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Chastisement in the Bible: Those I Love I Chasten

Chastisement teaches and corrects us, but it can be cruel.  God chastens us because he loves us as dear children and helps us be like Jesus!

Chastisement in the Bible is an act of God’s love. It came into the world first in Eden after the colossal turn of conditions when Adam and Eve sinned.

God watches over His people and engages in their lives. Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent, He is overall and guiding all things to His intended purpose.

The Devil acts in constant opposition. He comes to steal, kill, and destroy, driven by hatred, but God acts only in love for the good of His people.

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.- Jesus in John 10:10

We see this in Genesis where God created everything very good. He created everything through His Word but took particular care with man:

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. – Genesis 2:7

The devil uses lies and trickery to introduce chaos into God’s perfection and deceives Adam and Eve into ushering sin and death into the world. God confronted them, punished the devil, and chastised Adam and Eve.

The LORD loved to have fellowship with Adam and Eve among the trees in Eden “in the cool of the day,” and their sin disrupted this time they enjoyed together. Conscious of their guilt and nakedness, they hid from Him, but He called to them, and they came. He heard them out, stood with them against the devil, and put in place these new conditions of chastening:

For the woman: Enmity between the woman and the serpent,

Sorrow in conception and childbirth,

Subordination to her husband.

For the man: Sorrow in working the ground, now cursed with thorns and thistles,

Return to the ground in death.

Before He sent them out of Eden, He made clothes for them and taught them to worship.

The LORD postponed the penalty of death and promised them a Savior who would turn that death into eternal life.

Eve became the mother of all living and Adam the father and representative of all humanity.

The chastisement of Adam and Eve made them better people and set the standard of family living for all of us. Praise God!

The devil was once again the cause of pain, death, and suffering with Job. Satan did all he could to make Job’s life miserable so that he would “curse God and die.” This is what he is trying to do to me too, and you!

Through all his trials, Job refused to charge God foolishly, and we have gained the benefit of seeing his example and learning the value of patience. God used the devil here to work good for Job and to introduce the promise of eternal life:

For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:
And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: - Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; - Job 19:25-27

Joseph’s family were the agents of his chastening. His father and mother spoiled him and made him proud. His brothers were jealous of him, hated him, and sold him into slavery.

A false rape accusation put him in prison, but through this all God was with him and used Joseph’s gifts and wisdom to turn the children of Israel into a nation.

Moses was the agent of that formation. God had chosen him for that role and, as always, the evil one tried to thwart His purpose. First by murdering all the Hebrew newborn sons. Then, by making Mose think he could deliver the Hebrews from bondage himself, by murdering an Egyptian.

God had to isolate and train him on “the backside of the wildness” for forty years before he was ready to lead the Exodus.

A byproduct of this chastisement of Moses was the book of Genesis which gives us the only history we have of creation, the Flood, the tower of Babel, and God’s covenant with Abraham.

About four hundred years later, Naomi left Israel and the worship of the LORD for the land of Moab, where there was food, but idol worship. This kind of tradeoff, stepping away from spiritual holiness for material plenty, always results in eternal loss. It was so for Naomi.

Her husband and two adult sons died, and she was left alone in a pagan country with two Moabite daughters-in-law.

God used these circumstances to chasten her, to give the idea of the kinsman-redeemer, and to provide key members to the lineage of Jesus. Her daughter-in-law is the subject of the book of Ruth, a perfect love story, human and divine.

The chastening of David was a lifelong experience. He was a central part of the divine plan from before the world began, and the LORD made him a shepherd and gave him a heart like His own.

He anointed him king before He sent him to defend His name against Goliath and saw the young man become His champion and a favorite general of the people. Here once again, the devil tried to kill him by making King Saul his mortal enemy who sought to kill him for fifteen years.

Even after he became king, the devil tempted and led him into sin, adultery, murder, and the shedding of innocent blood. But God was with him, his Shepherd, who filled him with His Spirit and gave us the book of Psalms.

Jeremiah spent much of his life in disfavor and prison. The word of the LORD came to him when Jerusalem was being conquered by Babylon:

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee, and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. Jeremiah 1:5

Because of this wonderful call, the devil was against him, and Jeremiah spent much of his life in disfavor and prison. Hostile as the king and his false prophets were, Jeremiah was faithful and ministered to God’s unfaithful people and gave us the books of Jeremiah and Lamentations

The chastisement of Jonah is famous, and the result of his own doing. It saved Jonah from himself and saved the thousands of sinners in Nineveh. For us, it demonstrates God’s faithfulness even when we deliberately try to escape His purpose. He always gives a second chance.

Chastisement in the New Testament

Zacharias doubted the angel Gabriel when he told him his prayer was answered and that his barren wife would bear a son. Zacharias asked how he would know this, and the angel gave this sign:

And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season. Luke 1:20

This chastening for unbelief stands in sharp contrast to the response of Mary who told the angel: Be it unto me according to thy word: - Luke 1:48

Peter was chastened by these sharp words from the Lord:

get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. Matthew 16:23

The severest chastisement we see is the death of Lazarus, the friend Jesus loved. This is a clear indication that there are no “exemptions” from chastening’s for those who are especially loved.

In this same household, Jesus’ words of rebuke to his sister Martha give a clear indication as to what is precious in His sight, Mary's quiet and humble sitting at His feet and enjoying His presence.

Unbelief is the occasion for chastening again when Thomas refuses to believe Jesus has risen from the dead unless he can put his fingers into His wounds. When Jesus confronts him, he repents and calls him “my Lord and my God.

Jesus responds to him and us with these words: Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. John 20:29

The unbelief of Jesus’ brothers was a factor in His separation from them during His ministry. When He appeared to James after His Resurrection, James believed and became the leader of the church of Jerusalem. After the Resurrection, Jesus met with these brethren from whom He had been estranged in Galilee and they believed and became leaders in the church.

St. Paul’s is the most acknowledged instance of chastening when the Lord gave him a “thorn in the flesh” to keep him humble after his visit to the third heaven to remind him that His grace is sufficient for us when we are weak, for His strength is perfected in weakness.

The longest and most varied life of chastisement unfolded in the Apostle John. He was a brash young man Jesus called a son of thunder because he wanted to call down fire from heaven on some who rejected Him.

Later he lies on Jesus’ breast as the disciple Jesus loved, and finally the Apostle of love and the one to whom Jesus gave the book of Revelation.

What a different story each of these situations would have been without the loving chastening of the Lord. None of those being chastened above had the clear testimony we have about the value of chastisement.

King Solomon wrote this to his son:

My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth. Proverbs 3:11-12

But Rehoboam his son did not follow this counsel and lost the kingdom of Israel.

The New Testament affirmation of this teaching is given in Hebrews 12:6:

For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

I do not like to be corrected and chafe at chastening. Yet I believe that all the corrections I receive come via the Holy Spirit. And I am not alone in chafing at the means of chastisement, sometimes thinking I am alone in my trials and suffering:

Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:

But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. - 1 Peter 4:12-13

Why this joy? Because the chastening changes us, transforms us, makes us more like Jesus.

St. Paul explains,

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. – 2 Corinthians 3:18

Like the metamorphosis of a butterfly, the transformation process is difficult and painful.

Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. – Hebrews 12:11

I am tempted to quote Job, saying “When He has tried me I shall come forth as gold.” But no, something better than gold:

Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. -1 John 3:2

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