The ‘Chastisement’ of the Lord
By: Loren Larson
Hebrews 12:5-7 – “And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks unto you as unto children (the Apostle’s objective in introducing this here is to show that afflictions are designed, on the part of God, to produce positive effects in the lives of His People), My son, despise not you the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when you are rebuked of Him (everything that happens to a Believer is either caused or allowed by the Lord; consequently, we should learn the lesson desired to be taught):
“For whom the Lord loves He chastens (God disciplines those He loves, not those to whom He is indifferent), and scourges every son whom He receives. (This refers to all who truly belong to Him.)
“If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons (chastening from the Lord guarantees the fact that one is a Child of God); for what son is he whom the father chastens not? (If an earthly father truly cares for his son, he will use whatever measures necessary to bring the boy into line. If an earthly father will do this, how much more will our Heavenly Father do the same?)”
To most of us, “chastisement” is thought of in terms of punishment. When we were children our parents would “chastise” us when we did something wrong. We saw the business side of a belt, a willow switch, a hand, etc. Today, if a parent applies any measure of discipline for wrongdoing to a child he is verbally berated by society and psychology. Consequently, very little of the standards applied to the way we were once “disciplined” by our parents is carried out today. Sooner or later someone may equate the lack of respect for authority figures, God, and government that exists in our younger generations today and come to the proper conclusion that to “spare the rod” is to “spoil the child.” Having said this, let’s look a little closer at the term “chastisement” and discover its Scriptural and textual meaning.
The Definition Of “Chastisement”
The “chastisement” of the Lord is not punishment. Its purpose is to teach or instruct. The word originally indicated instruction of children, things pertaining to the training of a child. It was looked upon as educative discipline and training. While it certainly contains correction of thought, attitude, or deed, it was not punitive in nature. “Chastisement” from the Lord then is not a penalty but a purging of all things that will prove harmful from the being of the individual, who is a “Christian in training.” Another aspect of this word is that it is instruction by deed not just word. The idea here is this. God feels like He can’t just tell us about this, I have to show you, guide you through. For instance, in training my son in the use of the lawnmower I couldn’t just say, “Here’s the lawnmower, go mow the grass.” There were aspects of the machine that had to be handled properly to avoid harm from coming to him. So, I went out to the shed, took the lawnmower out, showed the various parts, showed him how to start it, told him rules of safety, etc. Then, I started it for him, showed him how to use it, and stood close by until he understood the dangers and responsibilities. Our Heavenly Father takes us through difficult situations, trials, and adversity for the same reasons, much in the same way. While learning how to live this Christian life we will pass through many “dangers, toils, and snares” but never without our Father attempting to equip us with the information and tactics we need to have to move through these things successfully. The training, as difficult as it might be, is not a punishment for wrongdoing; it is the training of a Heavenly Father that loves us too much to allow us to remain the same.
The Need For “Chastisement”
There is not a Believer that has ever existed that can escape this process. If you aren’t experiencing this in some form or another, the Scripture declares you as an illegitimate child. Whether it be light or heavy, don’t despise the chastening of the Lord. Don’t take it lightly. Don’t fail to recognize the necessity of it. Don’t fail to realize the significance of it. Don’t fall under condemnation and don’t consider it as God punishing you. The closer one gets to God, the greater this need will be. Therefore, we must “endure” the chastening process. This simply means that we are not to try to escape the situation we are to embrace it, remain under it, and abide where we are until such time as God’s Training is done. Ours is the fight of Faith. We agonize to believe that God is in control despite evidences to the contrary. We are to claim the Faithfulness of the Father, the Victory of the Son, and the Help of the Holy Spirit.
The End Result Of “Chastisement”
The place you find yourself in today may not seem pleasant. You may feel that what is happening is either unfair or unnecessary. But our Heavenly Father knows exactly what we need and how to produce it in us. The Devil works in these situations to prove us evil, while our Father seeks to prove that we are Genuine. He will guide you through if you will trust Him, rely upon Him, call upon Him, and count upon Him. He truly is the Shield of His Children and their exceeding Great Reward. The author of Hebrews told us plainly, “Now no chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of Righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Heb. 12:11). Let patience have her perfect work. You won’t be sorry you did.