Whom the Lord Loves…
“Whom the Lord loves, he chasteneth”. I’ve heard it quoted many times, but it was very difficult for me to understand it. Many people are afraid to leave unhealthy churches because of verses like these. But what is the chastening of the Lord?
The things I’ve heard people say were the chastening of the Lord often don’t bring a person to repentance, but push them away from religion entirely. There are three verses that talk about the chastening of the Lord: Deuteronomy, Proverbs, and Hebrews. Hebrews is a quote of Proverbs. And Proverbs may very well refer back, in thought, to Deuteronomy.
|Deut 8:2Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. 3He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. 4Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. 5Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you.Prov 3:11My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, 12because the Lord disciplines those he loves,as a father the son he delights in.
Heb 12:1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
None of those talk about horrid bad things happening as a result of God punishing us for sin. The verse in Hebrews talks more about discipline as regulation or training than punishment. According to these verses it would seem that bad things may happen and we may even bring bad things on ourselves through our sin, but God is with us and teaches us through those things that happen. He didn’t bring them on us for hurt. If He brought something at all it was to teach us–and He helps us through the lessons, on top of that! Chastisement seems to refer more to teaching than corporal punishment on a supernatural level.
Forty years in the wilderness was bad, but the passage that refers to that as chastisement talks about God caring for them during that time, not punishing them:
3He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. 4Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. 5Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you.
They were stuck in the wilderness for 40 years. That seems harsh. But even as God taught them-disciplined them-He loved them. And they learned. At least for a generation or two. God’s chastening isn’t without love or care, and it isn’t without lessons learned. He isn’t an abuser, waiting to strike anyone who messes up. He’s a teacher, wanting to instruct us. Can you imagine the chaos if the Israelites had gone into Canaan complaining and ready to go back to Egypt? They would probably have either turned to idols or lost their battles in their fear. Holding them back from Canaan, if that was the case, wasn’t mean as I was taught. He loved them through that, but He did what was best for them.
There are things I can’t explain in the Bible that make God seem mean. Korah, for example, scares me. But “him the Lord loves, He chasteneth” comes with promises that I was never told in Pentecost.