The LORD has sent prophets to you time after time, but you refused to listen. They told you that the LORD had said:

Change your ways! If you stop doing evil, I will let you stay forever in this land that I gave your ancestors. I don’t want to harm you. So don’t make me angry by worshiping idols and other gods.

But you refused to listen to my prophets. So I, the LORD, say that you have made me angry by worshiping idols, and you are the ones who were hurt by what you did. You refused to listen to me, and now I will let you be attacked by nations from the north, and especially by my servant, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia. You and other nearby nations will be destroyed and left in ruins forever. Everyone who sees what has happened will be shocked, but they will still make fun of you. I will put an end to your parties and wedding celebrations; no one will grind grain or be here to light the lamps at night. This country will be as empty as a desert, because I will make all of you the slaves of the king of Babylonia for seventy years.

When that time is up, I will punish the king of Babylonia and his people for everything they have done wrong, and I will turn that country into a wasteland forever. (Jeremiah 25:4-12)

Sometimes bad things happen to people, just because the world is a hard place. Bad people do bad things and sometimes they do it to good people. Sometimes tornados strike, earthquakes come, illness devastates.
When children are punished by their parents, at least ideal parents, the children are not surprised by the punishment. They know they have disobeyed and the parents have made clear why and for how long the punishment will last. The grounding lasts for a specified number of days or weeks, the phone is confiscated for a set time. Then all returns to where it was before.

When Israel was punished by God, there was no surprise involved. God had sent prophets to explain what was going to happen and why it was going to happen. He explained how long it was going to last. Israel went into captivity starting in 605 BC and Cyrus issued the decree allowing the captives to return home seventy years later in 535 BC.

When bad things happen it doesn’t automatically mean that God is punishing you. God’s discipline is not something that comes upon you unexpectedly and without warning. If something bad happens to you, it might just be because you’re still living on the wrong side of eternity.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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