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Ezra and Nehemiah: Hebrews 12:7-11

Ezra and Nehemiah: Hebrews 12:7-11

7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8 If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10 Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
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The people of Israel built altars for Baal. They erected Asherah poles in order to promote fertility and sexuality. (Asherah poles were trees that were stipped of all their branches in order to be a phallic symbol) These two false gods were commonly worshipped by the Canaanites and were specifically condemned by the Lord (Deut 16:21-22  Do not set up any wooden Asherah pole beside the altar you build to the LORD your God, 22 and do not erect a sacred stone, for these the LORD your God hates.)

 

Since the people of Israel did not keep the precepts of the Lord, they were not going to remain in the in the land of promise. God had warned them that they would enter captivity if they continued to worship idols. While captivity was a punishment for their unfaithfulness, it also caused the Lord’s faithful to repent and to call upon him to remember his promises and be merciful. In this way Nebuchadnezzar was the instrument the Lord used to bring about the people’s repentance.

 

As the author of Hebrews points out, the Lord’s discipline is unpleasant. But God is neither capricious nor cruel; his discipline serves a purpose. God “disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.” As someone once told me, “Sometimes God lays us flat on our backs, so that we are looking up.” Thankfully our the punishment has already been paid for by Jesus on the cross. However, I need a daily reminder of how serious my sins are. And I daily need a God who is merciful and just, who forgives my sins on account of my Savior. So, give thanks to the Lord for his loving discipline, because only a Father who loves his children disciplines them. And we have a perfect Father in heaven.