God desires mercy, not judgment. He really does. But He is also no push over. When a crime has been committed, his righteousness and justice demands judgment. But he invited people into repentance.
Jeroboam had set up the northern kingdom with all the substitutes of what God really wanted. He had substitute temples, substitute festivals, a substitute city and even substitutes for God himself. His worship of the idols was too much and God was going to bring judgment.
He sent the man of God from Judah to prophesy against the altar and the places he had built. Jeroboam was furious, screamed “arrest him” only to come down with a shriveled arm. In horror he pleaded for the man of God to pray for him, the man of God did and Jeroboam was healed.
So did that turn the heart of Jeroboam to repentance? To see an act of judgment and a miracle? To hear that the man of God from Judah was struck to his death because of disobeying the Lord (see previous post), and yet what Jeroboam was doing was worse?
Not. At. All.
“After all this Jeroboam did not repent of his evil way but again set up priests for the high places from every class of people. He ordained whoever so desired it, and they became priests of the high places” (1 Kings 13:33-34).
What the LORD wanted was repentance. The prophetic utterance of judgment to come was not so that judgment would be fulfilled, but so that Jeroboam would wake up and repent. He had the world at his fingertips. God said he would give all Israel to Jeroboam if he followed in his ways (1 Kings 11:38-39).
Yet “after all this,” “but again” Jeroboam did evil (1 Kings 13:33). He cared more that his hand was shriveled and needed healing than that his heart and nation was corrupt and it needed healing.
When the evil of men reaches a critical mass, God sends messengers of judgment and even allows disasters of human and natural kind to wake man up. (Not saying that all disasters of God but some indeed are). The question is will man repent?
God’s desire is for mercy. He beckons to man again and again to repent. But if there’s no genuine and sincere repentance, then His justice comes.
Oh that we would repent. It is the heart cry of heaven. He desires mercy, not judgment. His words are to warn, not to harm. To deliver, not to destroy.
As the saying goes, the same sun that melts the wax also hardens the clay.
What is the substance in our hearts?