God also sends trouble upon nations when they defy Him and willfully go down a path of wickedness. For instance, He had to correct the Israelites numerous times when they turned from Him. In Leviticus 26:14-16, God warns the nation of Israel exactly what He will do if they turn from Him, “But if you do not obey Me, and do not observe all these commandments, and if you despise My statutes, or if your soul abhors My judgments, so that you do not perform all My commandments, but break My covenant, I also will do this to you: I will even appoint terror over you, wasting disease and fever which shall consume the eyes and cause sorrow of heart. And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.” Moreover, in Isaiah 60:12, we are warned that any nation which does not serve God can expect His judgment: “For the nation and kingdom which will not serve you shall perish, and those nations shall be utterly ruined.” Also, in Zephaniah 3:6, we see that, when God punishes some nations, His punishment is so complete that such a nation will become desolate: “I have cut off nations, their fortresses are devastated; I have made their streets desolate, with none passing by. Their cities are destroyed; there is no one, no inhabitant.”
Just as God must punish nations to correct them, so must he also punish individual people to try to put them back on the right path. Of course, I don’t need to tell you that some people simply don’t listen when God is trying to correct them; they simply harden their hearts. In Revelation, as God sends great plagues upon the earth to turn people from their wicked path, many, instead, refuse to turn, being so committed to their willful path of wickedness: “And great hail from heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent. Men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, since that plague was exceedingly great” (Revelation 16:21). Of course, I don’t need to tell you that such willful sin is not peculiar to this period of human history. We probably all know someone who is in willful sin. Their lives can be a total mess. Yet, instead of recognizing that they are on the wrong path and that they are bringing hardship upon themselves, they never seem to “see the light.” For those of us who may know or be related to such people, it may bring grief to our hearts to see them in such a state, knowing that their lives can be so much better if they will turn back to God. But such people many times are not in a receptive state to our reasoning and pleading. All we can do in such times is to pray continuously for their deliverance and trust God for the result. In such times, we need to always remember that certain things are impossible for men, “but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
If you have a friend or loved one in willful disobedience or rebellion against God, I pray that you will be strengthened and comforted by His Spirit so that you can fight the spiritual battle of prayer on their behalf.