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young man with folded arms July 11 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: 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 that 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 was following in the same destructive track. Even so, if she would repent and trust the LORD there could 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.

Now, however, Judah was blinded by her sin and engaged in worship that was a ceremonial pretense. She tried to hide her sin from the LORD and convinced herself that the LORD didn’t know (much like people hide drugs, cigarettes, booze, criminal behavior and sexual relationships from their loved ones). They were wayward in spirit and complained (29:24), but someday it would 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 was as obstinate as she could be. She carried out plans without consulting the LORD (we do that, too, sometimes). She did not look to the LORD. Instead, she formed an alliance with the godless nation of Egypt, who once had 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 was obstinate, however, her sins would form high cracked and bulging walls like city's walls that would eventually collapse upon her if she did not repent. Those who live rebellious lives need to learn what Judah needed 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, however, continued to say, No, we will do things our own way. We will seek our own deliverance from the Assyrians.

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. Someday their eyes will no longer be closed to the truth, and they will listen again to the LORD when His Son comes back to rule and reign. The land and nation of Assyria would soon be defeated, and in the future that area would also be devastated. This will happen when Jesus comes back to earth to rule, and Israel returns to the LORD. There is a similar hope also for most parents; the LORD will work in their children’s rebellious hearts, and they will return and listen 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 needed 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.
  • Pray to God that he may help you with your growing pains.

Today’s Bible memory verse:

Isaiah 30:18, “…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)

praying girl Write a private prayer response to today’s Bible study:

Please send your comments to mtbiblestudies@gmail.com

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