DESPISE NOT THOU THE CHASTENING OF THE LORD
By John C. Carpenter
 
The author of the book of Hebrews wrote Jewish believers in Christ, Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. 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? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. 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. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears (Heb 12:1-17).
 
Without exception, every true believer in Jesus Christ will experience the chastening of the Lord. At some point in your walk of faith in Christ, you will be chastened by the Lord. Christ has promised this. This chastening is necessary because of His great love for us: His goal for us is sanctification, holiness, and eternal salvation.
 
The author of the book of Hebrews begins his text by instructing believers to cast aside and put away any thing, including sin, which hinders the daily Christian race [effort with struggle and anxiety, conflict, fight] we run [with a purposeful course in life]. Christians are to run our life of faith with patience, endurance, and constancy. God's desire is that we allow nothing to interfere with our pursuit of Christ and His ongoing, moment by moment will for our lives. In order to understand how to appropriately run our Christian race, we are given an example. We are instructed to consider with focus and intensity our example, Jesus Christ, who is our spiritual captain, prince and chief leader, and who begins, accomplishes, completes, and consecrates our faith. Despite the fact that He despised the disfigurement, shame and disgrace of the cross and its' exposure to suffering and death as a means of capital punishment, Christ, with calm delight and joy, knew in advance that He was predestined to patiently suffer crucifixion in order to provide eternal salvation for all believers in Christ. Scriptures further instruct us, that once His purposeful crucifixion was completed, Christ sat down in glory at the right hand of God the Father.
 
In order to avoid becoming wearied and faint when we encounter suffering and pain in our daily Christian walk, believers are further instructed to consider and examine the example of Christ and the suffering that He endured, realizing that we believers have not resisted sin to the point of death, as He did. Since Christ suffered and died for us as an example, we children of God are taught and exhorted to despise [disesteem, and have little regard for] not thou the chastening [tutorage, education, training, instruction, disciplinary correction, nurturing] of the Lord, nor faint [loosen, relax, put off, reject] when thou art rebuked [adminished, convicted, convinced, have a fault pointed our, reproved] of him (Heb 12:5). The author of the book of Hebrews further instructs us that each and every indvidual God loves, He purposefully and intentionally chastens [to train, educate, or discipline by punishment] and scourges [to flog, i.e., to bring a disease or plague] every son and daughter He receives. The author adds that if we sons and daughters of God endure chastening, this is strong evidence that we are children of God the Father, since all fathers and parents chasten and correct their children (Heb 12:7); and that if we believers, as children of God the Father, are not chastened and corrected by Him, it is strong evidence that we are illegitimate bastards, and not true sons and daughers of God. Furthermore, the logic continues that since we humans have respected and regarded our human parents, who corrected and disciplined us because they thought it appropriate and beneficial to us, how much more should we children of God submit to and obey the correction of our Heavenly Father, who corrects us for our profit and good, so that we might be partakers of His holiness, and inherit eternal life. As we must honestly admit, no chastening seems to be joyous at the time, but is most often received grudgingly, resulting in sadness. We must also honestly admit that, for those who receive chastening and training with a submissive and obedient spirit, the fruit of our chastening is righteousness and justification, which results in peace, rest, quietness, and prosperity.
 
According to His own plans and purposes, God periodically finds it necessary to chasten those He has, or wants, a relationship with. The chastening is necessary to correct sins of comission, as well as sins of omission (James 4:17). In order to get our attention, God backs us into a corner, where there is no escape, there is no getting away, no opportunity to bring relief from our circumstances. Because of this, God's chastening is often accompanied by extreme feelings of isolation, fear, helplessness, and hopelessness. We may feel a sense of despair, we may feel that God has abandoned us; we may even feel that God, who was previously for us, is now completely against us, and is now our enemy. We may feel trapped [which we are], forced to endure emotional, spiritual and physical pain and suffering, for days, weeks, or months. We feel utterly incapable of bringing ourselves any sense of relief. God has us under His thumb, and there is no escaping. Our breathing may become shallow and labored, our pulse rate may increase dramatically, constant tension and stress may feel like it is overwhelming us. We may have trouble sleeping, and have difficulty turning off our minds. We are in such pain, our thoughts seem uncontrollable, and we are unable to focus our attention on a task, read the scriptures, or even pray. Our pain is all we can seem to focus on. Individuals undergoing chastening from the Lord can even feel that God has “pulled back the curtains,” and that He is allowing evil forces to attack and torment us beyond measure, and without end. God the Father may use other individuals during our chastening process. These other individuals periodically appear to us to do illogical, and even hurtful, things to us. They sometimes appear to be doing those things to us intentionally, which is even more difficult to explain. When God uses other individuals to chasten us, they often appear at the time to not know why they are behaving in the ways they are, and, after examing their behavior later, appear shocked that they said what they said, or did what they did.
 
