THE CHASTENING OF THE LORD
Hebrews 12:5-7 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him: for whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you, as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
In the first verses of this chapter of the letter to Hebrew Christians, we are assured that, by the influence of Satan, unrighteous people of the world will bring trials and tribulations to bear on every child of God. As sure as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, rebuke, and all manner of persecution, will come upon every member of the body of Christ. Jesus Christ, while on earth in human form, experienced these same evil influences as all mankind must face, yet He resisted and overcame them all. He is our example that we can, and must, do the same in order to gain victory in the race of life, and inherit eternal life in heaven.
It is these same Satan-inspired trials, tribulations, and persecutions inflicted on Christians by people of the world, that God uses to chastise His children. Since the fall of Adam and Eve to the seduction of Satan, all mankind has been faced with trials and temptations during their lifetime on earth. With the knowledge of good and evil, life is filled with two choices - we can choose good and serve God, or we can choose evil and serve Satan. God does not place trials and temptations before us. This is the work of Satan. But God does use them to try us, and prove our loyalty and devotion to Him. The lesson text gives us this question. Have you forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children? Following this, the writer quotes the meaning of this exhortation found in Proverbs 3:11-12. My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him: for whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.
As used in the Old Testament, this exhortation applied to the Jewish nation, but, as used in the lesson text, it applies to New Testament Christians. In each instance, it applies to the God's children. Chastening, as used here, does not mean that God will physically punish us for disobedience as our earthly parents do when such discipline is necessary. Chastening, here infers that God will correct our faults through instruction. Through His holy word, the Bible, He will discipline us when we err from the truth, He will counsel us in every decision we must make, He will encourage us to do what is right at all times. He will also feed, nurture, and protect us as His beloved, faithful children. When faced with the temptations of Satan, God, through His holy word, will righteously direct the paths of all that seek His wisdom and guidance.
The stumbling stones that Satan places in our pathway, God uses to teach us His will. Suffering the afflictions of life is God's way of purifying us for a heavenly abode. Those that give themselves to God through His Son, Jesus Christ, and overcome the temptations of the world, become, and remain, His children. Those that fail these tests, and give in to the temptations of the world, become children of Satan. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? God sees each of us when we give in to the worldliness placed before us every day by Satan. And He is deeply saddened. God also observes us when we endure the chastening trials and temptations of life, that is, when we use His holy word to recognize, and overcome, these afflictions. And He greatly rejoices.
Good earthly parents chasten, and teach their children to live a righteous life. But there is no greater parent than our heavenly Father, who, through His chastisement and instruction, protects and preserves our soul that we might be partakers of His holiness (Vs. 10 following). In the book of Job we find this teaching: Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty (Job 5:17). Through His servant, the apostle John, God told the church at Laodicea, As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten (Rev. 3:19).
Indeed, the chastening of the Lord is done with love. This is true of some, but not all earthly parents. Many parents give in to social pressure that says reprimanding children brings emotional harm and curbs their creativity. Government intervention has restricted positive, corrective action in our educational system, as well as in law enforcement. God's law of chastening has never changed. To the world, it may seem grievous, but to the faithful Christian, there is joy in obedience.