When Israel sinned by not keeping the sabbath years, God raised up the enemy to overpower them. They let 70 sabbath years go by without honoring them. That is approximately 490 years they disobeyed the Lord. Talk about repetitive sin! So the Lord raised up the enemy, in order to move them into bondage. In the NT, that would be the equivalent of allowing a strong hold to pretty much take over so that there seems we don't have any power over it any longer! What could the Lord hope to get from such a thing?

Often, when we discipline our children, we do so to stop behavior. And it is easy to think that the Lord God is doing the same thing. But it's more than just behavior both are after. The parent is seeing long term for the child, hoping to turn the child into a productive and bountiful adult. The same is true of the Lord. He disciplines us for a our own good. His discipline though can seem strange. With Israel, it was allowing the enemy to rule over them. In 1 Cor. 5, we learn that God's disciplinary tactic has not changed. He allows our enemy to rule over us as a means of discipline! I ask again, what in the world could God hope to get from using such discipline?

I love the answer! I love it!

In Jeremiah, God warned Israel over and over again about the coming captivity. They did not repent. So it was done. Just before God moved them into captivity to allow the enemy to rule over them, he said this.

Jer 29:11-13
11 'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. 12 'Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 'You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
NASU

I had two emotions when the Lord first opened my eyes to this. 1. He has a plan for me, even in my bondage! Yay! Praise the Lord! Even though he is sending the enemy to rule over me to teach me something, he still has a plan to do good for me and to give me a future. 2. I will find him when I seek him with all my heart. Woa. I remember telling the Lord, if that is the requirement God, I am toast. For my heart is filled with all kinds of things that are not fond of you. Like Adam, I wish to go and hide from you at times. I don't want to seek you out. There's a part of me that does, but if my heart must be totally yours, what am I to do?

I was both encouraged, and discouraged. Then the Lord took me to another passage in Jeremiah.

Jer 24:4-7

4 Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 5 "Thus says the Lord God of Israel, 'Like these good figs, so I will regard as good the captives of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans. 6 'For I will set My eyes on them for good, and I will bring them again to this land; and I will build them up and not overthrow them, and I will plant them and not pluck them up. 7 'I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the Lord; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart.
NASU

Such joy! God said he would give me a heart to know Him! He would cause this to happen through His disciplining hand! I would return to him with my whole heart! What grace! What joy! It is something God does in me. That is his purpose in bondage, that we will have heart to know Him.

Dear friend, make it your purpose to know God, and in knowing Him, your heart will change. As you see Him for who He is, grace will come upon you and will change you. You will see the great love He has for you, and in doing so, you will have great love for Him.

1 Peter 1:13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
NASU

Keep your hope fixed completed on the grace that will come to you when you get a revelation of who Jesus really is. When you see His heart, when you see the heart of God, when you see His desires for you and your life, when you see Him, such grace will come that you will be changed forever.

1 John 3:19-20
19 We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him 20 in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things.
NASU

God is greater than our heart and able to change our heart. It was this very verse that God used to lead me to Him. He changed my heart then and he is still changing it. He will change your heart too.

Grace to you,

Mark