"For, lo, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah, saith the LORD: and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it" (Jeremiah 30:3).
One characteristic of the spiritual life is the cyclic nature of punishment--the repetitious pattern of peace, guilt, punishment, recovery, and peace again.
As an example of the discipline cycle, Jeremiah speaks in our text of the return of the Jews to Israel after being away in captivity in Babylon. The period of discipline is over, and God is about to re-enable the people to possess the land.
In Deuteronomy, we see yet an earlier cycle of discipline--the wilderness experience that the Israelites had to go through: "And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep His commandments, or no" (Deuteronomy 8:2). Because they did not believe God at Paran (Numbers 12:16; 14:3), they had to pay for their rebellious hearts (14:22-23).
Let's examine the specifics of the discipline cycle: (1) the people must obey the commandments in order to live, multiply, and possess the land; (2) if not, then they will be subject to discipline that will humble them, test their heart's sincerity to keep the commandments, and cause a hunger for God; (3) restoration will come only through repentance and forgiveness, which allows them to repossess the land; and (4) the people can satisfy themselves with the Lord's provision and bless Him for the land.
Knowledge of the cycle of discipline might help us to stay within God's favor, and, if we should be out of favor, to determine where we are and what to do next to get back into fellowship and blessing. KBC