“Correct me, O Jehovah, with judgment,
But not in your anger, that you may not reduce me to nothing.”
We all need to be corrected from time to time, either by someone at work, or if we are younger, by our parents or teachers, or we may be counseled by a mature, caring friend.
It is human nature to initially be embarrassed and even to resist the correction.
Jehovah corrected his People through his prophets.
We do not have modern-day prophets, but we can read God’s recorded thoughts in his written Word, and find God’s counsel under prayer through Bible reading.
To accept God’s correction, we need to humbly recognize that, despite having freedom of choice, it is not in our best interest to act independently of God. (Jer. 10:23)
It is easier to accept correction as soon as we realize we are doing something wrong, without needing to wait for someone to blatantly point out our mistakes to us.
But if it comes to that, and we are privately or publicly reproved, let us remember that Jehovah takes the time to discipline those whom he loves and wants to keep by his side.
Everyone needs to be refined by God’s love and he expects you to keep trying. (Heb. 12:5,6)
As one brother put it, it is better to accept correction now than to ‘be reduced to nothing’ on God’s Judgment Day.
“Why have these, my people, said, ‘We roam freely.
We will come to you no more’?”
God was asking his People why they had forsaken him and turned to worshipping material idols. (Jer. 2:11)
Although God gives us freedom of choice, to assert that freedom to pursue “what is useless” would be to waste the precious gifts of life, time and energy he has given us.
Today’s equivalent of useless idols may not necessarily be a stone, ceramic or wood sculpture one kneels to.
It may be selfish conduct that is in direct conflict with God’s norms, or maybe even a vain hobby that consumes valuable time we could otherwise be using to help others. (Eph. 5:15,16,18; Php. 3:19)
Or perhaps we are obsessed with achieving something like a social status that is beyond our means of living and which forces us to spend so much time at work, we end up neglecting family life, sacrificing Bible study or meditation time. (1 Tim. 6:9,10)
Whatever internal or external “god” may be rivaling our one True God, if we let our worship be derailed, we will reap the bitter consequences of that choice. (Jer. 2:19)
“[…] Those who seek Jehovah can understand everything.”
Some of the problems we face, such as accidents, poor health, crimes, betrayal or unemployment, may lead us to ask, Why me?
Other times, we face problems that adversely affect a general portion of the population, such as natural disasters, war or a corrupt government.
When we are in stressful, unfair situations, it is important to remind ourselves of where we stand in relation to God’s purpose.
Another proverb reads:
“Be wise, my son, and make my heart rejoice,
So that I can make a reply to him who taunts me.”
Who taunts God?
The Bible explains: “the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” (1 John 5:19)
God’s enemies try to distract us spiritually by blaming our problems on God or suggesting that he does not care about us, or saying that his promise of a paradise earth is just a dream. (2 Pet. 3:3,4; Rev. 21:1-5)
Still, it is God’s will that these people repent, and he is giving them time to do so. (2 Pet. 3:9)
If we do not lose sight of what is at stake every time we are tempted to give up, we are able to see things from Jehovah’s point of view and endure trials with a joyful attitude. (Matt. 24:13; Jas. 1:2,3)
“The breath of a man is the lamp of Jehovah, Searching through his innermost being.”
God has given us life, free will and the opportunity to prove what kind of persons we are (De. 30:19).
Like the loving father that He is, he assumes the best in us and sees our potential (1 Chron. 28:9; 1 Ki. 14:13).
There is nothing we can hide from him, and he can dissect even our subconscious thoughts and motivations (Heb. 4:13).
When we pray about the decisions we take and consider his guiding principles found in the Scriptures, we invite him into our life.
Then we can fully reflect the light he is trying to shine through us (2 Cor. 3:18).
“[Reuben] was the firstborn, but because he defiled the bed of his father, his right as firstborn was given to the sons of Joseph the son of Israel […]”
~1 Chronicles 5:1
The “sons of Israel” totaled 12, but the first born was supposed to receive double the inheritance portion of the others.
Israel’s first-born, Reuben, slept with his father’s concubine, thereby forfeiting his right to his double portion of inheritance (Ge. 35:22).
Joseph was Israel’s favorite son, long believed to have died before reappearing in Israel’s life as savior and provider for their entire household (Ge 45:25–46:4).
Also, he was the first-born son of his favorite wife, Rachel (Ge. 29:30; 30:22-24).
Joseph had two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, and Israel prophesied that the younger would dominate the older (Ge. 48:13-20; Jos. 14:4).
The distribution of tribal land was to be divided among twelve tribes (Ge. 49:2-28).
This significant number worked out well when we take into account that the sons of Levi, whose jobs were directly related to the worship of Jehovah, would not receive their own territory (Nu. 18:20).
Therefor, there were thirteen total tribes of Israel, twelve of which had territories.
Israel’s prophecy that the tribe of Ephraim would grow more than his brother’s began to materialize in chapter seven of this week’s reading.
In fact, Ephraim grew so large as a tribe that it eventually came to represent the northern nation of Israel, after the original nation divided in two (Ho. 13:1).
From Ephraim came both spiritual people inclined to serve God, while other Ephraimites became apostates (1 Ki. 12:25-30; 2 Chron. 15:9).
The point I wish to highlight from this reading is that while God can decide our future in general terms, as he did with the tribes of Reuben, Manasseh and Ephraim, it is up to us as individuals to decide whether or not we want to serve him.
Then Jehovah said to Moses: “Go in to Phar′aoh, for I have allowed his heart and the hearts of his servants to become unresponsive, so that I may display these signs of mine right before him […] and you will certainly know that I am Jehovah.”
God could have saved time and just sent the tenth plague to Pharaoh right at the start.
He already knew Pharaoh was going to be unwilling to cooperate.
At Exodus chapter 4, verse 21, Jehovah God warned Moses regarding what to expect in Egypt: “I will allow his heart to become obstinate, and he will not send the people away.”
But Jehovah did not decide Pharaoh’s fate for him. He gave him at least eleven chances to change his mind about letting his People walk free.
It was Pharaoh who sealed his own fate.
“When Phar′aoh saw that the rain, the hail, and the thunder had stopped, he sinned again and hardened his heart, he as well as his servants,” (Exo. 9:34).
This bit about Pharaoh ‘hardening his heart’ happened after the seventh plague.
Even in all his power, Jehovah God did not strip Pharaoh of free will.
Nor does he strip us of our own decision-making power.
There is much suffering in the world today.
Some may wonder why God doesn’t just wipe everything clean and start over.
But he is giving us time to get to know him and change our attitude toward him.
“Jehovah is not slow concerning his promise, as some people consider slowness, but he is patient with you because he does not desire anyone to be destroyed but desires all to attain to repentance,” (2 Pet. 3:9).
Today is a good day to ask myself: Am I allowing my heart to become unresponsive to God’s messages?