Habakkuk and Jeremiah. Old Testament prophets who foretold of Israel’s overthrow. Over and over they warned the Israelites that their blatant disregard for God’s laws would bring His judgment down on them.
But did they listen? Oh no.
If you’re a parent, you know this type of scenario all too well. Your kid really, really wants to stay out all night. Or drink an entire 2-liter bottle of Mountain Dew by himself. You talk to him about personal responsibility. You bring up the lemmings as he states that every one of his friends drink their fill of soda. You wax eloquent about diet. You warn of the dangers of too much sugar too fast, not to mention the caffeine allotment of that devilish drink.
What happens? The kid drinks the bottle. He feels like he’s flying! He’s invincible. He doesn’t know what all the fuss was about. He runs around the yard, frantic with joy. All of a sudden…he feels sick. He might even throw up. He’s definitely up all night, no question. He reaps the consequences of his actions. The next day, he has a soda hangover. He’s listless and can’t even muster up the energy to get dressed. but he still manages to argue. He still drinks soda, because now he’s hooked to the sugar rush. He survived it, so he counts it a victory instead of seeing a lesson to be learned.
This sounds to me exactly what the Israelites did to God. When Jeremiah said, “You burn incense to the Queen of Heaven and God doesn’t like that” (Susan paraphrase), they replied, “Look, everything was going great when we were doing that! It’s when we stopped that the worm turned.” They got a great deal of pride out of looking like everyone else, doing what everyone else was doing. See, they weren’t so weird after all. They could have it both ways. God didn’t care; nothing bad was happening.
God cared very much and sent warning after warning through Jeremiah and others to his beloved nation. As God’s chosen people, they couldn’t be like other nations. They were set apart, holy to the Lord alone. Worshiping the elements or seasons or human sexuality or anything else besides the invisible Yahweh was forbidden.
God sent the Babylonians to capture Judah. They took captives of some and killed others. They plundered the temple of Solomon and left a remnant of people to inhabit he land, the poor and destitute, just so wild animals wouldn’t repopulate the area.
Habakkuk balked at God sending the Babylonians to conquer Judah. He thought they were even more evil than the Jews! It didn’t seem fair. Then, as God foretold through Habakkuk, He disciplined the Babylonians (or Chaldeans, depending on your translation) . Cyrus of Persia destroyed it. So, in equal measure, as a good and fair father would, everyone got disciplined. Everyone got spanked.
As a parent myself, I have to say how much I can see our struggles with our kids are not unlike God’s struggles with His. We talk and warn and try to teach, but sometimes the little darlings have to learn the hard way. It’s tough to watch because we love them. We only have their best interests and highest good at heart. God loves us, too, perfectly, but sometimes we lose sight of it. I have hope, though, because God dealt with the same stubbornness in his kids that we do in ours. He never gave up on them, though he did get awful quiet for 400 years. That’s some silent treatment! I can learn from His example, remaining steadfast in the face of changing prevailing winds of parenthood and childhood whims. My Father has walked here already.