From Discipline to Destruction

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God’s judgment often comes in two phases. The first phase is a corrective judgment in which God lifts His hand of blessing and protection, permitting a nation to experience the destructive consequences of sin. Pastor John MacArthur has referred to this as the wrath of abandonment.[1] It is designed to alert a nation to its need to repent. For instance, God judged the nation of Israel by selectively sending rain to some cities and not to others, by a lack of food and water, poor harvests, blight and mildew, locusts, disease, and military casualties; yet the people refused to repent and return to God (Amos 4:6–10).

A corrective judgment is disciplinary in nature. Like any corrective act, it may involve a time of great difficulty because it may require something extreme to capture the attention of the people. Nevertheless, some nations persist in their rebellion. Despite the severity of God’s judgment against the Israelites, they failed to realize that they were a nation under judgment. Perhaps this is because God used natural means to accomplish His purposes. As such, the Israelites may have dismissed God’s warning signals of famine, drought, disease, etc. as natural events. Regardless, their waywardness resulted in the second phase of God’s judgment.

The second phase is a severe judgment. This often involves something designed to trouble a nation at a fundamental level. It is designed to shake a nation hard enough to compel the people to release the idols to which they are clinging. This usually results in the nation either letting go of its idols or falling alongside them, in which case, the nation may be destroyed by God. In the case of Israel, God eventually cast the Israelites out of their land, some of them even being taken away by fishhooks into captivity (Amos 4:2–3). Israel was ultimately made to confront its God as an adversary because it refused to respond to God’s corrective judgment: “Therefore, I will bring upon you all the disasters I have announced. Prepare to meet your God in judgment, you people of Israel!” (Amos 4:12).

An argument can be made that America is presently experiencing God’s corrective judgment. Certainly, we have experienced similar conditions to that of the Israelites when they were judged. Since the turn of the millennium, America has experienced the devastating attacks of 9-11, Hurricane Katrina, a plethora of mass shootings, soaring national debt, tumultuous race riots, the COVID-19 pandemic, a mental health epidemic, and more. If we refuse to draw near to God in our response, then we too may be made to confront God as an adversary. And if we do nothing to change our current trajectory, then America’s discipline will eventually turn to destruction.

This article comes from Heart of a Forerunner: How to Be a Relevant and Influential Voice in a Wayward Nation

Heart of a Forerunner

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Timothy Zebell

As a former missionary to Asia for twelve years and the author of several books, Timothy is passionate about helping people understand the relevancy of God's Word in today's world. His goals are to help Christians discern truth from error, empower Christians to speak into cultural matters with relevancy, and to help Christians capitalize on the opportunities that these matters provide for sharing the truth about God and His gospel message.
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1. MacArthur, John. “When God Abandons a Nation.” Sermon. Grace to Your, August 20, 2006.


Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.