"This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: You saw the great disaster I brought on Jerusalem and on all the towns of Judah. Today they lie deserted and in ruins because of the evil they have done. They aroused my anger by burning incense to and worshiping other gods that neither they nor you nor your ancestors ever knew. Again and again I sent my servants the prophets, who said, 'Do not do this detestable thing that I hate!' But they did not listen or pay attention; they did not turn from their wickedness or stop burning incense to other gods." Jeremiah 44:2-5
Some people conclude from passages like today's that God is unloving. How could He bring disaster on His people? How could He leave their towns deserted? How could a loving God be aroused by anger? How could He allow them to be taken into captivity? The answer is found in God's love and mercy.
Like a loving father, God disciplines those He loves. What loving parent would let their toddler play by a busy road? A parent teaches a child the danger by instruction. If the child continues to waddle toward the danger, discipline is applied. The discipline does not show a lack of love. The parent loves their child too much to allow them to be hurt.
God loves us too much to allow us to play by the spiritual life's equivalent of a busy highway. He loves us too much to allow us to continue living in spiritual danger. When we ignore His instruction, He applies discipline. The writer to the Hebrews said it this way, "God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 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" (Hebrews 12:10-11).
Father, none of us like the consequences of our sin. No discipline seems pleasant at the time. But thank You for loving us so much that You never give up on us. Thank You for applying the discipline that produces a harvest of righteousness and peace. Help us to be willingly trained by it. In Jesus' name. Amen.