GOD’S DISCIPLINE OF DISASTER
Facing the Problem
By Henry Jaegers
Then ceased the work of the house of God which is at Jerusalem. So, it ceased unto the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia. (Ezra 4: 24)
As I considered the message of this verse, the thing that caught my attention was,
that for sixteen years, no progress had been made in the building of the house of God. Can you imagine what it must have been like during this time for the children of Israel? It was, indeed, a period of darkness and misunderstanding of why this could have happened. It is not unusual, for God's children, at times, to pass through a similar situation where nothing seems to be happening. This time of silence, sometimes causes us to formulate wrong ideas concerning the ways and purposes of God.
Has it ever happened to you? Have you found yourself entertaining certain ideas about God which caused you to think that he was less than good in his dealings with you? Sometimes, like Elijah, in his period of despondency, thought that he was the only one who suffered these things and that he was all alone in this experience, thinking that it was unique to him. God had to inform Elijah, that there were seven thousand faithful servants that he didn't know about who had not bowed the knee to Baal.
Several years ago, my friend, mentor, and teacher, Dr. Ted Rendell, wrote a book called "In God's school". In this book, he puts before us various disciplines that God allows us to pass through to teach us how to trust him fully. I am sending you an audio copy of this book in order to share its blessings with you.
As we view what has happened to Israel after sojourning in Babylon for seventy years, we come to understand why certain disciplines were necessary in order for Israel to progress forward in accomplishing God's will.
To begin, there is the problem of being settled down and an unwillingness to leave the comforts of their present situation. So, in order to move the Israelite’s forward toward this new thing, which he was about to do, it was necessary for God to use an outside source to motivate them. This outside sources, Cyrus king of Persia, and the method he used to get them to move forward was in the form of an edict. What we mean by that, it was like issuing a law that must be obeyed without question, and God used Cyrus to motivate the children of Israel to begin God's new plan for them. We call this period of time, “God's Discipline of Disturbance.” In order to get the children of Israel moving and motivated, he used an external force to accomplish this purpose,.
Very often when we are tempted to relax and settle down in our Christian life, somewhat like the people in the building of the Tower of Babel, God used the confusion of languages as His discipline of disturbance and so it is, in the case of Cyrus.
That being accomplished, Israel was now ready to face another discipline. The “Discipline of Disaster”. They had envisioned Jerusalem and the temple as they remembered it before they left for Babylon, before its destruction. But now, they were totally unaware of the reality that faced them. This truly was a “Discipline of Disaster.” But recognizing the purposes of God for their leaving Babylon, the difficulty that lay before them did not destroy them. We note that despite what they faced, it seemed to produce a determination to begin building. With the help of faithful leaders who refused to be distracted by the difficulty, they began to do the work. After two years of unhindered progress, something once again, they were faced with the new set of problems that cause them to feel helpless in this situation. A law had come down from the king of Persia demanding that the building of the temple must stop
As we consider all of this, I would like to suggest another discipline that they were about to face. It was a “Discipline of Darkness”. Can you imagine having to pass through such a period of time for 16 years? We might easily conclude this was because of their lack of faith that they had to pass through this for so long. But another explanation that makes better sense, is that it was a period of time where they lacked an understanding of why God allowed this to happen. A time of darkness that comes into our life often leading us to think thoughts of God that are unworthy of him and none of us are that wise or that spiritual to try to figure out God's “Why”.
But there is good news in all of this. No matter how dark things seem to be and how far away God appears to be, the fact is, that in whatever discipline that God allows us to pass through, he never causes it to happen without him being close by. God is sovereign and he is good all the time, no matter how weak may be our understanding of his ways. And it is in this time of darkness that we must learn how to trust him. God's disciplines in our life can be viewed as his methods of helping us to escape unscathed in the fiery trials of life.
Whent through fiery trials, thy pathway shall lie,
My grace all-sufficient shall be thy supply.
The flame shall not hurt thee, I only design;
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.
(John F. Wade 1787)