. The parents know that the discipline is good for the children, but it’s not an enjoyable experience.

We’ve been following along this dialogue between the LORD and Jeremiah this week regarding the judgment that is to come upon Judah. The LORD has made up His mind and tells Jeremiah that nothing can cause His wrath to relent. Judah has turned so far away from God that they don’t even know they are sinning against Him anymore. Yet as this conversation draws to a close, it seems as if the LORD can’t help but blurt out a promise of restoration—even before Judah encounters the wrath of God. Not only will they be restored, but their restoration will be more glorious than their initial deliverance—this is a powerful word that the Lord is giving Jeremiah. The LORD is saying that people will no longer talk about the exodus, where God delivered Israel out of the hands of Egypt; instead, people will talk about how God gathered His people back from exile into the land that was promised to their forefathers.

The nation of Israel has looked upon their deliverance from Egypt as a watershed moment, the forming of their nation as they know it. It is a moment that they can look back upon and declare that their God is not only powerful, but that their God is with them. However, God is promising that their restoration to the land of Israel will be even more glorious than when they first entered into the Promised Land. How is that possible? And why does God choose to give this promise in the thick of His pronouncement of judgment over Judah?

If we see God as a God who disciplines with the end goal of restoration rather than out of anger or frustration, then we can see why God would give them this promise—even in the midst of this pronouncement. He knows that a very hard time will be coming for this nation, and He wants to reassure them that restoration will be coming.

As we’ve gone through the book of Jeremiah, it is a particularly sad book to read through. Not only is it sad to see the judgment that is coming for the nation of Judah, but it’s also sad to see it from God’s vantage point. Yet the exile is not the end. Discipline may last for a while, but God promises that His people will be restored—and the glory of that restoration will surpass the former glory of their deliverance. Perhaps you are going through a particularly difficult time: maybe you are going through a season of discipline, wilderness, or silence of God. Whatever God may be doing, you can be sure that He has restoration in mind. Hang in there as you look to the light at the end of the tunnel!

Prayer: Father God, thank You that You always have restoration in mind—even in the midst of discipline. Help me to persevere in seasons of Your discipline, that I may not become hardened or jaded, but rather look on hopefully to the point of restoration that You are leading me towards. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Ezekiel 39

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