Focal passage: Ezekiel 11:2-4, 14-12
When I was a kid one of the worst things my mom could say to me was, “Just wait until your dad gets home.” Maybe you’ve been there?
I remember being in trouble for something I did once and being sent back to my room to await my timely execution. Before long the thudd of my father’s footsteps came down the hallway. He entered the door, sat me down and explained to me why what I had done was wrong.
The explanation was calmly but swiftly followed up by a few smacks on the bottom. I was left in tears to think about what I had done. As a father myself now, I can recognize the important but difficult decisions a parent has to make when disciplining their child.
As our heavenly Father, God’s role is to guide, encourage and discipline his people. The writer of Hebrews encourages his readers by saying, “Endure suffering as discipline: God is dealing with you as sons. For what son is there that a father does not discipline?” (12:7).
Ezekiel, as a prophet, had the unfortunate job of heralding Israel’s coming discipline. Yet, he also had the joy of proclaiming its hope and salvation. In addition to condemning their sinful ways, God said:
“I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel….I will give them integrity of heart and put a new spirit within them; I will remove their heart of stone from their bodies and give them a heart of flesh, so that they will follow my statutes, keep my ordinances, and practice them” (vv. 17, 19-20).
What Ezekiel was reminding Israel of is this: God offers hope in the midst of judgment to those who trust in Him.
Whatever suffering or hardship you may be experiencing – whether discipline or not – there is always hope. Through the Holy Spirit, God provides the encouragement, insight and conviction we need to make it through our more difficult trials. All we need to do is trust in Him.