Jeremiah 27:6–11: “And now I have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, My servant. . . .  It will be that the nation or the kingdom which will not . . .  put its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, I will punish that nation with the sword, with famine and with pestilence . . .  until I have destroyed it. . . . But the nation which will bring its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon and serve him, I will let remain on its land, . . . and they will till it and dwell in it.”

Observation: Jeremiah drew a sharp distinction between the two heart responses of the people of Judah to the disciplines of God. As Nebuchadnezzar conquered Judah, some were determined to continue their resistance. God warned them that their complete destruction would result. He advised the people not to resist, but to make their own yokes, their own bonds, to submit to the authority of the conquering power. Babylonian captivity was God’s chosen method of discipline, so much so that He referred to Nebuchadnezzar as “My servant.” There can be no doubt that resistance to Nebuchadnezzar would be resistance against the very God who designed this discipline.

Application: This must have been a hard message for the people of Judah to hear. These prideful people who knew they were descended from Abraham and David, who had been delivered from bondage in Egypt and given a covenant promise to occupy the land, who were to be the envy of all the nations—these are the very people who now found themselves under Babylonian captivity and were told to submit to it. 

As I cluck my tongue at those prideful Judites, realization creeps over my conscience:  I am as they were. It was the comic-strip character Pogo who said,  “We have met the enemy and he is us!” I, too, resist the disciplines of the Lord. My inclination is to rationalize why I don’t deserve discipline in my life. But after discipline comes restoration. God promised the eventual overthrow of Babylon in much the same way as Christ holds out this promise in 1 John 2:28, “And now little children, abide in Him so that when He appears we may have confidence and not shrink away in shame at His coming.” 

If I will abide in Him even in seasons of discipline, then I will not be ashamed by His appearing. Like the people of Judah who would be allowed to continue to till their land even when governed by Nebuchadnezzar, so will I have a place in the kingdom when God’s disciplines have worked their purpose in my heart.

Prayer: Lord, You know my heart perfectly. You know how stiff-necked I can be when disciplines come into my life. But I realize that Your disciplines are thoughtfully crafted to fit my needs perfectly. Forgive my resistance, Lord. Have Your way with my heart.