God loves His people so much that He disciplines them when they go wrong or go astray because He does not want them to perish. His disciplinary action, though painful, is always done with love. This is clearly seen in the how He dealt with his chosen people, both as a nation and as individuals.
Disciplining a Nation
During the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham and Hezekiah, in the kingdom of Judah, there was prosperity in the land of Judah for about 50 years. The kingdom of Judah emerged as a leading power in Palestine. When there was prosperity and power in the land, the people forsook God and went astray. God was not happy with their sins:
i. Outwardly, they seemed to be worshipping the God of Israel, but in their hearts, they were worshipping the pagan gods.
ii. Injustice and corruption was rampant (Isaiah 3: 8-26)
iii. The rich and powerful oppressed the poor and the under privileged
iv. Some of the priests and the prophets started indulging in drinking
v. The priests and the prophets preached to please men and not God; they became men-pleasers. (Isaiah 5: 7-12; 18: 23; 22: 12-14).
Because of the prevailing wickedness, God repeatedly warned Jerusalem and of judgment through His prophet Isaiah. But they did not listen to the warnings of God. Isaiah prophesied for about 40 years (740 B.C.E. – 700 B.C.E.).
When they did not listen to the warnings of God they were judged. In 597 B.C.E., after 103 years of the prophecy of Isaiah the prophet, Jehoiachin, king of Judah, was captured by King Nebuchadnezzar and taken to Babylon along with his subjects (2 Kings 24: 12–16).
For 70 years, they were in the Babylonian captivity. This was a disciplinary action of God. He disciplined them because He loved them. But His disciplinary action was painful: the temple and the people – even the king – were taken captive. After 70 years of being in exile (disciplinary action of God) they were brought back home (Judah) when they returned to Him. (2 Chr. 7: 14). This is a glaring example of His disciplinary action with love.
The kings of Israel were disciplined when they went wrong.
Here we consider Solomon and Asa.
The Bible says that “King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth. The whole world sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart” (1 Kgs 10: 23-24). This happened because at the beginning of his reign he was humble in the sight of the Lord. After admitting his need for discernment in ruling such a great people, God said, “Behold, I have done as you have asked, I have given you a wise, discerning mind, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.” (1 Kgs 3: 12).
As such, Solomon once had a powerful and Godly influence on multitudes for many years. But what happened to him at the end of his life? He committed sin of idolatry through intermarriage with foreign (pagan) wives. The Bible says, “But King Solomon loved many foreign women: the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites. They were of the very nations of whom the Lord warned, “You shall not mingle with them, neither shall they mingle with you, for surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods.” (Dt 17: 17) And yet, “Solomon clung to these in love.” (1 Kgs 11: 1, 2). As Solomon grew old his wives turned his heart after other gods…” (1 Kgs 11: 4). Therefore, the Lord was angry with Solomon and promised to rend the kingdom from him. (1 Kgs 11: 9-11). And, indeed, ten tribes were given to his servant, Jeroboam, (1 Kgs 11: 32), and only one tribe remained with Solomon, and that only was for the sake of the promise made to Solomon’s father, David (1 Kgs 11: 32).
Asa, the third king of Judah, was a loyal adherent of the worship of God and did what was right in the sight of the Lord. And therefore the Lord was with him. There was a period of peace in the land at the beginning of Asa’s reign. When attacked by the troops of Ethiopia under the leadership of General Zerah, Asa prayed to the Lord for help, and the Lord defeated the Ethiopians. Asa then cleared the land of Judah and Benjamin of all idols. He “commanded Judah to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, and to obey the law and the commandment” (II Chr 14: 4). “And there was no more war until the thirty-fifth year of the reign of Asa” (II Chr 15: 19). But when the King Baasha of Israel declared war on Asa, Asa paid King Ben-hadad of Syria to help him defeat King Baasha (II Chr 16: 1ff.).
The Israelites were defeated, but God, through the prophet Hanani, let Asa know that he made a mistake by going to Syria instead of God for help (II Chr 16: 7 ff.). Again, Asa made another mistake. “In the thirty-ninth year of Asa’s reign he was diseased in his feet…yet in his disease he did not seek the Lord, but relied on the physicians.” (II Chr 16: 12) And he died of that disease. At the beginning of his reign, he looked to God for help, but at the end of his reign he looked to man instead of God, and ended his life in tragedy!
Sometimes, we may tend to look only to the affluent or the people in power or government to meet the needs of the Church and its activities instead of looking to God. If so, God may do the same thing to us as He did to the King Asa.
The sins of the churches in Nagaland today are: materialism; prevalence of cliques; preachers have become men-pleasers; and church programmes, once spiritual, are being politicized. Instead of looking to God for the needs of the activities of the Church, such as church building construction, jubilee celebrations and conferences, we look to the affluent, or people in power or government.
Are we not committing the sin of extortion? Are we not committing sin of idolatry? Are we not forsaking God? With our mouth we say, “Praise the Lord” or “Hallelujah,” but our actions declare that we are against God. And perhaps soon, unless repentance is forthcoming, God may discipline us just as He disciplined the people of Israel, King Solomon and King Asa. God is able to discipline individuals and nations. Yes, always in love…but never without pain.
God bless Nagaland!