Sometimes, when we are being chastened, it appears as if God blinds, deafens, or mutes us. We may with our own eyes see things happening in the natural realm, but those things don't seem to register in our minds and hearts to the point that we are able to take action. God may also allow us to hear something in the natural realm, but the noise or words do not seem to register completely with us. He may also allow us to hear something in the natural realm, which we know we should verbally respond to, but it seems as if we are muted by God. He does not allow us to speak up. He does not allow us to say anything, and therefore correct our own circumstances. From time to time, God blinds, deafens, or mutes us so that we can not intervene in our own circumstances and prevent God from achieving His plans and purposes for our lives at the time. We must remember, though difficult, that even when God appears to be against us, He is actually working and fighting for us. He is trying to bring about the repentance, the needed changes in our lives, so that we can have a right relationship with Him, and bear good fruit along the way. His chastening is actually founded in His love for us.
 
In the old Testament, the character of Jonah is a good example of the necessity of God's chastening. God called the prophet Jonah to ...go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry [accost, to call out, to address] against it; for their wickedness [bad, evil, good for nothing, that which is spoiled] is come up before me (Jon 1:2), but Jonah refused, and ran from the Lord: But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD (Jon 1:3). God therefore sent out a great wind against the sea and the ship, so severe that the ship was about the break apart and sink (Jonah 1:4). The mariners eventually determined that Jonah's disobedience was the reason God had sent the storm upon them and their ship (Jonah 1:5-10). Therefore, the mariners ...took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging (Jon 1:15). At this point, God began His process of chastening Jonah: Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights (Jon 1:17). God's chastening of Jonah was so severe that Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the belly of the fish. Scriptures tell us how severe Jonah's suffering was, because they give us Jonah's response: And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction [adversary, adversity, affliction, anguish, distress, tribulation, trouble] unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly [body, bosom, hollow] of hell [grave, hell, pit, the world of the dead, including its accessories and inmates] cried I, and thou heardest my voice. For thou hadst cast me into the deep [a deep place, an abyss, bottom, deep, depth] in the midst of the seas [a roar, noisy surf]; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows [waves] and thy waves [to be rolled] passed over me. Then I said, I am cast out [drive out, divorced from] of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple. The waters compassed me about, even [specifically] to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds [choking entanglements] were wrapped about my head. I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars [to cause to drive away, to put to flight, to cause to flee] was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption [pit, grave, bow down, pain and brokenness, humility], O LORD my God. When my soul fainted [become feeble, overwhelmed] within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple. They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy. But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD. And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land (Jon 2:2-10). After Jonah was broken and humbled through God's chastening, scriptures tell us And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee. So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey. And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not? And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not (Jon 3:1-10). Through His chastening of Jonah, God the Father achieved His purposes with Jonah. Jonah's obedience to God's commands eventually led Nineveh to repentance, and deliverance from the wrath of God.
 
The idea, and value, of chastening is prevalent through the Scriptures. David prayed to God, O LORD, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure (Psa 6:1). Solomon, the son of David, the king of Israel, mentioned the chastening of the Lord as a key biblical principle, along with keeping the law and commandments, the importance of mercy and truth, trusting and acknowledging the Lord, fearing the Lord, honoring the Lord, and chastening as important biblical principles: My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones. Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine. 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 (Pro 3:1-12). Solomon also advised, Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare [the chastening] for [because of] his crying (Pro 19:18). In the book of Job, correction and chastening are surprisingly correlated with happiness: Behold, happy [blessed, relieved, prosperous, right, happy] is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty (Job 5:17). Similarly, Christ mentioned the relationship between unrepentance and God's chastening:As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent (Rev 3:19).
 
Our earthly fathers corrected us for their own pleasure, but our Heavenly Father has corrected us for our own profit. And what is our profit? The rest of the sentence answers that question: our profit is that we might be partakers of His holiness. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh who corrected us, and we gave them reverence; shall we not much rather humbly reverence our Heavenly Father for His correction of us, and live [experience life now, and eternally]? (Heb 12:9). For the sake of our holiness and eternal life, we must heed the exhortation written by the author of our subject verses: ...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 (Heb 12:5-6).  AMEN.
 
 
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