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young man with folded arms July 11 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Isaiah 29, 30, 31, 32

Growing Pains

It is true that as children grow they sometimes have pain in their muscles, commonly called “growing pains” (“kidshealth.org”). It is not only children, however, but teens and adults who have growing pains – spiritual growing pains. Many times we naively think trouble will not touch us. We may therefore live as we wish because we think we are invincible. Sometimes we put blinders over our eyes and stop up our ears to the truth. If we are religious, we may go to church, go through all the ceremonies, and say and do all the right things, but sometimes our behavior does not change. We may complain about life, rebel against restrictions, and even fall into destructive, sinful habits. We may not heed the warnings given to us, but eventually, we find out life has consequences. Most of us learn from our mistakes (or sins) before they lead to our destruction but not all. After much pain and defeat we find out there is a better way to live. These difficult experiences are spiritual growing pains.

The northern kingdom of Israel did not learn from God’s judgment against her rebellion, extreme wickedness, idolatry, injustice, or heed warnings from His many prophets. Her people were therefore taken away into exile into a foreign land and others inhabited their land. Now the southern kingdom of Judah is following in the same destructive track. Even so, if she repents and trusts the LORD, there will be deliverance from her enemies. The same can be true of us; we do not have to suffer as other rebellious Christians. God can deliver us from our trials if we will rely upon Him. The LORD protects those who look to Him for deliverance.

Judah is blinded by her sin, however and engages in worship which is a ceremonial pretense. She tries to hide her sin from the LORD and convinces herself that the LORD does not know about it (much like people hide drugs, cigarettes, booze, criminal behavior and sexual relationships from their loved ones). The people are wayward in spirit and complain (29:24), but someday it will be different. Like a parent longs for the day when their child or children will once again respect and listen to them, so there will be such a day for all Israel.

Now, however, the nation of Judah is obstinate. She carries out plans without consulting the LORD (we do that, too, sometimes). She does not look to the LORD. Instead, she forms an alliance with the godless nation of Egypt, who once enslaved her. Parents are deeply grieved when their children seek friendships with those from the “wrong crowd.” We know how God feels; their alliances only lead them to trouble. God describes Judah:

“These are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the LORD's instruction. They say to the seers, ‘See no more visions!’ and to the prophets, ‘Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!’"(Isaiah 30:9-11, NIV).

The same kinds of things are often said to godly family and friends: “Don’t talk to me anymore about church or religion or what God says. I don’t want to hear it!”

Because Judah is obstinate, however, her sins are like high cracked and bulging walls which will eventually collapse upon her if she does not repent. Those who live rebellious lives need to learn what Judah needs to learn:

This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it,” (Isaiah 30:15, NIV).

Judah continues to do things her own way but fails getting reliable help from the Egyptians.

Does God then give up on His stubborn children? No. Even in judgment God is gracious. Isaiah 30:18 says, “…the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” (NIV)

Isaiah 30:26b, speaking of the future Millennium, says “The LORD binds up the bruises of his people and heals the wounds he inflicted.” (NIV)

God now pleads with all Israel, “Return to him you have so greatly revolted against, O Israelites.” (Isaiah 31:6, NIV)

There is hope for the future of God’s children, Israel, both now and in the future. Soon she will wake up and return to the LORD, and Assyria will be annihilated. In the future that area will also be devastated. Then when Jesus Christ comes back to rule and reign on the earth, the eyes of the Israelites will see the Messiah they now reject. They will turn to the Lord, repent and be saved. There is a similar hope for most parents; the LORD will work in their children’s rebellious hearts, and they will turn to them again.

Do you, your children or grandchildren have spiritual growing pains? Salvation is found in God alone. “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength,” (Isaiah 30:15a). Pray that we might seek Him to help us with our growing pains.

Lessons to Live By

  • We do not have to suffer as other rebellious Christians, and God can deliver us from our trials if we will rely upon Him. The LORD protects those who look to Him for deliverance.
  • Those who live rebellious lives need to learn what Judah needs to learn: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength” (Isaiah 30:15, NIV, more...)
  • Even in judgment God is gracious.
  • There is hope for most parents with rebellious children; the LORD will work in their hearts, and they will return and listen to them again.
  • Let us pray to God that He may help us with our growing pains.

Today’s Bible Memory Verse

Isaiah 30:18 (NIV) “…the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!”

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