“This is Jerusalem…she has rebelled against my rules by doing wickedness [even] more than the [pagan] nations, and against my statutes [even] more than the countries all around her; for they have rejected my rules and not walked in my statutes…Behold, I, even I, am against you…” (5:5-8, ESV).
Their wickedness has become so horrid to God that he concludes:
“And because of all your abominations I will do with you what I have never done, and the like of which I will never do again” (5:9).
The judgment described at that point is not repeatable in a family blog! Israel has been sent to God’s time-out corner.
There were no time-out corners when I was growing up, but there were adequate “Go to your room” commands, with an occasional whuppin’, to get the point across. Israel was about to head for the wood shed.
But note that the never-ending love of God, hopefully mirrored by a parent hating the punishment as much or more than the child, always leaves the door open to repentance and restoration:
“Yet I will leave some of you alive…those of you who escape [further punishment] will remember me…how I have been broken over their…heart that has departed from me…And they shall know that I am the Lord” (6:8-10).
Israel and Judah were entire populations who broke the heart of God en masse. How does this compare with us, as individual believers in Jesus, engulfed in a non-believing culture? If we break the heart of God through our sins – and we do – is it better to wait for judgment as Israel and Judah did, believing that judgment will never catch up with us?
Do we accept an occasional trip to God’s time-out corner with a shrug of trivial eye-rolling? What commands of Jesus do we disobey today? Does his time-out corner end quickly with just a pat on the head and a kind hug, being told not to do it again?
The purpose of this is not to induce unnecessary guilt, but to underline the process of the Cycle that leads to unity with God. That process passes through our Lord’s time-out corner, where we can observe and learn how much we break his heart when we sin, and to sincerely repent before him.
The way to navigate the divine time-out corner is to give deep, passionate thanks that God has sworn never to do again to one of his children what he was forced to do to Israel and Judah. We need to fall on our knees and give thanks that God sent Jesus to erase the guilt that we all carry. We must not take that gift lightly.
Make daily prayer and confession a daily habit; and listen, too! Navigating God’s time-out corner opens the gate to a peace that passes all understanding in perfect unity with God.