The chastisement of the Lord is something we seldom hear about from today’s pulpits. In my earlier years as a Christian, I can’t remember a single sermon about it, nor can I recall any books written specifically on the subject. But it is an issue that all Christians should learn about, because sooner or later, most will probably discover what it is to be chastened of the Lord.
In scripture, the term “chasten” is used to describe acts of discipline, correction, and corporeal punishment. According to the Bible, the Lord’s chastening is generally be considered painful and unpleasant (Heb. 12:11), intended as a “rebuke or reprimand” to change one’s behavior. In the Old Testament, the ordeals of the Children of Israel, including defeat by enemy armies, were often referred to as chastisement for sin and rebellion (Deu. 11:2). But the purpose of chastising is not to destroy (Psa. 118:18), but to lead to repentance (Jer. 31:18-19) and to restore God’s blessing (Psa. 94:12).
Chastisement is not a bad thing. Although unpleasant, it is not to be confused with the wrath or judgment of God. It is a reference to the correction and discipline of a loving Heavenly Father toward His children. God’s love for us is as a parent, finding the occasional need to correct us with a spiritual “spanking” whenever our sin and rebellion makes it necessary. The Bible says, “My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives” (Heb 12:5-6).
I must admit, I’ve never been fond of the idea of spankings — probably because as a kid I received quite a few of them! But as I look back, I recognize that the discipline of my parents was necessary to keep me out of trouble — and in many cases to spare me from greater pain and suffering. Furthermore, I realize today that my parents went trough the ordeals of correcting me, not because they disliked me, but because they loved me.
Regarding this process, the Bible says, “…we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Heb 12:9-11).
God wants what is best for us. He wants us to have spiritual life, not death. For this reason, He will discipline us if we persist in sin, and will even administer correction if we show persistent signs of apathy or spiritual indifference (also a sin). He says, “I continually discipline and punish everyone I love; so I must punish you unless you turn from your indifference and become enthusiastic about the things of God” (Rev 3:19 The Living Bible).
How does the Heavenly Father chastise His children? This will be a personal matter with each individual. Sometimes it may occur only as an inner “rebuke” or conviction that our Father is displeased with our sin. But from scripture, it also appears that when necessary, He will lift his hand of blessing and allow difficulty and trouble to come our way, not to destroy us, but to bring us back to our knees in repentance.
Certainly, not all our troubles are a result of the Lord’s chastisement. Some of our challenges may merely be trials of our faith or attacks from the enemy. But if or when chastisement comes, it will be accompanied by our conviction of our sin and rebellion. And as a loving parent who has found it necessary to spank his child, the compassionate arms of our Father will be outstretched to us again, desiring us to come to Him in repentance and humility, that He may restore His blessing! “He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (Prov. 28:13).
Article by Dr. Dale A. Robbins
Image by Catholic Faith