January 21, 2007
THE FORGOTTEN EXHORTATION
"Ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as unto sons, 'My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: for whom the Lord loves he chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives" (Heb. 12:5-6). The quote is from Proverbs 3:11-12 which should have been embedded into the Hebrew mind from their youth. Sometimes those being chastened are discouraged by the enemy to think their trial is because God does not love them. Yet the opposite is the case. Chastening and discipline are proofs of sonship and a definite sign of God's watchful care. Where there is no chastening, one might have cause to doubt the reality of faith professed for how could a genuine son escape that which is the portion of "every son"?
Perhaps our folly makes us focus negatively on punishment or the mentioned scourging. Moses reminded Israel that there were two sides to God's dealings, negative and positive. "You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God led you these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you, and to prove your, to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commandments, And he humbled you, and suffered you to hunger, and fed you with manna...that He might make you know that man does not live by bread only, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD does man live. Your clothing did not wear out, neither did your feet swell, these forty years. You shall also consider in your heart, that, as a man chastens his son, so the LORD your God chastens you" (Deut. 8:2-5). The response to chastening can be "going on to perfection," or "drawing back to perdition." What benefit to those who took them to heart yielding peaceable fruit of righteousness!
The hungry who murmured failed to consider what lesson God had for them. Those who took such emergencies to heart learned that God's word was the real food of life. Their hunger pangs found the bountiful supply of manna; their clothes did not age; their feet did not swell evidencing daily miracles of God's loving care. How could they doubt?!
"Blessed is the man whom You chasten...and teach out of Your law," (Psa. 94:11). "We are chastened of the Lord that we should not be condemned with the world" (1 Cor. 11:32). As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten, be zealous and repent" (Rev. 3:19).
Ivan L. Burgener